September 21, 2014

Google First Page Bid Estimate is Bull$h!&

Google First Page Bid Estimate

Google announced Monday on the AdWords blog that users would no longer be seeing “Inactive for search” for keywords and instead would be given a first page bid estimate if their bid was too low. Many of you may have missed this little tidbit in the announcement because it was somewhat couched in their announcement that Quality Score would now be calculated for each and every search at the time of the search. That’s just fine by me and I really don’t have any problems with the first page bid estimate either. I’ve been guesstimating it for awhile since showing on the first page is critical. A majority of users don’t ever go to the 2nd page, so I see the merit. However, in reading the post from Google I noticed a couple of disturbing answers in the FAQs they posted:

 Finally, for first page bid estimates, many of you were interested in learning how these would compare to your old minimum bids. 

For queries without many advertisers competing for placement, the first page bid estimate should be relatively close to your existing minimum bid. However, queries with a high level of advertiser competition may have significantly higher first page bid estimates, because you’ll likely need to bid above the old minimum bid to rank higher than your competition and show on the first page.

Google saying their estimates will be higher? Sounded a bit fishy to me, so I did some research and here is a screenshot from an account:Google First Page Bid EstimateI don’t know about you, but this sure looks like Google is pumping up the “estimates” in order to get people to up their bids. These keywords are showing on the first page at these bid levels as evidenced by the average position. So is Google trying to pump up their revenues to satisfy Wall Street? 

Google Analytics Interface Change

Google Analytics Changed

I don’t know when Google officially tweaked their Analytics interface, but I noticed the slight change today. Google Analytics Changed I would draw your attention to the dropdown menu on the left just below “Ecommerce Overview”. This used to be on the right side of the screen and frankly I think it works a lot better over here. I used to always be clicking the wrong dropdown when I was trying to change the date range. What do you think of the change?

Marketing in a Recession? Use AdWords

In a post over on TechCrunch, Don Reisinger notes how online advertising spend is going up, up, up, while the overall economy seems to be in the midst of a R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N.

Intuitively the findings make perfect sense to me. Say you’re an e-retailer who sells products online. You are feeling somewhat of a pinch with sales decreasing and so you look for areas to cut costs. The marketing and advertising budget is almost always one of the first targets, so you start there. You have the option of cutting traditional media, online display or search advertising. With search you know that at least the person is interested somehow in your product or category, hence the search. Online display ads and traditional media however lack the clear connection to interested customers.

So, snip snip, you cut out some traditional media and/or display ads. You may even make deeper cuts and shift some of the spend to search because it is more effective. So congratulations to Google, who has positioned themselves to dominate even an economy in recession.


Google Pay-Per-Action Beta is Ending

As I logged into my Google AdWords account this morning I was greeted by a new message  from Google. The message read,

“The pay-per-action beta will be discontinued the last week of August 2008. After this date, your pay-per-action campaigns and ads will no longer be active.”

This comes right after Google announced its new Google Affiliates program (which is just a rebranding of Performics) and seems to confirm the rumors that Google would be shutting down their PPA beta in favor of a single solution through Google Affiliates. I personally think that the PPA program was underwhelming for most advertisers and publishers. It really seemed like they hacked the AdWords platform to offer a watered down affiliate system for AdWords users, so in the end this will probably be for the better. However, they’ll have to link it into AdWords if they really want it to take off.

Yahoo Sinking Fast

As I was reading TechCrunch today I noticed a recurring theme; Yahoo is starting to sink like the Titanic. Three separate posts detail how top talent is leaving the company (or getting fired, depending on how you view these things), Microsoft has officially pulled out of all negotiations to purchase all or part of Yahoo (and make a somewhat viable competitor to Google), and that Google will now swoop in like an opportunistic vulture to gobble up the rotting remains of the once powerful Yahoo.

I know that sounds awfully dire and I purposefully conjured up some pretty vivid imagery, but let me clarify a couple of points. First, Yahoo still has billions of dollars of value simply because of their brand equity and web property portfolio. Nobody will enjoy the spoils of Yahoo’s fall without paying a pretty penny. Second, Yahoo may be able to survive independently, but not unless something drastic happens. Jerry Yang can’t just make a few minor tweaks with the algorithm and the website to save this ship. He needs to change the way Yahoo competes because going head-to-head with Google in search will just get them beat up like the scrawny kid on the elementary school playground.

The Google Algorithm – 450 Changes in 2007

So I’m browsing some stories on Digg and I see a headline about how Google made 450 changes to their algorithm in 2007. Of course you have to check the validity of these sorts of claims. A lot is said about the search engine algorithms, especially in the realm of SEO, but this one checked out. In an interview with Udi Manber, vice president of search quality at Google, published in Popular Mechanics, he disclosed that in 2007 they made over 450 improvements to the algorithm. Do the math and you realize that Google made more than 1 change every single day of the year. Being involved in the SEO industry as I am, this presents quite the problem. How do you try to hit a goal when Google keeps changing the target? This just reinforces the need for solid SEO techniques because you can’t count on Google.

Google Conversion Tracking Problems

Last week I started seeing this taunting message in my AdWords account saying how Google Conversion Tracking was now better than ever. Normally, I would jump for joy and count my lucky stars that Google was improving my user experience once again. However, on this occasion I chuckled and barely restrained myself from swearing out loud. Why?


Just as Google lauds its conversion tracking I am working with two different companies to get their AdWords conversion tracking to work right. One had been told by Google that tracking conversions over multiple domains (his shopping cart was on a separate URL from the main site) was broken in AdWords and wasn’t going to be fixed anytime soon. Use Analytics they said. But Analytics doesn’t track conversion to ad versions, so no more testing ad copy for conversion rate. Not even a sorry from Google on that one. The other company had the code installed correctly, was seeing the Google site stats image on the thank you page, but no conversions were being reported.

Fixed, but with no explanation.

The first company ended up moving their shopping cart to their main site to solve the problem. Thanks a lot Google. The second company bugged Google until they got an email explaining that conversion tracking was now working and that a test conversion performed by Google has been run. All better. But still no explanation of why it was broken in the first place. Do they realize that without all the time and effort put into verification, this company could have gone weeks with no conversion data? Poor customer service I say, and if someone important enough at Google reads this and wants to help repair their image, please post a comment and I’ll provide you my email.

Credit Card Rejection by Google?

Everyone knows that Google is the industry leader in pay-per-click marketing.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking that Google doesn’t have some stupid policies. Here’s my nominee for the most illogical of Google’s flaws:

A company I know found that the credit card they had on file for AdWords mysteriously stopped. The account was active, the campaigns were active, the ad groups were active, the ads were active, and all the keywords were active with bids exceeding the minimum bid. Only after escalating this all the way to an AdWords specialist did they learn the reason their credit card was not working.

Evidently the same credit card was also associated with a Google Checkout account that had been closed and apparently you can’t use a credit card for AdWords that was associated with a closed Google Checkout account. Absolutely ridiculous I say. Has anyone else had a similarly ridiculous experience with a credit card rejection by Google?