Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Evil Dogs

I've been getting a decent amount of traffic off of Stumbleupon over the last week, so I decided to post a video I put together a long time ago staring my two dogs. Figured this was Stumble worthy...

Thanks for all the thumbs up guys.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Jennifer Slegg of Jensense.com reports "Numerous AdSense publishers have been receiving emails from Google the past couple of days stating that their use of their AdSense account is an unsuitable business model and that accounts would be disabled as of June 1st..."

As an official member of the MFA/Arbitrage Haters Association I can't help but sit back in my chair and laugh and laugh and laugh. Now if only Yahoo would step up or Google would stop letting Yahoo arbitragers buy traffic through Adwords we'd be all set.

Thanks for helping to make the web a better place Google. You rock!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Optimize for Cross-Language Information Retrieval (CLIR)

Greg Sterling recently posted an article on Search Engine Land about Google's launch of Cross-Language Information Retrieval (CLIR) search services.

Greg states "Search queries will be entered in the native language, translated into English and run against Google's index. Any retrieved pages/sites will then be translated from English back into the native language".

As anyone who has ever used Google's translation tool knows, machine driven translations often butcher multi-word strings. If I were promoting an English site and wanted visitors in other languages to be able to find my site through these new CLIR powered search services I would discover what phrases people are searching for in each of my target languages and what English phrase Google translator returns for these queries.

If the English translation of the original query makes sense grammatically it may be worth it to use Google's translation of the native language phrase as one of my targeted key phrases.

Of course, for anyone wanting to get a foot hold with readers whose native language is not English I would recommend just translating your content. I like to use Click2Translate for most of my translation needs.

If you don't have the time or the resources to translate your content, optimizing for CLIR may be a good alternative.

If You can't Create, Emulate

I wanted to send a quick shout out to yet another one of my competitors who lifted the basic design, fonts, color scheme, and copy from a site I manage. I guess you know you're an industry leader when every site in your space rips you off in one way or another.

I'm glad to see there are lots of lazy webmasters still out there. I was getting worried.

Friday, May 11, 2007

10 Ways to Sell Out Fast - How to Go from College Geek to Business Chic

A family friend of mine recently graduated from college and it got me thinking about my own transition from college life to the business world. Moving from a life of sleeping late, summers off, and outlandish parties to a more professional existence can be filled with hazards and hard lessons to learn. I decided to jot down a few tips about the transition from college to the business world.

1. Learn how to dress.

I'm sorry, but I don't care if you're an engineer or an executive how you dress is a reflection of who you are. Find out what your boss wears and emulate him. Don't worry about your co-workers. Your goal is to beat them out for promotions and raises. If you want a promotion then dress the part. If you're ever in doubt dress up.

2. No one ever notices if you're early, but they always remember when you stay late.

The business world is very macho and one of the things people will brag about is how late they stay at the office. Don't worry about the fact that these same people stroll into the office at 10:30 every morning, they stay late and so should you. Staying later makes you look like a harder worker. You're "burning the midnight oil". Also, executives are rarely in early so if you arrive by the crack of dawn no one will be around to see it. If you have the luxury, adjust your work schedule so you work later and can join the good ol' boys club that convenes every day after 5:30.

3. Manage your image.

Remember that awesome picture on your MySpace profile of you upside down slamming 4 beers in a beer bong? Well guess what? So does your next employer. Search for yourself on Google, Yahoo, etc and see what pages exist out there about you. If you find something that could harm your professional image get rid of it immediately. If you can find it then others can too. If you don't control the page, ask the person who does to remove the reference. If they won't, offer to pay for their trouble. A hundred bucks is a small price to pay for your reputation.

4. Get a new car.

Okay, so your 96 Corvette is fast, but at some point one of your business associates is going to have to ride in that car. Clear out your dirty laundry and discarded Taco Bell wrappers. If you can afford it, buy something fairly new and keep it in good condition. You don't want the boss reading your "I Got Slammed in Amsterdam" bumper sticker on his way into the office from the parking garage. Get a nice ride and keep it nice.

5. Read, read, read.

So you've graduated high in your class and you've mastered everything that's been put in front of you. Congratulations, you've just started. The industry you'll be working in is a microcosm with it's own celebrities, customs and lingo. Read every blog, trade mag, and news site you can about your industry. You'll have a better point of reference for the responsibilities of your new job and you'll be much better equipped to communicate with people in your industry.

6. Pay your off your credit cards every month.

Besides just being plain old smart, paying off your credit cards will help you avoid embarrassing business lunches with a rejected card. This will also help to keep your debt low and allow you to save money and invest. If you're sound with your own money then other people may trust you with theirs. Keep your credit in line and increase your chances for professional success.

7. Leave your politics and religion at home.

I know you had fun reducing your carbon footprint your senior year by protesting pants, but your co-workers don't care. Everyone at your new job is there for very serious reasons. They all have to pay bills, feed kids, and save for their retirement. Everyone wants to coexist with the least amount of drama and friction. If you walk around preaching about Scientology and asking people to sign your petition to end the war you may be endangering your job. Wait for the weekend or after work to start your crusade. If you are going to be political or religious make sure anything published on the web about you and your cause is kind to your reputation.

8. Work sick, but not if you're contagious.

Remember that part in the "Pursuit of Happyness" where Will Smith gets hit by a car and still goes to work? Do that. That exact same thing happened to me and after a quick trip to the hospital and some x rays I went back into the office. The amount of respect I received from that one little act was immeasurable. Show your boss how committed you are and cruise into work regardless of that nagging hang nail.

On the other hand, if you're hacking up green phlegm so much you look like you're possessed it may be a better idea to stay home. If you're forced into taking a sick day make sure you work from home and send emails to everyone so they know you're not sitting there catching up on soap operas.

9. Forget the words "I should get", "I deserve", and "I'm entitled".

You're not in the academic world any more. Tenure doesn't mean anything and no one is politically correct. What you get and what you deserve is tied directly to your value as an employee. If you have the opportunity to expand your duties, take it! Don't worry about whether you're paid at the right level for those responsibilities. This may be a test by your boss to see if you would be a good candidate for something more advanced. Additional duties also teach you new skills which will be very valuable to your career later in life. Prove your worth with exceptional work and avoid long winded emails about how everyone should get free sodas from the soda machine. No one cares.

10. Work for a small company at least once.

So you got that job at Dell answering tech support calls. Good for you! Unfortunately your career path at Dell is answering phones, hoping to get promoted to manage people who answer phones, and then maybe one day managing people who manage people who answer phones. Large corporations tend to pigeon hole you into one skill set. You'll have few opportunities to try out other challenges. Combine this with the fact that you have a whole host of people above you keeping you from advancing and you can see why this can be frustrating.

Work for a small company and expand your opportunities to try out new things. The experience you gain by having the opportunity to try on many different hats will be priceless. You'll have a much better perspective on how business is done and you'll have more opportunity to prove your worth.

Transitioning from college life to the business world can be a fun and exciting time in your life, but with a little proper planning you can get a leg up on other recent grads in the race to get ahead.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

An Error Has Been Detected

About sick of this showing up when using Analytic's new interface. Anyone else seeing this...

An Error Has Been Detected

Please try again. If you are experiencing long delays, please reduce the selected date range or disable date comparison. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Quality Score and Ad Creative

Greg Meyers recently posted an article on "Google Quality Score Myths" on his blog Searchmarketinggurus.com. In the article he said that "what really effects quality score at the Ad/Creative level is any change made to the landing page of a Destination URL field."

In my blog post Optimizing for Quality Score Based Ad Ranking I claimed that changing any part of your ad creative would re-set your performance history. This was based on advice I had received from Google in the past.

Apparently this is not the case any more.

Quality score history is of course just tied to keywords and not to ad creative.

Changing your ad creative may change your quality score on the keyword level as click through rates, etc. change with the new ad creative.

Any changes in quality score will effect your ad's ranking (min bid) in a short amount of time, but any historical factors used to determine quality score are tied solely to keywords. In short, changing ad creative will not change any historical factors related to your quality score.

It still may be a good idea to leave a static ad in your ad groups to combat problems with updating ad creative and dealing with editorial review, but in so far as retaining your performance history there is nothing to worry about.

Thanks to Greg for posting about this and forcing me to review this issue again. It's always great to revisit something and learn something new.

Friday, May 4, 2007

YouTube You Sued?

YouTube has announced it will be sharing ad revenue with users posting videos to their popular video sharing site. It has been no secret that YouTube has had problems with users posting copyrighted content.

To date this meant that copyright holders could submit a DMCA request to YouTube to have the content removed from the site, they could get a court order demanding the identity of the person who posted the copyrighted content, and they could sue the person who posted the material.

Now that users will be profiting from the content they post, what will this do to the user's legal liabilities? If a user gets sued for posting copyrighted material and the copyright holder can prove damages related to the revenue the poster received, what happens to the cut of that exact same revenue YouTube received?

The DMCA provides nice provisions designed to protect website owners from items posted by their users; however, now that YouTube is providing an exact picture of the advertising value of that video does that mean that the copyright holder can seek damages for YouTube's cut from that content? As a whole YouTube has a much better case for dealing with copyright content through the provisions of the DMCA, but when they start putting specific value on specific content are they opening up a bigger can of worms?

All in all, I like YouTube's strategy, but I hope they spend some time thinking about defining the value of specific content on a video file sharing site.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Feral Ferrell Video

More accustomed to the big screen than the computer screen, actor Will Ferrell has released a viral video on FunnyorDie.com.

I don't know if we're going to be seeing a run by other Hollywood types in the viral video space, but it's good to see some off the cuff work showing up out there. Maybe Tobey Maguire could do a Diet Coke and Mentos video or perhaps George Clooney could pretend to be a Jedi in his parent's basement. Either way I'm thinking guaranteed Webby's!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Iraq Propaganda 2.0

About two months ago Multi National Force Iraq, the US backed force in Iraq, started their own YouTube channel called MFNIraq.

The channel has a wide variety of videos including everything from F/A-18 Hornets bombing a chlorine truck to an Iraqi Boyscout Jamboree.

To my surprise, all the official comments I've read on this do not reference the existing YouTube propaganda campaign by Iraqi insurgents.

The insurgent YouTube campaign includes videos of horrendous insurgent activities with messages clearly designed to promote terrorism. The messages are all in Arabic and the videos are widely popular with their target audience.

I'm sure the US military noticed the effectiveness that the insurgents were experiencing by utilizing YouTube and decided to fight back with videos of their own. I'm a little confused why they didn't develop a channel in Arabic, as that might be a better way to counteract the effectiveness of opposing propaganda in Iraq itself.

This may also be a ploy to take some of the spotlight off of some of the more embarrassing military footage out on YouTube.

All in all, I find it very interesting to see these propaganda wars played out in the new 2.0 world. Maybe we could work on a scheme where future conflicts can be settled based who has the most friends on their MySpace profile or who has the coolest people listed in their MyBlogLog. Of course in that scenario with 175,060,680 Myspace friends, Tom would be world emperor.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I Googled iGoogle

So about now everyone knows about iGoogle, the new name for the Google Personalized Home Page. With my ever increasing list of "i" devices (all from Apple), I'm a little worn out on the whole "i" concept. Let's see how many "i" devices I have in my home.....

1 Shuffle iPod
1 Nano iPod
1 Regular iPod
1 Video iPod
1 iTrip
1 iHome

That's a total of 6 "i" devices! With the iTV and iPhone firmly on my shopping list and the iRobot inevitably waiting to pop its head up as the next gift I receive, I'm sure I'll be well beyond my "i" quota by the end of the year.

What ever happened to everything being "e" something? Are the days of "Etrade", "Ebooks", and "e commerce" behind us? What's the next big prefix on the Internet? What ever happened to everything being "smart"? Smart phones, smart refrigerators, smart cars? Are we so lazy that we have to shorten everything to one letter?

For now I'm going to sit quietly and wait for everything in my home to be prefixed with an "i"; although I'm a little apprehensive about getting an "iToilet". In the mean time I'm going to be sticking to good old fashion acronyms. TTYL TFRMB.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

SideReel Entertainment Search Engine

A business acquaintance of mine, Bart Myers formerly of GUBA, has launched a new editable entertainment search engine called SideReel.

SideReel is a Wiki type search engine which allows users to edit search results (more specifically the particular page about a topic) including updating broken links, episode descriptions, and cast lists. In Bart's email announcement about the new service he writes "SideReel is a user-editable index. If you find a link that is broken, incorrect information or just want to add something, you can – just click on the Edit icon on most pages. It's like Wikipedia, IMDb and on-demand TV all-in-one".

There are also links available through the search engine to full episodes of your favorite shows hosted at various places around the web.

I ran a search for "Heroes" (greatest show ever) and saw just one search result, but the end page (hosted on SideReel Wiki style) gave a complete description, cast list, crew list, similar shows, additional links (fan sites, etc.), episode guide, and links to NBC where you can watch past episodes.

I personally use episode guides quite often, so for me SideReel will be a good place to go for that. I'm not much for watching TV shows on my PC, but if you do SideReel is a good all in one place to get what you're looking for. Currently there is no advertising on the site so it's a nice clean look.

I didn't see any documentation on how they plan to handle spam edits on their listings and none of the links on the editable results pages have "nofollow". SideReel also doesn't require a user name to edit results so I could see where some link spammers might take advantage of this.

All in all, though I was very pleased with the site.

Congratulations Bart on the launch of your new service and good luck!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Froogle Still Shown in SMS Searches

As reported on the "Official Google Blog" Froogle has now been re-branded "Google Product Search". A quick look at froogle.com shows the domain has been redirected to google.com/products and all references to Froogle have been removed from this interface, yet Froogle lives on.

When running a search using Google's SMS based search service results for "price" queries still return "Froogle:" with the results.

To see for yourself SMS a query to Google for "price:plasma tv". I'm sure there all kinds of little references to Froogle lying around and it will take some time before all are removed.

For now, the Froogle brand hangs to life one forgotten piece of code at a time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Search Engine Land "We Made Is"

Looks like Search Engine Land may be having some CSS browser issues on their 404 pages. The following strings of text appear when loading a 404 page in Firefox...

"WE MADE IS !!! COUNTER MOMENT IS REACHED !!!'; } else { $dleft = floor($difference/60/60/24); $hleft = floor(($difference - $dleft*60*60*24)/60/60); $mleft = floor(($difference - $dleft*60*60*24 - $hleft*60*60)/60); $sleft = floor(($difference - $dleft*60*60*24 - $hleft*60*60 - $mleft*60)); $countdowndate = date("l j F Y, G:i:s",$cdate); $currenttime = date("j F Y, G:i:s",$today); echo ''.$dleft.''; } } ?>"

Screen shot....

I'm guessing there will be a fix real soon ;)

Thunderbird 2.0

As reported on countless news sites and blogs Mozilla has released Thunderbird 2.0. I love Thunderbird and extensively use it for reading email, newsgroups, and RSS feeds.

I actually read more through Thunderbird (thanks to RSS) than I do through my browser. As a Thunderbird power user I thought I'd post a few thoughts on some of the new features offered in 2.0.

"Message Tags: Create your own tags for organizing email."

This could be helpful especially with the support for custom tags and Thunderbird's search functionality. It will be some time before I start tagging things, thanks primarily to my extensive message filtering, but I thought it was of interest.

"Advanced Folder Views: Customize the folder pane to show favorite, unread or recent folders."

I like this feature most because of the ability to switch your view to see only unread folders. When you have a ton of RSS feeds split into different folders or a long list of email folders fed with filters having the ability to just view the unread folders can help cut down your scrolling and search time.

"Easy Access to Popular Web Mail Services: Gmail and .Mac users can access their accounts in Thunderbird by simply providing their user names and passwords."

I tried my GMail account and it worked well. I don't get a lot of mail on GMail, but I could see where people would really like this feature.

"Folder Summary Popups: Mouse over a folder with new messages to see a summary of the new messages in that folder."

I saw this in action for half a second and couldn't get Thunderbird to display the summary pop up again. From what I saw it looked like an easy way to quickly glance at messages in a specific folder. Hopefully I'll (or Mozilla) will figure out why this feature doesn't always work.

"Saved Search Folder Performance: Search results for saved search folders are now cached, improving folder loading performance."

These "saved search folders" look similar to sub folders and you could probably do the same thing with a folder and filter combination, but having the ability to keep your messages in one folder and simply save your searches is a big help. The folders do load fast so whatever Thunderbird did with caching seems to have worked well.

You can get a full list of the release notes here. Everything else didn't really apply to me directly so I didn't feel like commenting. If you have the older version of Thunderbird I'd suggest you upgrade and try out all the new goodies.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Error Hijacking. Code Orange

As reported by The Register, Orange Broadband in the UK is experimenting with contextual ad serving for unresolved domains.

The reason?

The register reports "An Orange spokesman said the move had been made "in order to deliver a better experience to our customers"".

As I pointed out in my post "Google Hijacking Unresolved Domains & 404 Error Pages?" this is a sticky situation. Mistyped domains represent a search for a specific brand (all be it a misspelled search) and if an ISP inserts contextual advertising a.) they're profiting by listing ads searched under someone else's trademark and b.) in many cases the original trademark owner may be paying for the traffic from that mistyped domain if they're advertising on the contextual ad network used to serve the ad.

Making trademark owners pay for a mistyped domain or allowing competitors to advertise on someone else's trademark doesn't seem right to me. I understand the drive to offer a better user experience, but perhaps suggested corrections rather than suggested ads would be a better way to go about this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bury Brigade Buries Digg

Social Media Optimization is *the* buzzword for 2007. Countless webmasters, bloggers, SEOs, and PR professionals are obsessed with increasing visibility by optimizing their site for portals like Digg, Netscape, etc.

Bury Brigade

One of the more interesting phenomenon of the social media experience is the so called "bury brigade" at Digg. This theorized group of Diggers are blamed for burying stories based on a 'group think' mentality of what is right and what is wrong for Digg.

The most publicized effect of the run away bury brigade is their hatred of anything to do with SEO. In Danny Sullivan's article "Diggers Can't Handle The Truth (About SEO)" on Search Engine Land Danny discusses an article he did about Jason Calacanis and how that story was buried after 30 minutes merely for the fact that the article had to do with SEO. Many other SEO bloggers and webmasters have experienced similar kinds of burying at the hands of the run away bury brigade.

Free Advertising

I personally just released an article (not about SEO) which was Dugg by a top Digger and received nearly 163 Diggs on it's own merit before it was buried by the bury brigade. This is the second time this has happened. Now in and of itself this is a frustrating event, but when I think back to all the free advertising and links I've sent Digg I start to cringe.

For starters I sent out an email announcement to my customers alerting them that I was integrating social media links in with my site and mentioned Digg by name. Secondly, I include a Digg link on any article I produce and was even in the process of including a Digg link on some of our more tools based pages.

The user base for my site is extremely technical and a great target market for Digg. Because of our social media optimizations (including Digg links on articles) Digg has gotten a ton of free advertising on my site. What have I gotten in exchange? One article on the front page of Digg and a string of articles buried before they even had a chance.

When will the madness end?

My story is probably similar to a lot of people. As webmasters we obsess over increasing our site's visibility and view social media as one more outlet to make that happen. As part of its nature social media optimization includes free advertising and links for social media sites. When a group like the bury brigade starts to arbitrarily bury content because of group think mentality they start to threaten the relevancy of the site.

I for one am a little frustrated with all the free traffic and advertising I've given Digg, so I'm on the verge of removing every Digg link from my site and never mentioning them again. I'll find another social media site to focus my optimization efforts on and give them the benefit of the free advertising and links. Are you with me?

What can Digg do?

For starters Digg can be a little more helpful with webmasters. While users tend make their site great, publishers help make their site popular by spreading the word by optimizing for their site. Digg is a flash in the pan and however long their social media rule will reign it will one day end. Don't forget that the "Digg Effect" was originally the "Slashdot Effect".

Digg can prolong their popularity by offering support for webmasters in the same way that the major search engines do and by reigning in the bury brigade. While user driven headlines are a great tool, user driven buries can be arbitrarily unfair. The result is a bunch of ticked off webmasters not willing to send links and traffic to your site any more.

My dream for Digg is to unite their community of users and their currently underground community of publishers to help generate even more interesting content for Digg's readers. By primarily focusing on user driven issues and largely ignoring the publisher side Digg is turning their back on half of the equation that made them a great site to begin with. Great content.

#or at least links to great content anyways#

Digg this?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A "First" in Ad Creative Trademark Violations

Once again a search engine has dumbfounded me by rejecting some of my ads after I make minor changes.

As part of a new campaign I'm launching, I needed to change one character on about 1000 of my Google Adwords ads. It was as simple as changing one three digit number to another three digit number.

One version of these ads contained the phrase "$x off your first month". The ads have been running for many months now with no problems. On this most recent update the only change I made to the versions with "$x off your first month" was changing that three digit number to another three digit number.

The ads were subsequently rejected because the word "first" was considered a trademark violation. Forget the fact that the ads were already running with the word "first" in them, the thing that bugs me the most is that a common English word would work it's way into Google trademark filtering.

Please keep in mind that there is no company in our market with the registered trademark of "first" so I'm sure this isn't the cause was. Furthermore I was using it a way that in no way would violate anyone's trademark.

I understand the need to filter ad creative for trademarks, but I would hope that Google were smart enough to differentiate between actual trademark violations and the use of common English phrases.

One way to go about this would be to associate trademarks with a list of key phrases. For example if I'm advertising on airline related terms the word "united" should trigger a trademark error message (needs human review), but if I'm advertising for a political campaign I should be able to use the phrase"united" with impunity.

We know Google can easily do keyword association for trademark filtering because of their keyword suggestion and broad match capabilities. I'm just hoping I won't see the day when every word is trademarked and I have to prove to Google I'm not using common English words to violate someone else's trademark.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Translation Vendor Selection

After a few recent positive experiences with one of our translation companies I thought I'd go ahead and give some props and talk a little bit about factors effecting vendor selection for translation projects.

I've been through several large translation projects in the past and have learned quite a bit along the way. I've even posted about some of these lessons before on this blog.

Before I give props to my vendor let me explain the two types of translation projects that web masters typically undergo.

Code Translation: This is where your translation company takes your website code and filters out all the little strings of code and translates the readable text left over. When they're done translating they re-insert all your code and in theory you would have a functional site when the project is complete.

Copy Translation: This is where you provide plain text to your translation company and they simply translate what you provide. You are then responsible for coding the translated copy into a functional site.

There are several factors that will dictate which type of translation project you need to undergo...

1. Volume of pages to be translated. If you have an existing site with a lot of pages, it might be easier to have your translation company scrub the code and translate the readable text. If you're just translating one or two pages it might be easier and cheaper to scrub the code yourself and just send over a plain text file to be translated.

2. Code complexity. Many sites will pull text from a central file and insert it into the rendered page. The file where the text is pulled from may be largely plain text. If this is the case it is cheaper and faster to provide that plain text file to the translation company. If you have a fairly complex code base you may want the translation company to use their automated tools to remove your code and translate your readable text.

3. Do the pages exist? If you haven't coded the page yet it is much easier and cheaper to provide a plain text file of the copy for your new page.

There are also several factors that may effect which translation company you use for a specific type of project...

1. Code filter quality. Almost every translation company has some sort of code filtering capability. Most of companies use off the shelf tools offered by a company called SDL. In my experience these off the shelf tools are moderately effective; however, if you have a fairly complex code base then you may find yourself with a huge mess when you get your files back. Some companies will also develop custom code filters designed around your code base. You'll have to pay a little extra to get the code filter built but the files you get back can be nearly perfect and can save you a ton of time during implementation.

2. Quality of translations. This is the hardest thing to check because let's face it, if you had employees who could read and write in the language you wouldn't be hiring an outside company. Be ware of translation quality and use some of the techniques I describe in my article "Translating a Website - Keyword Analysis" to make sure your translation company is providing accurate translations.

3. Cost. The primary cost driver for most translation companies is cost per word. The cost per word varies based on new words, exact matches, and fuzzy matches. In addition to cost per word, you'll also have to deal with project management, quality testing, and other similar fees. These vary by company and can significantly effect the end price.

I actually use different translation companies for different types of projects. Now, if you're a translation purest you're probably screaming about translation consistency about now, but if you manage your translation vendors properly through an established translation dictionary and detailed translation instructions backed by exhaustive research then you'll probably be okay.

The company I want to give props to is Click2Translate. They offer a nice interface for starting and tracking a translation project. They're best to use with plain text translations, but they can handle code filtering if need be. Their cost per word is competitive and because it's an automated ordering process there are no management fees. I like to use them for one off plain text translations like press releases, keyword lists, and ad creative.

They're fast, professional, and their web interface is easy to use. If you have small plain text translation projects I'd definitely recommend Click2Translate. If you have a project which requires a lot of code filtering I'd recommend you check out several different vendors and even have them translate a page or two on your site to see how effective their code filters are. The last thing you want to do is to finish a two month translation project only to find out your code has been butchered in the process.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Snowball's Chance in Texas in April

I know most of the US was experiencing record breaking temperatures this past Easter, but what amazed me was the fact that I was able to make a snow ball from the sleet / snow built up on my car parked in central Texas. Snow is rare enough in Texas, let alone enough of it to stick to any surface, but to be able to make a snowball in April is truly amazing.

My only regret is that I didn't save the snowball and put it for sale on ebay for $20,000. Oh well, I guess it's back to my quest to find french fries shaped like US presidents.

Friday, March 30, 2007

GameFly, Video Ads, and Brightspot.tv

I received an email from GameFly today about a partner deal they have worked out with Brightspot.tv. The offer was a discount on my GameFly membership fees if I joined Brightspot. To earn discounts on my membership I would have to view a certain number of video ads and earn credits which would then be applied toward my bill.

The signup process is fairly invasive requiring you to fill out first & last name, zip, email, birth date, marital status, education level, and income I'm not one for handing out that level of detail about myself so naturally, I lied.

The videos are displayed through Flash with most navigational elements of the video section also done in Flash. The first commercial pre-loaded and offered a $.50 credit on my account. The commercial was for AIG insurance and after the commercial the site cued me with two questions about my current insurance situation. I lied again.

After completing the survey I was shown various logos representing other commercials I could watch. I chose Mc Donald's and watched a 1:01 minute clip. At the end of that clip there was a survey about what sports I liked. I didn't lie there as my conscious was starting to get to me.

In the end I watched all 5 of the videos currently listed on the site and got a whopping $2.50 credit on my GameFly account!

Like most incentive based ad networks I used it primarily for the incentive and will likely not be influenced by the advertisements. I'm not a huge fan of these types of ad networks for this very reason.

If you're a GameFly customer and you want to burn about 10 minutes you can get a quick credit on your account by using Brightspot.tv's rewards based ad site. If you're an advertiser on Brightspot make sure you follow your ROI very closely ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Advanced Query Syntax Ban at Microsoft's Live Search

In my recent post "MS Live Link Command Broken or am I just Banned?" I pointed out that the "link:" command wasn't working over at MSN. After checking around on various search forums and blogs I discovered that this problem was something that was affecting all of MSN's users.

Well, yesterday Eytan Seidman the Lead Program Manager of Live Search over at Microsoft posted on the Live Search Blog that this was done on purpose and was not an error.

In the post Eytan states "We have been seeing broad use of these features by legitimate users but unfortunately also what appears to be mass automated usage for data mining".

If Live is experiencing automated queries (and I'm sure that they are) then this is totally understandable. Using "Advanced Query Syntax" to research websites is an extremely valuable tool, so valuable in fact that I'm sure there are a lot of unethical people out there who would want to leverage automated processes to gather this data.

These types of tools are for personal use and not an invitation for script kiddies to bombard Live's servers with endless automated queries.

Eytan goes on to state "We have a few good ideas up our sleeve on how to enable this, but want to make sure we are making the right changes that will give you the functionality you want and all of our customers the experience they deserve".

I wonder what methods they'll employ? Perhaps advanced query syntax searches will require a login? Perhaps Live will start aggressively banning IP addresses? Perhaps you'll have to verify the query through image verification?

In any case, I understand that the few will most often ruin it for the many so I welcome Live's efforts to put the breaks on abusive automated queries.

On some level I almost want to see Live start to sell this data. If there are rampant problems with people trying to harvest Live's data perhaps there's a market there? This might be a good way to engage webmasters with Live and perhaps drive advertising. Maybe webmasters could get a certain volume of link data once you spend a certain dollar amount advertising at Live?

By all accounts Live's advanced syntax query tools are very helpful. I think it's time Live started leveraging that value to drive advertising spend.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

David V's Blog Mentioned on Daily SearchCast

My recent post "10 Rules for Co-Hosting The Daily SearchCast with Danny Sullivan" was read in it's entirety on the March 27th, 2007 episode of The Daily SearchCast. As a long time fan I'm glad to get the mention and it seemed like everyone enjoyed the post.

You can download the episode here. The post is mentioned starting at minute 31:55.

Search Engine Smackdown

Online marketer Neil Patel recently released a great search trivia flash game called Search Engine Smackdown.

In the game you can select famous characters from the world of search and have them duke it out in a battle royale cued by whether or not you answer trivia questions correctly.

Pit your favorite characters from the world of search against each other with none other than Danny Sullivan as the referee. Have you ever wanted to see Sergey tap a keg of whoop ass on Bill Gates (other than in search market share)? Well dream no more because Search Engine Smackdown can make that a reality.

This is a fun game and a clever little piece of link bait. Hey, he got two links out of me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

MS Live Link Command Broken or am I just Banned?

Not sure if this is a problem with MS Live or if my IP is just banned, but all "link:" commands are coming up blank today at MS Live. Regular searches and "site:" searches work so it's pretty much just the "link:" command which is serving up blank pages.

This has pretty much been happening all day so I don't think it's a momentary glitch. I do a "link:" search every other day or so for various reasons, so I'd be really surprised if I were banned. Of course "link:" searches are the only kind of search I do on MS Live so I couldn't blame them if they did ban me ;)

#As I'm writing this I jumped over to WebmasterWorld to see people already talking about this. Guess it is a site wide issue. I hope they fix it quick. MS Live needs all the traffic they can get ;)#

Inside AdWords: AdWords Editor's "Top 10 Favorites"

Here's a good post from Google detailing a few of my favorite Adwords Editor Features.Inside AdWords: AdWords Editor's "Top 10 Favorites"

If you haven't played around with Editor yet give it a go.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Search the Web with Kevin Federline

Fresh from staring in a Super Bowl ad, Kevin Federline has decided to throw his hat into the search game.

That's right. Move over Google, K-Fed is running a search engine. Well sort of.

K-Fed's search engine is being powered by Prodege.com which basically is a search engine which pays users by offering prizes. The prizes are offered by non-profits to users and the non-profit gets a take from the ad revenue. Prodege seems to be powered or "enhanced" by Yahoo somehow.

In this case it looks like K-Fed is taking a cut of the ad revenue for himself and offering prizes to his dedicated fan (I know what I typed).

After a quick look at the "here's who's winning" board on his home page it looks like most people are winning "Entry into Autograph Sweepstakes", "B-Day Party Sweepstakes Entry", " Kevin Federline T-Shirt", etc.

While those prizes alone would make any red blooded American want to flood Kevin's search engine with thousands of queries for Viagra and pen1s enlargement I thought I'd take a quick look at the quality of Kevin's search engine by running a few searches for things I'm actually looking for right now....

Query: Plasma TV
Results: Yahoo sponsored ads

Query: Car Parts
Results: Yahoo sponsored ads

Well you get the point.

Some queries I tried did return definitions, but outside of that all the results are sponsored ads from Yahoo. Only displaying ads will of course help Kevin maximize the return on his revenue share and pay for all those "Entry into Autograph Sweepstakes" he's giving away.

After Dustin Diamond's attempt to get us to "Save Screeech's House" and now Kevin's foray into the world of search I'm seeing a nice little "save the pseudo-celebrity" vertical developing here. Speaking of, does anyone have Bobby Brown's email address handy?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

10 Rules for Co-Hosting The Daily SearchCast with Danny Sullivan

I'm a huge fan of "The Daily SearchCast" with Danny Sullivan and would recommend it to anyone wanting to keep up to date on the world of search. Danny Sullivan is great, yet I must say that the co-hosts leave something to be desired. As such, I've decided to write up a few quick rules for co-hosting "The Daily SearchCast" with Danny Sullivan.

Co-Host Rules

1. Let Danny sigh. When Danny sighs it means he's frustrated with Digg or Belgian newspapers. Just ignore the sigh and let Danny vent before he explodes Peter Patrelli style.

2. Let Danny rant. Ranting is Danny's small way of trying to change the world of search. If you don't let Danny rant then all of Google's products will remain in beta and every website will require a login to view articles.

3. Let Danny sing. Danny's singing is why most of us listen to The Daily SearchCast in the first place. Without a catchy tune most SEOs would lose patience and stare longingly at the Page Rank meter in their Google toolbar.

4. Let Danny talk about his phone. Danny loves his new smart phone and wants to share stories about it with his loyal listeners. Find at least 3 opportunities to bring up mobile search so Danny can talk about his phone.

5. Don't talk over Danny. This is the most commonly ignored rule by co-hosts. Danny likes to talk, and when he brings up a subject he's going to give you his take on it. Don't talk over Danny when he's trying to make a point. Dave Naylor I'm looking in your direction.

6. Help Danny with the chat room. Multi-tasking is something operating systems do. Danny is too focused on kicking ass with search commentary to be responding to questions in the chat room. As co-host it's your job to field questions and bring up any interesting information.

7. Translate Danny's Britishisms. Danny lives in the UK now and as such his brain is slowly being taken over by British culture. Be at the ready to let listeners know what a swimming costume, boot, and kit are.

8. Let Danny "Go with it from there". At the end of most pieces of commentary Danny says "and we'll go with it from there". That is your cue to drop the topic and prepare yourself for the next rant or sigh.

9. Don't disagree with Danny. SEO may not be rocket science, but hosting The Daily SearchCast is. If Danny says something just assume that it's true and post a link to it in the chat room.

10. Let Danny get to dinner. Danny records The Daily SearchCast right before dinner time, and if the show goes long he'll be in trouble with Mrs. King of Search. Sum things up quickly when Danny's wife is IMing him or pay the price.

I hope these rules will help future co-hosts of The Daily SearchCast live up to the high levels of professionalism and quality that Danny delivers in every single episode. Keep up the good work.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Optimizing for Quality Score Based Ad Ranking

As you've probably read in constant news reports and blog posts Yahoo released algorithmic based ad serving on its ad network. This has been available at Google for quite some time.

The idea behind algorithmic based ad serving is that many factors are used to determine how your ad should rank. These factors include bid, click through rate, conversion rate, ad copy, and landing page copy.

So why wouldn't search engines just use the highest bid to rank ads? I often use the following example when explaining this to people....

What is better for Google, to rank an ad with a $100 bid which has a 1% click through rate or to rank an ad with a $2 bid with a 100% click through rate? If they rank the $100 bid with 1% CTR they'll earn $100 for every 100 impressions. If they rank the ad with the $2 bid and 100% CTR they'll earn $200 for every 100 impressions.

By ranking the ad with the higher CTR they earn more money and provide more relevancy for their end users. Of course the real algorithm is much more complex than this, but you can see the basic logic behind algorithmic based ad ranking.

When you're looking into optimizing for algorithmic based ad ranking it's important to know the impact of making changes to certain aspects of your campaign. Since I am most familiar with this from a Google perspective I'll explain how things work over there. From my understanding most of these rules will apply to Yahoo; however, I make no guarantees.

Destination URLs

The three basic levels you can set destination URLs are keyword, Adgroup, and Ad.

Action: Changing Keyword & Adgroup Destination URLs.

Effect: The next time the Google ad bot crawls your ad it will go to your new destination URL and use on page factors to determine if your quality score should be changed. If the landing page has not changed then your quality score will not adjust and your ads should continue to rank as they have been.

Optimization: Try to set destination URLs on a keyword or Adgroup level. Only update destination URLs when absolutely necessary. If you need to implement new destination URLs create a test Adgroup.

(Test Adgroup: Pause the Adgroup you want to make changes to. Create an identical Adgroup and change the factors you want to test. If everything tests out okay update the original Adgroup and un-pause it. Pause or delete the test Adgroup.)

Action: Changing Ad Destination URLs

Effect: Your ad will be viewed as a new ad and all previous CTR history will be lost. The algorithm will still use factors like your keyword and Adgroup CTR history to help determine your quality score and your rankings, but you will lose data associated with the ad itself.

Optimization: Avoid changing destination URLs on the ad level at all costs. If you need to update the destination URLs on the ad level create a test Adgroup.

Changing Copy

Updating your campaign may also include updating your ad copy or landing page copy.

Action: Updating landing page copy or changing landing page.

Effect: Any changes made to your landing pages will change your quality score and possibly effect your rankings.

Optimization: Use a test Adgroup to check the effectiveness of your landing page changes.

Action: Updating ad copy.

Effect: All CTR history with the ad will be lost. CTR history on the keyword and Adgroup level will still be used to rank your ad.

Optimization: This can be the most frustrating aspect of optimizing for algorithmic based ad ranking. Even if you make minute changes to an ad like adding an explanation point or comma your ad is effectively starting from scratch. This can be especially problematic if you have to change a certain aspect of your ad from time to time.

Say for example that you are advertising a piece of software. Your ad reads "Comes with 5 features". As you ad features you need to change the ad accordingly ("comes with 6 features, comes with 10 features, etc.). Each time you change your ad the ad starts from scratch and you may have problems regaining ranking.

In these types of scenarios I like to create neutral ads in each Adgroup which don't include the variable ("comes with lots of features!"). When I update the ads that do include the variable I have to start from scratch on those ads; however, because I have a variable neutral version I have an ad with CTR history to help me rank for my target phrases as my variable based ads start to build CTR history and rank on their own.

Understanding how changes to your campaigns effect your ad rankings is an important part of optimizing how you manage your search CPC accounts. The key to updating any campaign is the test Adgroup strategy I described earlier in this post. Pausing a successful Adgroup and creating a test Adgroup allows you to back out of any changes and go back to the more successful model at any time.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Adwords Reps Moving in the Plex

This past weekend my company ended up moving offices here in Austin. Ironically, our Adwords reps also ended up moving to a new building in the Googleplex.

Supposedly it's a brand new building a little ways off the main campus. There is no restaurant, but there are snack areas and the chefs from the main restaurants in the plex make food in advance and bring it over. Gotta love those Google perks.

Yahoo Talking Smack About Google's Usability


Considering my disdain for Yahoo's usability on the PPC side I find if very funny that they're giving Google lessons in usability. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks.

Here on some of my thoughts on Yahoo's PPC usability in particular...

"You can't open up campaigns, ad groups, or keyword settings in new tabs. I love being able to go into Google and open up multiple adgroups in new tabs in Firefox. This is a great way to quickly make tweaks on problem adgroups. Thanks to Yahoo's Flash based interface this isn't an option."

"Editing your campaigns through spreadsheets is a pain. Google has given us a nice tool in the Google Adwords Editor where we can easily paste in cells from a spreadsheet to update things like ads, adgroups, campaigns, and keywords. Generally there are no more than 6 or 7 rows needed to update any element. In Yahoo, I have to enter 30 rows of information for every element. I also have to make sure I upload the spreadsheet in a specific format. No easy cut and paste here."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

SalesForce.com Down?

Just got back from lunch and noticed SalesForce.com is down. The problem seems to have been resolved after about a 20 minute outage.

I wonder what an outage costs SalesForce.com's customers in terms of lost productivity. Millions? Tens of millions? Hundreds of millions?

What about all those missed conference calls caused by not having access to conference numbers or direct phone numbers stored in SalesForce? Have you ever missed a meeting or call because your CRM system was down? Did it cost you a deal?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Google Hijacking Unresolved Domains & 404 Error Pages?

As recently announced in the New York Times, Google will start reporting sites sending traffic to Adwords customers utilizing the Google content network (Adsense).

"In the next few months, Google’s advertiser reports will begin listing the sites where each ad runs, Ms. Malone said. She added that advertisers on the Google networks would soon be able to bid on contextual ads on particular Web sites rather than simply buying keywords that appeared across Google’s entire network."

This is an important step for Google because advertisers can easily identify sites which either don't convert well or convert very well. This allows for a much more targeted approach to CPC bidding. These reports will come in very handy in combination with Google's recently announced support for CPC in site targeted campaigns.

Now, I have already seen the reports for my content campaign, and I noticed something very strange. My own domains (not running Adsense) were appearing in the reports. So why is Google charging me for clicks from a site which was not running Adsense?

Basically what's happening is that on certain Dell and Gateway computers where there are pre-installed Google Toolbars, unresolved domains and possibly 404 pages are redirected to an Adsense ads page.

This is also happening with AOL customers, but I'm not clear as to whether this is tied to the Google Toolbar or if this is some DNS based redirect in place by AOL.

If the domain that the user received the error on is your domain (possibly through a 404 message) or "close" to your domain (via an unresolved domain) then your domain will show in your content network logs if the user clicked on your ad via the Adsense page served in its place.

Since a good number of people bid for their own brand through the content network it is probably safe to say that many advertisers will start seeing their own domain in their Google Content Network site reports regardless of whether they run Adsense or not.

Now I have some problems....

Problem 1 - 404 Hijacks:

I have no direct evidence that 404 pages are being replaced with Adsense pages, but the fact that my own domain is showing in my logs makes me think that this a 404 hijack situation. If it was simply a misspelled domain (unresolved domain) why wouldn't the misspelling be represented as a non-resolving domain in the reports? Furthermore, I do see misspelled domains in the report which are only one letter off from my primary domain. Why wouldn't that show up as coming from my primary domain?

I'm curious to see if evidence will surface that Google, Gateway, Dell, and AOL replace 404 pages from a domain with Adsense pages. 404 pages are designed to show the user that they have made a mistake and to offer them additional navigational options. Replacing 404 pages with Adsense ad pages borders on low brow adware techniques and would be a big black eye for everyone involved.

Problem 2 - Unresolved Domain Hijacks:

At the very least Google, AOL, Dell, and Gateway are inserting ads on unresolved domains. Sometimes domain owners want to purchase a domain and leave it unresolved. Now this isn't the greatest approach from an SEO / Internet Marketing point of view, but that's the domain owner's prerogative. This is a good strategy to lock in valuable domains (or misspellings) so your competition can't utilize them.

Now, in some situations your unresolved domain is being served Adsense ad pages without your permission. Of course, your competitors can bid on your brand name through contextual advertising; so in effect your competitors can show ads on your domain without your permission and without you even electing to have Adsense hosted on your domain.

Furthermore, if you advertise through contextual advertising on your own brand you are paying for clicks being generated by someone who entered a domain you own to begin with!

If Google is showing ads on domains without permission (either through 404 hijacking or unresolved domains) will you be able to target that domain through a site targeted campaign? Is it time to start buying site targeted campaigns for misspelled unresolved domains?

I do not think that any ISP, toolbar, or search engine should replace the content on a domain with ads. In the era of net neutrality I'm surprised that Google would participate in prioritizing and inserting content onto properties they don't own. At the very least I think it's time to take a second look at what you're doing with your unresolved domains.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Click Here for Googlebombs

Back on January 25th the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog announced "By improving our analysis of the link structure of the web, Google has begun minimizing the impact of many Googlebombs."

Googlebombs as you may know is the practice of linking to a specific site using specific link text (anchor text). The most well known case of Googlebombing involved George W. Bush's site ranking for the term "miserable failure". Of course the term "miserable failure" was never mentioned on his site, but because enough sites linked to his site using that term his site ranked for it.

In Google's blog post they stated that they are trying to stop this practice algorithmically.

"Algorithms are great because they scale well: computers can process lots of data very fast, and robust algorithms often work well in many different languages. That's what we did in this case, and the extra effort to find a good algorithm helps detect Googlebombs in many different languages."

So the question persists did Google change the results by hand, implement a limited filter on the sites they knew were being bombed, or did they implement an overall algorithmic change?

I have a few examples which seem to indicate the changes were either done by hand, or the filters were only applied to sites they knew about.

Example 1 - "Click Here"

As you can see the top 3 results are for Adobe, QuickTime, and RealPlayer. None of these sites have the phrase "click here" on their web page yet likely have thousands of sites linking to them with the anchor text "click here". You could argue these sites were Googlebombed for the phrase "click here".

Example 2 - "home"

Now the top two results here are the New York Times and the LA Times. They do have mentions of the word "home" on their home pages, but there is no significant keyword density or specific information on the site which would indicate the site is about the topic "home". The reason I included this example is because I would suspect that this Googlebomb was caused by internal links (thousands of articles on their sites with "home" links pointing back to the main page).

Example 3 - "This Site"

Again, the top three results don't have any mention of the phrase "this site" on their home page. This is likely the result of other people linking to these sites with the anchor text "this site".

My conclusion from all this is that you can still get away with Googlebombing, but as soon as Google finds out they're either adding that site to a special algorithmic filter or they're changing the results by hand. I do not believe there is an overall algorithmic filter which prevents sites from ranking for terms merely by the anchor text pointing to them.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

10 Things I hate about Yahoo Advertising

1. Only 10% of my search traffic comes from Yahoo. I know Yahoo has a larger market share in search than 10%, but most of my advertising is done for very technical terms and Yahoo represents a very un-technical audience.

2. You can't easily (or at all) opt out of sites in their search network. Yahoo's "search" network includes arbitrage sites which really should be included in their content network. I've complained about this at the very highest ranks of their advertising group and the best response I've received is "this is something we're looking at".

3. You can't open up campaigns, ad groups, or keyword settings in new tabs. I love being able to go into Google and open up multiple adgroups in new tabs in Firefox. This is a great way to quickly make tweaks on problem adgroups. Thanks to Yahoo's Flash based interface this isn't an option.

4. As I write this my Yahoo login page isn't loading.

5. Load times in general are very slow. Again, this is largely in part to the Flash based interface.

6. Editorial hypocrisy. When I change one word in an ad or a bid on a specific keyword the editorial team rejects the ad or keyword even though it has been running for months or even years. If an ad or keyword was good before why reject it now?

7. Editing your campaigns through spreadsheets is a pain. Google has given us a nice tool in the Google Adwords Editor where we can easily paste in cells from a spreadsheet to update things like ads, adgroups, campaigns, and keywords. Generally there are no more than 6 or 7 rows needed to update any element. In Yahoo, I have to enter 30 rows of information for every element. I also have to make sure I upload the spreadsheet in a specific format. No easy cut and paste here.

8. Cost per conversions are too high. The traffic I get from Yahoo is mostly trash. I'm not sure if it's their user demographics, click fraud, or what, but it's much harder to get good ROI from Yahoo for me.

9. Yahoo only supports Advanced and Standard key phrase matching. I like having three options for keyword bidding with Google (phrase, broad, and exact matching). I don't like the all or nothing approach with Yahoo. I'm sure this approach is good for their bottom line, but it seems like it takes a lot of bid control out of the hand of the advertiser.

10. Lack of response to common problems. I'm involved with roughly 6 betas at Google right now. Every time I have an issue with Google I complain, my account rep takes note, and eventually I get included in a beta to address the problem. Yahoo's biggest achievement recently has been supporting multiple ads per adgroup and algorithmic based PPC ranking. This is something that's been available through their competitors for a long time now and really should be a standard part of a search marketing network. I have yet to participate in a beta or see a release from Yahoo which I felt raised the bar.

What's your biggest Yahoo advertising gripe?

Google Supports CPC for Site Targeted Campaigns

Google is now running a beta for CPC bidding in site targeted campaigns.

Google Site Targeted CPC Announcement

Site targeted campaigns allow you to advertise in Google's content network (websites running Adsense) on a site by site basis. The idea of site targeted campaigns is that you can more easily manage your bids. If a particular site is performing very well you can increase your bid without increasing your bid on all the other trash sites included in Google's content network. You can also walk down bids on under performing sites without removing the site all together from your campaigns.

Up until now the only bidding option for site targeted campaigns was CPM (cost per 1000 impressions). The biggest problem with this is that you're paying for people to see your ad rather than clicking on your ad. CPC (cost per click) bidding allows you to only pay for people who click on your ad. This gives you a much better chance to track your advertising spend in relation to actual visitors to your site.

In my industry a lot of the sites with Adsense ads on them have unusually high "impressions to unique user" ratios. This means that only a hand full of users create a large number of impressions. For me, paying for impressions is an incredibly inefficient way of bidding as impressions do not accurately represent the potential for sales. Furthermore, as time goes on many web users will start to develop banner blindness to Google's Adsense ads. This means that impressions will start to represent fewer and fewer clicks.

CPC bidding allows me to manage my bids in relation to actual traffic. In the case of sites with high impressions to unique user ratios, CPC bidding allows me to keep from paying for my ad to be shown to the same person over and over again.

I welcome this development over and Google and I have already signed up to become part of this beta. If I get in I'll post my experiences here along with another beta I'm part of (site performance reports).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Google's Master Plan Video

Interesting perspective on the growth and direction of Google in relation to relevancy. Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

Translating a Website - Keyword Analysis

If you've ever translated a website you probably know that it is at the very least a daunting process. I've been through this several times and have a few pieces of information which should prove helpful related to keyword analysis and translation. Getting this part right in advance can save you a lot of headaches down the line and can improve the overall quality of your translations.

Keyword Analysis

Don't trust your translation company to translate your primary keywords. Many keywords which may be specific to your industry may still be used as the English word vs. what ever translated version your translation company provides. There's nothing more frustrating than finding out you translated primary keywords only to see your foreign customers use the English version once you've launched your site.

1. Make a list of primary keywords or difficult to translate keywords (industry specific terms) and translate just those terms into your target languages.
2. Perform searches on the English and translated terms in the appropriate language specific search engine (nl.google.com, de.google.com, etc.). Make sure you limit the search for pages in the target languages.
3. Use a machine translation tool to translate these pages into English. Review the site and see how the site uses the word in context and make note of whether they use the English or translated version of the word. Also see if the site is relevant to your business and if they're using the words in the same context.
4. Poll your customers, send an email announcement, create a blog post, or create a translation wiki. A little debate and feedback can go a long way in helping you decide what the best version of a term is.
5. Buy PPC on both the English term and the suggested translations in a new campaign. Limit that campaign to just your target language. Start counting impressions on your ad. Don't worry too much about translating your ad or website at this point (especially in western languages). English ads and websites on foreign language search engines are quite common. This is by far the most accurate way to measure the use of words in a specific language.
6. Make sure to keep an eye out for "anglicized" translations. Sometimes neither the literal translation nor the English version is used. In these cases your customers may be adding language specific extensions to English words to make them easier to understand when reading. Ask your translation company to check for anglicized versions of your keywords.
7. Provide a glossary to your translation company for hard to translate words so they're aware of the exact meaning of specific words. Make sure to include any specific research you've already done.

If you follow these steps you can get a good idea in advance as to whether the literal translation, English version, or anglicized version of a keyword is used. This will prove very valuable to your PPC and SEO campaigns, and will greatly improve the quality of your translations overall.