Building Your Business with Google for Dummies

Building Your Business with Google for Dummies
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Building Your Business
with Google
by Brad Hill
Building Your Business
with Google
Building Your Business
with Google
by Brad Hill
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies®
Published by
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
111 River Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
Copyright © 2004 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published simultaneously in Canada
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted
under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright
Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600. Requests
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Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the
Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Dummies Daily, The Fun and Easy Way,, and related trade
dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United
States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. Google, AdWords, AdSense,
PageRank, and Froogle are registered trademarks of Google, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of
their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in
this book.
For general information on our other products and services or to obtain technical support, please contact
our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 800-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax
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not be available in electronic books.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2004104561
ISBN: 0-7645-7143-5
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
About the Author
Brad Hill has worked in the online field since 1992 and is a preeminent advocate of the online experience. As a bestselling author of books and columns,
Hill reaches a global audience of consumers who rely on his writings to help
determine their online service choices.
Brad’s books include a Publishers Weekly bestseller and a Book-of-the-Month
Club catalog selection. Brad’s titles in the For Dummies series include Internet
Searching For Dummies, Google For Dummies, and Yahoo! For Dummies. In
other venues, Brad writes about cybercultural trends, digital music, virtual
investing, and all sorts of online destinations. He is often consulted about the
media’s coverage of the Internet. He appears on television, radio, Webcasts,
and is quoted in publications such as Business Week, The New York Times,
USA Today, and PC World.
Brad is a staff blogger at Weblogs Inc. (, where he runs
the Search Engine Marketing weblog ( and contributes
to several others. He also operates The Digital Songstream (www.Digital, a news and review site for digital music. Brad’s personal
site ( describes all his current projects and provides an
e-mail link.
Brad doesn’t get outdoors much. Sunshine baffles him. As compensation, he
is listed in Who’s Who and is a member of The Authors Guild.
Author’s Acknowledgments
Every book is a partnership of author and editor. Susan Pink is the editor of
this book and a collaborator in other projects as well. Besides laughing at my
worst jokes, Susan’s keen eye for clarity and incisive comments make me look
good. She also remains calm in the face of deadlines. Too calm. I scheme to
make her panic but nothing works.
Karen Wickre at Google pored over this manuscript with a relentless attention to detail that would cause brain-cell loss in a less robust individual.
Her refinements improved this book’s accuracy tremendously.
Ana Yang at Google was an enthusiastic and helpful partner in this book from
the beginning. My sincere thanks to Ana for her time and diligence. Also at
Google, Michelle Vidano and Joel Slovacek clarified my questions and gave
generously of their busy schedules.
Melody Layne at Wiley Publishing nursed this project from the start and saw
it through to the end. I’m very thankful.
I send a warm and admiring thank-you to the marketing experts who provided extensive quotes to the manuscript. Amazingly generous, these pros
contributed an extra dimension that will benefit every reader.
Continued thanks to Mary Corder at Wiley.
Many thanks to all the copy editors and production experts who lent their
expertise to every page of the manuscript.
Publisher’s Acknowledgments
We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form
located at
Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:
Acquisitions, Editorial, and
Media Development
Project Editor: Susan Pink
Acquisitions Editor: Melody Layne
Technical Editor: Karen Wickre
Editorial Manager: Carol Sheehan
Permissions Editor: Laura Moss
Project Coordinator: Courtney A. MacIntyre
Layout and Graphics: Karl Brandt, Andrea Dahl,
Lauren Goddard, Denny Hager,
Stephanie D. Jumper, Lynsey Osborn,
Heather Ryan, Jacque Schneider,
Mary Gillot Virgin
Media Development Supervisor:
Richard Graves
Proofreaders: Carl William Pierce,
Brian H. Walls;
TECHBOOKS Production Services
Editorial Assistant: Amanda Foxworth
Indexer: TECHBOOKS Production Services
Cartoons: Rich Tennant,
Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies
Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher
Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher
Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director
Publishing for Consumer Dummies
Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher
Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director
Composition Services
Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services
Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services
Contents at a Glance
Introduction .................................................................1
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google .....................11
Chapter 1: Meeting the Business Side of Google .........................................................13
Chapter 2: Getting into Google ......................................................................................21
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking .........................................37
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google .......................................................................55
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site ...........................................................83
Part II: Creating and Managing
an AdWords Campaign .............................................101
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising and Google AdWords ..........................103
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account .............117
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports ....................................145
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups ....................................................................159
Chapter 10: Managing Ongoing Campaigns ...............................................................183
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense ............193
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program ............................................195
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads ...............................209
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue .........................................................229
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company .......255
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs .............................................257
Chapter 15: Premium Services .....................................................................................271
Part V: The Part of Tens ...........................................281
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources ...........................................................283
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros ....................................................301
Glossary ..................................................................325
Table of Contents
About This Book ..............................................................................................2
Conventions Used in This Book ....................................................................3
What You’re Not to Read ................................................................................4
Foolish Assumptions ......................................................................................4
How This Book Is Organized ..........................................................................5
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google ............................................6
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign ....................6
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense .....................................7
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company ............................7
Part V: The Part of Tens ........................................................................8
Icons Used in This Book .................................................................................8
Where to Go from Here ...................................................................................9
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google ......................11
Chapter 1: Meeting the Business Side of Google . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Google and Its Competition .........................................................................14
Two Sides of the Google Coin ......................................................................16
Google’s Empowerment Model ....................................................................16
The Three Goals of Every Webmaster ........................................................17
Google and Your Web Site ............................................................................18
Google and Your Product .............................................................................20
Chapter 2: Getting into Google . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
The Three-Step Process ...............................................................................21
Meet Google’s Pet Spider .............................................................................22
Timing Google’s crawl .........................................................................24
To submit or not to submit ................................................................25
The directory route .............................................................................27
Checking your site’s status in Google ...............................................28
Keeping Google Out ......................................................................................30
Deflecting the crawl ............................................................................30
Excluding pages with the meta tag ...................................................32
Avoiding the cache ..............................................................................33
The invisibility problem .....................................................................34
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking . . . . . . . . .37
Incoming Links and PageRank .....................................................................38
Human Networking .......................................................................................39
Working the Link Exchanges ........................................................................40
Coding Effective Link Exchanges ................................................................43
Distributing Bylines and Link Sigs ..............................................................45
Publishing articles ...............................................................................46
Posting messages with linked sig files ..............................................48
Assessing Your Incoming Link Network .....................................................49
Using the Google link: operator .........................................................49
Using the Theme Link Reputation Tool ............................................50
Using Alexa ...........................................................................................53
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
Optimizing Before Building ..........................................................................56
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords .................................................................57
Going for the edge ...............................................................................58
Checking out Wordtracker .................................................................58
Trying the Overture Search Suggestion Tool ...................................62
Peeking at competing keyword groups ............................................64
Determining great keywords ..............................................................67
Selecting a Domain ........................................................................................68
Effective Site Design ......................................................................................70
Page and Content Design .............................................................................72
Tag Design ......................................................................................................75
Creating a title tag ...............................................................................75
Creating a description tag ..................................................................76
Creating a keywords tag .....................................................................77
Creating alt tags ...................................................................................77
Poisoning the Google Spider ........................................................................79
A Glossary of SEO Terms ..............................................................................80
Considering SEO Services ............................................................................80
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83
Terms and Restrictions ................................................................................84
Getting Your Code .........................................................................................86
Free Web and Site Search ...................................................................88
Tweaking the search form ..................................................................89
Customizing Search Results .........................................................................93
Building Your Own Google Site ....................................................................98
Table of Contents
Part II: Creating and Managing
an AdWords Campaign .............................................101
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising
and Google AdWords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103
Old Advertising in an Old Media ...............................................................103
Old Advertising in a New Medium ............................................................104
New Advertising in a New Medium ...........................................................105
What You Need to Get Started with AdWords .........................................109
Understanding How AdWords Works .......................................................110
Seeing the Big Picture: The Google Ad Network .....................................113
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign
and Starting an Account . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .117
The Big Picture: Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Keywords .......................118
Planning the first level: Campaigns .................................................121
Planning the second level: Ad Groups ............................................125
Setting Your Goals .......................................................................................128
Clarifying your marketing goals ......................................................128
Understanding the AdWords budget ..............................................129
Preparing Your Landing Page ....................................................................130
Productive Budgeting .................................................................................132
Writing Effective Ads ..................................................................................136
Creating an AdWords Account ..................................................................139
Finding Your Ads at Work ...........................................................................144
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports . . . . . . .145
Viewing Account Statistics .........................................................................147
The account overview ......................................................................147
Seeing inside the campaign ..............................................................149
Seeing inside the Ad Group ..............................................................150
Creating AdWords Reports ........................................................................155
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .159
Creating New Ad Groups ............................................................................160
Editing Elements of an Ad Group ..............................................................162
Editing ads ..........................................................................................162
Adding and editing keywords ..........................................................164
Editing your bid .................................................................................166
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Researching and Refining Keywords ........................................................167
Hunting for the ideal keyword .........................................................167
Using the Keyword Suggestion Tool ...............................................174
Thinking like a customer ..................................................................175
Complying with Google’s need for relevance ................................177
The gray area of trademark infringement ......................................178
Using keyword-matching options ....................................................178
Chapter 10: Managing Ongoing Campaigns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .183
Pausing and Resuming Portions of Your Campaigns ..............................183
Repairing Broken Campaigns ....................................................................185
Reactivating a slowed account ........................................................186
Recovering disabled keywords ........................................................186
Pros and Cons of Geo-Targeting ................................................................188
Setting Up Conversion Tracking ................................................................190
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense .............193
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program . . . . . . . . . . .195
The Business of Serving Ads .....................................................................195
The AdSense Overview ..............................................................................196
Evaluating Your Site’s Eligibility for AdSense ..........................................198
Content-Sensitive Ads . . . or Not ..............................................................203
Running AdSense on Existing and New Sites ...........................................204
Show Me the Money ....................................................................................205
Working Both Sides of the Fence: AdSense and AdWords .....................206
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads . . . .209
Joining AdSense ...........................................................................................209
Creating Your AdSense Code .....................................................................211
Choosing an ad layout and color palette .......................................212
Making a custom color palette ........................................................216
Viewing AdSense Reports ..........................................................................218
Viewing aggregate data .....................................................................218
Viewing channel data ........................................................................220
Setting Up AdSense Channels ....................................................................221
Understanding channels ...................................................................222
Creating channels ..............................................................................223
Adding New Pages and Sites ......................................................................226
Removing Ads and Stopping Your Ad Publishing ...................................227
Table of Contents
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229
Optimizing Your Site for AdSense Success ..............................................230
Shooting for More Valuable Ads ................................................................232
Identifying high-value keywords ......................................................233
Conceiving and building high-value AdSense pages .....................237
Improving Clickthrough Rates ...................................................................238
Placing ads above the fold ...............................................................239
Choosing your pages ........................................................................240
Fighting ad blindness ........................................................................242
Filtering Ads .................................................................................................251
Using Alternate Ads ....................................................................................253
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company .......255
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs . . . . . . . . . . .257
Google as the Ultimate Shop Window ......................................................257
Understanding Froogle’s Index and Search Results ...............................260
Being crawled by Froogle .................................................................260
Search results in Froogle ..................................................................261
Submitting Product Information to Froogle .............................................265
Optimizing for Froogle ................................................................................268
It’s (still) all about keywords ...........................................................268
Create sales ........................................................................................269
Optimizing your product description .............................................269
Two final optimization tips ..............................................................270
Getting into Google Catalogs .....................................................................270
Chapter 15: Premium Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .271
Premium AdWords ......................................................................................271
Premium AdSense for Content Sites .........................................................274
Premium AdSense for Search Sites ...........................................................276
Custom WebSearch .....................................................................................277
Silver and Gold Search ...............................................................................278
Part V: The Part of Tens ............................................281
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .283
Search Innovation .......................................................................................285 ......................................................................................286
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies .........................................................................................287
Keyword Verification and Link Popularity Tools ....................................288
Marketleap Keyword Verification tool ............................................288
Marketleap Link Popularity Check ..................................................290
Mike’s Link Popularity Checker .......................................................292 ....................................................................................293
SEO Consultants Directory ........................................................................294
Search Engine World Tools ........................................................................294
Webpage Size Checker ......................................................................294
Sim Spider ..........................................................................................295
Keyword Density Analyzer ...............................................................296
JimWorld ......................................................................................................298
Eric Ward ......................................................................................................299
SEO Directory ..............................................................................................299
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .301
SEM Is (Somewhat) Revolutionary ...........................................................302
On Keyword Targeting ................................................................................305
On Finding the Balance between Free and Paid Marketing ...................307
Optimization versus Incoming Links ........................................................311
On Content and Site Design .......................................................................313
On the All-Important Title Tag ...................................................................315
Aiming for the Top Ten ...............................................................................316
On Large and Small Companies .................................................................318
Building Incoming Links .............................................................................320
The Most Important Tips ...........................................................................321
Glossary ...................................................................325
n the Introduction of Google For Dummies I wrote, “There has never been
an Internet phenomenon like Google.” The book you’re holding now doubles the truth of that statement, revealing and illuminating the hidden half of
Google. Taken together, Google’s front end (the consumer search engine) and
back end (the business services) make up an online juggernaut arguably more
significant to online society than eBay,, or Yahoo! right now. And
Google’s momentum as a revenue-generating media company is just starting
to pick up speed.
Until recently, Google’s radical impact on Internet citizenry, and society generally, was focused on the consumer experience of searching. The quality of
that experience was established in a revolutionary triple whammy (whammy
being the technical term):
The clutter-free home page. In crisp contrast to the ad-clotted and frantically informational Web portals that previous search engines had morphed
into, Google’s spare appearance is exhilarating in its announcement that
search — pure Search, with a capital S — was back, and back hard.
The quality of results. This factor, of course, built Google’s fame and
planted “Googling” in the global lexicon. Does Google read your mind?
Or do the uncanny results derive from groundbreaking technology? Well,
it’s the latter. But those who prefer imagining that they have a telepathic
relationship with Google should go for the fantasy with gusto.
The speed of results. Lightning-quick results have pushed Google into
the little cracks in everyone’s work day. People Google because the
engine matches speed with the online lifestyle. Google never thinks of
itself as the destination; hence, it is the most important destination.
(Ahh . . . Zen insight.)
Google’s unprecedented performance is underlined by its much-publicized
traffic statistics: more than 200 million searches each day and more than 55
billion searches per year, servicing at least 50 percent of all search queries.
Approximate and changeable as these metrics are, they emphasize the impressive command Google has established in the consumer searching arena.
But Google has another side — and another personality. Behind the scene of
any simple search lies a frenzy of competition and a wealth of opportunity.
Web sites wrestle with each other and with Google for position on the search
results page. Advertisers bid for attention-getting placement on that same
page. Other sites all over the Web vie for the privilege of showing Google ads.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
The quests for visibility and traffic — the twin imperatives of online marketing — are played out against the world’s most important search engine. To
the people who start this chain reaction by typing keywords into the search
box, Google is about searching the Web. To Webmasters, entrepreneurs, and
marketing executives, Google is about being found. The latter group populates the world of Google business services.
About This Book
This book is about Google as a business partner. Google’s business services
(especially the AdWords advertising program and the AdSense publishing
program) are now getting as much attention as the search engine did during
Google’s early years. The business services are bound closely to the search
engine; they can’t be approached as an isolated set of tools. Building your
business with Google involves knowing how Google constructs its index,
improving your site’s visibility on search results pages, and hooking into
Google’s advertising programs as an advertiser, a publishing partner, or both.
(Google also offers other business tools based on peripheral search technologies and products.)
Accordingly, this book is like a mirror of Google For Dummies, which won a
Pulitzer Prize for literature. (No, it didn’t.) Whereas that book blazed a trail
to power-using Google’s front end (the search engine), this book instructs
in power-using Google’s back end (the business services). The two books
together provide a complete initiation to the hidden arts of more effectively
using Google, approaching from both the front and the rear.
Actually, because Google marketing types are obsessively focused on the quest
for visibility and traffic, to these poor souls Google’s business side appears as
the only part of Google that counts, the real consumer interface. All that stuff
people do on Google’s home page and in the Google Toolbar — entering keywords and finding destinations — happens in the background, like the constant
rolling of the ocean to fishermen on a boat. Online marketers cast their lines
into the ever-heaving Google index, trolling for their share of the Internet populace swimming through endless search results. And that is the last time I’ll
bring up the ocean-fishing metaphor.
Anyway, you don’t need Google For Dummies to make full use of this book. So
if you haven’t picked up your copy (yet), don’t get nervous. (Just know that
the author requires tremendous amounts of dark chocolate to stay at the top
of his game, and that stuff isn’t cheap. The imported stuff, that is.) This book
keeps its sight set on Google’s consumer side in recognition of the fact that
Google’s customers are also your customers. And what is good for Google’s
customers on the front end tends to benefit Google’s customers on the back
end (that would be you). It’s all part of the relentless interdependence of
Google’s two sides, which I refer to innumerable times in these pages.
Rather than merely document the features, screens, and processes of activating Google’s business services, I strive in this book to engage your mind in a
thorough reconsideration of marketing in the online space. In this conceptual
rethink, Google is a sun by which light you see things differently. Costly mistakes are being made, even by companies determined to Google their way to
success. Online marketing is difficult and barbarously competitive. Perhaps
the biggest mistake of all is believing that Google AdWords, AdSense, or its
shopping engine, Froogle, ensure your success and prosperity simply by flipping on their respective switches.
Google marketing rewards patience, detail, and persistence. Most of all,
success comes from a penetrating understanding of the organic nature of
Google’s business innovations. I want every reader to understand the connection between ordinary searches and sales at your site. Understanding keyword patterns on the front end lends a competitive advantage on the back
end. Your site, your product, your brand, and your positioning are parts of
the Google whole, as are consumer impulses, search keywords, and destination choices. The key to building your business with Google is matching up to
your fair share of the consumer ebb and flow, and success is maximized when
you operate with an awareness of the entire Googling ocean. (Damn that persistent metaphor!)
The goal of this book is to think big, in every sense. Big ambition. Big understanding. Be assured that this isn’t physics, though, and I’m not Stephen
Hawking. (He doesn’t even return my phone calls.) This book proceeds to
higher levels of Google awareness one step at a time, with attention to easily
mastered details.
Conventions Used in This Book
In the course of writing many For Dummies books, I have exhausted the planetary supply of wretched jokes and foolish puns that fit in this section. Most
of them play on the double meaning of the word “convention,” and feature
hilarious riffs on bad food, crowds, and Trekkies. Although demand remains
high for the priceless wit that enlivens such classic For Dummies farce, and
with full recognition of the painful disappointment this announcement will
cause, I have decided to forego any further whimsy in this space. The genre
has been plumbed, and I must move on to new artistic horizons. (Previous
first paragraphs of this section can be found in my collected writings, currently housed at the Smithsonian.)
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
As to conventions on the page, certain types of text are set off in special ways
to increase recognition, enhance understanding, and allow the production
department to show off. These bits of text include URL Web addresses:
Several chapters ask you to examine, alter, and optimize the HTML tags of
your Web site. Additionally, Google sometimes requires you to cut and paste
small chunks of HTML. All HTML code is presented like this:
<meta title=”The Coin Trader”>
<meta description=”All for Coins and Coins for All”>
<meta keywords=”coin, coins, trade, trader, trading, historic
coins, ancient coins, collecting, collections,
collect, hobby, coin trader, coin trading”>
In the chapters ahead, I discuss keywords many times. In the normal flow of a
paragraph, I italicize keywords, like this: imported chocolate dark “desperate
author.” However, when you enter keywords into Google, do not italicize
What You’re Not to Read
Although this book presents a lot of detail, very little of it is technical or
superfluous. In fact, I urge you to pay special attention to the detailed instructions in coding your pages and administering your Google campaigns. Online
marketing success depends on little things done correctly. To Google, tiny
details loom large and have a big effect on your visibility within Google.
Some chapters might not apply to you. If you’re a sole proprietor or small
business, the chapter about premium services, while interesting, is not
required reading for your business. Certainly, you shouldn’t feel as though
you must read this book from start to finish. Feel free to skip chapters, with
the understanding that even chapters that seem too elementary or don’t
directly apply to your immediate goals might contain tips or insights that
could be useful and are worth reading at some point.
Foolish Assumptions
This section of the Introduction usually starts with de rigeur reassurances
that you’re not really a dummy, that everyone feels stupid when tackling
something new, and other homilies designed to distance the author from the
insulting For Dummies title. Nowhere have such reassurances been more apt
than here. This is a business book, and its readers are angling into a brave
new world of search-engine marketing with sharply opportunistic instincts,
some degree of acquired online skill, and plenty of smarts.
Now, about that online skill. This book is forced to make certain assumptions
about your abilities to deliver important knowledge without spending too
much space on background. I start from square one with the marketing concepts and Google’s tools. But in certain areas that must precede square one,
you’re on your own. To wit:
Business startup. I discuss conceptual issues as they relate to positioning
a business in Google, but in general I regard your overall field of enterprise and product development to be outside this book’s scope. Likewise,
issues of customer service, inventory and fulfillment of product, merchant
accounts, and all other aspects of your business transactions are out of
bounds. Only in the case of purely online businesses (affiliate-based portals or sites enrolled in the AdSense program, for example) does this book
touch on every link in the transaction chain. Otherwise, this book is about
augmenting an existing business, not starting a new business.
Site creation. I need to distinguish here between site creation and site
optimization. The latter is a major subject in this book. The former I
describe nowhere. I assume you can create a Web page. I assume you
can register a domain. I assume you can upload new material to your
server or domain host. However, I do walk you through the alteration of
certain HTML tags.
Basic Google searching and Web navigation. I assume that readers are
newcomers neither to the online realm nor to Google’s search engine.
You need to understand the principle of linking and have a conception of
the Web as an interconnected network of links. You need to understand
Google as a keyword processor and be familiar (or get familiar) with its
many different search results pages.
To summarize: if you know Google from the front end (searching) and have
owned and updated a Web page, you’ll be fine.
How This Book Is Organized
First I print the manuscript. Then I throw it in the air. Then I gather up all the
pages and stack them in a pile. It works for me, but my editor is an organizational freak, and that method doesn’t satisfy her refined sensibilities. Fine.
Rather than endure her nagging, I put everything into parts and chapters.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
More than just an overview (though Chapter 1 is an overview of Google’s business services), Part I delves into three of the most important aspects of Google
marketing: getting into Google’s Web index, building a network of incoming
links, and optimizing your site. Those three subjects are closely related, and
each is geared to enhancing your PageRank in Google — the holy grail of online
marketing. PageRank is explained in Chapter 2, where you can also find out
how to get a toehold in Google if your site doesn’t yet appear on search results
pages. Chapter 3 is about networking your way to higher visibility. Chapter 4
concentrates on fine-tuning your site (or completely redesigning it, depending
on the state of its optimization) to attain higher stature in Google. Site optimization is detailed, finicky, necessary, invaluable work.
Part II: Creating and Managing
an AdWords Campaign
Part II contains the juice for many people. AdWords is Google’s innovative
implementation of search advertising — or more precisely, cost-per-click
advertising. This type of marketing is turning the traditional online advertising field upside down, shaking it, and throwing it into the corner to consider
its shortcomings. Google did not invent cost-per-click payment for ad placement. But Google’s overwhelming volume of traffic, outstanding administrative tools, democratically level playing field, and superbly streamlined
process of bidding for position have combined to take the leadership role.
Other cost-per-click programs exist, and full-time marketers do them all. But
everybody who advertises in this manner uses Google.
The chapters in this part are thorough. They assume you know nothing about
search advertising, cost-per-click advertising, or Google advertising. Chapter
6 starts with the theory of it all, and Chapter 7 helps you design a campaign.
It’s important to move slowly at first because, in truth, most AdWords campaigns undergo a few false starts. So, even though Chapter 8 assumes that
you’re operating an activated campaign, you might want to read that chapter
and the next one (which illustrates and explains all the administrative
screens) before actually putting your ads in play. Chapter 10 is for ambitious
advertisers running multiple campaigns but also contains strategy insights
for everyone.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue
with AdSense
Part III is about AdSense, Google’s inventive program that allows any
professional-level site to publish AdWords ads. This syndication is accomplished with little effort on the Webmaster’s part — joining is a simple matter
of pasting a bit of code into an approved site. When visitors click the ads, the
host site splits the revenue (the cost per click of that ad) with Google. The
payout is pennies, usually, so this is a high-volume business or a sideline that
puts a little revenue icing on the main enterprise.
AdSense has developed a user and optimization community nearly as intense
as the groups surrounding AdWords, which has a head start on the younger
AdSense. I don’t assume that you have any knowledge about the AdSense
program or advertising syndication. It’s a good idea, though, to be familiar
with AdWords before embarking on an AdSense campaign. That doesn’t mean
you must run an AdWords campaign first, but I suggest reading Chapters 6
and 7 in Part II.
Part III is a soup-to-nuts rundown of AdSense, from theory to design to optimization. One chapter contains rare directions for modifying AdSense placement and HTML code to integrate the ads on your page, avoiding the ugly
displays that have become commonplace. Plenty of examples address design
concerns while the text hammers home optimization principles that generate
the most effective ads for your site.
Part IV: Google Business for the
Larger Company
Google is about grass-roots adoption of its various services, but the company
doesn’t ignore major corporate advertisers and search partners. Large companies are valuable customers for Google, and you’ve probably noticed some
of its high-profile partners: AOL, Netscape,, and many others. Big
players don’t hesitate to hunker down with masses swarming to AdWords
and AdSense. The slick efficiencies of those services cuts the fat from corporate balance sheets. Google supplies premium versions of those two services
for large firms that fulfill certain traffic requirements, and this part covers
those augmented, personalized services.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Beyond AdWords and AdSense, Google offers back-end access to Froogle,
Google’s shopping search engine, and Google Catalogs, a service for mailorder businesses. (See Google For Dummies for a complete description of
how those Google spinoffs work.)
Part V: The Part of Tens
The “Part of Tens” is a For Dummies tradition. The chapters here round up
resources and services that don’t fit easily into the rest of the book and are
valuable reading in spare moments. You should feel free to jump around here.
(I mean jump around within these chapters, not jump around while reading
the chapters. But hey — whatever.)
Icons Used in This Book
I wanted to use an icon of a steaming mug to indicate paragraphs I wrote
while under the influence of thick espresso residue. Once again, my editor
thwarted me with her “sensible” approach. So, I’ve used a few more useful
icons to set off certain paragraphs:
In the spirit of Johnny Appleseed, I scatter these things all over the place.
Each one flags a particularly useful bit of knowledge or process.
Gentle, soothing reminders are best. So . . . TAKE YOUR MUFFINS OUT OF
THE OVEN!! That’s the sort of thing that deserves one of these icons. I also
use them to drive home an important point that, if forgotten, might cause
hassle or wasted effort down the road.
I rarely devolve into a techno-mumbling, chip-eating, basement-dwelling,
glazed-eyeball geek. My inner nerd doesn’t slip out in this book much
because the focus is mostly business issues. However, when I feel like spewing technical information that doesn’t directly apply to the forward movement of your business, I slap on this icon. Feel free to ignore such
Very few mistakes will cause your computer to melt down. However, it’s definitely possible to waste time, money, and effort, run afoul of Google’s guidelines, lose ground, and otherwise set back your business goals. When
discussing dire consequences, I tag paragraphs with the Warning icon.
Where to Go from Here
To the cash register, perhaps? If you’re already at home with this book, get
some coffee. That’s what I’m going to do.
Although it’s not necessary to read this book in order, I urge you to get your
head around Chapters 2, 3, and 4 at some point. Everyone has their eyes on
AdWords and AdSense, and you might want to get started with them quickly.
You might be tempted to skip these chapters entirely. Go ahead, break my
spirit. Seriously, AdWords and AdSense don’t work well when the target site
is poorly optimized, for a number of reasons fully discussed throughout the
book. AdWords, in particular, is tricky at first, and impatience usually results
in wasted money.
So, if you have a rough plan for building your business with Google, read
Chapters 2, 3, and 4, and then head for whichever parts apply to your plan
(AdWords, AdSense, or premium-level programs). If you’re a newcomer to
Google’s business side and want the grand tour, start with Chapter 1. If you’re
already operating Google campaigns and are familiar with site-optimization
issues, head for the inner chapters in the AdWords or AdSense sections.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Part I
Meeting the Other
Side of Google
In this part . . .
his part is an introductory survey of Google’s business
services and a launching pad to preparing for those
services. Plus a few other things. Everyone is familiar
with Google’s consumer face — the front end, which is the
search engine. But Google is more than a search company;
it’s a technology company defined by its advertising services and other business programs.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of Google’s entire slate of
business services. Without documenting the details — a
task left for the book’s other chapters — Chapter 1 paints
a picture of Google behind the scenes. Chapter 2 discusses
getting into the Google index, the first essential step in
leveraging Google’s clout in building your business.
Chapter 3 is more intense, following up on a site’s entry
into Google with a full tutorial on improving your site’s
PageRank by networking. In this context, networking
means creating incoming links from other sites to your
site. Building a competitive PageRank is the prime task
in Google marketing, and Chapter 4 continues this quest
by tackling the thorny but rewarding topic of site optimization. Chapter 5 rounds out the section with an explanation
of why and how to put free Google searches on your site.
Some people relegate Google’s entire business story to
its AdWords program (covered in Part II). As important
as the AdWords program admittedly has become, the site
optimization and link-networking information in Part I is
the bedrock of any Google-oriented business plan. Any
AdWords campaign sits on a shaky foundation without
that bedrock.
Chapter 1
Meeting the Business
Side of Google
In This Chapter
Assessing the future of Google business services
Understanding the two sides of Google
Google toward empowerment
Reaching your Webmaster goals
Setting a strategy for your Web site
Knowing about Google’s product indexes
Google for e-tailers and large enterprises
ike Yahoo! and eBay before it, Google came on the scene with good technology and then needed to work out a way to make money. Fortunately,
that’s where you come in. To put it simply, Google makes money when you
do. That’s the ideal, anyway. Google’s revenue model is based largely on
increasing the visibility and traffic of its thousands of small-business partners,
streamlining their marketing costs, qualifying their leads, and helping track
returns on investment.
There’s genius in Google’s method — and fortunate timing. The typical revenue path of online media companies is lined on one side with advertising
and on the other side with special services. Consider Yahoo!. While gaining
a huge “eyeball share” with its Web directory and building its empire on free
services to its users, Yahoo! began serving up advertisements. Although this
was an old-media approach, it occurred when demand for Yahoo’s ad space
exceeded supply. So the company could easily charge premium prices for the
privilege of placing an ad on its pages. This happy advertising era reached its
height, unsurprisingly, during the greatest inflation of the Internet bubble.
When the bubble was pricked, and the demand for banner ads cooled, Yahoo!
started enhancing its free services (for example, Yahoo! Mail) and charging for
them. This method of supplementing revenue has worked. Yahoo! is a robust
media company which, by the way, owns serious search assets that might yet
constitute a challenge to Google’s dominance. (See the next section.)
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Google’s business isn’t just advertising
In the beginning of this chapter, I emphasize
advertising as the revenue model that drives
Google’s growth as a business-services company. My accent on advertising is not meant
to diminish Google’s great success in licensing
its basic search technology to Yahoo!, AOL,
Netscape, and many other high-profile Internet
portals. This licensing activity has generated
strong revenue flows for Google, matured the
company’s business standing, and extended its
brand to near-ubiquity. But most readers of this
book are interested less in licensing Google’s
search engine than in using AdWords and
AdSense as business tools.
It’s difficult to predict how far AdWords and
AdSense will take Google, and what their effect
on Internet culture will be. It’s not a stretch
to imagine that search advertising, using the
cost-per-click model that Google popularized,
could alter the Web landscape by reducing
advertisers’ reliance on flashing banners and
those heinous pop-ups.
Certainly, the business side of Google is revolutionizing online marketing, changing it from an
art to a science, from guesswork to measurement, from blind spending to targeted cost-perlead.
Now consider Google’s contrasting situation and how it navigated its own
infancy as a media company. Yahoo! surrounded its core directory with information pages, but Google concentrated all its resources in the search engine.
Google paired exceptional keyword matching with cost-per-click advertising to
build an advertising business that paired advertisers with customers through
matched keywords.
Google and Its Competition
Google’s dominance of consumer searching is awesome. There has been no
such near-monopoly since Yahoo! was the only important search-and-find
Web destination in 1994. The numbers have become a familiar mantra: more
than 200 million searches a day, constituting about 50 percent of global
search queries. Alongside those numbers looms Google’s activity as a business partner to businesses of all sizes. In that arena, Google also dominates,
though its clout varies depending on the service.
But our focus is on business services whose influence and effectiveness are
tied to Google’s preeminence as a consumer search engine. Google’s command of the majority of eyeballs in the Internet population makes it the one
site in which online businesses must be visible, either in the search result
listings or through advertising on search results pages. Will this situation persist? Is marketing in Google a long-term strategy?
Chapter 1: Meeting the Business Side of Google
The answer to both questions is yes, but Google might not retain its consumer dominance forever. Google stunned the Internet’s foundation companies (Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL) by reviving search as a viable industry.
Google didn’t just improve searching; it brought it back from the dead, after
Microsoft, for one, had mostly written it off. Competition always pursues pioneers, and now that Google has shone new light on the search industry, its
would-be vanquishers loom.
Yahoo! acquired important search assets Inktomi (an engine technology company of long standing) and Overture (a pioneer of placing advertisement on
search pages). Now Yahoo!, which once powered its search results and ads
with Google’s engines, has launched its own consumer engine and pay-per-click
advertising program. This development is the start of a rearrangement of the
competitive landscape, and Google’s vaunted 80-percent share dropped when
it no longer provided search results for Yahoo! searches.
Yahoo!’s separation doesn’t affect Google’s licensing provision with Netscape
and AOL, two other major partners. Both receive search results from Google
when their members enter keyword queries. But future changes in that
quarter would likewise reduce Google’s supremacy in processing consumer
Microsoft is famous for coming late to the party and then drinking everyone’s
punch. Microsoft’s Web portal,, powers its search results with the
Inktomi engine (owned by Yahoo!) and receives its advertising from Overture
(likewise owned by Yahoo!). Microsoft is actively working on proprietary
alternatives to these licensing deals while publicly and explicitly targeting
Google’s standing in the field.
All eyes are on this imminent battle of search and related advertising technologies. There seems little doubt that Google’s consumer dominance will be
cut down. But the ongoing story rests in the hands of consumers. New search
engines might not satisfy users who have grown accustomed to Google’s
ranking style and speed. Those users might migrate from the interfaces that
once hosted Google results to Google itself.
Furthermore, Google isn’t exactly spending its days at the beach — it’s a restless company staffed by high-octane brainpower. Google owns a stunning array
of popular search services (fully described in Google For Dummies) that buffers
it against lost market share in the flagship search engine. It is continually innovating and improving its revenue programs. And its extended advertising network (AdSense and premium-level AdSense partners such as
and creates an important platform for advertisers that will last
a long time.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
In the next two years, online businesses might want to diversify their marketing efforts, reaching for recognition on other platforms besides Google’s
advertising network. But even if Google doesn’t remain the only essential
staging area for Internet marketing, it will remain a crucial one.
Two Sides of the Google Coin
Google is really two companies: Google the search engine and Google the
business-services company. Together, the two sides form Google the media
company. Along the same lines, Google is employed by two breeds of user:
consumers who are searching and business partners of all sizes who seek
online visibility.
Google’s two sides can’t be separated like an Oreo cookie; they’re stuck
together by keywords. Keywords typed into the search engine are used also
to determine the ads placed next to the user’s search results, because advertisers bid for the right to launch ads on those keywords. Those same ads are
launched to thousands of partner sites in Google’s expanded advertising network. Even sites that don’t advertise but appear prominently on the search
results page probably built their content and HTML coding around the very
same keywords. As you can see, the consumer experience (finding destinations) and the business experience (finding customers) are inextricably
linked by shared keywords.
But make no mistake: We business users do not enjoy the same weight in the
Google equation as consumer users. (Of course, most of us use Google’s front
end as consumers, too.) Google’s first concern is the search experience, and
the primary relationship is between Google and the consumer. Without satisfied searchers, the business side has no value. Consumers may freely focus
on the search experience, with no awareness of the business forces competing in the background. But business users who ignore consumer-search priorities court their own downfall.
Google’s Empowerment Model
At the top of this chapter, I stated that Google’s business model makes money
when you do. But as I also mentioned, Google makes money even if you don’t.
That’s not a situation Google likes, and it tries to help you correct it, as I discuss in Part II. Google wants you to succeed.
Chapter 1: Meeting the Business Side of Google
This reciprocity is built into Google’s advertising services in three ways:
They are democratic. Anyone can get involved, from a first-time
entrepreneur with a new Web site to a billion-dollar corporation. As in
any great democracy, ingenuity, knowledge, and persistence can compete with, and sometimes triumph over, incumbency and deep pockets.
They are reciprocal. Google’s success is good for you, and your success
is good for Google. Google’s consumer users win, too, when you work
effectively in Google’s advertising programs. This three-way reciprocity is
difficult to establish (and even measure) in traditional media advertising.
They are efficient. And that’s an understatement. Google’s innovations
in search advertising strive for an ideal match of advertiser to customer,
hinged on a keyword. You pay only for reasonably good matches recognized by your potential customers. Google’s AdSense program, in which
participating sites share ad revenue with Google, doesn’t cost the participant a dime — now that’s efficiency.
eBay, the most successful dot-com venture through the collapse of the Internet
bubble, was founded on the same three principles: democracy (anybody could
get involved), reciprocity (eBay and its users benefited when its participants
succeeded), and efficiency (participants controlled their costs and tracked
their returns). In time, the advantages of eBay’s system got the attention of
midsize brick-and-mortar stores, which now operate eBay outlets as an essential part of their business plan. Much larger corporations routinely use eBay to
dispose of inventory. The playing field is level and the economics are equally
favorable, whether you are selling computers or a lamp in your attic.
Google’s two prime-time revenue programs, AdWords and AdSense, have followed an adoption curve similar to eBay’s. Fashioned for universal participation, both programs were adopted first by small players — single Webmasters,
entrepreneurs, and one-product companies. Word spread, and now both programs are in far-flung use by the Internet’s largest publishers, manufacturers,
and e-tailers. As with eBay, small and large participants enjoy the same
The Three Goals of Every Webmaster
Innumerable business plans operate side by side on the Web. But all these
sites — online stores, travel agencies, virtual magazines, community portals,
even modest personal sites — share three fundamental goals:
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Increase presence. Putting up a Web site is like mounting a billboard
in a desert: Nobody sees it. Chapter 3 explains how to network your site
to greater visibility by getting other sites to link to it. In the context of
Google, increasing Web presence means increasing presence in Google’s
Web index — the gigantic collection of Web pages from which Google
derives its search results. And that means raising the site’s PageRank,
which I discuss in Chapter 3.
Drive traffic. Traffic is the natural extension of presence. For our purposes, presence is visibility in Google, but that presence, by itself, doesn’t
do a Webmaster much good. Google visibility must be turned into traffic,
which happens when Google searchers click your link.
Convert visitors. Traffic is enough for some Webmastering purposes.
In nonrevenue sites, the goal might be just to get eyeballs on the home
page. But that simple ambition is rarely the objective of a site. Almost
every Webmaster wants to get visitors to do something — visit a certain
page, fill out a form, join a mailing list, travel across an opt-out page, buy
a product, click an ad. Whatever the aim, the conversion of traffic from
unproductive visits to productive visits is the final step that nearly all
Webmasters seek.
Google is a powerful ally in the first two goals. Nothing increases presence
like a high listing on a Google search results page. If high positioning isn’t
enough to drive traffic or isn’t possible in certain searches, Google’s advertising program (AdWords) can help divert the flow of traffic in your direction.
Google can’t magically convert visitors, but it does help its AdWords users
track visitors who do convert.
Google and Your Web Site
Google’s come-one, come-all advertising programs (AdWords and AdSense)
are enticing to every Webmaster with entrepreneurial inclinations. “The main
Google index — a marketing venue in itself — presents you with three significant opportunities for business growth:”
Google search listings. Getting into the listings (see Chapter 2) is the
first major step. As you work your way in, concentrate on building up
your PageRank (see Chapter 3). Many Webmasters attain ongoing success without any advertising by fighting for and retaining a high searchpage position for important keywords (see Chapter 4).
AdWords. Google’s search advertising program, AdWords increases
presence and drives traffic. And the first part — increasing presence —
is free. AdWords ads appear on the right side (and sometimes at the top)
of Google search pages. Advertisers pay for their ad only when a Google
Chapter 1: Meeting the Business Side of Google
user clicks on it. The AdWords program offers a quick way to place your
site on a search results page without necessarily being in the Google
index. (Part II explores AdWords in detail.)
AdSense. Google’s ad-syndication program, AdSense is a method of
making money on your site. Webmasters in the AdSense program display
AdWords ads on their pages and share advertiser payments with Google.
The goal of an AdSense page is to get visitors to scoot off the page by
clicking an ad. The ads are supplied by Google, and in fact are the same
AdWords you see on Google search results pages. When a visitor clicks
one, the AdSense publisher shares the cost-per-click ad revenue with
Google. Participating in the AdSense program is free to any qualifying
page or site. (Part III fully describes the AdSense program.)
The three marketing venues just described — search listings, AdWords, and
AdSense — roughly correspond to three business activities. Understanding
how and to what degree to approach these three activities helps guide you
toward the best Google marketing service for your talent and taste:
Optimize. Site optimization is ongoing, detail-minded work that asks for
writing talent, organizational skill, a willingness to update and tweak daily,
and an eagerness to stay on top of an evolving field. Optimization is the
foremost activity for those aspiring to climb upwards to greater visibility
in Google’s search results listings. Don’t forget, though, that certain optimization tasks are necessary in all aspects of online marketing. To some
extent, site optimization is integral to every site’s greater success. If you
love to optimize, climbing the listings is your marketing arena. (Chapter 4
is all about optimization.)
Publicize. If your site has the goods — by which I mean great information,
saleable products, interactive features, or an essential service — the slow
grind of optimization might be too gradual a path for you. If you’re ready
to transact business now and are confident in your site’s ability to convert
visitors without an optimization overhaul, advertising might be your bet.
AdWords offers a cost-efficient method of sending qualified leads to your
domain. You pay by the click — which means you’re buying actual visitors, not ad displays — so your return on investment (ROI) depends on
your site’s ability to convert. As you learn in Part II, you can strictly control your costs in AdWords by placing a ceiling on the amount you pay per
click and on your overall expenditures.
Monetize. If you don’t sell products, and want your site itself to generate
revenue, AdSense is a program made for your entrepreneurial needs.
AdSense is a free way to join Google’s advertising network and display
AdWords ads. Revenue earned in this manner — by publishing ads that
generate income — is called passive revenue. Unlike the busy lifestyle of
fulfilling orders taken through a Web site, the passive-revenue lifestyle
lets the site do the work, not you.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Google and Your Product
E-tailers whose catalogs range from one product to thousands can be represented in Google’s two shopping portals: Google Catalogs and Froogle.
Google Catalogs is a search engine dedicated to displaying printed catalogs
and linking to their sites. It’s available only to companies that publish such
catalogs. Froogle is available to any business that sells a product through a
Web site.
There is no downside to being represented in Froogle and Google Catalogs.
Participation in both is free. By themselves, however, these two services
should not comprise a total online marketing plan for your site and its products. Many e-tailers and offline retailers also use AdWords; a quick glance in
the Google search page for books, furniture, or 2004 autos shows you the caliber of advertiser using Google advertising.
Chapter 2
Getting into Google
In This Chapter
Knowing the three steps to visibility in Google
Meeting Google’s pet spider and understanding how the crawl works
Keeping Google out of your site
his chapter is about getting your site to appear on Google search pages.
I’m not talking about the Google Directory, submission to which is a
simple matter also covered here. The challenge is to appear in search results
based on keywords related to your site. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on becoming
more prominently placed on those search results pages; this chapter is more
elementary but no less crucial for new sites.
The Three-Step Process
Many of the suggestions, tactics, and concepts discussed in this chapter and
Chapter 3 and 4 apply to both getting into Google (the first step) and improving a site’s status in Google (an ongoing project). Understanding the Google
crawl (this chapter), networking your site (Chapter 3), and site optimization
(Chapter 4) are important topics for newcomers and veterans alike. There’s
no proper order in which to tackle these subjects — they are presented here
in a certain order, but the topics in these three chapters add up to a single
process that maximizes your site’s exposure in Google.
Here is a summary of the ground covered in these three chapters:
Getting into Google (Chapter 2). Understand how the Google spider
crawls the Web and what the spider looks at. Judge whether to submit a
new page manually to the index or let the spider find it. Find out how to
keep material out of Google.
Networking your site (Chapter 3). Develop a matrix of incoming links,
which is crucial for building a higher status in Google and effective for
getting into the index at the start.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Optimizing your site for Google (Chapter 4). Create content, optimize
your page’s meta tags, and introduce keywords as the fundamental
building blocks of a highly ranked site. These are golden topics for the
serious Webmaster at all stages of business development, from conception to customer interaction.
First things first. New sites must get into Google and then work to raise their
profiles. Getting into Google really means getting into the Google index, which
is a database of Web content. Google builds the index by crawling through
the Web collecting pages. When a user searches for keywords, Google doesn’t
actually search the Web — it searches its index.
If your site already appears in Google search results, you might feel tempted
to skip this chapter and head straight for Chapter 3. However, the next two
sections contain useful information about Google’s behavior and ways for
both new and existing sites to leverage its quirks.
Meet Google’s Pet Spider
All search engines operate in the same basic way: they crawl the Web with
automatic software robots called spiders or crawlers, which create searchable
indexes of Web content. Every engine allows visitors to search its index for
keywords and groups of keywords. Search results come in a variety of list formats, but most display a bit of information about each Web page in the list
and a link to that page.
Each engine’s index is unique, thanks to the programming of its spider. The
main element of that programming is the engine’s algorithm, which ranks
pages in an index. This ranking determines the order in which search results
are presented.
Google’s central technology asset is its algorithm — the complex ranking formula that gives people good search results and often seems to be reading
people’s minds when they Google something. The results of Google’s algorithm are summarized in a single ranking statistic called PageRank. Google is
secretive about the software formula from which PageRank is derived, but
the company does promote the importance of PageRank, and offers
Webmasters broad hints for improving a site’s PageRank. Google displays a
general approximation of any page’s rank (on a 0-to-10 scale) in the Google
Toolbar, which is shown in Figure 2-1. Although the exact formulation of
PageRank is a well-protected secret, its basic ingredients are well-known (and
discussed in Chapter 3).
Chapter 2: Getting into Google
Figure 2-1:
The Google
a rough
glimpse of
any site’s
on a scale
of 0 to 10.
The Google PageRank is like a carrot dangled before the ambitious gaze of
Webmasters, who devote considerable energy to inching their pages up to a
higher PageRank, thereby moving them up the search results list. Chapter 3 is
devoted to improving your site’s ranking and position on search results pages.
Search engine integrity
One reason pre-Google search engines declined
in usefulness and popularity as Web-content
portals was the emergence of paid listings.
Hungry for revenue, some engines sold positions
on the search results page to advertisers. This
dilution of objectivity polluted search results and
undermined the essential democracy of the
Web. The distinction blurred between search
engines, which supposedly located what you
wanted, and browser channels, which sent you
to the browser’s business affiliates. Even though
many search engines did not accept paid placement, distrust grew among users.
Google started a renaissance of utility and trust.
Google’s integrity is symbolized by its gunk-free
home page, the spartan design of which lures
the user with the promise of search, and nothing
but search. To be sure, Google accepts advertising, and Parts II and III of this book are all
about Google ads. But Google’s paid content is
clearly separated from search listings. Not
everyone agrees with the ranking of search
results in Google, but nobody thinks that a high
rank can be bought.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Timing Google’s crawl
Google crawls the Web at varying depths and on more than one schedule. The
so-called deep crawl occurs roughly once a month. This extensive reconnaissance of Web content requires more than a week to complete and an undisclosed length of time after completion to build the results into the index. For
this reason, it can take up to six weeks for a new page to appear in Google.
Brand new sites at new domain addresses that have never been crawled before
might not even be indexed at first, depending on considerations explained later
in this chapter.
If Google relied entirely on the deep crawl, its index would quickly become
outdated in the rapidly shifting Web. To stay current, Google launches various
supplemental fresh crawls that skim the Web more shallowly and frequently
than the deep crawl. These supplementary spiders do not update the entire
index, but they freshen it by updating the content of some sites. Google does
not divulge its fresh-crawling schedules or targets, but Webmasters can get an
indication of the crawl’s frequency through sharp observance.
Google has no obligation to touch any particular URL with a fresh crawl. Sites
can increase their chance of being crawled often, however, by changing their
content and adding pages frequently. Remember the shallowness aspect of
the fresh crawl; Google might dip into the home page of your site (the front
page, or index page) but not dive into a deep exploration of the site’s inner
pages. (More than once I’ve observed a new index page of my site in Google
within a day of my updating it, while a new inner page added at the same time
was missing.) But Google’s spider can compare previous crawl results with
the current crawl, and if it learns from the top navigation page that new content is added regularly, it might start crawling the entire site during its frequent visits.
The deep crawl is more automatic and mindlessly thorough than the fresh
crawl. Chances are good that in a deep crawl cycle, any URL already in the
main index will be reassessed down to its last page. However, Google does
not necessarily include every page of a site. As usual, the reasons and formulas involved in excluding certain pages are not divulged. The main fact to
remember is that Google applies PageRank considerations to every single
page, not just to domains and top pages. If a specific page is important to you
and is not appearing in Google search results, your task is to apply every networking and optimization tactic described in Chapter 3 to that page. You may
also manually submit that specific page to Google (see the next section).
The terms deep crawl and fresh crawl are widely used in the online marketing
community to distinguish between the thorough spidering of the Web that
Google launches approximately monthly and various intermediate crawls run
at Google’s discretion. Google itself acknowledges both levels of spider activity, but is secretive about exact schedules, crawl depths, and formulas by
Chapter 2: Getting into Google
which the company chooses crawl targets. To a large extent, targets are
determined by automatic processes built into the spider’s programming, but
humans at Google also direct the spider to specific destinations for various
reasons, some of which are discussed in this chapter.
Earlier, I said that the Google index remains static between crawls. Technically,
that’s true. Google matches keywords against the index, not against live Web
content, so any pages put online (or modified) between visits from Google’s
spider remain excluded from (or out of date in) the search results until they are
crawled again. But two factors work against the index remaining unchanged for
long. First, the frequency of fresh crawls keeps the index evolving in a state
that Google-watchers call everflux. Second, some time is required to put crawl
results into the index on Google’s thousands of servers. The irregular heaving
and churning of the index that results from these two factors is called the
Google dance.
To submit or not to submit
You can get your site into the Google index in two simple ways:
Submit the site manually
Let the crawl find it
Neither method offers a guarantee. Google accepts URL submissions, but it
doesn’t respond to them nor assure Webmasters that their submissions will
be added to the index. When Google decides to manually add a site, it does
so by sending the spider crawling to the submitted URL to take stock of the
site’s various pages. Characteristically, Google doesn’t inform the Webmaster
that the site has been accepted, and it doesn’t provide a schedule for crawling accepted sites.
Google’s hands-off operation
Google is a reasonably communicative company in certain departments, such as AdWords,
AdSense, and enterprise solutions. And Google
accepts URL submissions for the index, though
it doesn’t acknowledge them. But asking
humans at Google to interfere with the construction of its index is an exercise in futility.
Google builds its index through robotic interaction, for the most part, and prides itself on these
sophisticated automated processes. Google
does not correct a Webmaster’s outdated listings or make any custom change to the index.
The company counts on time and thorough
crawling to solve problems. Google doesn’t
want to hear from you about your index issues.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
The key to attracting Google’s spider is getting your page linked on other
sites. Google finds your content by following links to your pages. With no
incoming links (also called backlinks), you are an unreachable island as far as
the Google crawl is concerned. This isolated condition is the natural state of
any new site. Of course, anybody can reach you directly by entering the URL,
but you won’t pluck the spider’s web until you get some other sites to link to
you. See Chapter 3 for a detailed tutorial in creating a backlink network.
Submitting a site might not be a ticket to instant success, but at least it’s
easy. Enter your submitted URL at this address:
Fill in the form (see Figure 2-2) and click the Add URL button, keeping in mind
that the button is misnamed. You are not adding the URL, you are submitting
it. Only the spider can add your site, and only a Google human can tell it to.
Figure 2-2:
Submitting a
URL to
could hardly
be easier,
but don’t
acknowledgment or
If you add a page to a URL already in the Google index, there’s no need to
submit the new page. Under most circumstances, Google will find the new
page the next time your site is crawled in its entirety.
Chapter 2: Getting into Google
You don’t have to choose between submitting and not submitting; do both
if you’re impatient. Submitting doesn’t stop the spider from visiting you in
the normal course of events, but it doesn’t encourage the spider, either.
Conversely, the spider’s failure to find you doesn’t affect the disposition of
your submitted request. Are you getting the idea that gaining admission to
Google’s index is a crapshoot? Not really. In fact, Google’s spider is so thorough that entering the index is practically inevitable if you follow the networking suggestions in the next chapter. Submitting a URL manually is a
crapshoot, though. My best suggestion is to submit if you must, but don’t
only submit. Get to work networking your site and implementing other optimization tactics in Chapter 3, which will get you inside the index more
quickly and push your site to a higher PageRank.
The directory route
If submitting a URL seems too uncertain and networking seems too difficult,
you can get into the Web index by getting your site listed in the Google
Directory. The Google Directory is a categorized list of Web sites, built by
hand. Google does not build its own directory — a fact that surprises many
people. Instead, Google repurposes the large Web directory created by the
Open Directory Project. The Open Directory Project (ODP) is a non-profit
organization staffed by thousands of volunteer editors who accept URL submissions for their respective subject niches. Google applies a PageRank to
the Open Directory (see the bars on the left in Figure 2-3), thereby reordering
the directory listings, and presents the whole thing in familiar Google style.
Naturally, the Google spider crawls the directory, so any new directory listing
is automatically added to Google’s main Web index. Submit a URL to the
Open Directory Project at this address:
When it comes to accepting submissions, the Open Directory Project does
not guarantee your entry any more than Google does. With ODP, you are at
the mercy of whichever editor is in charge of your most relevant category,
and the chance of developing a companionable dialogue with that person is
slim. Furthermore, the ODP URL-submission process is much more complicated than at Google. Finally, you can usually count on a long and indeterminate wait before your site is added. Keep checking by searching for your site
in the Google Directory.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 2-3:
Listing in the
crawled for
the Web
Checking your site’s status in Google
During the sometimes-long wait to be included in Google, you naturally want
to know when you’ve succeeded. (So you can run through the streets yelling,
“Google me! Google me!”)
How do you know whether your site is in the Google index? Don’t try searching for it with general keywords — that method is hit-or-miss. You could
search for an exact phrase located in your site’s text (by putting quotes
around the phrase), but if the phrase is not unique you could get tons of
other matches.
The best bet is to simply search for your URL, as shown in Figure 2-4. Make it
exact, and include the www prefix. If you’re searching for an inner page of the
site, precision is likewise necessary, so remember to include the .htm or .html
file extension if it exists.
When adding a page to a site already in Google, be prepared for a long wait
for it to appear, especially if you don’t change your content often. If Google’s
spider checks your site during only its deep crawl and the timing is off, you
could tap your fingers for about six weeks before seeing the new page in
search results.
Chapter 2: Getting into Google
Indexing frustrations
Moving is hell, on land and in cyberspace.
Moving your site from one URL to another —
and especially from one domain to another —
presents a vexing indexing problem. There’s a
good chance that Google will continue to list
your old site after you move, and even after it
begins to list your new site. The Google spider is
not dense. It trusts incoming links, many of
which probably still point to your old location.
From Google’s perspective, you haven’t really
moved until you update your entire network of
incoming links (which, if you take Chapter 3
seriously, you worked hard to establish), pointing them to your new location. Your PageRank
will drop considerably, too, until you get those
backlinks up to speed. Moving is a serious
Figure 2-4:
Search for
your page or
site address
to see
you’re in the
consideration for any site that depends on
stature in Google, and it shouldn’t be undertaken lightly or without planning.
Partial listings can also spark frustration, for
example, when Google’s spider locates your site
and files the address but does not crawl all of
its content. Because Google’s descriptions are
quoted from the pages, your listing on any
search page is bereft of a description. This situation bodes ill, for descriptions often provide
the motivation to click on search results. Your
only recourse is to build up your PageRank to
the level at which Google sniffs out all your content and provides descriptions of your pages.
See Chapter 3.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Keeping Google Out
This book is about partnering with Google: getting into the index, improving
your PageRank, advertising on Google, distributing other people’s Google ads
on your site, and other ways of building your online business through Google.
So a section about rebuffing Google might seem counterproductive. But in
the interest of covering all bases, here it is.
Sometimes even publicity-hungry Webmasters want to keep Google away
from certain parts of their business. Private pages designed for friends and
semiprivate pages created for select visitors shouldn’t be indexed for the
world at large. Entire sites that are still under development while existing on
the Web in a live state might best be excluded from Google.
It’s fairly easy to prevent Google from indexing an entire site or selected
pages of a site even if the spider crawls your URL. You can prevent Google
also from caching pages of your site, a process by which Google stores each
indexed page on its servers. This section explains how to prevent Google
from crawling and caching your site.
Deflecting the crawl
The key to deflecting Google’s spider is the robots.txt file, also known as the
Robots Exclusion Protocol. Google’s spider understands and obeys this protocol. The robots.txt file is a short, simple text file that you place in the toplevel directory (root directory) of your domain server. (If you lease your Web
space from your ISP, not from a dedicated Web host, you probably need
administrative help in placing the robots.txt file.)
Create the robots.txt file in Notepad or another text editor, and transfer it as
an ASCII text file. It’s best not to use Microsoft Word or another word processor to create the robots.txt file. But if you do, remember to save it as a plain
text file with the .txt file extension. Then make sure you transfer it to your
server as a binary file, which is the default setting of many FTP (file transfer
protocol) programs.
The robots.txt file contains two instructions:
User-agent. This instruction specifies which search engine crawler must
follow the robots.txt instructions. You may specify Google’s spider, multiple specific spiders, or all spiders. (The command works for all spiders
that seek and acknowledge the robots.txt file.)
Disallow. This line specifies which directories (Web page folders) or specific pages at your site are off-limits to the search engine. You must
include a separate Disallow line for each excluded directory.
Chapter 2: Getting into Google
The robots.txt resource site
The information in this chapter gives you everything you need to construct an effective
robots.txt file. If you want to know more, such as
a list of spider names and general information
about crawlers, go to the Web Robots Page here:
The FAQ (frequently asked questions) section at
this site is particularly useful:
A sample robots.txt file looks like this:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /
This example is the most common and simplest robots.txt file. The asterisk
after User-agent means all spiders are excluded. The forward slash after
Disallow means all site directories are off-limits.
The name of Google’s spider is Googlebot. (I would have preferred Charlotte.)
If you want to exclude only Google and no other search engines, use this
robots.txt file:
User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /
You may identify certain directories as out-of-bounds, either to Google or all
spiders. For example:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /family/
Disallow: /photos/
Notice the forward slashes at both ends of the directory strings in the preceding example. Google understands that the first slash implies your domain
address before it. So, on the first Disallow line, if that line were found at the site, would be shorthand for
cgi-bin/, and Google would know to exclude that directory from the crawl.
The second forward slash means you’re excluding an entire directory.
To exclude individual pages, type the page address following the first forward
slash, and leave off the second forward slash, like this:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /family/reunion-notes.htm
Disallow: /blog/archive00082.htm
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Each excluded directory and page must be listed on its own Disallow line.
Do not group multiple items on one line.
To exclude a certain type of file, use the asterisk followed by the file extension on the Disallow line, like this:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /family/*.jpg
This example tells all spiders to exclude .jpg files (a certain type of picture
file) from indexing. In Google’s case, this sort of command is apt because
Google devotes an entire search engine to images (
images). If you want to exclude all images on your site from the Google
Images index, use a robots.txt file with the name of Google’s Image spider,
which is Googlebot-Image:
User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /
Remember that your graphic logos are also included in this broad exclusion,
and therefore won’t turn up in Google’s image search. That omission is normally not a problem and doesn’t affect the display of your images when
people visit your site.
Use the asterisk-plus-extension technique to exclude any type of file from the
crawl, such as .doc and .pdf files.
Effects of the robots.txt file are not immediate in many cases, especially when
you’re trying to exclude a page that’s currently included. First, you must wait
for the spider to crawl your site again, and your site’s crawl cycle could be
daily, monthly, or sometime in between, depending on its PageRank. Second,
the page you want excluded, if previously included, will live on in Google’s
cache for some time. (See the next section for information about requesting
removal from the cache and avoiding the cache from the start of a page’s life.)
You may adjust the robots.txt file as often as you’d like. It’s a good tool when
building fresh pages that you don’t want indexed while still under construction. When they’re finished, take them out of the robots.txt file.
Excluding pages with the meta tag
In some situations, using a meta tag to deflect spiders is easier than constructing a robots.txt file. If you code your HTML by hand, as opposed to
using graphic design programs such as Dreamweaver or Front Page, throwing
in the meta tag is a piece of cake. Also, if you want to exclude only one page,
or the occasional page here and there, the meta tag option could be easier.
Chapter 2: Getting into Google
Using both meta tags and the robots.txt file is fine. Not all spiders understand
the meta tag described here, but Google does.
Note: See Chapter 3 for the effective use of other meta tags that are part of
the site optimization process.
You place meta tags after the <head> tag at the top of an HTML document.
(Note that meta tags can be uppercase or lowercase.) To dissuade the Google
spider from indexing any individual page of your site, put this tag among your
other meta tags in that page’s HTML:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>
Note the two commands, noindex and nofollow. The first prevents Google
from indexing your page, and the second prevents Google from following
links on that page. If you want the page to be excluded from the index but
would like Google to follow its outgoing links, leave off the nofollow command, like this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
Make your command Google-specific by using the name of Google’s spider,
<meta name=”googlebot” content=”noindex, nofollow”>
Avoiding the cache
Other meta commands prevent pages from being copied into Google’s cache.
The cache is a storehouse of Web pages copied by Google. Clicking the Cached
link on a search results page quickly brings up the page as it appeared when
last crawled, which might be different than it appears now, live on the Web.
This feature is great for Google’s consumer users. I used it recently after watching David Letterman complain about the site, which hosted a photo of
archrival Jay Leno. By the time Letterman’s rant aired, late at night, CBS had
already changed the site by replacing Leno’s picture with Letterman’s. I wanted
to see the original gaffe, so I hit the Cached link in Google, and there it was.
Frequently crawled sites that make major updates daily, such as,
generally run about a day behind in the Google cache.
Site owners are not universally happy about the Google cache. For one thing,
the cache treads upon a gray area of copyright infringement, since Google
does not obtain authorization to make copies of the sites it crawls. (Google
does remove cached links upon request.) Second, when Webmasters change
a page, they want it changed! Often, as in the CBS example, the site’s owner
does not want people like me dredging up old mistakes.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Prevent any page from entering the Google archive with the following
meta tag:
<meta name=”googlebot” content=”noarchive”>
Extend the command to all spiders fluent in meta tag commands by replacing
googlebot with robots:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noarchive”>
The invisibility problem
Deflecting Google’s spider when it reaches your site is easy enough, as the
previous sections explain. A bigger problem is when Google reaches your
site, but can’t see it. The spider is well equipped to make fine distinctions
about your content, HTML tags, and link network, but it is a creature of
simple tastes. Creating a site using certain technologies stumps the Google
arachnid and sends it scurrying away empty-handed. In particular, three factors are apt to frustrate or displease Google:
Frames. Frames have been generally loathed since their introduction
in the HTML specification early in the Web’s history. They wreak havoc
with the Back button, and they confuse the fundamental format of Web
addresses (one page per address) by dividing one page address into multiple portions that operate like little, independent Web pages. However,
frames do have legitimate uses. Google itself uses frames to display
threads in Google Groups (see Chapter 4). But the Google spider turns
up its nose when it encounters frames. Framed pages are not necessarily
excluded from the index. But errors can ensue hurting both the index and
your visitors — either your framed pages won’t be included, or searchers
are sent to the wrong page because of addressing confusion. If you do
use frames, make your site Google-friendly (and human-friendly) by providing links to unframed versions of the same content, as Google does in
Google Groups. These links give Google’s diligent spider another route to
your valuable content, and your visitors get a choice of viewing modes —
everybody wins.
Splash pages. Splash pages (not to be confused with doorway pages)
are content-empty entry pages to Web sites. You’ve probably seen them.
Some splash pages employ cool multimedia introductions to the content
within — useless and invisible to Google. Others are mere static welcome mats that force users to click again before getting into the site.
Google does not like pointing its searchers to splash pages. In fact, these
tedious welcome mats are bad site design by any standard, even if you
Chapter 2: Getting into Google
don’t care about Google indexing, and I recommend getting rid of them.
Give your visitors, and Google, meaningful content from the first click,
and you’ll be rewarded with happier visitors and better placement in
Google’s index.
Dynamically generated pages. A dynamic page is one that is created on
the fly based on choices made by the site visitor. Sites that pull their
content from databases (XML sites provide a good example) generate
dynamic pages. When Google crawls such a site, it can generate huge
numbers of pages, sometimes crashing the site or its server. The Google
spider picks up some dynamically generated pages, but generally backs
off when it encounters dynamic content. As a result, the site’s content,
hidden in its database, remains invisible to Google. The spider can’t collect it, evaluate it, index it, or apply PageRank to it. (Weblog pages do
not fall into this category — they are dynamically generated by you, the
Webmaster, but not by your visitors.)
Inadvertent invisibility is a good segue to the next chapter, which deals with
design issues of all sorts in the quest to optimize pages for Google’s spider.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Chapter 3
Building Your PageRank
Through Networking
In This Chapter
Understanding the importance of incoming links to Google PageRank
Networking personally with other Webmasters
Working the link exchanges
Coding effective links back to your site
Publishing articles and using sig files
Evaluating your incoming link network
oogle’s PageRank is probably the most observed, mysterious, important,
and craved statistic in the entire online marketing field. This might be
especially true among the vast numbers of entrepreneurs, Webmasters, small
businesses, medium businesses, thriving businesses, struggling businesses,
online stores, service sites, and other enterprises not up to the level of clout
enjoyed by, eBay, Yahoo!, and other Internet juggernauts. For
nearly all online ventures, visibility in Google is a marketing imperative — and
PageRank determines a site’s visibility.
As described in Chapter 2, PageRank is the result of Google’s internal ranking
algorithm. (You can view a crude version of any site’s PageRank by calling up
that site while running the Google Toolbar.) Although PageRank’s formulas
and specific results aren’t publicized, enough is known about it — partly
through trial and error, and partly through Google’s sparse proclamations —
to catalyze entire marketing niches devoted to raising a site’s PageRank.
The value of improving a site’s PageRank lies in positioning: Highly ranked
pages appear close to the top of Google’s search results lists. Positioning is
determined also by which search page is being displayed, and there are as
many unique search pages as there are keyword combinations. The goal is to
place your site high on search results pages that closely correlate with your
site’s subject. A high PageRank always boosts a site’s position relative to similar sites.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Jockeying for position in search engines is not a new sport. To the contrary,
Webmasters have engaged in the contest for high search-result positions for
years. Google’s increasing dominance in the field has concentrated the most
meaningful screen real estate onto a single engine’s result pages, and competition for that space has become ferocious. Winning techniques have become
more demanding, precise, and artful. The field of search engine optimization
(SEO) covers other engines besides Google, but much more attention is paid
to Google’s search results than to those of any other single engine.
Competition for Googlespace is cruel. Broad subject areas such as music,
news, or baseball are jammed with major industrial sites, and breaking into
the rarefied atmosphere clotted with corporate behemoths such as,, and is, for the most part, impossible. Google’s default
display setting shows only 10 results on the user’s search page. (This setting
can be extended to 100 listings, but many people don’t bother.) Google’s reputation for delivering the best sites, fast, discourages casual searching
beyond the first page. So the pressure is on to break into the top 10.
The good news is that getting near the top of the list is doable for narrower,
precisely targeted subjects. It’s not unusual for sole proprietors of commercial sites to score the top position in a Google search of targeted keyword
Google strives to be, and largely is, democratic. The ranking of Google search
results is based on merit and popularity. Any Web site, large or small, can
gain favorable positioning by leveraging good content, diligent networking,
and smart optimizing.
Incoming Links and PageRank
One key to higher PageRank is getting linked on other sites. PageRank is a
complicated algorithm, and largely a secret one, but Google acknowledges
that the number of links pointing to a site is the largest single factor of that
site’s PageRank. The two major marketing efforts to undertake when building
your business with Google are creating incoming links and optimizing your
site. This chapter is devoted to incoming links, and Chapter 4 is about optimization; each contributes enormously to a site’s PageRank, overall visibility,
and marketing success.
In theory, any single page currently crawled by Google (that is, currently in
the index) that links to your page or site is enough to send Google’s spider
crawling toward you. In practice, you want as many incoming links as possible, both to increase your site’s chance of being crawled (which sounds a
little creepy) and to improve your site’s PageRank once in the index.
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
The dual role of networking
Links from one site to another not only help
Google find a target site when it is new but also
contribute to the target site’s PageRank. Among
other considerations, Google’s ranking algorithm
measures each page’s popularity based on the
number of other pages that link to it. The theory
is that if Page A puts up a link to Page B, there
must be something worthwhile on Page B. If 100
sites link to Page B, the target page becomes
more worthy in Google’s eyes. If 100,000 links to
Page B are scattered around the Web, Page B
must really have something going for it. From
Google’s viewpoint, Page B must have special
value to Google’s users, and therefore deserves
higher positioning on the search results page
when it matches the search keywords.
Google doesn’t rely totally on counting backlinks, by any means. Many other page-analysis
calculations take place when determining
PageRank. Even the counting of backlinks is
more complex than it seems at first, because
Google also evaluates the worthiness of the
referring pages (the pages linking to Page B) to
determine how important those backlinks are.
The outcome of all this evaluation, from the
user’s viewpoint, is a sense of the living network
underlying all Web pages and sites. No single
page in the Google index exists in isolation —
they’re all embedded in a deeply complex matrix
of connectivity.
For the Webmaster and online marketer, Google
offers a glimpse into the effectiveness of any
site’s networking, and the status it enjoys
among its peers.
Developing incoming links (from other pages to yours) is a major part of the
Google optimization process. Online entrepreneurs seeking to drive traffic
to their sites through Google spend immense portions of their development
time networking. This networking is accomplished the old-fashioned way —
by introducing oneself and talking to other Webmasters — and also through
more impersonal means. The following section discusses human networking;
I cover link exchanges, which are less personal, in the section after that.
Human Networking
Building a link network by hand, as it were, involves contacting other sites,
introducing yourself, and asking to be linked — it’s as simple as that. Offering
to link back in return smoothes the way to a reciprocal agreement in many
cases, but the willingness to trade links doesn’t mean you should approach
other sites indiscriminately. Keeping your network relevant to the topic of
your site has two benefits:
First, you are more likely to succeed when you have something of value
to offer — namely, the relevance of your site. Other Webmasters are
more interested in trading links with sites likely to send traffic their way,
and that sort of traffic-sharing happens mostly among related sites.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Second, placing irrelevant outgoing links on your pages devalues your
own site. Diluting the editorial focus of your page (and yes, even a single
link undermines that focus) is always a poor optimization move. Google
notices, too; the spider examines outgoing and incoming links with
remarkable fastidiousness. Irrelevant links tend to lower the PageRank of
your page and the pages you link to.
Exchanging links is sometimes a simple and courteous agreement. More substantial alliances might include sharing content. If you run a site about dogs and
come across a great article about how to train garden-trampling Labradors, you
could offer to trade an article of your own in exchange for the right to post the
lab article. Each article would contain a link to the originating page.
Broadly speaking, you want incoming links to point to your top page, or index
page. The danger of requesting that incoming links point to inner pages that
exactly match the topical focus of the other site is that you could end up with
an unfocused network of incoming links aimed at various pages all over your
site. From the PageRank-building perspective, such a diverse backlink situation does you little good. There’s nothing wrong with putting attention on an
important inner page and cultivating its individual PageRank. The point is to
gather your efforts into a PageRank campaign likely to raise the stature of
your most important business content in Google. In most cases, that means
getting your main page, the one with navigation links to all your other pages,
as high as possible in Google’s search results for relevant keywords.
Working the Link Exchanges
Link exchange sites offer a formal method of exchanging links, with an emphasis on raising Google PageRank. The best of these clearinghouses function
also as topical directories built by participating sites that submit their links
(see Figure 3-1).
In a nutshell, link exchange sites work by supplying an outgoing link to your
site (an incoming link, or backlink, from your perspective) and asking for an
incoming link from you in return. There is sometimes no standard of acceptance, application process, or human communication between you and the
link exchange. You simply type your site information into a form (see Figure
3-2), and within a short time the link to your site is created. You have an
informal obligation to return the favor at your site, which, when multiplied by
the many participants in the exchange, helps raise the PageRank of the link
exchange site. Most link exchanges operate free of charge to the participants.
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
Figure 3-1:
A link
site that
offers a
real estate
Although the preceding description covers many bases, the link exchange
field is complicated. Two major variations are prevalent:
Paid link building. Certain online marketing companies specialize in
building incoming link networks for their clients. Ideally, they approach
high-quality sites with strong relevance to the client site (in other words,
similar sites with high PageRank), and request placement of a link to the
client site. Content exchange is usually not involved. These services act
as agents on your behalf and work best when your site is good enough
to benefit other sites by linking to you.
Link farms. These exchanges build vast numbers of outgoing links with
indiscriminate disregard for topicality or any sort of editorial policy.
Only a fine line distinguishes legitimate link exchanges that accept site
information automatically and link farms. Google doesn’t like link farms.
Remember that Google’s spider has an inclusive robotic eye with great
peripheral vision. It sees the truth about link connections and their honesty. Building your backlink network around link farms can do you little
good and might penalize your PageRank.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 3-2:
A standard
form at
a link
HTML code
is provided
for the
Google claims to distinguish link farms from meaningful link exchanges, and
generally discourages using any kind of link exchange site that contains no
content besides the links to build PageRank. Choose carefully. The more editorial discretion exercised by the site, the more legitimate it probably is. Use
exchanges that maintain a tight topical focus in your field. A general rule is:
The more personal the link exchange, the more valuable the incoming link.
Link exchanges work on the principle that a rising tide lifts all boats. If the
exchange site benefits from a high PageRank (thanks to dozens of incoming
links from participating sites), its enhanced stature in Google bolsters the
PageRank of each participating site. The best and most honorable link
exchanges concentrate their networks in one certain field, in which case the
rising tide is lifting the boats of sites that naturally are in competition. The
mutual benefit is well and good, but the challenge remains to distinguish oneself from the high-floating crowd and keep ascending on the search results
page. Site optimization techniques described in Chapter 4 can help with that.
When assessing link exchanges, select sites with a reasonably high PageRank —
say, 4 or higher. The higher PageRank benefits your own PageRank when Google
evaluates the backlink. A high PageRank also provides a kind of Google “stamp
of approval,” which might not be forthcoming at a less reputable link farm. (To
easily see a site’s PageRank, use the Google Toolbar. For example, in Figure 3-1,
the Google Toolbar lists a PageRank of 6.)
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
Coding Effective Link Exchanges
Links are simple to use — one click sends the surfer to another page — but
more complex behind the scenes. Rudimentary knowledge of HTML link code is
needed to optimize your incoming links, and that’s what this section gives you.
In most link exchanges, you either provide the complete HTML code for your
link or fill in a form that’s then used to construct the code. When personally
trading links with another site, you might not need to provide complete code
for your partner’s use, but doing so maximizes the value of that backlink.
The following information might seem excessively detailed, but it meets the
Google spider at its own level. Do not ignore this stuff. Google optimization is
all about detail.
The underlying code of any incoming link consists of three parts:
URL of the link’s target page. This is the link’s destination address.
Link title. This text appears when a visitor hovers the mouse over the
Anchor text. This is the (usually underlined) link itself, seen and clicked
by visitors.
<a> </a>
As with most other HTML tags, the opening tag (<a>) indicates the presence
of some content that is influenced by the tag, and the closing tag (</a>) indicates that the tag is finished and its influence has ended. Between these two
tags, you place your anchor text. (Remember, the anchor text is what the visitor sees and clicks.)
When creating the three parts of a link, the keys are relevance and consistency. Let’s say your hobby is trading old coins. You operate a trading site
called The Coin Trader, and the site URL is (No
such site exists as of this writing.) The simplest way to create a powerfully
consistent link that Google will respect is to use the words “the coin trader”
in all three parts, like this:
<a href=”” title=”The Coin
Trader”>The Coin Trader</a>
Google looks at that link with approval, because its topicality is crystal clear.
(Figure 3-3 illustrates this link as it appears on a Web page.)
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 3-3:
A live link
with a title
that appears
hovering the
mouse over
the link.
A few important points about this basic link code:
Notice that the first <a> tag is considerably extended by two elements:
href, which stands for hypertext reference and is a signpost for the destination URL, and the title indicator followed by the title. These two elements — the URL and the title — are contained in the opening anchor tag.
Notice also the quotation marks surrounding the URL and the title. They
are necessary; don’t leave them off.
Capitalization is not necessary but is a good idea in those portions visible to the visitor: the title and the anchor text.
Take special note of spaces between elements. A space between a and
href is necessary. Do not separate the anchor text from the tag brackets
(before and after) with a space. Do leave a space between the closing
quote of the URL and the title indicator.
To review, these are the tag elements of link code (see Figure 3-4):
<a> and </a>. The opening and closing anchor tags.
href, placed within the opening anchor tag. Identifies the target URL.
The target URL, placed within quotation marks. Google looks at this.
title, placed within the opening anchor tag. Describes the link title
when a user hovers the mouse cursor over the link.
The link title itself, placed within quotation marks. This is what appears
when a visitor hovers the mouse over a link. Google looks at this.
The anchor text, which appears right before the closing anchor tag. This
is the link that visitors see and click. Google looks at this.
The quest for consistency needn’t eliminate imagination. You have no choice
about the URL. And the anchor text is most effective when it simply relates
the site name, without devolving into advertising about the site. But the link
title offers some latitude, and it’s not uncommon to see a bit of advertising
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
when you hover your mouse over links on tightly optimized pages. In our
example, the title might read, “The Coin Trader: A clearinghouse for ancient
and exotic coins.” Or “The Coin Trader. Browse, trade, learn! All types of
coins; all trade offers welcome.” (See Figure 3-5.) The latter title is on the
wordy side, but it conforms to the optimization rule of consistency by repeating key words (coin, coins, trader, and trade). I’ll harangue you more about
keywords later in Chapter 4.
Figure 3-4:
The tag
Target URL
elements of
link code.
<a href=“” title= “The
Provide Civil War Site: An online community for recreationists”>
code like The Civil War Site</a>
this when
Anchor text
Link title
links to
your site.
Don’t confuse the link title with the page title. These two types of titles
belong to different HTML tags. I cover proper coding of the page title later in
this chapter.
Figure 3-5:
A highly
link with a
link title.
Distributing Bylines and Link Sigs
Up to here, this chapter offers ways to market links to your site. Personal link
trades and less personal link exchange sites help you build an incoming link
network that gets you into the Google index or, if already inside, builds up
your site’s PageRank. Now it’s time to consider a less explicit type of backlink
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
networking, one that requires sharing and publishing content. Of course, you
publish content on your own site. But putting your words on other sites is a
meaningful, spider-approved way to develop incoming links from sites in your
Publishing articles
Everybody needs content. If you’re in the process of building a site or even
optimizing an existing site, you know how difficult it can be to generate sufficient focused editorial content to make your pages interesting. Even hardcore transactional sites, such as online bookstores, surround their product
descriptions with a good deal of editorial content. So whatever you have,
somebody else probably wants to use it. By the same token, you might be
casting a greedy eye on articles you spotted on competing sites.
Article trading is a sophisticated type of link exchange. Each article has several potential links that might or might not target the same destination:
First, the article’s byline (which tells the reader who wrote the article)
may be presented in the form of a link to your site.
Second, an attribution link (which describes who the author is and
where the author’s site is located) usually contains a link to your site.
Third, you may embed links to your site directly in the article text — but
don’t do so gratuitously. Link to pages in your site that enhance the article.
Even if you don’t have articles to trade, nothing is stopping you from asking
to use articles you spot elsewhere. If the other site’s Webmaster is concerned
with Google PageRank (and who isn’t?), he or she might be very glad to give
you access to get the backlink.
Article submission sites provide another venue in which your content can
easily be published outside your own site, creating backlinks. Some of these
sites are article farms, which accept every article posted to them and freely
redistribute all articles it publishes. Check out the terms of submission, if you
don’t want your article being reused elsewhere. Some submission sites exist
for the main purpose of making posted articles available to other visitors;
they are sites you visit to get content as well as give it. (See Figure 3-6.)
Another type of submission site presents articles as information, not as available content.
Keep a log of your article submissions. Submitting the same article to one
location twice is frowned upon, even if done unintentionally. If you’re
branded a spammer at a submission site, you might be barred from submitting to that site again.
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
Figure 3-6:
An article
site in
which all
articles are
available to
other sites.
E-zines are fertile ground, too. Don’t count on getting paid for an e-zine acceptance; that’s not your purpose, anyway. Most e-zines are published as Web
pages, even if they’re also produced in alternative, non-HTML formats. So
your published article would most likely get crawled, and your attribution
link and byline would add to your backlink network.
E-zines do not generally offer automated submission and acceptance. They
are human-run publications for the most part, with editorial guidelines and
Human-run sites are always the best bet. The more prestigious the site in its
field, the greater value there is in being published on that site. Shoot for the
top, even if multiple submissions and rewrites are required to get an article
accepted. Improving your articles makes your own site better, and when your
site improves, high-quality sites are more willing to link to it. Nothing stops
you from submitting rejected articles to less demanding sites while you continue to strive for prestigious publication.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Posting messages with linked sig files
A sig file is an enhanced signature that appears at the bottom of e-mails and
publicly posted messages. The most elaborate of these digital calling cards
contain the sender’s name, e-mail address, Web URL, phone numbers, postal
address, IM screen name, a favorite quotation, and some clever ASCII art.
Voluminous sigs are frankly annoying. But short sigs that convey the sender’s
essential coordinates are accepted everywhere, and they serve the added
function of creating backlinks to your site from wherever you post them.
Any Web-based bulletin board is fertile ground to plant a linked sig. But for
the well-being of the Internet community, and for the sake of your good standing with the Google spider, remember these points:
Stay on topic. Few online behaviors are worse than spamming, which,
in this context, means posting identical (or even differing) messages to
multiple boards in utter disregard of the topicality of the boards. Doing
so damages your optimization goals, spreads ill will about your site, and
gets you flamed. Find the community sites in your field and join them —
not just to plant links but to engage in the flow of conversation. Don’t
post ads, even if they are topical. Posting good content is the best way
to get people clicking your sig link.
Usenet doesn’t count. Usenet newsgroups, the native bulletin-board
structure of the Internet, can be fun, informative, and good builders of
traffic. But they are not part of the World Wide Web, and Google’s Web
spider does not crawl them. There’s nothing wrong with spreading your
link sig around Usenet, but it’s not a PageRank strategy. True, Google
maintains a Web-based archive of Usenet newsgroups (called Google
Groups), but current wisdom has it that Google doesn’t crawl its own
Google Groups for the Web index.
Check the host’s PageRank. One consideration when choosing communities in which to get involved is PageRank. (Use the Google Toolbar to
see any page’s rank on a 0-to-10 scale.) Of course, low-ranked message
boards might offer other values that appeal to you.
Don’t submit message pages to Google. Google accepts URL submissions for inclusion in the index, as described earlier in this chapter.
Some marketing professionals suggest submitting every single messageboard page that contains your link, in an effort to hasten the inclusion of
your entire backlink network. Don’t do this. You’ll drive Google crazy,
and you’ll drive yourself to the grave.
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
Meaningless backlinks
Ideally, a link from one site to another is an
endorsement. This ideal harks back to the Web
in its infancy, when most pages (created by college students, naturally) were simple link lists —
personal bookmarks shared with the world.
Google’s PageRank algorithm starts with this
ideal. The formula supposes that if Page A links
to Page B, Webmaster A endorses the content of
Page B.
This ideal is alive and well on millions of sites
but has also degraded to the point of becoming
meaningless on other sites. Even when an
endorsement is genuine, new page-generating
technologies have challenged Google’s algorithm through massive replication of linked
One example is found in Weblogs (blogs). Blogs
often carry suggested links to other blogs, which
in turn link back, and all blog sites in this mutual
admiration network generate new pages at
astonishing rates. Gigantic, incestuous backlink
networks result from blog exchanges. This situation has caused Google to tweak its algorithm,
and it now weighs Weblog backlinks with a sensitivity to the automated technology involved.
(Google owns, one of the most popular Weblog hosts, so the company is clearly not
Meaningless backlinking can be seen also in
sites that generate their own backlinks. This
tactic is accomplished by creating hundreds of
content-poor pages that link to the site’s main
pages. Naturally, standard navigation design
creates ingrown backlink structures, as inner
pages link back to top pages, and vice versa.
Google’s spider tackles this phenomenon by
using sophisticated content analysis and can
identify in-house link farms fairly easily. Google
takes PageRank integrity seriously and does not
hesitate to ban a site from the index if it tries to
cheat the honest link-building process.
Assessing Your Incoming Link Network
After all the work outlined up to this point, you might want to pause and take
stock. How are your incoming links shaping up? This section explains how to
find out, but remember the time lag involved. Depending on the timing of
Google’s crawl and the status of sites linking to you, it can take as long as six
weeks for a page with your link on it to refresh in Google’s index. This section
also includes three methods of viewing and assessing your backlink network.
Using the Google link: operator
The Google search engine accepts certain operators that define how Google
matches keywords against the index. You can use universal Boolean operators,
such as AND, OR, and NOT. In addition, Google has devised special operators
to manipulate Google search results and fine-tune a search. One of these special constructs is the link: operator, which displays a list of pages that link
to a specified page. This and other Google operators are used with a colon
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
punctuation mark followed by a keyword. When using the link: operator, the
keyword is always a page URL. Here’s an example:
The result is a list of pages that link to the New York Times home page (see
Figure 3-7). You may check backlinks to inner pages of a site, too, like this:
Figure 3-7:
Using the
operator to
Google’s link: operator does not deliver complete results — by a long shot.
Google itself admits that the results of a link: operator search are not
indicative of the entire backlink structure used by Google’s spider to formulate a site’s PageRank. Lycos ( also uses the link: operator,
and its results are far more comprehensive than Google’s. (However, I’ve also
uncovered errors in Lycos results.) Both Google and Lycos are valuable
venues for link: operator testing.
Using the Theme Link Reputation Tool
The Theme Link Reputation Tool, is a little-known and brilliant gadget that
measures the PageRank worthiness of sites that link to you. Remember,
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
Google cares about the PageRank of referring sites. A referring site’s
PageRank contributes to your PageRank. Figure 3-8 shows the Theme Link
Reputation Tool waiting to be used.
Figure 3-8:
The tool is
ready to
accept your
site address
The Theme Link Reputation Tool is located here:
Follow these steps to use the Theme Link Reputation Tool:
1. In the first field, enter your site address.
That’s the URL without the http:// prefix.
2. In the second field, enter your site’s core keywords.
This chapter’s involvement in optimization keywords gets more intense
in the next chapter. For now, determine a single keyword or two-word
phrase that best describes your page’s content. In our fictional example
from earlier,, the optimization key phrase
might be “coin trading” or “coin collecting.” A good single keyword
would be “coins” or “collecting.”
3. Using the drop-down menu, select the number of results per page.
The third field is optional; I discuss Google license keys in a moment.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
4. Click the Submit button.
The results page (see Figure 3-9) presents a table with information about
your backlinks, including the pages on which they’re located and a
Reputation Score for each one. The Reputation Score quantifies the factors that Google’s spider takes into consideration when evaluating the
worth of links from one page to another. Of course, the Theme Link
Reputation Tool is not a Google site, and it’s not privy to the Google
algorithm. But the general parameters of backlink evaluation are wellknown, and this tool can give you some idea of whether your backlink
network is benefiting you as much as it should.
Click the Reputation Score column to sort your results from highest reputation to lowest.
Figure 3-9:
The pages
that link to
your site are
You can call up only 50 backlink results at a time. This means you won’t see
your entire network if you’ve been working hard. Another thing to remember:
If you use the Theme Link Reputation Tool often, go to Chapter 5 and discover how to obtain a Google license key. It’s free. You can run tools such as
the LRMT 1000 times each day without a key, but then they stop functioning.
The free license key is good for 1000 daily searches at any site that accesses
the Google index, like this one. To discover more about such sites, some of
which are more fun than Google itself, please read Google For Dummies.
Chapter 3: Building Your PageRank Through Networking
Using Alexa
Alexa is a search and data site that presents information about site traffic and
backlinks in an Amazon-like format. (It’s owned by This interface is less daunting than that of the Theme Link Reputation Tool, described
in the preceding section. Alexa displays basic traffic statistics, traffic rankings, links to related sites, backlink statistics, information about backlisting
sites, and a smattering of other measurements.
Alexa compiles its data from the users of the Alexa Toolbar, a browser enhancement similar to the Google Toolbar. In fact, Alexa is a Google partner, and
uses the Google index for its searches. The Alexa Toolbar, like the Google
Toolbar, allows keyword searching from any site on the Web and blocks popups. Unlike the Google Toolbar, however, the Alexa Toolbar is an incontrovertible spy on your Web movements. Alexa tracks the surfing of its users to
gather information for its Related Sites feature, which is really a recommendation engine similar to Amazon’s. Related sites, in part, are sites visited
sequentially by groups of users.
The best way to experience Alexa’s measurement of backlinks is to visit and
enter your site’s address. Alexa is located here:
Since I don’t know your site’s address, let’s use BlogCritics again ( as an example. Simply enter that address (or any other URL)
into the keyword box at the top of the page, and click the Web Search button.
As you can see in Figure 3-10, the resulting display page at Alexa looks a little
like an Amazon catalogue page. Scroll down until you see Other sites that link
to this site. That, of course, is the backlink metric. The number of backlinking
sites is represented as a link; click it to see the identity of those sites.
The backlinks page (see Figure 3-11) is an enhanced version of a Google
results page when using the link: operator. Clicking the Site info link next to
any backlist site displays the Alexa page for that site. Be careful about clicking the main link for any item — that takes you out of Alexa to the item’s site.
Alexa reveals a more deeply informed view of your backlinks and their sphere
of influence than the link: operator in Google. Clicking the Site info link
yields possible new locations for backlinks. The related sites (under People
who visit this page also visit) can be harvested for ideas; these sites also tell
you something about where your visitors go before and after viewing your
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 3-10:
The main
page of
Figure 3-11:
for the
org site.
Chapter 4
Optimizing a Site for Google
In This Chapter
Understanding the building blocks of site optimization
Researching and determining great keywords for your site
Selecting a domain name for visibility in Google
Designing your content and pages
Accommodating the Google spider
Knowing the important SEO terms
Considering professional SEO services
he field of search engine optimization (SEO) is both simple and complex.
It’s simple in that the principles of preparing your site for beneficial
crawling are a lot easier than SEO companies (who want you as a client)
might have you believe. It’s also complex because ideal SEO goes beyond
tweaking a site’s tags or page structure to a deeper consideration of a site’s
purpose, who it wants to attract, and how it wants visitors to behave.
SEO might or might not be connected to making money. (For low-revenue
and no-revenue sites that want more traffic, the main investment is time.)
Improving a site’s placement on Google’s search pages is a generally desirable goal for any Webmaster, even those not selling products or trying to convert free visitors into paying customers. So this chapter concentrates on site
optimization for its own sake. I sometimes refer to revenue priorities, but the
focus is raising a site’s visibility for the sake of visibility.
To that end, search engine optimization — which, in the context of this book,
means Google optimization — is about creating Web pages that are ranked
highly in search engines. Optimization is not about tricking the Google spider,
though some disreputable SEO companies have based their services on just
that — a risky game, in Google’s case. Optimization is a win-win-win strategy
that results in a site that’s more coherent to visitors, ranked higher in the
search index, and more prosperous for the owner. In a well-optimized site,
the goals of everyone involved converge.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Optimizing before Building
A fully optimized site is not built from the outside in — in other words, as a
visitor conceives it. Instead, you build an optimized site from key concepts
and keywords, and its pages never stray from a tight connection to those
concepts and their related keywords. Furthermore, business-oriented Web
designers are always focused on their target audience — the people who
search for the key concepts and keywords embedded in the Web page. This
circular thinking — the relentless integration of design with result, of keyword with content — distinguishes a finely optimized site.
In theory, you would construct a perfectly optimized site in roughly this
1. Conceive the site.
Conception means determining the site’s purpose in specific terms. An
optimized site can have more than one purpose (information publishing
and Amazon affiliation, for example), but those purposes should be
tightly related. Conception means also identifying your target audience.
2. Identify keywords.
Boiling down the site’s mission to key concepts and keywords is essential. Keywords can be single words or phrases, but keep phrases short for
now — three words at most. For example, using the fictional The Coin
Trader site (from Chapter 3), the keywords and phrases might be coins,
coin trader, coin trading, trading, collecting, coin collecting, and so on.
Eventually, you need keywords for every page of your site, and they
might differ from the core words used to distill the subject matter of
your entire site. During the entire keyword process, think about your
target audience — not only as a topical demographic, but as searchers
going into Google with certain keywords. When you identify keywords,
you identify your customers.
3. Register a domain.
Choose a domain name that incorporates core keywords.
4. Design the site.
Use spider-friendly principles explained in this chapter, Chapter 3, and
the final section of Chapter 2.
5. Write and acquire content.
Content development is an ongoing process that starts while you design
the site.
6. Optimize content by keyword.
Embedding keywords in your page’s text helps visitors and Google
understand the content quickly.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
7. Tag the site.
Tagging means embedding keywords into important HTML tags that
Google’s spider observes.
So much for theory, you’re probably thinking. Few Webmasters deal with
optimization issues from the very start. Most people optimize after the fact,
which is why SEO professionals stay in business: It’s harder to fix problems
than avoid them. But no matter how you approach it, improving your optimization isn’t hard at all. And the knowledge it provides about sound page
design, content development, concise communication, and smart tagging
translates to invaluable online marketing technique.
The steps just provided merely sketch a process. The following sections get
down to the nuts and bolts.
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
If you’re not dreaming of keywords at night, you’re not optimizing enough.
Keywords are the thread that runs through the entire SEO process from start
to finish.
Your keywords are the kernels of your site’s content. They’re embedded in
your site’s important headers and HTML tags. If your domain name is apt,
keywords are drilled into every incoming link because the domain name is
spelled out in each link to your site. An appropriate domain name spreads
the identity and purpose of your site through the Web.
Your content should be densely saturated with keywords. Your keywords are
carried into Google’s search engine by your future customers and visitors,
who are searching for your site as well as similar sites that might contain
links to your site — links that spell out your site domain, which, ideally, contains core keywords. If you’re an AdWords advertiser, your site’s keywords
probably form the basis of your ads and determine on which results pages
your ads appear. In that case, Google users searching for your keywords find
your site through your ads, further driving to your site visitors who are thinking about the same keywords you are.
Keywords are the battleground of Google marketing. You and your competitors are fighting for position on search pages resulting from keywords you
have in common. Remember, Google is all about keywords, so your site should
be all about keywords. As I described in the preceding section, keywords can
actually form the basis of a business plan and even help determine the nature
of a business, if that business will be marketed online. This concept might
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
seem far-fetched — doesn’t the business come first, then the keywords which
define it? Often, yes. But keyword-based marketing has become an imperative
in the online space, especially for small businesses, and I am seeing sites and
business plans created on a foundation of keywords.
Keywords are not purchased — not even in Google AdWords, where the advertiser purchases a position, not a keyword. Keywords can be shared but a position cannot be shared. When you select keywords around which to build and
market a site, you’re attempting to secure position on the search page, in competition with other “owners” of the same keywords. All this notwithstanding,
you should feel as if you own your keywords and that they will propel you to
dominance in your field.
This section deals with selecting keywords. Later, I discus how to embed
them in your content and HTML tags.
Going for the edge
When it comes to building business, you don’t just optimize — you optimize
for something. More accurately, you optimize for somebody, and that somebody is the customer or visitor you seek.
Accordingly, define your site in terms of specific keywords, not general ones.
If you operate a courier service in Chicago, for example, you might not want
to optimize for the keyword couriers. Your potential customers probably
reside in Chicago and are searching more specifically, by location. Optimizing
for chicago couriers makes more sense. Check both searches in Google to see
the competitive difference of the two key phrases. A recent check of couriers
brought up 441,000 results, the top 10 of which were large companies offering
nationwide service. A search of chicago couriers resulted in about 19,000 hits,
including an undefined smattering of companies in the top 10. There was
room to make noise on the chicago couriers results page. Interestingly, a
search for chicago couriers same day turned up 50,000 hits, with mostly small
companies near the top — only 4 of which operated strictly in Chicago. That
page presented a tightly contested field, but with plenty of room for a sameday courier site dedicated to Chicago deliveries.
This type of experimentation and keyword research is part of the keyword
selection process. Read on to find out about other keyword research tips.
Checking out Wordtracker
Wordtracker is one of the most popular keyword assessment tools on the
Web. Nearly everybody who optimizes has used Wordtracker at least once.
This interactive gadget looks at your keywords, shows related keywords, and
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
displays a table displaying the relative popularity of keywords. This much technology brought to bear on simple keywords might seem like overkill, but keywords are too important to treat casually. In addition to choosing keywords
(which, by itself, is not necessarily easy), you should assess their competitive
value — and that’s exactly what Wordtracker does.
Evaluating keywords means assessing two factors: popularity, or the frequency with which they appear, and competition, or the number of sites using
them. (By “using them,” I mean using the keywords in any fashion and any
context, not just in the site’s meta tags.)
Wordtracker covers both bases by suggesting keywords related to your core
terms and by evaluating the suggested keywords you select. (In Wordtracker,
a keyword means either a word or a phrase.) Wordtracker is a paid service,
charging by the day, the week, the month, a 3-month period, or a year. You
can concentrate your keyword research into a 1-day or 7-day blitz, without
committing to an ongoing subscription.
Wordtracker offers a free trial of 15 keyword suggestions, using just one
search engine (Alta Vista as of this writing) instead of the multiple search
engines that paying customers get. The free trial is a good opportunity to
walk through Wordtracker’s screens and tools. Start here:
Click the icon for the free trial and surf through whatever opening screens
Wordtracker throws at you before getting down to business. The Wordtracker
process comprises four steps:
Enter keywords. On the Step 1 page, enter one or more keywords. Keep
your list short for now. One word works well because it gives Wordtracker
a relatively open field to find related words. As you can see in Figure 4-1,
you can opt in and out of two settings: Lateral and Thesaurus. I find the
Lateral search more helpful because it investigates hundreds of Web
pages related to the keyword topic. The Thesaurus just finds synonyms,
which doesn’t turn up much with new terms such as mp3. You may
choose both types of search, but because the free trial delivers truncated results, I’d stick with Lateral. Click the Proceed button.
Select keywords. Step 2 displays a preliminary list of related keywords,
with your original at the top. Click a keyword for more detail. When you
do, the right side of the screen displays a table containing the selected
word and a list of related words. (See Figure 4-2.) On this screen, any
clicked keyword from the left-hand list is added to a basket in which
Wordtracker performs its keyword analysis and comparison in Step 4.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 4-1:
a keyword
in Wordtracker.
Try the shovel icons; they dig into the corresponding keyword and find
related words to it. (Clicking the shovel icon next to your original keyword merely replicates Step 1, so try the shovel icon next to a different
word.) The number in the Count column indicates the number of times
that keyword appears in Wordtracker’s index. The Predict column is
Wordtracker’s estimate of search queries for that keyword in major
search engines over the next 60 days. (Click the Predict link to see which
engines are currently represented.) When you’re finished, click the
arrow icon for Step 3.
Export or e-mail your keywords. Wordtracker creates a tab-delimited
text file of your selected keywords and an e-mail link (both in the paid
version). In the trial version, simply move through this step by clicking
the Step 4: Competition link.
View your competition results. If you select all 15 keywords in Step 2,
this step takes a minute to load. What you finally see is a table listing
your keywords and their total instances in Wordtracker’s index, this
time ranked by the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI), as shown in
Figure 4-3.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
Figure 4-2:
and their
Figure 4-3:
Measure of
the potential
marketability of your
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
KEI is a measure of each keyword’s competitive power and is constructed
from two other statistics: the keyword’s count (frequency of appearance)
and its breadth (the number of sites containing it). The idea here is that
by comparing a keyword’s frequency with its prevalence, you can gauge
its effectiveness. When a high count is concentrated in only a few sites,
there’s less competition among sites optimizing for that word than there
could be. Conversely, when a lower count is distributed among a large
number of sites, competition is fierce among sites optimizing for a relatively unpopular word. Broadly speaking, it makes more sense to optimize your site for the first scenario than for the second.
Don’t use KEI as a rote tool, obeying it mindlessly. As you see in Figure 4-3,
KEI gives the highest rank to stacy’s mom mp3. A large number of hits are concentrated in 25 pages — possibly on a single site belonging to Stacy or her
mom. (Actually, a quick Google search reveals that Stacy’s Mom is a music
Note the high KEI of metal mp3, which might inspire an imaginative entrepreneur to test the waters with a page devoted to that music genre. Note also
that mp3 scores much higher than mp3s, suggesting that a site optimized for
MP3 music topics should concentrate on the singular keyword, because the
plural is relatively unpopular and spread among many sites.
Read on to discover a free means of comparing the popularity of keywords as
search terms.
Trying the Overture Search
Suggestion Tool
Overture, a search technology company owned by Yahoo!, provides some
services similar to Google’s searching and AdWords programs. Overture
offers front-end searching at its main site, as Google does, but the company’s
main businesses involve licensing its search engine to other companies and
providing a search-engine advertising service.
The Overture Search Suggestion Tool reports the number of times your keyword (or phrase) was entered in Overture keyword boxes as a search term
during the previous month. The report is easy, fast, free, and available for
unlimited use. Try it here:
As you can see in Figure 4-4, Overture tells you about your term and delivers
a list (often a long one) of related keywords. The list is ranked by frequency
of search use in the previous month.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
Figure 4-4:
and their
count in
The Overture Search Suggestion Tool is valuable on two counts: It suggests
keywords and phrases that are in active play among searchers, and it ranks
keywords according to popularity. The Overture list gives you a good idea of
the competitive landscape surrounding your keywords and offers ideas for
niche subjects.
Remember the connection between keywords as search queries and keywords as linchpins of optimization? Roughly, if a keyword is in heavy rotation
as a search term, it is in rampant use as an optimization point. That means
(again, speaking broadly) when you optimize a page or site for a popular keyword, you’re competing in a thick field of sites. These popular keywords are
the “hot” keywords that SEO consultants speak about. The broader the subject of your page, and the more general your keywords, the harder it is to
make your mark — a lesson I repeat in the chapters about AdWords. The
more likely path to success lies in niche subject categories, where you can
create uniquely powerful content, fine-tune your optimization, and climb
toward the top of that category’s search page.
Keeping this in mind, use Overture to find keyword niches that apply to your
content (if you have content at this point) and to give you new keyword
ideas. Then take these new ideas to Wordtracker (described in the preceding
section) to discover their position in the Keyword Effectiveness Index.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Google also provides a Keyword Suggestion Tool in the suite of online products associated with AdWords. Anyone can use this keyword machine, even
nonadvertisers, by going to this page:
Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool delivers unranked lists of keyword suggestions based on your original keywords. Without any supporting information
(popularity or competitiveness), the lists are arguably less useful than those
in Wordtracker and Overture. But Google does an exemplary job on the suggestion part, with deep, wide-ranging, and imaginative lists of keywords.
Nobody beats Google at understanding context throughout its index, and
you’ll be amazed at the interesting keyword suggestions, many of which
manage to be both relevant and unexpected. Google’s suggestion tool is an
indispensable part of your keyword arsenal.
Peeking at competing keyword groups
The keyword tools described so far afford a broad view of your competition.
The degree to which your keywords are hot is a measure of the competitiveness you face. You can also check the keywords in play at a specific site
easily by looking at its meta-tag keywords. (I get into optimizing meta tags
later in this chapter.) The snooping described here isn’t unethical; the Web
is engineered to make code-specified keywords accessible to anyone. All
modern Web browsers display a page’s HTML code in two clicks.
Checking the keywords of successful sites in your field is instructive, revealing, and sometimes disillusioning. You can get a tutorial in smart keywording
this way; you can also get a cold-water lesson in the apparent irrelevancy of
tagged keywords in some cases. When a poorly tagged site lands in Google’s
top ten results for certain keywords, you know that optimization isn’t everything, and that good content on its own can work wonders. However, smart
optimization always helps promote good content.
Checking a site’s meta tags is a simple, three-step process:
1. Go to any site.
2. Click the View menu of your browser.
3. Choose Page Source, Source, or Page Info.
The Page Source and Source views display that page’s entire HTML
code, either in a text processor such as Notepad or a special browser
window, depending on your browser and its settings. There is no way to
change the code of another site in your browser, even inadvertently. The
Page Info view (in Netscape) summarizes the page’s feature in several
categories, such as tags, graphics, and links.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
With the page’s source code on your screen (see Figure 4-5 for an example),
look near the top for the meta tags. One meta tag probably starts this way:
<meta name=”keywords” content=
followed by a string of keywords and keyword phrases. If the page’s code
doesn’t contain the meta tag like this, it simply means that the page’s owner
has not coded keywords into the meta tag. But he or she might have optimized the page for certain keywords in other ways.
The influence of meta keywords on search engine crawlers has diminished
during the last few years, so it’s increasingly common to see pages without
them. At any rate, you’re peeking at the meta tag to gain keyword ideas and
better understand a competing site’s success, not to critique that site’s
You can also check out the page’s link text — an important area of page optimization, as described in the Chapter 3. It’s easy to simply look at the site’s outgoing links and view how they are worded. The easiest way to do this, if you
use the Netscape browser, is to click the Page Info selection of the View menu,
then click the Links tab to see a summary of all the site’s links and link text.
Figure 4-5:
A page’s
code, with
the meta
keyword tag
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
On the other hand, eBay ( isn’t above optimizing for keywords in the meta space, even though it has virtually no competition in the
auction field. However, eBay does compete ferociously in the broader e-tailing space, and its keywords reflect its desire to promote wide-ranging product categories: “ebay, electronics, cars, clothing, apparel, collectibles,
sporting goods, ebay, digital cameras, antiques, tickets, jewelry, online shopping, auction, online auction.” See Figure 4-6.
Some major media sites, such as the New York Times site (www.nytimes.
com), do not contain meta keywords. Likewise, Google itself does not optimize its home page in this fashion, as you can see in Figure 4-7. (I understand
that has a rather high PageRank in Google.)
A recent Google search for picnic baskets hand-woven brought up www. as the number-one site. Checking its meta keywords
turned up: “Basketville, Baskets, Shaker baskets, Nantucket baskets, Ash
splint baskets, Black ash baskets, Basket weaving, Putney, Vermont, Antique
reproduction baskets, Shaker style reproductions, Nantucket style reproductions, Picnic baskets, Gardening baskets, Laundry baskets, Country baskets,
Spoke bottom baskets, Scrimshaw, Gift baskets, Basket store.” Note that
hand-woven is not a meta keyword; the site is optimized for that keyword in
other ways.
Figure 4-6:
The meta
in the
source code
of eBay’s
home page.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
Figure 4-7:
code of
home page.
It doesn’t
use the
tag, which
in the
Determining great keywords
The tools described in this section help you brainstorm and evaluate keywords. Eventually choices need to be made, and they are business-plan
choices as much as optimization choices.
Everyone wants to succeed in the businesses represented by hot keywords —
the most-searched words — because that’s where the highest traffic flows. If
you’re not on that first page of search results, you’re not visible. However,
rising to the top of competitive search pages is sometimes impossible.
Success is less about meeting the competitive standard of hot keywords than
it is about becoming a hot site in a smaller niche. There is a lot of traffic out
there. Google fulfills over 55 billion searches a year. A small niche in Google
still represents thousands or millions of searches, and that many potential
visitors and customers. So, refine your keyword choices to specific, tightly
defined concepts around which you can build a high-quality, optimized page.
Better to focus your ambition on quality and precision than grapple with
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
The only meaningful test of keywords and your page’s optimization is performance. Fortunately, Google makes performance easy to track through the
PageRank display in the Google browser window and, of course, the search
results pages. However, remember that it can take six weeks for PageRank
changes to affect your place in the index. Your traffic logs also serve as indicators of the success of your optimization efforts.
Selecting a Domain
Carrying through the idea that site optimization begins at the beginning, the
first SEO step is to register your site’s domain. The domain name should be
chosen with an eye to the keywords around which your site is, or will be,
constructed. Ideally, the domain actually contains core keywords.
Searching for .com domain names can be discouraging. With the Web 10 years
old, most of the obvious .com names have been long taken. But as an obsessive domain-checker, I can tell you that imagination and brain-wracking persistence can locate that elusive name.
The best domain from an optimization viewpoint is one that incorporates
your chosen keywords. You should probably ignore gigantic success stories
Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, and Google, whose domain names (and company
names) have little contextual meaning. If you own technology or a business
model as groundbreaking and earth-shaking as each of these companies
deploys, you can get cute with the domain name, too.
For most businesses, the domain name should convey the subject at hand.
The relevance factor in the domain name isn’t about making it easy for visitors to remember you, although that doesn’t hurt. You should choose a
domain name that contains your keyword(s) for the Google spider, which
looks hard at domains as indicators of relevance.
The spider’s needs in this matter outweigh your visitors’ needs. Accordingly,
throw out the old-school optimizing rule that .com is a more valuable extension than .net, .biz, or the others. Although it’s better to have a perfect domain
name as a .com than another extension, Google’s spider treats .net, .org, .biz,
and other domain extensions the same as the .com extension. As little as it
cares about the domain extension, Googlebot does care about domain names
matching page content, and it rewards that correlation.
The average person remembers the .com extension more readily than others,
and usually assumes that a site address uses that extension. In that sense,
.com is preferable for business cards and conversations. But when visitors
find your site through a search engine and then bookmark it in the browser,
the extension type is irrelevant. And from the viewpoint of search engine
optimization, the extension doesn’t matter. So your job is to optimize with
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
a spider-friendly domain name, and then provide your visitors such great
content and site organization that they bookmark you.
It’s not difficult to find small businesses competing effectively on Google’s
search pages with big industrial sites by using keyword-inspired domain
names in niche categories. For example a search for special education news
shows and rising above
powerhouses BBC, CNN, USNews, and others which have special education
sections in their mammoth sites. Of course, it takes optimization in all ways,
not just in the domain name, to crack the top ten.
Google recommends against registering domains containing misspellings of
popular Web destinations, such as,, or
In fact, Google threatens expulsion from the index for attempting to lure visitors in this manner.
Just about any domain registrar can report the availability of names, but some
are faster and more flexible than others. Network Solutions ( allows you to search multiple domain names simultaneously
(see Figure 4-8).
Figure 4-8:
Solutions, a
lets you
search for
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Effective Site Design
There is site design, and there is page and content design:
Site design refers to overall structure, link navigation, distribution of
text, and effective tagging.
Page and content design refers to layout, content choices, keyword density, and tagging.
This section and the next discuss site design and page design, respectively.
The first lessons in site design are about what not to do. Here, it is enough to
touch down on the points discussed at the end of Chapter 2 (in “The invisibility problem” section). Google’s spider either doesn’t like or can’t understand
these design features:
Splash pages. These are the content-free entry pages to Web sites. Splash
pages often exist for no purpose other than to display a big graphic or
present some multimedia. They can be fun, but Google gets nothing from
graphics and multimedia, and a splash page is located at your most
important address, the location at which Google expects to find a
strongly optimized indication of what the site is about. This is not the
place to disappoint Google. Serious business sites never use empty
splash pages. Many visitors think they’re a pain in the neck, too.
Dynamic pages. Some sites can’t avoid these delivery structures, which
pull page content from a database. A site that displays MLS real estate listings, for example, must create those pages on the fly from visitor input.
Google doesn’t penalize for dynamic generation, but the spider usually
backs off from these portions of a site, for fear of generating huge numbers
of pages. Google assesses static pages much better than dynamic ones.
Frames. Frames are easier to eliminate than dynamic pages. Frames confuse spiders, because each frame on a page behaves like a separate page
in some ways. For optimization purposes, rip down your frames and
recast your site as a collection of unframed pages. Try using HTML
tables instead of frames.
In creating the overall page structure of your site, the question isn’t so
much how long your pages should be, but how focused. The answer is, “Very
focused.” Keep each page on-topic and move related, differently focused content to new pages. Topical divisions are easier for Google to get a handle on,
and clearer for your human visitors — plus they give you a chance to develop
a robust network of navigational links.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
When text is not text
The imperative to stage your content and keywords as text, not graphics, is plain enough. But
occasionally, site-designing software can fool
you into thinking that a graphic is text. The
figure is an example of an all-graphics page that
appears to be text. Google can’t index this page
because it can’t read the words. (In this case,
the page is an information source for local
members of a dance troupe and is not intended
to attract a wider audience.) Even if the page
had a strong backlink network, it would never
get into the Web index because Google would
be unable to assess its content or assign a
This page was created with ImageReady, an
Adobe program that creates and slices images
for deployment on a Web page. Although most
sophisticated graphics programs allow placement of text in the graphic image, it stops being
text when you do so. As information, graphical
words are invisible to Google.
Each separate and topically focused page has its own name and location, so
your navigation links act as incoming links to those pages, helping establish
them in Google. And the text in those navigation links (which I discuss
shortly) helps Google understand what the pages are about.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Through all this site planning, never forget keywords. Your site should be
optimized according to overall concepts, and each page should have its own
specially targeted keywords. Ideally, these niched keywords are reflected in
each page’s title, meta tags, and the text of incoming navigation links.
Keep life simple for the Google spider and your visitors. Avoid creating wildgoose chases in which visitors chase links down dead ends. A tidy link structure in which each main group of pages is reachable from one link on the home
page helps Google assess the entire site and get the maximum number of pages
into the index. Google can sweep through a well-organized site in a flash and
gain an extraordinary amount of understanding about it.
The golden rule of optimization is this: Do unto Google as your visitors would
have you do unto them. The Google spider responds well to the same site
qualities that visitors value. Keep it simple, organized, and on-topic. Don’t be
subtle. Eliminate unnecessary clicks. Don’t waste the visitor’s time.
Another great rule of thumb: Convey your information in text, not graphics.
Google loves text. It understands text. When Google’s spider encounters an
image on the page, it recognizes the filetype (.jpg or .gif in most cases), but it
can’t see the image, interpret it, or recognize any text that might be part of
the image. Two types of image file are common on Web pages:
Logos. Graphic logos are perfectly fine to use. But be aware that any
supporting text built into the graphic, such as the site’s tagline (“Coins
for All and All for Coins!”) serves no optimization value and is wasted as
a PageRank asset.
Links. Graphic buttons can be used for links, but doing so wastes an
optimization opportunity to incorporate a keyword in the anchor text.
Don’t underestimate this point: Convey information in text, not images.
Page and Content Design
It might be strange to think of “content design.” Content authorship, certainly, but what is content design? Content design involves optimizing your
editorial content by dividing it in certain ways on the page, tying it to key
concepts, and embedding it with keywords. As such, content design is closely
associated with page design, which is likewise concerned with layout, the
division of content, and the density of keywords per page.
Page design is a broader consideration, including the overall look-and-feel of
the page on which your content sits. Colors, tables, navigation menus, and
links — these are all page design elements. Your content elements consist of
the information on the page, all of which, ideally, is textual.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
Design your pages as if you were serving an information meal to your visitors
(and to Google’s spider). Don’t overfeed. Don’t create wild mixtures of incompatible foods. Divide the meal into well-defined courses.
Optimize each page according to the following principles:
Focus. Don’t let any single page divert from its topic. Move extraneous
information to another page.
Size. In the eye of Google’s spider, the length of a page doesn’t matter
much. To a certain extent, the amount of content per page is a matter
of design and anticipating the needs of your visitors. Breaking up a long
article into two or three pages lends a compact quality to the site, but
makes your readers click more. Page length should be determined by
keyword density — see the next point.
Keyword density. This important optimization factor is a measure of
how many keywords exist on the page relative to overall text. If your
page contains 500 words, and 50 of them are your keywords, the keyword density is 10 percent. Online tools can quickly measure the density
of any page. One such gadget is provided by Search Engine World (see
Figure 4-9) at the following address:
Figure 4-10 is a results page of the Keyword Density Analyzer at Search
Engine World. You want a density neither too high nor too low; most
optimization pros think 15 percent is a top limit for an article page. On
the other hand, Search Engine world’s own home page sports a density
of 45 percent for the keywords search engine. The danger of loading up
too heavily with keywords lies in making Google think you’re stuffing the
page with keywords to artificially inflate its PageRank.
Keyword distribution. You might think that distributing keywords
evenly across the page is the right idea, but concentrating them near the
top is better optimization. And repeating your main concepts at the start
of a page of text is good writing.
Optimized headings. Google’s spider gives headings a little more weight
than ordinary text. So, without distorting the meaning of your content,
try to place your key concepts and words in larger-font headlines. Again,
this is both good writing and good optimizing.
Link creation. Think of ways to make keywords into links. For example,
if you have a glossary in your page, link keywords to their glossary
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 4-9:
Analyzer at
Figure 4-10:
of the
which seeks
of your
keywords in
all combinations.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
Tag Design
Tagging is the hidden optimization of a Web page. Hidden from your visitors,
that is, but not from Google. The Google spider examines certain HTML tags
and feeds them into the PageRank equation. I’ve described proper coding of
link tags in Chapter 3. In addition to links, four other tags are significant:
title tag
description tag
keywords tag
alt tag
The description and keywords tags are meta tags, and are placed near the
top of your page’s HTML code (between the <head> and </head> tags). The
title tag goes between the head tags, too, but isn’t a meta tag. Each is a separate tag, so the entire meta array might look like this:
<title=”The Coin Trader”>
<meta description=”All for Coins and Coins for All”>
<meta keywords=”coin, coins, trade, trader, trading, historic
coins, ancient coins, collecting, collections,
collect, hobby, coin trader, coin trading”>
Figure 4-11 illustrates the meta and title portion of a real page’s source
Creating a title tag
The title tag conveys the page title, which should certainly contain a keyword or two. This one isn’t rocket science — just put in your page title. The
worst mistake you can make is to forget to assign the page a title. Every Web
surfer has seen pages like this. Pages missing the title tag fail to display a
title in the browser’s title bar and the Windows taskbar, and are frowned on
by Google’s spider. Leaving out the page title is a blow to any page’s optimization and PageRank.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 4-11:
and title
tags are
Creating a description tag
Google does still look at the description tag, though, and some people regard
it as an important optimization point. Karyn Greenstreet, owner of the Passion
for Business site (, goes so far as to say, “In
my opinion, the primary reason why a site is ranked number one on a search
engine is that the keyword phrase people use to find the site is listed in the
‘description’ metatag.” Indeed, Greenstreet notes that a business coaching site
named for its owner ( appears in the number-one slot
when searching for the keywords small business coaching. Those words do not
appear on the home page but do appear in the description tag. However,
they also appear in her keywords tag.
The upshot of all this speculation is this: Optimize everything. These tags are
so easy to tweak that there’s no point in leaving one out of your process.
Greenstreet concurs: “The SEO tricks are so easy, I can’t understand why
everyone doesn’t do them. What works with one search engine won’t work
with another, but if you cover all your bases, you’re better off.”
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
In the page description, you can get a little more imaginative than in the title
tag. At the same time, don’t be wordy and definitely don’t stuff keywords indiscriminately into this tag. Devise a brief, one-line description of the site that
uses a keyword or two.
Creating a keywords tag
Earlier in this chapter I described how to look at the meta keywords of other
pages. Now it’s time to create your own. Unlike the description tag, the
keywords tag is important to Google — though, admittedly, less than it used
to be. The meta keywords tag has been devalued as an optimization point
for all engines, thanks to the abuse it suffered for years. Stuffing this tag with
keywords is the easiest of all optimization tricks, so Googlebot now takes the
tag with a grain of salt. Still, the spider does take it.
Pour your keywords into the meta tag, but don’t spam it. Do not place more
than three instances of a word in this tag, including instances in which the
word is part of a key phrase. Look again at the sample keywords I contrived
for the fictional site The Coin Trader:
<meta keywords=”coin, coins, trade, trader, trading, historic
coins, ancient coins, collecting, collections,
collect, hobby, coin trader, coin trading”>
Use keywords that might be missing from the page’s content, such as specific
product names, geographical locations relevant to the business, and common
misspellings of your core keywords. The keywords tag can fill in gaps that
potentially clarify details of your page’s targeting or give it an edge over competing pages. Merely duplicating the keywords embedded in your content is
futile because search crawlers (including Google) are increasingly harvesting
your page’s topical information from page text.
Although I didn’t include three-word key phrases in the example, don’t hesitate to use them in the meta tag. (Separate them from other words and
phrases by commas.) According to a research report in mid-2003, 45 percent
of all searches are for keyword phrases of three words or more. Never forget
the point of this tag and the obsessive keyword focus throughout your site:
You’re trying to match keyword queries entered by Google users.
Creating alt tags
The alt tag is the HTML tag that displays a floating caption when a visitor
hovers the mouse over an image. (See Figure 4-12.) The image could be your
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
logo, an illustration in an article, or anything at all. (Remember: Try to use
only text links. If you do use graphic links, use an alt tag on each one.) The
alt tag is embedded in the HTML image tag, and looks like this:
<img src=”name-sitelogo.gif” alt=”The Coin Trader: All for
Coins and Coins for All”>
You can include other tag elements in the image tag, such as dimension elements that size the image. I excluded such elements for simplicity in the
example. For convenience and consistency, place the alt tag as the final element in the image tag.
The content of the alt tag varies according to the graphic it’s captioning. In
the case of a site logo, be sure to use keywords. This is where you can place the
site description that Google ignores when it resides in the description tag.
Figure 4-12:
The alt tag
creates a
when the
hovers the
mouse over
a graphic.
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
Poisoning the Google Spider
This section is about risky optimization tactics intended to artificially inflate
PageRank, manipulate the ordering of search result pages in Google, and gain
an unfair advantage in the index. Google, with a superb reputation to protect,
is harsh in dealing with the techniques described here. The company resorts
to only one remedy when a site violates its guidelines: expulsion from the
Web index.
No guarantees or even policies are published concerning when or how an
eliminated site can work its way back into the index. Google doesn’t even
explain why a site was removed. Being blacklisted from Google is a serious —
one might even say catastrophic — business consequence. This section is
here not to give anyone ideas but to inform readers of unscrupulous tricks to
Most outlawed optimization tricks concentrate on one of two angles:
Loading up on keywords
Hiding the site’s identity or location
Keyword stuffing, as it’s called, is usually attempted in a fashion that remains
invisible to visitors, although occasionally you run across a site that flagrantly plasters its pages with visible keywords. Keywords can be hidden in
two ways: in the HTML meta tags and on the visible page using a font color
that matches the page’s background color. Sometimes the color is different
but a tiny typeface makes the stuffed words inconspicuous. To a crawler, all
this is glaringly visible.
More diabolical is hiding an entire site, either from the search engine or from
visitors. Actually, the hiding always goes both ways; both the engine and the
visitors are deceived. This bait-and-switch tactic is usually called cloaking
and is accomplished in a couple of ways.
First, an underhanded Webmaster or SEO specialist can create a page, let it
be indexed by Google, and then switch out the content of that page for new
content. It can be quite a surprise to click a site about butterfly migration patterns and land on a pornography page. This type of cloaking provides only
temporary joy to the deceiving Webmaster, of course, because Google’s
spider sees the change at the next crawl, and nobody can anticipate Google’s
crawl schedule well enough to continue the deception for months on end.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Second, redirection can create enduring confusion. Here, a doorway page is
designed to rank high in Google and then used to redirect traffic (usually
quickly and invisibly) to a different site. Visitors never see the indexed page
at all. Not all doorway pages are illicit; the term is also used to describe legitimate entrances to Web sites.
I don’t want to moralize. Suffice to say that these artificial optimization
schemes degrade the online culture and risk getting your site tossed from its
most important online portal.
A Glossary of SEO Terms
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing and continually refining
process. This chapter provides a good start, but if you’re bitten by the optimization bug, you’ll certainly explore the subject online. SEO sites abound
and are better understood if you know the major buzzwords. The Glossary,
at the back of the book, rounds up the terms used in this chapter and other
words and abbreviations you might run into while researching.
Considering SEO Services
Site optimization doesn’t take a degree in rocket science, but it does take
time plus near-obsessive attention to detail. You can hire a professional to
shoulder some of the burden, on a consulting level or through hands-on control of the site and its relationship with Google. (Most SEO companies widen
the focus to include other search engines as well.)
For a discussion of specific SEO resources, see Chapter 16. Here, I provide an
overview of SEO services and, in particular, explain what to avoid.
Unfortunately, you must approach the field of search engine optimization
with caution. Search engine manipulation was rampant during the 1990s,
because search engine results could be easily manipulated. Over time, the
major search engines caught on. But some of them didn’t help their own
integrity by selling listings on results pages. The entire value of the search
experience was degraded. Google entered the scene with more interest in
pure search results and less vulnerability to trickery.
Google probably can be fooled some of the time, at least temporarily. (And
many other search engines don’t deploy the effort needed to effectively
police their search results.) But with its pristine reputation at stake, Google
Chapter 4: Optimizing a Site for Google
spares no effort in keeping its results clean. The aura of integrity emanating
from Google has largely seeped into the SEO field, but chicanery persists in
some quarters. Google still publicizes the dire story of a company called
Website Results, which enjoyed a wild dot-com ride until its shady SEO practices were uncovered, and warns Webmasters even more stringently than I’m
doing about SEO companies.
Plenty of good SEO help is available, and the best criterion for finding good
help is knowing what to avoid:
The spam approach. Avoid companies that contact you in a spammy
way. Nearly everyone owning a domain has received a truckload of
e-mail from companies claiming that they’ve already researched your
site; your search results are pathetic; and they can yank you from oblivion to the top ten. Outlandish claims notwithstanding, you should know
that if a company uses spam to get customers, it would probably use
unsavory techniques to get you customers.
Guarantees. Speaking of outlandish claims, avoid any guarantee. In fact,
be wary of any sort of performance-oriented assurance. An SEO company should be specific about the tasks it intends to accomplish, not the
results it intends to deliver. Everyone knows what the goals are — higher
placement on search pages and more visitors — but predicting exact
results is impossible. Certainly, any promise to deliver your site into the
top ten of its keywords should be treated skeptically. Great success is
possible, but a promise of great success is unprofessional.
Vagueness. Don’t be double-talked or swayed by results-oriented pitches.
A good SEO consultant tells you every detail of the plan of action. If you’ve
read this chapter and still don’t understand what the SEO company is
proposing, the company is probably being intentionally vague.
Automated solutions. Avoid getting involved with companies that use
automated, bulk submissions to search engines. In Google’s case, automated submissions violate its Terms of Service and can result in exclusion from the index.
Confusion between ads and listings. If an SEO company has promised
you placement on the first results page (the promise itself is a bad sign),
one easy way to fulfill the promise is to purchase AdWords on your
behalf and then send you the bill. AdWords is a terrific program, but it’s
a separate marketing campaign than basic site optimization. Certain
online marketing companies specialize in consulting or operating
AdWords campaigns, and they are discussed elsewhere in this book. If
an SEO company places AdWords on your behalf instead of working on
your PageRank, dump it.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
New software. Be skeptical of any SEO professional who suggests that
you implement any tactic that requires you to install any software.
Poisoning the spider. Be careful of any recommendation that violates
the guidelines I lay out in the “Poisoning the Google Spider” section. I am
not the final authority of Google’s policies, but my guidelines are broad
and well recognized in the legitimate optimization industry. Remember
the consequences: Google does expel sites that try to manipulate the
index, and working with SEO consultants who cut corners could cost
you months of work.
Most above-board SEO companies these days are defensive in their selfpromotion. (“We never use unethical techniques!”) That’s a good start. Before
signing on, find out explicitly what the company will be doing. The best SEO
services determine what your site is about (that alone can be invaluable if
you are putting out vague or mixed content) and focus its mission. When a
site is improved for visitors, its PageRank usually improves in short order.
Chapter 5
Putting Google Search
on Your Site
In This Chapter
Understanding the seven ways of putting Google on your site
Getting the search code and putting it on your pages
Customizing Google search results to match your site
Building your own Google site
he simplest and most identifiable method of partnering with Google is to
incorporate Google searching on your site. You may offer Google search
to your visitors free of charge (to them and to you), and you may customize
the search to a reasonable degree. Giving your users options to search the
Web or your site (or other specific sites) is fairly easy.
Google offers four free search services and three paid services:
Google Free. A Google-branded search box that delivers Web results.
Google Free SafeSearch. Same as Google Free, but delivers edited
search results free of adult content.
Google Free Web and Site Search. An enhanced version of Google Free
with an added option to search only your site or only another site
selected by you.
Customized Free Web (and Site) Search. With or without the Site Search
option, free customization is available to registered users, enabling them
to display search results under their site’s logo and with their site’s
Silver and Gold Search. Two paid search service plans for sites conducting millions of searches per year.
Custom Web Search. The highest level of paid search, for extremely hightraffic sites. ISPs and publishers such as EarthLink and the Washington
Post are two clients of Custom Web Search.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
This chapter describes the free services. See Chapter 15 for information
about Google’s premium services.
Offering Google searches from your site doesn’t build business in the sense
of directly increasing revenue. Any financial benefit derives indirectly from
making your site more attractive and useful to your visitors.
By the same token, adding a Google search box on your site doesn’t make
your site more likely to be crawled (or more thoroughly crawled), and it
doesn’t improve your PageRank. However, adding Google Free indirectly
enhances your site and makes it more magnetic, if searching is of value to
your users. In particular, using Web and Site Search might be the simplest
way to offer a search engine for your own content.
Terms and Restrictions
Most public Web sites are eligible to host a Google search box. Remember,
though, that you’re hosting only the search box, not the search results. The
box resides on your page, but when visitors launch their searches, they’re
taken to Google to see the results. In the uncustomized version of Google
Free, the results look just as they do when you start a search from Google,
because they are the same. Even fully customized searches are not displayed
on your site, even though they’re designed to look as though they are.
In using Google Free, you’re giving your visitors an easy way to leave your
site. The search results page doesn’t provide a link back to your site, and
there’s no way to place such a link. You can, however, force the results page
to open in a new browser window, leaving your visitor anchored at your site
in the first window. (I explain how later.) Of course, if a visitor restricts the
search to your domain (with the Web and Site Search), the search results are
filled with links back to your site. Indeed, this scenario is one of the most
attractive aspects of using Google Free.
Right now you might be thinking, “Ah, well, I’ll strip out the Web search and
just offer in-site search.” It’s a clever thought, but you would find the HTML
code uncooperative. The Web search option can’t be removed.
Despite all these considerations, offering Google search is an attractive
option to many sites for many reasons. Nearly all types of sites, from personal to commercial, are eligible. Terms of Service (TOS) do apply to Google
Free, but Google doesn’t insist on a digital agreement from you before getting
started. The TOS is far less compelling than a Harry Potter book, and to save
you the trouble of perusing it, the following items summarize its main points:
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
No frames, mirrors, or cache. Google doesn’t want you appropriating
the search process technically or prohibiting the results from being displayed on a Google-served page. You also are not allowed to capture the
results, store them in a database, or otherwise take ownership of them.
The ban against mirror sites (replicated site at various locations) is an
extension of Google’s identical stricture against them in the Web index.
Monogamy, please. Google is a demanding partner. You may not place
another company’s search box on the same page with Google’s. This
requirement is widely ignored.
Accept Google, accept its ads. Google displays advertisements on
nearly ever search results page, including the ones appearing on your
site. That’s because these results aren’t on your pages. So don’t think
that you’re going to provide your visitors with an ad-free experience.
Keep it clean. Google doesn’t want to be associated with illegal sites,
domains that propagate copyright infringement, adult sites, or sites that
sell alcohol or tobacco to minors.
Be nice to Google. Don’t say mean things about the company that’s providing free use of its logo and search engine.
Google doesn’t know you. Don’t pretend that Google is affiliated with or
endorses your site’s content.
Obey logo laws. Several bylaws apply to the Google logo. Don’t draw on
it, even though Google does. Likewise, don’t take archived logo variations
from Google’s site and use them with your search box. Don’t distort the
logo by squishing it or stretching it. (You may choose from a selection of
sanctioned sizes and colors, though.) Surprisingly, you must not allow
Google’s logo to be larger or more prominent than the site logo — Google
doesn’t want anyone to mistake your dog-and-pony show for the true,
majestic Google site.
Google can cut you off. As with all TOS agreements, the provider
(Google in this case) can end this collaboration at any time.
The ads Google serves on search pages launched from your site aren’t published by you, and they’re not AdSense ads. There’s no benefit to you if one
of your visitors clicks them, because that person is no longer your visitor.
Once that person is off your site, he or she is Google’s visitor, and Google
receives the full benefit of ad clickthroughs. Offering Google Free shouldn’t
inhibit you from considering becoming an AdSense publisher (as described in
Part III). By working both sides of the fence, you get the benefit of users clicking through ads placed on your pages, while offering visitors the convenience
of Googling from your site.
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
I strongly suggest that if you add Google Free to your site, you go the whole
route with Web and Site Search, fully customized for your site. The ability to
search your own domain and present search results in the color scheme of
your site (complete with logo) distinguishes Google Free from other ways of
initiating a Web search from your site. Without those features, Google Free is a
less compelling way of searching than using the Google Toolbar, which offers
your visitors one-click searching from your site and any non-Google site.
Getting Your Code
With a bit of HTML savvy (just the ability to cut, paste, and upload HTML
documents to your site’s server), you can be hosting Google searches in minutes. Registration is not required for basic Google Free, but if you want to
customize the search results, Google needs to know who you are and where
your domain is.
Google Free is installed on your page by means of a small chunk of HTML
code. No JavaScript is involved. The snippet is a simple form, comprising the
Google logo (which is called from a Google server, not stored on yours), a
keyword entry box, a search button, and (in the case of Web and Site Search)
radio buttons that toggle between search domains. (See Figure 5-1.)
Figure 5-1:
Web and
Site Search
is free and
easy to
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
1. Go to the search code page here:
2. Scroll down the page to the first code sample, and copy the entire
sample to the Clipboard.
Highlight the sample with your mouse, and then press Ctrl+C. Figure 5-2
shows the code after it is highlighted.
3. Paste the code into the HTML document representing your Web page.
Methods differ widely at this point. You can use any text processor, such
as Windows Notepad, to paste the code. Or you can use an HTML text
generator, which highlights different types of HTML tags, making the
code easier to navigate. Or use the HTML portion of a graphic Web-page
editor such as Dreamweaver. However you do it, you need to choose
where you want the search box to appear on your page, and position the
code to make that happen.
4. Upload the new HTML document for your page to its place on your
site server.
5. Visit your page to see the results.
Depending on your software, you might be able to view the result before
uploading and make adjustments.
Figure 5-2:
copy, and
free HTML
code to
Google Free
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
SafeSearch is a Google searching option that blocks Web pages containing
explicit sexual content from appearing in search results. To install a
SafeSearch box, follow the same steps but in Step 2 scroll further down the
code page to the SafeSearch HTML. The search box appears on your page
with the Google SafeSearch logo attached (as shown in Figure 5-3).
Figure 5-3:
A Google
Free Web and Site Search
If you choose Web and Site Search, you need to alter the preset HTML code a
bit, tailoring it to your Web site. The basic appearance doesn’t change much,
but you need to plug in your site’s domain information. Otherwise, Google
won’t know how to offer visitors the option of limiting a search to your site.
Follow these steps:
1. Go to the search code page:
2. Scroll down the page to the last code sample, and copy the entire
sample to the Clipboard.
3. Paste the code into the HTML document representing your Web page.
You may paste it anywhere in your HTML document. Google allows the
search box to appear anywhere on the page.
4. Change the first two instances of YOUR DOMAIN NAME to your actual
domain address, including the http:// prefix.
There are three instances of YOUR DOMAIN NAME. In the first two, type
your Web address, as in (That one’s mine. Type
in yours.)
5. Change the third instance of YOUR DOMAIN NAME, to the name you
want to appear on your page.
In Figure 5-1, note that instead of typing, I
typed Digital Songstream. I preferred using the name of the site, rather
than the address of the site. Type whatever you want your visitors to see.
6. Upload the new HTML document for your page to its place on your
site server.
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
You can specify more than one site in which to constrain searches. However,
you must always include a search option for the entire Web. In addition to the
entire Web and your own site, you may include any other public Web site. I
cover multiple domains in the “Customizing Search Results” section of this
Tweaking the search form
Before moving on to customizing the search results, you might want to make
small changes to the display of the Google search box and the elements surrounding it. Doing so requires a bit of HTML familiarity, but some tricks are
downright easy. Remember the Terms of Service, summarized previously in
the chapter. You may not distort the Google logo, and you may not add disparaging comments about Google. Beyond those innocuous guidelines, nothing is stopping you from elongating or shortening the search box, stacking
the elements vertically instead of horizontally, changing the font type and
size, and forcing searches to appear in a new browser window.
Stretching and shrinking the search box
Google’s code automatically wraps the search button to below the search
form if your page doesn’t have enough room for the natural horizontal layout
shown in Figure 5-1. You can maintain the horizontal layout in a narrower
space by shrinking the search box. In the HTML code, look for this line:
<INPUT TYPE=text name=q size=25 maxlength=255 value=””>
The size variable determines the horizontal size of the keyword box; a smaller
number narrows the entry box. Figure 5-4 shows a keyword box at size 14.
Also in Figure 5-4, note that the elements are stacked vertically to fit into a
narrow table column. To create this stacking, you use the break tag, br.
Placed after a line of code, the break tag forces the next code element below
the previous one, instead of next to it. Here is what the modified code looks
like. The br tags are in boldface for emphasis:
<INPUT TYPE=text name=q size=25 maxlength=255 value=””><br>
<INPUT type=submit name=btnG VALUE=”Search”><br>
<A HREF=””>
border=”0” ALT=”Google” align=”absmiddle”></A>
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 5-4:
shrank the
box and also
stacked the
The first line represents the keyword box. The second line is the Search
button (the text of which the Webmaster easily changed from Google Search
to Search, thereby shrinking the button to a narrower fit). The last three lines
refer to the Google logo.
Changing typeface and font size
As long as you’re getting creative, you should know how easy it is to change
the font type and font size of the search options. You can perform this trick
only in the Web and Site Search, because it’s the only type of search that has
a search-option type to alter. Find the following lines of code:
<INPUT type=submit name=btnG VALUE=”Google Search”>
<font size=-1>
The first line refers to the Google Search button, and I included it just to
help you find the second line, which is the one that counts. Looks fairly selfexplanatory, doesn’t it? To make a larger font, change the default setting (-1)
to 0 or a positive number, using a plus sign before the positive number. Figure
5-5 illustrates an altered version of Figure 5-1, with the font size boosted to +2.
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
Figure 5-5:
Large font!
Probably too
with the font
tag setting
to find the
perfect size.
Notice that in Figure 5-5 I also changed the typeface from the default (which,
on the host page, was Times Roman) to Arial. I did this by adding the face
variable to the font tag like this:
<font size=-1 face=”arial”>
Don’t forget to put quotation marks around the typeface.
Forcing results to a new browser window
When visitors use your free Google search, they click right out of your site.
Providing a convenience shouldn’t necessarily mean that you lose your visitors. Forcing the search results to display in a new browser window keeps your
site alive in the old browser window. Google encourages this code tweak, and
it’s easy to do. You just need to add a target variable with a blank page value
to the first line of the code sample. Here’s that line, unaltered:
<form method=GET action=””>
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
The blank-page variable is written like this: _blank. Yes, that’s a single underline followed by the word blank. Precede this with the target command. The
whole thing looks like this:
<form method=GET action=””
Now when your visitors launch a search, the results pop open in a new
window. If you continue to the next section and follow the customization suggestions, that new window looks a lot like (but isn’t!) a page on your site.
Using a different logo
Google offers several stickers from which to choose an official logo. You can
see the selection here:
Figures 5-1 and 5-5 both use the 40-percent logo on a white background —
that’s the default logo used in all the code samples. To switch logos, follow
these steps:
1. Right-click any logo and choose Copy Image Location.
2. In the code sample, find this line:
border=”0” ALT=”Google”>
3. Highlight the location of the image, which is the following part:
4. Paste the copied image location in place of the original.
To simplify, you’re copying one image location and pasting it over the
previous image location. Make sure the final image location is surrounded by quotation marks.
5. Paste the altered code into your Web page.
Your server now pulls the correct logo from Google’s server.
6. Upload the new HTML document for your page to its place on your
site server.
HTML jockeys, go wild
Every element of the HTML code sample is up for grabs. Google doesn’t
much care how you arrange the elements, as long as you follow these two
important guidelines: Don’t distort the logo, and don’t trash Google.
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
Customizing Search Results
Satisfyingly, Google encourages you to customize search results pages so that
they look (more or less) like your site pages. This customization puts your
site logo and color scheme on the search result pages.
To customize, you must register as a Google Free user. Google gets you customizing first, and then collects your basic information. Registration is free
and painless:
1. Go to the start page:
2. Choose the Free WebSearch plus SiteSearch option or the Free
WebSearch option.
In Figure 5-6, I’m choosing WebSearch plus SiteSearch.
Figure 5-6:
Start your
customization by
choosing a
option and
filling in
domains to
be searched
from your
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
3. Enter the domain address or addresses that you want as search
Separate multiple domains with semicolons. You are free to offer your
visitors searches constrained to any public domain. Think about which
site searches might benefit your visitors. A local news site might offer
searches of the New York Times ( A search optimization specialist might offer searches of the article database at www. Your choice is not etched in stone; you may sign in anytime to change your selections.
4. Click the Continue button.
On the Step 2 of 4 page, Google tells you how many pages of your selected
domains currently reside in Google’s Web index. (See Figure 5-7.) These
statistics give you some idea of the depth of the search you’re making
available to your visitors. Google doesn’t crawl domains you selected if
they’re not in the index, and it doesn’t make a special crawl through them
if they’re in the index. These statistics are presented to help you judge
whether the domains are worth searching.
Figure 5-7:
reports how
many pages
of your
reside in the
Web index.
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
5. On the Step 2 of 4 page, scroll down to fill in the customization fields.
This is where the fun starts. The first cluster of settings (see Figure 5-8)
relates to your site logo, which can appear at the top of your visitors’
search results pages. Despite the presence of Width and Height boxes,
you needn’t fill them in if you don’t know your logo’s dimension in
pixels. But you must enter the location of your graphics logo file, if you
have one, including the http:// prefix.
As you experiment with the fields, click the Preview button whenever
you want to see how your search results page would look if you saved
the current settings. The Preview window stays open as you continue
fiddling, and updates when you next click the Preview button. Figure 5-9
shows a somewhat jarring work in progress. Figure 5-10 illustrates a
nicely integrated color scheme.
6. Click the Continue button.
7. On the Step 3 of 4 page, fill in your name, e-mail address, and a password. Click the Continue button.
8. On the Step 4 of 4 page, copy the entire HTML code sample and paste
it into your Web page.
Figure 5-8:
Fill in the
customization fields
to create a
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 5-9:
Black logo,
gray search
table, and
a white
It doesn’t
Figure 5-10:
A customized search
served by
with the
of the
original site.
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
The colors you use in customizations can be determined by hexadecimal
values understood in HTML. You’re not limited to black, blue, red, and other
basic hues. If you want to exactly match backgrounds and other elements in
your pages, look in your HTML to find the hexadecimal values you need, and
enter them in the customization fields.
Figure 5-11 illustrates what happens without a fully integrated color scheme.
The result is hardly hideous, but it looks thrown together rather than
blended in. (And here, as in many sites, the Google-only guideline is ignored.)
By contrast, Figure 5-12 shows a nicely integrated search box. Note the
custom Search button, replacing Google’s default button.
You can’t use the Site Search feature as an enterprise solution, tempting
though it might be. Google searches only public Web sites, not corporate
Figure 5-11:
A lack of
customization results
in a rough
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Figure 5-12:
Nice design
and a
button, to
Building Your Own Google Site
The ultimate extension of Google Free is the construction of an entire site
dedicated to Google search. This ambitious task is best accomplished as a
third-party Google interface developer, an avocation Google encourages.
Google offers software developers a free license to access the Google Web
index. This license enables alternate Google sites to deliver Google search
results through new interfaces. Developers download a software kit that
includes the Google Web API (Application Programming Interface). An API is
necessary whenever one program or Web site hooks into a necessary underlying system, such as Google or the Windows operating system. If your computer runs Windows, every application program you have uses the Windows
API. Similarly, every alternate Google interface uses the Google API.
Entrepreneurial developers can use Google’s Application Programming Interface
(API) to query the Google index from their own programs. The details of doing
so are beyond the scope of this book. For more information, go here:
Chapter 5: Putting Google Search on Your Site
On that page, you can download a developer’s kit and Google license key.
Anyone can get a license key, even those without ambitions to run a Googlelike site. Getting a key is a good idea if you use some of those non-Google
interfaces. Each license key allows you 1000 searches per day. Many alternate
Google sites invite users to plug in their license keys instead of relying on the
site’s key. Doing so shares the load and makes it less likely that the site will
freeze because it has used up its allowed number of searches.
An example of an effective alternate Google is the Google Ultimate Interface,
shown in Figure 5-13. Go here:
For two entire chapters of alternate Google sites, see Google For Dummies.
Figure 5-13:
One of the
to Google,
the Google
Part I: Meeting the Other Side of Google
Part II
Creating and
Managing an
AdWords Campaign
In this part . . .
art II, the fattest part of this book, is dedicated to
the AdWords program. AdWords enjoyed most of
the press as Google’s advertising revenue emerged as an
important business story. As the leading brand of cost-perclick (CPC) advertising, Google is sparking the explosion
in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), a business strategy that
is attracting individual entrepreneurs and massive corporations alike. Indeed, the profoundly democratic character of
CPC advertising and Google’s sophisticated bidding model
level the playing field for small players. Chapter 6 provides
an overview of the AdWords program, and Chapter 7 tells
you how to get started.
Another aspect of AdWords that keeps Google in the lead is
its ever-improving suite of reporting tools. New conversiontracking tools emphasize Google’s commitment to return
on investment (ROI), and its keyword-matching technology
and instant implementation of changes lend advantages to
the most nimble advertisers. Chapter 8 covers the reporting tools. Chapters 9 and 10 discuss slightly more advanced
aspects of advertising on Google, from selecting keywords
to bidding on them, from constructing a campaign to recovering from false starts.
The chapters in this part take apart every aspect of
AdWords, from theory to practice, conception to execution.
Chapter 6
Introducing Search Advertising
and Google AdWords
In This Chapter
Discovering how search advertising differs from blanket advertising
Finding out the minimal requirements for using AdWords
Getting an overview of AdWords
Seeing the whole Google ad network
his first chapter on AdWords is an overview of both search advertising in
theory and AdWords in practice. I sketch the main points of Google’s service here, and get into the details in later chapters.
Search advertising brings new marketing propositions to the table. This is
not to say that search advertising is brand new, but it is reaching a tipping
point (to borrow author Malcolm Gladwell’s phrase). Nobody knows what we
are tipping into. But there’s no question that search advertising, with its revolutionary pay-for-performance model, precise targeting, and client control, is
rocking the advertising world.
This chapter argues the revolutionary benefits of search advertising, and
then proceeds to an overview of the preeminent search advertising venue:
the Google AdWords program. Be sure to reference the glossary at the back
of the book, which includes all important search advertising and AdWords
terms you’re likely to encounter.
Old Advertising in an Old Media
Let’s watch TV. I like Late Show with David Letterman, 24, and — even though
I’m so far beyond my teen years I can barely remember them — Smallville.
The two prime-time shows are presented in six acts broken up by commercials. Letterman usually has six or seven segments separated by increasingly
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
longer breaks as the hour proceeds. Commercials take up nearly a third of
the shows’ time slots. Ads run the gamut: cars, beer, movies, insurance, and
medications for aging Boomers, computers, drugstores. They’re entertaining
or banal; long or short; punchy or pedestrian. And they’re almost all irrelevant to my desires and needs.
I’m not the only one complaining. Most TV ads are irrelevant to almost everyone who sees them. Indeed, the irrelevancy is part of the plan in blanket
advertising. Blanket ads are shown indiscriminately to an entire audience,
with the idea that for every 20 (or 30, or 100) people who see the ad, 1 person
finds it relevant. Advertisers pay to reach that 1 person multiplied by huge
audience groups, and simply don’t care about the rest.
This sort of TV promotion was started in an earlier era, when both the
medium and society were more consolidated. In the 1950s and 1960s, television for most people offered between three and six channels. Huge audiences
watched popular shows. (If you don’t remember watching The Ed Sullivan
Show every Sunday night, you’re younger than I am.) Furthermore, nothing
like today’s product diversity existed. So, in that simpler time, more people
gathered in bigger groups with more shared desires. Blanket advertising was
a reasonably cost-efficient way to get a message out to a great number of
people who would find it relevant.
Blanket ads still work, but finer targeting is now necessary. In the past, only
the most rudimentary sort of targeting was put into play — matching a product to the type of audience likely to be watching a program. Now advertisers
match a product to age and lifestyle categories supplied by audience measurement services. With the advent of TiVo and other personal video
recorders (PVRs), these services are becoming quite specific about the viewing and surfing habits of the TV audience. Nevertheless, blanket advertising
still works according to an old-media principle: Show the ad to everyone in
the target group, and hope it’s relevant to at least a few.
How often are TV ads relevant and interesting to you? Not often, I’m guessing,
even if you match the demographic targeted by a show’s sponsors. The irrelevancy of ads is why ad-skipping technology built into TiVo, ReplayTV, and
the other PVRs has become so popular. In fact, the TV industry is alarmed
about the ease with which the audience can time-shift its viewing and avoid
ads entirely. If the ads were precisely targeted to each of us, individually, we
probably wouldn’t want to skip them. At least, not as much.
Old Advertising in a New Medium
Relevance is the quality that makes an advertisement effective. This golden
rule is as true online as it is offline. We live in an ad-saturated age, but our
problem isn’t too many ads — it’s too many irrelevant ads.
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising and Google AdWords
If ads could be targeted more specifically to what individuals want, the total
number of sponsored messages might not be reduced. But irrelevant advertising systems that blanket us from billboards, airwaves, and all other media
would erode as advertisers flocked to promotional systems that didn’t waste
their money. This is where the Internet comes in.
But the Net hasn’t completely saved us from irrelevant ads. The online equivalent of TV’s blanket advertising started with static banner ads and evolved to
video pop-ups. The latter format obscures the content of Web pages to play
commercials that, in the glitziest examples, look just like TV ads. These distractions are even pushier than a TV commercial because their style of interruption is more invasive. Whereas television schedules its commercials in planned
breaks, Web pop-ups fly right into your face while you’re trying to read a page.
They’re more intrusive than television, radio, or magazine advertising.
Pushy Internet ads are more galling than pushy TV ads because the Internet
is inherently a medium in which content is pulled, not pushed. Television is
more passive; the audience settles on its couches and lets content be pushed
at it. Changing to another station is traditionally the limit of a viewer’s control, or pull, over TV. (PVRs give the viewer more control, but that’s when ads
are skipped entirely.)
On the Internet, content appears on the screen when the viewer pulls it to
the screen, usually by clicking a link or bookmark. Some slightly pushy experiences can occur online, as when somebody instant-messages you and the
IM window pops open on your screen. Even then, though, the pushy IM can’t
happen unless you give the messaging person your IM coordinates — a type
of pull. With e-mail, letters are pushed into your mailbox, but they don’t fully
appear on your screen until you click (pull) them.
Pushy advertising in a pull medium is bound to result in conflict. Sure
enough, banners, pop-ups, and spam are all extremely ineffective. They result
in such built-up consumer resentment and miniscule response rates that they
survive only because of economies of scale. Because they can be distributed
in massive numbers at low cost, even their dismal effectiveness pays out.
Generally, the least effective ad types (such as e-mail spam) are the cheapest,
making them the most pervasive and the most persistent. Spam is the
Internet’s most aggressive type of blanket advertising, with the least degree
of relevance. In principle, though, spam is no less pushy, broadly targeted,
irrelevant, and inappropriate to the medium than a video pop-up at a
respected Web site.
New Advertising in a New Medium
Now, finally, the Internet is poised to save us from irrelevant advertising.
Search advertising offers better response rates and better ways to track
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
whether ads are reaching the right people. Search advertising is revolutionary in that it discards blanket advertising in favor of precise targets, controlled costs, and meeting a pull medium on its own terms.
All Internet advertising, even the blanket type, contains an advantage over
advertising in most other media: It invites the viewer to take action immediately. Clicking an ad takes consumers to the next step in their relationship
with the advertiser. At that next step, some type of conversion is possible —
a sale, a registration, a bookmarked site, or some other behavior that “captures” the customer in a sense. Besides this dynamic quality of online ads,
search advertising makes four distinct and earth-shaking improvements on
blanket advertising:
Search advertising is positioned on results pages of search engines,
where the customer is looking for the advertiser. Well, perhaps the
customer is not literally looking for you, but he or she is looking for
something. The searcher is in a pulling mood — in the mood to consume
information, products, and services. If the advertiser provides relevancy
to that person’s search, the heavenly marketing match is made. And the
chance of a response is much greater than when a blanket ad wrenches
a viewer out of a passive state.
Search ads are aligned with keywords and appear on results pages
for those keywords. So, as long as the advertiser chooses keywords
appropriate to the message, and the searcher uses keywords appropriate to the search goal, relevancy is guaranteed. Compared to the built-in
irrelevancy of blanket advertising, this degree of match-up between
advertiser and consumer is groundbreaking.
Search advertisers pay only for responses. The advertiser pays each
time a searcher clicks the ad. When that treasured click happens, the
advertiser receives a qualified lead — somebody who searched for some
combination of keywords and chose to click an advertisement that
promised relevancy as good (or better) than nonsponsored search
results. Contrast this method with the old-media system in which the
advertiser pays for sheer exposure. In the online universe, exposure
means paying for impressions — the number of times the ad is displayed,
even if nobody clicks it.
Search advertising offers detailed, multifaceted, hands-on control of
the advertising campaign. Google is particularly strong in this department. Advertisers can micromanage their accounts, measuring performance and enhancing their efficiency on a minute-by-minute basis. I
hasten to add that such obsessive management is not necessary in
search advertising. But the ability to control the campaign as it proceeds
represents one of the great advantages over broadcast and traditional
print advertising, in which you purchase a campaign and either it works
or it doesn’t. Tweaking, adjusting, and resculpting the campaign in midstream to make it work is part of the search advertising system.
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising and Google AdWords
Let me be clear. Google didn’t invent search advertising. Google didn’t even
invent pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which has supplanted pay-per-impression
sponsored links on Google’s pages. But Google has refined the game considerably, improving the basic parameters of search advertising.
Google is involved in PPC competition with other search engines, and to
some extent they leapfrog, one improvement after another. Generally, though,
Google has taken the lead in innovation. In particular, the following three features are highly valued by Google advertisers:
Minimum payments. As I describe later, search advertisers bid on the
value of the keywords associated with their ads. Those bids determine
the ad’s position on the results page and the top amount the advertiser
pays when searchers click the ad. However, Google uses a complex formula to determine the lowest amount the advertiser must pay, per click,
to maintain position on the page — and that is the amount Google
charges. All this is clarified later. The point here is that Google streamlines expenses by charging the least possible amount for advertisers to
compete effectively for position on the page.
Success breeds success. Unlike other PPC systems, Google factors an
ad’s success into the cost of keeping that ad in a high position on the
page. Position is partly determined by bid amount, but a very successful
ad with a low bid on a keyword can place higher than an unsuccessful ad
with a higher bid on that keyword. Success is measured by clickthrough
rate, or CTR. Here again, relevancy is the name of the game. Google cares
so much about providing its searchers with relevancy on the search
results page (in results listings and advertisements) that it rewards relevant ads with discount pricing for high placement.
Conversion tracking. Getting a searcher to click your ad is the first step;
making a sale is the next step. The sale can be whatever the advertiser
wants from the customer; the desired action could be a simple site registration or signing up for a free newsletter. Whatever you want the customer to do on your site after clicking through your ad, Google helps
track your success, or the conversion rate.
All this and more is bundled into the Google AdWords keyword advertising
program. If you’ve used Google, you’ve seen AdWords in action. Figure 6-1
shows a Google search results page with two AdWords ads, matching the keywords cold climate gardening.
Broader searches (on the single keyword gardening, for example) return
pages with eight ads in the right column. In some cases, Google places ten
ads on the page: two above the search listings and eight in the right column.
Figure 6-2 shows a search on the keyword baskets, with AdWords ads above
and to the right of the index listings.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 6-1:
ads are
displayed in
the right
column of
Figure 6-2:
Up to ten
ads are
displayed on
any results
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising and Google AdWords
What You Need to Get Started
with AdWords
The two factors that have kept advertising in the realm of relatively large
companies for years are
High cost
High commitment
These two factors characterize blanket advertising, in which exposure of
arguable value is purchased in large, expensive, irrevocable blocks. In
refreshing contrast, Google AdWords features
Low cost
No commitment
Anybody can advertise in the AdWords program. The traditional barriers to
advertising on a global scale are demolished.
It is possible to spend a lot of money advertising on Google, but the point is
not cheap advertising but cost-effective advertising. The absence of commitment, in terms of a campaign’s duration and expense, enables advertisers to
cut losses instantly and work to improve their return on investment (ROI).
You need only two things to start an AdWords campaign:
Five dollars
A landing page
A landing page is the clickthrough destination, the URL underlying your ad’s
link. Most advertisers spend quite a bit more than five dollars, but that nominal amount is all Google requires to activate an account. Likewise, most
advertisers own considerably more Web property than a single landing page.
However, as I write this chapter, I’m managing a small AdWords campaign for
a non-profit institution promoting a single event publicized with a single Web
page. This small-time approach isn’t unusual, even for thriving Internet businesses that sell a single product from a single page or affiliate businesses
whose ads link customers directly to somebody else’s order-taking page. In
that latter case, the advertiser might own merely the right to link to another
company’s landing page.
Democracy and small-business friendliness are important, attractive attributes of search advertising. The smallest of small-time players can join in,
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
battling it out for screen space with major media corporations. Survival and
success depend on smart targeting, good research, and tenacious adaptation
more than on the brute force of spending. True, deep pockets help when bidding on expensive keywords, but as I discuss in the following chapters, avoiding keyword traps is part of nimble marketing in Google.
Understanding How AdWords Works
Enough theory. Here’s how AdWords works. I save detailed instructions in
setting up an account and developing a campaign for Chapter 7. As a preview,
the following list outlines the basic steps of designing and running ads in
Google, in roughly the order in which most people proceed:
Start an account. Starting an AdWords account is pain-free and expensefree. You don’t even have to be certain that you’ll ever run a single ad.
Opening the account simply lets you into Google’s AdWords staging
area, called the Control Center (see Figure 6-3), where you create and
deploy campaigns. No ads are displayed, and no billing occurs, until you
activate the account, at which time you provide your payment information. Opening the account gives you access to the Keyword Suggestion
Tool, a necessary campaign-planning device.
Figure 6-3:
The Google
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising and Google AdWords
Write ads. Google provides guidelines for composing the highly compressed copy that goes into an AdWords ad. (Figure 6-4 shows an adcomposing screen.) This copy is called the creative, as in, “I’m going to
rewrite the creative of my ad.” AdWords advertisements are extremely
short bursts of text, so it’s no surprise that they’re difficult to write.
(Any writer will tell you that expressing a message concisely is far more
difficult than composing long, voluble, drawn-out, wordy sentences that
repeat redundancies and ramble on loosely and aimlessly, continuing
beyond the point that they’re intended to convey, seemingly without
end, until the writer mercifully runs out of steam or his editor intervenes, whichever comes first.) Google imposes guidelines that establish
a uniform style throughout the AdWords column. Within those rules,
experimentation is key. Savvy AdWords marketers determined to maximize effect create multiple ads for each group of keywords, and then
watch their reports carefully to see what works.
Assign keywords. This crucial task determines the search result pages
upon which your ad appears. In truth, you should be assigning keywords
continually, even before you open an AdWords account. I make the point
throughout this book. Sorry about the repetition, but keywords represent the one Google marketing thread that runs through everything,
from designing a site to building your PageRank, from advertising on
results pages to publishing Google ads in the AdSense program. At this
point in your evolution as a Google advertiser, keyword selection
becomes an intensely focused affair, with money riding on sharp, competitive choices. Google offers plenty of help, as shown in Figure 6-5.
Figure 6-4:
creative (the
ad text).
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Bid on keywords. At this point, you choose how much you’re willing to
pay for the keywords associated with your ads. Specifically, you select a
maximum cost-per-click (CPC) that you’ll pay per group of keywords. You
may adjust the maximum CPC for each keyword. Another group of keywords, applying to one or more ads, can be implemented with a different
cost-per-click maximum (for the entire group and individual words).
When it comes to running the campaign and paying your bills, Google
often charges less than your maximum — in fact, Google always charges
the lowest CPC to keep your ad in the position it would attain by paying
the maximum. (See the “Getting into position” sidebar.)
Edit keywords. This step and the previous two steps happen at once.
Adjusting your maximum CPC and your keywords are part of a single
process — the most important process of your campaign. Google provides estimates of your ad’s performance at various CPC levels, on a
keyword-by-keyword basis. Chapters 7 and 8 delve into selecting and
bidding on keywords.
Specify a budget. You can set a daily maximum for clickthrough
expenses. Google can optimize the timing of your ad displays to spread
out your ad displays and clickthroughs over a 24-hour period. Ideally,
your ads run evenly throughout the day, and you hit your daily budget
on the nose. Google sometimes overshoots and exceeds the daily budget
by as much as 20 percent, but it never charges advertisers more per
month than 30 times the daily budget.
Figure 6-5:
Estimator is
one of
tools for
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising and Google AdWords
Getting into position
The AdWords system is popularly known as a
type of advertising in which you purchase keywords by bidding on their value. But that interpretation reveals a crucial misunderstanding. It
is not possible to own a keyword. You bid for a
position in the AdWords column of a search
results page. The AdWords column is dynamic
and positions change frequently, so you might
not own a certain position for long if the competition is tough.
One reason Google’s system is so attractive and
cost-effective is the constant downward pressure Google applies to actual costs. Every
advertiser in the AdWords column pays the
lowest possible per-click cost to remain in the
position earned by that advertiser’s bid. Say
your bid of 50 cents earns you the top spot on
the search results page for the key phrase collectible coin trading. Your closest competitor
bids 40 cents as a maximum CPC for the same
or similar keywords, and lands on the same
search results page in position number 2, below
your ad. When a searcher clicks your ad, you’re
billed 41 cents, the minimum cost to maintain
your position above number 2.
Activate the account. Activation puts your payment information on file
and readies your account for live campaigns. Google charges a one-time
activation fee of five dollars. (A reactivation fee is also levied when a
repeatedly deactivated account is reactivated more than twice. Google
deactivates underperforming keywords and campaigns.)
Start the campaign. AdWords campaigns are under the advertiser’s control (except for Google’s automated deactivation system, which discontinues underperforming keywords and accounts). You may pause
campaigns and adjust every aspect of them on the fly.
Seeing the Big Picture: The
Google Ad Network
So far, I’ve described how search advertising in general, and AdWords in particular, run circles around blanket advertising in these ways:
Search advertising is democratic. Anyone can launch a global ad campaign, in contrast to the high cost and commitment level of traditional
media advertising.
Search advertising is cost effective. This is especially true in AdWords
because Google charges less than your CPC bid when possible.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Search advertising has built-in relevancy. Blanket advertising has builtin irrelevancy.
Google AdWords is a pay-per-click system. Advertisers pay for only
prequalified leads, not for unqualified exposure.
AdWords offers detailed control of the campaign. This contrasts with
the all-or-nothing blanket approach.
I haven’t mentioned another aspect of the value of Google AdWords: the
tremendous reach inherent in Google advertising. Google distributes
AdWords advertisements in three important venues:
Google search results pages. These pages display Google’s proprietary
search results in the Web, Groups, and Directory sections and also in
Google’s search engine partners. Google provides AdWords ads to the
search results pages of other engines, including Excite, Teoma, About.
com, AskJeeves, Netscape,, AOL Search, and (See
Figure 6-6.)
Figure 6-6:
results at
com don’t
look like
but they
come from
Google. So
do the ads.
Chapter 6: Introducing Search Advertising and Google AdWords
Google’s content network. This portion of the AdWords distribution network encompasses the thousands of Web pages that run AdSense ads.
These destinations, large and small, are called content sites or content
pages. AdSense ads are just AdWords ads running on partner sites that
are not search engines. (See Figure 6-7.) Some of these sites are major
media outlets, such as Others are small entrepreneurships
operating affiliate businesses or merely providing information. In all
cases, Google attempts (and largely succeeds) to target AdWords ads to
content pages based on its understanding of the information on the page
instead of by generating them directly by keyword search.
Even without the content network, your ads enjoy astonishing distribution
power, appearing in eight search engines besides Google. Aggressive advertisers cover all the bases; all advertisers use Google.
Figure 6-7:
ads for
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Chapter 7
Designing Your AdWords
Campaign and Starting
an Account
In This Chapter
Structuring an AdWords account
Understanding Campaigns, Ad Groups, and keywords
Setting marketing and budgetary goals
Preparing your landing page
Writing effective ad copy
Opening and activating an account
successful AdWords campaign demands ongoing effort, but in that effort
are opportunities for correction, refinement, and improved returns. There
is no “throwing the switch” of an AdWords campaign in the same sense as in
traditional advertising, where a media purchase is contracted and runs along a
predefined course. Instead, successful AdWords advertisers continually
experiment with new variables, remove underperforming aspects, and brainstorm new angles. AdWords is addictive.
Remember these two points:
Starting an account does not necessarily start your campaign.
Starting your campaign does not represent the end of your work.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
On the second point, it is vitally important to be clear from the start: A successful AdWords campaign requires ongoing testing and experimentation. I
don’t mean a successful campaign “thrives on” testing, or “would benefit from”
testing. I mean that success requires testing. Without an initial period of testing
and experimentation, you will almost certainly fail. I won’t be so fierce later,
so hear it now: It is painfully easy to fail at AdWords. Almost all successful
CPC advertisers failed before they succeeded.
With careful planning and an understanding of campaign elements, you can
minimize the pain and expense of the inevitable period of trial and error.
Before putting ads into play, read as much of Part II as your impatience allows.
Google’s assurance that you need only five dollars and 15 minutes to get
started is literally true, but actual experience is far more complicated. You
should get involved with Google AdWords methodically and carefully.
The purpose of this chapter is to give you a better idea of how you budget,
organize, and track an AdSense campaign, write ad copy, and research keywords. When you understand those tasks, you’ll be sufficiently well-informed
to open and activate an account. Then, with your account activated and at
least one ad in distribution, you’ll be ready to read the other three chapters
in Part II. Chapter 8 details the administrative tools. Chapter 9 explores the
maintenance and improvement of the campaign’s building blocks — Ad Groups
and keywords. Chapter 10 rounds up miscellaneous points and deals with
multiple campaigns.
Now, onwards to the nitty-gritty of the AdWords program.
The Big Picture: Campaigns,
Ad Groups, and Keywords
The AdWords sign-up process, which I describe later in this chapter, makes it
seem as though running an ad campaign were an effortless, 15-minute process.
Indeed, it can be — though launching a campaign with so little preparation is
like hang-gliding without a breeze. Even if you’ve planned your budget and
have a list of keywords, you should give some thought to the organization of
your campaign.
Google provides organizational layers to your campaign that make it possible
to test different marketing angles, track their performance, and discontinue
ineffective approaches while letting robust ads run. You must use these organizational features to some extent, and I encourage you to become as fluent
in their use as possible.
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
This section helps you conceive your campaigns according to the framework
furnished by AdWords, which is shown in Figure 7-1. You can always backpedal
from a campaign that you’ve organized with insufficient attention to detail, and
reorganize it more usefully. But you can avoid that headache by planning, from
the start, in highly defined marketing modules.
An AdWords account contains three organizational levels:
Keywords. Keywords are the terms people use to search, and they trigger your ads. Almost every keyword is assigned an individual cost-perclick value.
Ad Groups. Ad Groups contain clusters of keywords, each of which is
associated with one or more ads.
Campaigns. Campaigns contain Ad Groups.
Ad Group
Ad Group
Widgets – March sale
Free shipping over $25
All varieties, low prices
Figure 7-1:
Each Ad
Group in a
one or more
and one or
more ads.
Widgets – all varieties
March clearance sale
Click for free shipping
(ads automatically rotated)
Blue widgets for spring
Free shipping over $25
March clearance sale
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
You might be thinking (yes, I can see your thoughts, so please clear all
images of Carrot Top from your mind), “How peculiar that ads don’t represent an organizational level.” Ads are associated with one or many keywords.
You may associate one ad with one keyword; one ad with multiple keywords;
multiple ads with one keyword; or multiple ads with multiple keywords. Each
of these configurations can make up an Ad Group. The defining feature of an
Ad Group is the keyword(s) associated with it, not the ad(s). Strange, I know.
Let it go for now; I return to Ad Groups later.
Google’s strong medicine
Google doesn’t tolerate failure among its advertisers, but its standards of success might differ
from yours. Google is concerned with just one
campaign statistic: the clickthrough rate (CTR).
After an AdWords Campaign generates 1000
impressions, Google takes action on the ads
associated with underperforming keywords. The
standard of acceptable performance is, more or
less, one half of one percent (0.5%) CTR. If an ad
fails to elicit 5 clickthroughs out of every 1000
impressions, on average, Google might disable
the keyword associated with that ad, meaning
that the ad is prevented from appearing on
search pages for that keyword. (If more than one
keyword is associated with the ad, Google tracks
the CTR for each keyword individually, and prevents ads from displaying on search pages for
those underperforming keywords.)
Before disabling keywords, Google puts an “At
risk” warning next to them, as shown in the
figure. The next step is to “Slow” the keywords,
which really means slowing the distribution of
ads associated with those keywords. During
this slowdown, keywords not at risk continue
performing normally, and ads associated with
those healthy keywords appear unhindered on
search results pages. But Google’s medicinal
pill is bitter because all instances of a slowed
keyword across all Ad Groups are slowed, even
if in some of those instances the ads associated
with those keywords are performing adequately. You must correct the problem by eliminating keywords from the Ad Groups in which
they are executing badly.
Google’s focus on clickthrough rate is an example of the company’s obsessive concern for the
quality of the Google search experience. If ads
don’t attract clicks when displayed on certain
results pages, in Google’s eye it means that
those ads are not relevant to the page and don’t
deserve to be on it. You perhaps don’t care as
much about CTR and almost certainly care more
about your conversion rate on the clicks you do
get. But you must keep your CTR up to Google’s
standard to avoid slowing the entire campaign.
When it comes to underperforming, slowed, and
disabled keywords, remember that even though
Google targets the keyword as the faulty element of the campaign, the problem could lie
with the ad copy. True, the usual culprit in poor
CTR performance is lack of relevance between
the keyword and the ad, and the best way to
improve performance is to choose keywords
that are more relevant. But ineffective ad copy
can also discourage clickthroughs, and it’s
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
worth trying a correction there before deleting
the keyword. However, after Google brands a
keyword “Disabled,” that’s the end: You must
pluck the word out of the Ad Group.
Planning the first level: Campaigns
Throughout this book, I speak so much about “the AdWords campaign” that
you might think your AdWords account is necessarily dedicated to a single
campaign. Not so. Here, I must distinguish between the generic campaign,
which is your overall marketing initiative as it applies to advertising on Google,
and the AdWords Campaign, which is a distinct organizational tier.
An AdWords account may contain multiple campaigns (see Figure 7-2).
Although I strongly recommend making organizational divisions within a campaign (as I describe in the following section), running multiple campaigns is
not essential in many cases.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 7-2:
An AdWords
each with
multiple Ad
Some Ad
Groups are
Two major considerations lead advertisers to set up a second (and third)
The advertiser is marketing different products, represented by ads, keyword groups, and landing pages that have nothing to do with each other.
Even in this dispersed circumstance, you can accomplish the boundaries
you need by working with Ad Groups within your campaign. But establishing a new campaign structure makes the Control Center pages neater and
enables simpler naming of Ad Groups. Think of campaigns as marketing
books, and Ad Groups as chapters in those books. Whether you want one
book or several depends on the diversity of your marketing initiatives.
The advertiser wants to launch ads with campaign settings that differ
from an existing campaign. Google provides seven settings that affect all
ads in a campaign. Campaign settings can be convenient and inconvenient. On one hand, global settings are cumbersome because you can’t
exempt specific ads from their effect. On the other hand, the ability to
set variables across the entire campaign is a valuable shortcut.
Knowing how to organize your marketing effort into AdWords campaigns
requires a clear understanding of the Campaign settings. Google divides the
Edit Campaign Setting page (see Figure 7-3) into several sections.
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
Figure 7-3:
to all Ad
in the
Here are the settings of each campaign that you need to consider when organizing your entire AdWords structure:
Name. From an organizational viewpoint, the campaign name is probably the least important setting. Of course, you want to name your campaigns distinctly. If the name is the only difference among your planned
campaigns, you might as well lump them together and distinguish them
in Ad Groups.
Daily budget. This setting is where you choose your spending cap per
day. (Later sections of this chapter cover AdWords budgeting in detail.)
This important setting, by itself, could determine a dedicated campaign
in your AdWords account, even if it advertises a product similar to one
in a campaign with a higher or lower daily budget.
Suppose that you sell kayaks and kayak supplies. Normally, you would
probably consider your entire business to be under one campaign roof.
But if you market a landing page filled with inexpensive accessories (water
boots, paddling gloves, roof racks) separately from a landing page dedicated to the relatively expensive boats, you might decide to budget more
money per day to a campaign driving traffic to the latter page. Such a
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
decision would be based on a host of considerations such as relative
profit margins, clickthrough rates, and your maximum CPC. Tinkering with
this setting on a campaign-wide level is possible only if you make intelligent and thoughtful divisions of your marketing strategy in advance.
Adamant though I am that you plan your account organization, remember that the whole shebang is reconfigurable. You may rearrange your
campaigns and Ad Groups anytime. Doing so is not exactly a drag-anddrop process, though, so planning is advisable.
Campaign schedule. Here, you determine start and end dates for the campaign. Because all campaigns (and Ad Groups within campaigns) may be
paused and resumed at will, this variable usually isn’t changed from its
default end date, which is December 31, 2010 — effectively an indefinite
campaign run. However, setting an end date is useful when you can’t monitor the campaign closely.
Optimization. Google optimizes the rotation of the various ads within
your campaign — at the Campaign level, not the Ad Group level. Optimization involves determining which ads in the campaign enjoy higher
clickthrough rates than other ads and skewing the distribution of your
ads toward those that perform better. You may turn off this feature at
the Campaign level, but not at the Ad Group level (where it would probably be more productive).
Content site distribution. You may also distribute your ads across the
Google content partner network. This network consists of content sites
that have agreed to enable AdWords ads to appear on relevant pages.
This network does not include search sites that Google licenses to, such
as AOL Search and Netscape. Your campaign can be distributed throughout the content network of non-Google sites at your discretion.
Languages. All advertising is language specific, determined by the language in which the ads are written. Google can isolate the language used
by individuals based on their Preferences setting. When you set a language choice at the Campaign level, all your ads should be written in
that language, and they are all directed at Google users in that language.
Countries. Related to the language setting, this variable allows you to
target users by their geographical location. Google locates its users based
on their IP address, which works in most (but not all) cases. Currently,
you may target your campaign to any combination of dozens of countries or fine-tune your targeting to a U.S. region or a combination of U.S.
Note: Chapter 10 contains more detail about language targeting and geotargeting.
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
Those new to AdWords have no way to evaluate the relative importance of
campaign settings or to forecast the optimal division of their marketing. So,
with the voice of experience, let me recommend that you pay close attention
to three campaign features in particular: the daily budget, language targeting,
and location targeting. Those three settings are the most important and are
the variables most worthy of earning a campaign dedicated to them. Being
able to adjust these settings across a suite of Ad Groups is vitally convenient.
The targeting they represent is so crucial in some marketing plans that defining campaigns by these settings might be more important than dividing the
account by product line. Ideally, though, major organizational criteria coincide, so that product type, budgetary requirements, language targeting, and
geo-targeting all suggest the same campaign divisions.
Planning the second level: Ad Groups
Ad Groups are the gears that propel your campaign. They’re the most important unit of most organizational plans. Every account contains at least one campaign, and every campaign contains at least one Ad Group. (See Figure 7-4.) For
this reason, Ad Groups are unavoidable, yet they are easy to disregard. The 15minute plan hyped by Google establishes a simple Ad Group in a solitary campaign. Advertisers who let their marketing rest with that simple scheme never
get their hands on the real power of AdWords: the power of highly specific targeting and CPC budgeting.
Ad Groups are somewhat misnamed — they’re not necessarily groups of ads.
Ad Groups are not necessarily groups of keywords, either, but they’re more
likely to contain clusters of keywords than clusters of ads. I touched on this
peculiar subject earlier in the chapter. Here, I reiterate the four possible combinations that might make up an Ad Group:
One ad associated with one keyword
One ad associated with multiple keywords
Multiple ads associated with one keyword
Multiple ads associated with multiple keywords
The last of these is perhaps the most common, but good reasons exist to
create Ad Groups with a single keyword, or a single ad, or both. In fact,
Google encourages precision and diversity. The more detailed you get, the
more maintenance is required, with the reward being greater precision in
tracking results in the account.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 7-4:
three Ad
Groups, one
of which is
Ad Groups are defined by keywords more than by ads in two ways. First, as I
noted, an Ad Group is more likely to contain a group of keywords than a group
of ads. (See Figure 7-5.) Second, and more importantly when conceiving of Ad
Groups, the better strategy is to build Ad Groups around targeted keywords
than around ad copy.
As with all other aspects of Google marketing (repeated to the point of tedium
in this book), Google is all about keywords no matter how you approach it. Ad
Groups should be conceptually founded on keywords, not ad text. You might
want to think of Ad Groups as keyword groups.
Ad Groups are bundles of marketing energy that connect four essential constituents of your campaign:
CPC bids
The landing page
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
Figure 7-5:
This management
page shows
the inside
of an Ad
and one ad.
In formulating an Ad Group, you first identify your marketing goal — even
before choosing keywords or writing ads. Then you identify your target customers by the keywords they will most likely search for. These keywords form
the core of your Ad Group. Researching these words and phrases requires
ingenuity, persistence, testing, and familiarity with interactive tools.
After you’ve determined a preliminary set of keywords, you create one or
more ads. (Google has you create the ad first and then load up the keywords,
as I describe in the next chapter. But Google’s procedural order doesn’t
match smart conceptual order. Base your Ad Group, and your entire marketing thrust, on keywords.) With your keywords and ads in place, you set a
maximum cost-per-click for the entire Ad Group and individual CPCs for separate keywords if you want. Your landing must be ready by the time you
launch the Ad Group, but besides that obvious requirement, it doesn’t
matter when you construct it.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Setting Your Goals
Two considerations rise to the top for every new AdWords advertiser:
What do you want to accomplish?
How much do you want to spend?
Most likely, your marketing goal corresponds with one of the objectives listed
in the following section. Read on to the section after that for a discussion of
how to set your AdWords budget.
Clarifying your marketing goals
Although AdWords advertising works on a different model than traditional
advertising, the range of goals is roughly the same. You can use AdWords to
accomplish six major Internet marketing goals:
Develop leads. Leads eventually turn into sales, ideally. How that conversion occurs varies widely among industries and business models. A lead
might consist of a registered site visitor, a newsletter subscriber, or simply
a visitor who bookmarks the site for future visits.
Sell your products. Major e-commerce sites use the AdWords program
to propel direct sales.
Sell someone else’s product. This is the realm of affiliate marketing,
which is prominent in AdWords. Affiliate ads are always marked with the
word affiliate (or the abbreviation aff) in the ad copy.
Increase impressions. For sites that earn advertising revenue, the value
of traffic lies in generating the largest number of ad displays.
Capture coordinates. Capturing the visitor’s e-mail address (and perhaps
mailing address) allows the business to develop a more direct relationship with that person, leading to direct communication, repeat visits, or
eventual sales.
Build a brand. Brand recognition is enhanced differently in AdWords than
in traditional media advertising. AdWords ads do not build brand recognition by means of graphics, like a banner, TV, or magazine ad. However,
some advertisers see value in driving traffic to a Web site that does use
graphics to increase recognition. Brand-building may also occur when
people see AdWords ads for something that they don’t associate with a
business, such as Wal-Mart ads appearing for the keyword jewelry.
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
Driving traffic is the overwhelming purpose of AdWords advertising, and that
single imperative ties together all six marketing goals just listed. The ingredients of a successful AdWords campaign remain the same regardless of the
traffic’s purpose: relevant keywords, bidding for effective positioning, and
ad copy that elicits clickthroughs. The single ingredient that changes most
according to your campaign’s purpose is the landing page, because that is
where you receive and convert traffic.
Understanding the AdWords budget
The budget of an AdWords campaign is much more elastic than the budget for
traditional advertising. You control not only how much your AdWords traffic
is worth on a per-click basis, but also how much you spend, overall, on the
campaign. You may augment or diminish your AdWords operating budget at
any time.
The AdWords budget structure contains two major parts, each of which has
two components. Here’s how it works:
CPC budget. The cost-per-click budget is set at two levels: keyword and
Ad Group. (In Figure 7-6, three keywords are being set for the same maximum CPC.) Using the keyword setting is painstaking work, and many
advertisers stick with a CPC bid covering all keywords in the Ad Group.
Total budget. Total AdWords budgets are derived from a daily limit that
you place on your campaign expenses. The daily budget is a Campaign
setting, and places a ceiling on the total daily expenditures of all the Ad
Groups in that campaign. The second component of your total budget is
the overall daily ceiling of all AdWords campaigns, if you operate more
than one. Paused campaigns do not contribute to the overall total budget.
A monthly budget lurks in the background but doesn’t appear on your account
screens. The monthly budget is calculated by multiplying the daily budget by
the number of days in the current month. This figure is used to guide Google’s
overbilling allowance; Google may overrun your daily budget by 20 percent
during any day but may not overbill your monthly budget. If an accounting
overrun of clickthroughs occurs at the end of any month, Google issues a
credit to your account.
Your CPC budget represents a maximum amount to pay for clickthroughs.
In nearly all cases, you pay less per click. As described in Chapter 6, Google
charges the least amount needed to maintain the page position earned by
your bid.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 7-6:
the maximum costper-click
for all three
of an Ad
With your marketing goal clear and the budget parameters understood, you’re
ready for two major tasks:
Preparing your site to receive AdWords-generated clickthroughs and
convert visitors to your goal
Determining your budget in dollars and cents
The next two sections cover these points.
Preparing Your Landing Page
Too many people launch an AdWords campaign without sufficient attention
to the important element that exists outside Google: the landing page. The
landing page is where visitors who click through your ads meet your sales and
conversion presentations. The typical downfall of a landing page is the belief
that it needn’t contain anything special — that the index page (the site’s home
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
page) or another page of a site can do double-duty as a landing page. In some
cases, this presumption is true, especially at up-and-running e-commerce sites.
The bookstore, for example, uses ads keyed to author names to
send clickthroughs to those authors’ pages at the site. Because the Alibris
e-commerce engine is in full throttle throughout the site, no special landing
page is necessary.
The story is different for sites not selling products or sites new to the game
of buying traffic. Converting unpaid traffic is not as urgent a proposition as
converting paid traffic. When the conversion rate determines the success or
failure of an AdWords campaign, you need to pay special attention to the
landing page, which receives paid traffic. Here are three tips:
Don’t use the index page. Although the index page of a site might seem
like the best (and certainly easiest) choice for a landing page, it serves a
different function. An index page gives a broad overview of the site and
presents a full array of navigational links. These front pages encourage
exploring and surfing, which are not productive behaviors from a needto-convert viewpoint.
Keep the landing page tightly focused. Don’t distract your paid visitors.
Focus on the single task you want each visitor to perform, and optimize
the landing page for that one task. In this context, optimization bears
little resemblance to keyword embedding and tagging described in Chapter 4. You’re not trying to give the landing page a high PageRank in Google.
In fact, your landing page might not be linked to or appear in Google’s
index at all. Optimize the landing page toward conversion. Make conversion the only subject of that page, and don’t offer links to other portions
of your site if following those links takes the visitor away from the conversion task.
Make the landing page action oriented. Editorial content for its own
sake has no value on a landing page. Of course, the page displays words
and sentences, but they should encourage a conversion action. (See Figure 7-7.) Whether the conversion is signing up for a newsletter or buying
a product, the visitor should feel that the action is the ticket off the page.
Look at’s book pages. Visitors to those pages aren’t encouraged to admire books, or talk about books, or read about books — they’re
encouraged to buy books. The same is true with eBay, Lands’ End, CDBaby,
and other online stores that convert powerfully.
Most likely, each AdWords Campaign deserves its own landing page. You might
consider creating distinct landing pages for each Ad Group or even each ad.
Even if the landing pages are similar, their distinct URLs offer an easy way to
track clickthroughs.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 7-7:
An effective landing page
action and
easy for
the visitor.
Productive Budgeting
The amount you spend to purchase traffic depends, essentially, on what the
traffic is worth to your business. This factor is where your marketing goal
meets your budget. A positive return on investment (ROI) is easy to quantify
when the campaign is geared to selling products directly. In that case, your
return is calculated simply by subtracting expenses from sales. As long as the
result is a positive number, your budget can be sky-high, because every
dollar spent on clickthroughs yields (on average) a profit.
“Spending” is perhaps a misnomer when budgeting in AdWords, which comes
close to being a direct sales channel. (A direct sales channel is one in which the
consumer can take immediate action that results in a sale.) As with any other
advertising venue of this sort, ad spending takes on a new light when it can be
directly connected to gain. What limits should be placed on a budget whose
every spent dollar returns (on average) more than a dollar in revenue? No limit,
obviously. You might not make a living on a very slim profit margin — for example, if every $1.00 spent returns $1.01 in average revenue. However, even a
one-penny profit justifies the ad campaign and encourages the advertiser to
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
increase its daily budget. Naturally, if you’re experiencing a slim profit margin
in AdWords, you might need to find ways of increasing that margin and selling more profitably through other channels.
With all this in mind, the real question becomes, What is your experimentation
budget? Here’s another, admittedly harsher way to phrase it: How much can
you afford to lose before you figure out how to make a campaign profitable?
As I mentioned earlier in this chapter, a successful AdWords campaign requires
initial experimentation to shake out the bugs. During this debugging, keywords are discarded, new keywords are added, daily and per-click budgets
are tweaked, and the campaign structure is sometimes torn down and rebuilt.
Each test of the budding campaign costs some amount of money, and that
amount is variable. (More on the dollars and cents later.) Take comfort in one
happy realization: Utter failure is the cheapest option. Not that I wish anyone
failure, but the truth is that if your campaign fails to generate clickthroughs,
you’re not billed. Your only expense while grinding through multiple failures is
the five-dollar fee every third time you reactivate your account.
Of course, almost every campaign with substantial ad impressions induces
some clickthroughs, even if the CTR is insufficient for both you and Google.
You must pay for those clicks. But the streamlined payment model makes the
testing phases relatively painless financially.
After you find the sweet spot in which working keywords match ideal bidding
levels, and your campaign generates profitable clickthroughs, it’s time to open
the floodgates and expand your budget dramatically. When clickthroughs yield
a positive ROI, you want as many clicks as possible and should be happy to
pay for them.
Aggressive budgeting, with important limits, is usually a smart move with
AdWords. Consider your AdWords experience as consisting of two phases:
The ongoing operation of a mature campaign
The purpose of testing is to determine whether your keywords, bids, clickthrough rate, ad copy, and landing page work together for a gainful ROI. A
certain volume of impressions is needed to determine whether the current
configuration works. (When testing, your impressions can be thought of as a
statistical sample that becomes more meaningful as it becomes larger.) Google
regards 1000 impressions as a meaningful sample, and begins slowing the distribution of underperforming keywords after that number has been reached,
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Your priority should be to get the news, good or bad, as quickly as possible.
The key to avoiding overspending dangerously during AdWords testing is a
combination of vigilance and the daily budget setting. AdWords doesn’t allow
you to build in a campaign stop based on the number of impressions, like a
stop-loss order for a stock. If that setting were possible, you could set the
campaign to stop after 1000 impressions and go to the beach for the rest of
the day. As it is, the daily budget is your stop-loss order. You can also use the
End date setting to stop the campaign after one day. Then go to the beach.
Keeping in mind the need for testing, the preference of receiving meaningful
feedback quickly, and the desire to avoid overspending, the following is one
step-by-step plan for budgeting an AdWords test. Don’t worry for now about
the mechanics of creating an Ad Group or using the Traffic Estimator; these
points are covered later in the chapter, in the “Creating an AdWords Account”
section. (Chapter 9 delves into both points in more detail.)
1. Create an Ad Group.
Your Ad Group consists of keywords and at least one ad associated with
those keywords, plus a cost-per-click bid that applies to the entire Ad
2. Using the Traffic Estimator, observe what Google estimates you will
spend per day, and decide whether you can afford one full day of
The Traffic Estimator (see Figure 7-8) is not infallible, but it does give
you a ballpark idea of the campaign’s cost.
3. On the Edit Campaign Settings page, adjust your daily budget.
You might want to peg your daily budget to Google’s estimate of daily
cost, or you might want to set it lower. The campaign will end before
the day ends if you spend your daily budget amount first. There’s not
much point setting the budget higher than Google’s suggestion for a
one-day test. Remember that Google reserves the right to overrun your
daily budget by 20 percent, but never overbills a campaign’s monthly
budget total.
4. Still on the Edit Campaign Settings page, set an End date if you can’t
closely monitor the campaign’s progress.
This setting is valuable if you believe that you’ll get enough reporting
data on the campaign’s first day and might not be available to pause the
campaign manually.
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
Figure 7-8:
The Traffic
the best
CPC bid for
your Ad
When setting your Ad Group’s maximum cost-per-click (CPC), ignore Google’s
initial suggestion that appears in the bid-entry box. Nobody knows where
those preposterous default suggestions come from; I believe Google pulls
them in from The Twilight Zone. Play with different CPC amounts and observe
what they do to your estimated ad placement and your estimated daily
expense. Acquiring the number one position for your keywords might seem
too expensive, and knocking your CPC in half could keep you in the second
or third spot while getting your daily expenses under control. Fiddle with
the CPC amount until you find the estimated sweet spot for your budget and
visibility needs.
The lesson here is that arbitrarily setting a low daily budget while testing,
purely in the interest of saving money, merely prolongs the test. There’s no
way to avoid purchasing the clicks necessary to sustain the campaign until it
reaches a decent number of impressions. The faster you correct failed tests,
the sooner you get to a profitable campaign. The fastest track to positive ROI
is a willingness to make the daily expenditures necessary to test quickly.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Writing Effective Ads
AdWords ads usually contain between 10 and 15 words, including the title and
not counting the display URL. Specifically, ad titles are limited to 25 characters,
and each of the two lines of copy may contain 35 characters. (See Figure 7-9.)
That’s concise advertising! Hence the ease and challenge of writing copy in the
AdWords program.
It might seem strange that AdWords ad copy is called the creative, when so
few words are involved. But constructing such a small presentation that works
is definitely a creative project. You don’t need to compose a paragraph-long
sales message or use flowery language. Heck, you don’t even need to write in
complete sentences. But most writers will tell you that it’s harder to write
short than to write long. Fancy languages and complex sentences work against
you in AdWords.
Only three principles apply to the creative portion of an AdWords ad:
Be relevant
Be accurate
Compel the click
The biggest downfall in writing an AdWords creative is trying to convert the
customer in the ad. Conversion happens at your site, not in the ad. The 10–15
words in an AdWords text box can’t possibly deliver a mature sales message.
The only purpose of your ad is to get clicked, so craft every word in that tiny
space toward luring the click.
To that end — compelling the clickthrough — relevance is crucial. Google
shuts down ads that don’t attract an adequate proportion of clicks for certain
keywords. If the ad doesn’t relate to the page on which it’s displayed (which
really means it doesn’t match the mindset of the people searching that page),
the problem might be the keyword or the creative. Nip the creative problem
in the bud by always writing with tight relevance to the keyword(s) associated with the ad.
The need for relevance is why so many successful advertisers create multiple
Ad Groups in a campaign, each of which consists of one ad associated with
one keyword. Search Google for an author’s name, for example, and look at
the ads for,, and other e-tailers. The best copy of
those ads contains the name of the author you searched. That means the
store created a unique ad for each author (or lots of authors, anyway) in the
store, with the author’s name as the keyword.
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
Figure 7-9:
Not exactly
haikus, but
ads are
studies in
Relevant ads that compel the click cover two of the three guiding principles
when writing the creative. The third point is accuracy. Accuracy doesn’t necessarily contribute to the clickthrough rate of an ad. If the ad promised a million dollars to those who click, it would probably enjoy a stratospheric CTR.
But, of course, the conversion rate would remain at zero as disgruntled visitors discovered the lie. Never promise more (or less!) than you deliver on the
landing page. Let your audience know what to expect in return for their clicks.
A click is an investment, and each visitor wants a return on that investment.
Besides these overriding principles of writing an effective creative, Google
enforces certain style points:
No exclamation points in the title.
No double punctuation (!! or ??) for emphasis. Single exclamation points
and question marks are allowed below the title.
No capitalization for emphasis. You may capitalize acronyms of common
terms or organizations, such as MBA or ASCAP. Emphasis is achieved
through direct relevance to the keyword, because Google bolds any
instance of the keyword in the ad.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
No repeating words for effect
No misspellings
No chatspeak, such as “free trial 4 u”
No eliminating spaces between words, tempting though it is to conserve
No bad grammar, such as “Click of free trial,” even though you barely
have room for a complete sentence
These style rules are enforced both automatically and by humans. No rulebreaking ad slips through for long, and ads that don’t adhere to the house
style are pulled out of circulation until corrected.
Google spells out its style guidelines here:
I also advise that you spend a half hour reading AdWords ads. If you’re an
online retailer, do your research in Froogle. Otherwise, search for your competitors in Google and also ads in other industries.
The controversial call to action
Traditional advertising routinely includes a callto-action message: “Act now!” “Call today!”
“Have your credit card ready and order by
phone!” Such loud declamations are disallowed
by the AdWords program on stylistic grounds.
More subdued calls to action are allowed,
although there’s disagreement among AdWords
advertisers, and even inconsistency from
Google, about their value. When the AdWords
program started, Google was categorically
against calls to action. Now, with more experience under its belt, Google acknowledges the
value of such calls, and many advertisers swear
by them. In the selection of AdWords ads in the
figure, three ads contain gentle calls to action
and the bottom ad is aggressive.
If you use a call to action in your ad copy, you
must conform to specialized and subtle style
rules. Most importantly, your call to action can’t
be generic, along the lines of “click here,” “click
now,” or “visit this site.” Specific calls to action
that refer to the product, the service, or the result
of the product or service are encouraged. For
example, phrases such as “click to start a free
trial,” “buy discount music today,” and “visit now
to view today’s rates” are acceptable and probably effective. Even so, you may not use specific
calls to action that use the display URL as part of
the sentence, as in this example:
View today’s rates by visiting:
Calls to action might or might not be the most
effective style for your campaign. If in doubt,
create two ads for each Ad Group, one with a
call to action and one without, and then track
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
their effectiveness using third-party tracking
software. A simpler way to track the ads would
be to create separate Ad Groups for ads with and
without calls to action. Perhaps even simpler, go
back to the two ads in the same Ad Group, but
create two different landing pages. In that scenario, you can track the traffic of both landing
pages in your site logs.
Creating an AdWords Account
If you’ve read this chapter to here, you have a good grip on how an AdWords
account is structured and how an AdWords campaign proceeds. If you’ve read
up to this point but skipped Chapter 6, and feel a little shaky in your understanding, I urge you to absorb Chapter 6 before proceeding with this section.
Here, I walk you through opening an AdWords account. The steps aren’t difficult, and Google offers brief instructions on each screen. But in opening an
account, you prepare your first AdWords campaign (or, to be more accurate,
the first draft of your first campaign), so you should have the basics under
your belt first.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
All right, then. Time to ease into the AdWords marketing lifestyle. Follow
1. Go to the AdWords page at
2. Click the button labeled Click to begin.
3. Select your target language and country, and then click the Save &
Continue button (see Figure 7-10).
You might be thinking, “Whoa! I’m just trying to set up the account, not
build the campaign!” If so, relax. This is just Google doing its own marketing by roping you into the first steps of campaign design. (Google figures you’re more likely to finish the process if you’re forced to start it.)
Google walks you through basic geo-targeting (this step), setting up an
Ad Group, and writing an ad.
Your selections aren’t important at this stage, but if you’ve thought ahead
to your target languages and countries, go for it. If not, leave the default
selections or click English (under Languages) and United States — entire
country (under Countries). Chapter 10 explores issues of geo-targeting
in detail. You may change these initial selections at any time.
Figure 7-10:
Select one
or more
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
4. Create an Ad Group.
Simply type a name for your first Ad Group. Remember, you can change
or delete the name at any time. Simply call it test group if you want to get
past these steps quickly.
5. Scroll down the page and write an ad (see Figure 7-11), and then click
the Create Ad & Continue button.
Writing ads is a concise art that I discuss previously in this chapter. Spend
time on this step if you like, or throw something together quickly and
move on. Fill in every box. Remember, the display URL should be short
because it’s visible in the ad. The destination URL is the Web location of
the landing page.
6. Choose keywords (see Figure 7-12), and then click the Save Keywords
Keyword selection is a complex and important issue that dominates a
big chunk of Chapter 9. If you haven’t absorbed that information and
engaged in painstaking keyword research, the keywords you enter at
this step are nearly meaningless. Google provides a few hints, scratching
the surface. Throw some keywords into the box and move on.
Figure 7-11:
Write your
first ad, but
don’t labor
too hard.
change it
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 7-12:
selection is
an ongoing
You’ll likely
change your
7. Select a maximum cost per click for your keywords, and then click the
Calculate Estimates button.
Chapter 9 discusses setting CPC for individual keywords in an Ad Group.
Never mind that now. And while you’re in the mood to disregard things,
never mind Google’s suggested CPC. Delete that figure and type some
value that seems fair to you. It doesn’t matter what it is — you’ll adjust
the CPC in the next step. After clicking the Calculate Estimates button,
the screen reloads with the Traffic Estimator’s information columns
filled in.
8. Adjust the maximum cost per click until you’re satisfied, and then
click the Save & Continue button.
Here, you’re shooting for a reasonable daily budget and a respectable
page position for your ads. The information columns estimate the volume
of clickthroughs per day for each keyword, the average cost (per click
and per day) for each keyword, and the average position for each keyword. (Look back to Figure 7-8.) Every campaign is in constant flux, its
costs and positions determined by competing advertisers and search
patterns in Google.
Chapter 7: Designing Your AdWords Campaign and Starting an Account
9. On the next page, click the Continue to Step 3 button.
This page offers you a chance to create a second Ad Group. You certainly
may, but for our purpose (which is just getting the darn account open),
plow onward.
10. Type a daily budget, and then click the Save & Continue button.
This is where you determine the maximum you want to spend, per day,
to operate this Ad Group.
11. Enter your personal information, read the terms and conditions, and
then click the I agree — Create my AdWords account button.
12. When you receive Google’s verification e-mail, click the link in the
e-mail to establish your new account.
When you follow the preceding steps to establish your AdWords account, you
don’t activate the account or put your newly created ad in distribution. Your
new Ad Group awaits you in the AdWords Control Center, inside the account.
A separate procedure activates the account and begins your campaign. That
process is mercifully shorter than opening the account. Just do this:
1. Go to the AdWords home page here:
2. Log in to your account using the e-mail address and password you
established in Step 11 in the preceding list.
3. In the Control Center (which is discussed with gusto in Chapter 8),
click the My Account tab.
4. In the My Account section, click Billing Preference.
5. On the Billing Preferences page, fill in your contact and payment
6. Click the Save Changes button.
Entering and saving your billing information activates the account and initiates
the distribution of the ad in the Ad Group you created to open the account. If
your selected keywords are popular search terms, and your daily budget is
high, you could begin generating thousands of impressions and (possibly) a
truckload of clickthroughs with frightening speed — within minutes. This is
not the time to shut off your computer and go to the Neverland Ranch. There
might not ever be a good time to go to the Neverland Ranch. Never mind that.
If you want to put on the brakes, click the Campaign Management tab and use
the Pause button to temporarily stop your campaign.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Finding Your Ads at Work
When you do release your campaign upon the Google realm, it’s natural to
want to see your ads at work. Easy enough — just search on one of the keywords in your Ad Group. Theoretically, ads begin displaying instantly upon
activating a campaign. Indeed, I have seen instantaneous deployment of my
ads. I’ve also waited more than an hour before ads started to appear. Keep a
couple of points in mind if you don’t see your ads immediately:
Google is fast, but some delay is natural. Wait at least an hour before
sending an e-mail to customer service.
If your daily budget is on the low side relative to your CPC maximum,
full deployment of your ads on matching search pages would burn up
your daily cost limit quickly. For this reason, Google calculates (in the
background) how many clickthroughs it takes to reach your daily budget,
and estimates how many impressions are necessary to amass those
clickthroughs. Then Google spreads out the distribution of your ad so
that it appears steadily through all parts of the day. When this scenario
is in effect, it might require 3, 5, 10, or 100 searches on your keyword to
generate one display of your ad.
Chapter 8
Understanding AdWords
Statistics and Reports
In This Chapter
Viewing account statistics
Peering into campaigns and Ad Groups
Creating AdWords reports
he preceding chapter introduced the parts of the AdWords Control Center
you use to create the initial Ad Group required to open an account. That
chapter offered a glimpse of screens for writing ad copy, assigning keywords
and estimating their traffic, determining Campaign settings, establishing costper-click (CPC) bids, and setting a daily budget.
There’s more to the Control Center than the few screens you see when opening
an account. It’s not an exaggeration to say that devoted AdWords advertisers
and agents spend the bulk of their work day in the Control Center, especially
if they don’t use third-party tracking and reporting tools to measure clickthroughs and conversions. Google’s Control Center is not perfect (and I pick
apart some imperfections in the next chapter), but it is a complex, sophisticated suite of research, creative, and reporting tools.
You can see in Figure 8-1 that the Control Center presents three organizational
tabs. Rather than divide its functionality according to those tabs, however, it’s
more useful to consider what the Control Center does for you in the course of
your day-to-day AdWords-obsessed life.
Four basic functions come into play:
View your campaigns in progress. The Control Center provides a layered view of your entire account: your individual Campaigns, each Ad
Group in a campaign, and the performance of every ad and every keyword associated with your ads. All this information flows onto your
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 8-1:
advertisers view
in progress.
Control Center screens rapidly, but not exactly in real time. I’ve seen early
statistics of an added marketing element show up within minutes. At the
most, allow a three-hour delay for impressions and clickthroughs to come
into view and jive with each other. When campaigns are running continuously, without intermittent pausing and resuming (see Chapter 10), you
must cut three hours of slack when you look at them. The only way to
get a complete, static snapshot of marketing statistics is to pause one or
more elements of your account and then allow three hours for the dust
to settle.
Report your marketing statistics. The Control Center’s information
screens are flexible and robust in their capacity to offer views of your
advertising at work. AdWords reports take your marketing metrics to the
next level by offering more detailed, customized views and automatic
e-mail delivery of the reports.
Research keywords. This book describes non-Google keyword research
tools, but the AdWords Control Center provides everything needed in
many cases. The Keyword Suggestion Tool and Traffic Estimator give any
marketer plenty of ideas for experimentation and refinement.
Adjust basic account properties. The Control Center keeps track of your
billing and payment information, display language, and log-in password.
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports
This chapter is primarily concerned with statistics and reports. Chapter 9 is
more involved with the creative side of the Control Center — producing new
Ad Groups and selecting keywords.
Viewing Account Statistics
The Control Center presents three essential views of your AdWords marketing.
These views are like boxes within boxes. The account holds your Campaigns;
your Campaigns hold your Ad Groups; your Ad Groups hold your ads and keywords. The Reports section chops up the information into innumerable configurations, like a Japanese chef working on a grill with one of those big knives at
one of those cook-at-the-table restaurants. (I obviously don’t know what I’m
talking about, but the image came to mind.)
For each of the three main account views, you can see a table that lists your
costs, impressions, clickthroughs, clickthrough rate (CTR), conversion rate,
and the average position of your ad(s) on the page. In each view, you may
determine the timeframe (to the day) for which the numbers are calculated.
All this takes place in the Campaign Management tab.
The account overview
Clicking the Campaign Management tab leads you directly to an overview of
the entire account, as shown in Figure 8-1. The search box to the right is for
advertisers running multiple campaigns, Ad Groups, and ads. Use that box to
search for campaigns, Ad Groups, keywords, and ad text.
The Campaign Summary page (refer to Figure 8-1) contains several columns of
information. Together, they convey an essential overview of your campaigns:
Campaign Name. Simple enough; this is the name of your campaign.
Current Status. Campaigns may be active, paused, or deleted. Deleted
Campaigns are not really deleted, oddly. They’re in limbo and may be
out of sight, but they’re still available for examination. Even odder, deleted
campaigns contribute to total statistics, in a unique row separate from
the total statistics of active campaigns (see Figure 8-2). This extra totaling occurs even when the deleted campaign is hidden from view. Whenever you want to see your deleted campaigns, use the All Campaigns
drop-down menu to select Show all campaigns. (That setting also brings
paused Campaigns into view.)
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 8-2:
to the
bottom line.
Current Budget. This column displays the daily budget for each campaign and totals them at the bottom.
Clicks, Impr., and CTR. These columns detail your campaign-wide ad distribution, breaking it down into clicks (clickthroughs of the Campaign’s
ads), impressions (ad displays), and CTR (clickthrough rate, calculated
by dividing clicks by impressions). The CTR column is vitally important,
because Google requires certain CTR levels for campaigns and keywords.
If the campaign’s CTR sinks below 0.5 percent, Google might step in to
remedy the situation. Even if the campaign’s CTR remains stoutly above
that threshold, individual keywords inside the campaign might get into
Avg. CPC. This view does not divulge your cost-per-click bid for any Ad
Group in the campaign, but it does reveal the average cost you’re paying
for all clicks, campaign-wide.
Cost. This column totals up the cost-to-date for the campaign, by multiplying clicks by costs-per-clicks.
Conv. Rate and Cost/Conv. These columns fill with numbers when the
campaign uses Google’s Conversion Tracking, which I describe in Chapter 9.
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports
Use the drop-down menus above the table to define a date period. Click
the upper radio button to select from the pull-down menu of time frames.
Click the lower radio button next to use the month-day-year menus.
Note the check box to the left of each campaign. Click one or more to
select campaigns to pause, resume, or delete. You may also adjust Campaign settings for multiple campaigns on a single screen. I describe the
Campaign Settings page in Chapter 7, but I want to revisit that screen
here. Figure 8-3 shows the Campaign Settings screen when more than
one campaign is selected with check boxes. As you can see, small arrows
(they’re yellow) appear next to settings that you may apply to all checked
campaigns. (The Campaign name is the only setting that must remain
unique.) As you adjust settings for the first campaign, click the yellow
arrow whenever you want that new setting to take hold in the others. You
may scroll down and enter new values, overriding the arrow, at any time.
Seeing inside the campaign
To drill into any campaign and see its Ad Groups, click any campaign link in
the Campaign Name column (back in Figure 8-2). Figure 8-4 details the inside
of a campaign, showing several Ad Groups. Many of the features on this page
are the same as those in Figure 8-2, so I won’t repeat them here. Note that
deleted Ad Groups work just like deleted campaigns in that they remain
accessible and their statistics contribute to the bottom line.
Figure 8-3:
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 8-4:
Viewing the
Ad Groups
statistics of
a campaign.
You use the check boxes next to the Ad Groups (just as you use the ones next
to campaigns) to pause, resume, and delete multiple Ad Groups simultaneously or affect just a single item. You may also select multiple Ad Groups and
click the Change Max CPC button. As with the Campaign settings across multiple campaigns (see the preceding section), the Change Max CPC feature
enables you to enforce the same CPC bid across selected Ad Groups. The
(yellow) arrow is your friend again in this task, as you can see in Figure 8-5.
Seeing inside the Ad Group
Click any Ad Group name (see Figure 8-4) to see the keywords and ads in that
Ad Group. Getting inside the Ad Group is where the rubber meets the road.
Where the pedal hits the metal. Where other half-baked analogies that I can’t
think up take place. On these screens lurk Google’s evaluations of your keyword performance, in all their mystery, occasional threats, and sometimes
encouragement. This page is where your click, impression, and CTR statistics
are broken down by keyword and by the two parts of Google’s extended network: search partners and content sites. In addition to detailed reporting, this
page contains your ad(s) associated with this Ad Group’s keywords, with the
chance to edit those ads, delete them, or create new ones.
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports
Figure 8-5:
Set the
CPC bid
multiple Ad
The table that you see within an Ad Group (see Figure 8-6) present statistical
totals above the reporting details. A curious arrangement, and there’s nothing to do about it. Notice, also, the two Total rows — one for “search” and
one for “content targeting.” These cryptic labels need some explaining.
If you read Chapter 7, you might remember that you have a choice, in Campaign Settings, to run your ads across the Google network of sites. (If you’re
next to the computer, try going to Campaign Settings to see that choice.)
Specifically, you can opt to distribute all the ads of any campaign in one of
four distribution patterns:
Just on Google’s search pages. These pages include search results
pages in Web search, Google Groups, Google Directory, and Froogle. Your
ads must run on these sites, regardless of how you adjust the other two
On Google’s search pages, plus Google’s search partners. These
other search sites include Web-search portals to which Google provides
AdWords advertising. As of this writing, these sites include Excite,, Teoma, AskJeeves, Netscape, AOL Search, and You
may opt in or out of this extended network of search sites. If you opt in,
your keyword statistics corresponding to Google pages plus other
search pages are totaled in the Total — search row.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 8-6:
inside an
Ad Group
at statistics
for each
and, in this
case, the
only ad.
On Google’s search pages, plus content sites in Google’s network.
Content sites are AdSense publishers that run AdWords ads (see
Chapters 11, 12, and 13). On these sites, ads are chosen according to relevance to the content of the pages on which they appear, whereas on
search pages, ads are matched by relevance to keywords used at those
search engines. You may opt in or out of the content network. If you opt
in, your keyword statistics corresponding to the content network are
totaled in the Total — content targeting row.
Distribute everywhere. By opting into both the extended search network
and the content network, your ads appear throughout both those systems
and on Google’s pages. Keyword statistics for the entire arrangement are
totaled on the row containing the keyword (see Figure 8-6), below the
Total rows. These totals combine the broken-out totals (search and content targeting).
In reading about how the totals work, you perhaps noticed that you don’t get
keyword statistics corresponding to only Google pages. You get Google pages
plus extended search pages bundled into one line of totals, but no statistics
describing how your ads are performing on Google exclusive of the extended
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports
In my opinion, this lack is an outright deficiency, but you’re not totally clueless about how your ads are faring in Google. The Control Center issues one
of five status levels for each keyword, displayed in the Status column. These
status levels are
Strong and Moderate. (Both in green.) Strong and Moderate keywords
are cooking along fine. No action is necessary.
At risk and Slowed. (Both in yellow.) At risk keywords are in imminent
danger of being disabled by Google. Slowed keywords cause the ad(s)
associated with those keywords to suffer infrequent displays until you
correct the situation.
Disabled. (In red.) Disabled keywords take their associated ads out of circulation on search pages and content pages matching those keywords.
You may resuscitate your disabled keywords, but keeping them alive
becomes harder after they have been disabled.
Note: Chapter 9 explains in detail how to correct keywords that are at risk,
slowed, or disabled.
Figure 8-7 illustrates a keyword statistics screen in an Ad Group, on which
three different status levels are exhibited. The warning atop the page (whose
red background is quite alarming in color) appears when any keyword on the
page has been slowed. Figure 8-8 illustrates another page with the Disabled
status in full display.
Look at Figures 8-7 and 8-8, particularly at the keywords labeled At risk (developmental disabilities), Strong (charity auction), and Disabled (maroon 5). Look
at the CTR column for all three keywords. Notice anything peculiar? The Disabled keyword (maroon 5) owns a robust clickthrough rate of 1.7 percent —
well above Google’s danger threshold of 0.5 percent. The charity auction
keyword, labeled with the Strong status, owns a weak CTR of 0.4 percent. The
keyword immediately above it (developmental disabilities), labeled At risk,
has performed better than the Strong keyword!
None of this seems to make any sense, but there’s a simple explanation. Google
computes a separate clickthrough rate based on the performance of ads on
Google’s search pages, exclusive of the extended search and content networks.
Google uses that CTR to evaluate the performance of keywords and their ads.
Performance on the extended networks doesn’t matter in determining whether
a keyword is slowed or disabled. However, Google doesn’t provide the result of
this Google-only CTR calculation, preferring instead to furnish the status warning system instead. Because that crucial CTR number is not broken out from
the total CTR figures that do include the extended networks, the status warning
(and status praise) sometimes seems out of touch with reality as expressed in
the CTR numbers. This strange reality warp occurs when an ad performs much
better or much worse in the extended networks than it does on Google’s pages.
(The disparity isn’t too uncommon.) File this odd fact away for now; I come
back to it with a vengeance in Chapter 10.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 8-7:
warns of
and praises
well, in the
Figure 8-8:
after placing
them at risk
in the Status
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports
One final note about this page: You can see how your ads are positioned on
Google pages by looking at the Avg. Pos column, which shows you the ad’s
average position in the AdWords column. No more than ten AdWords ads
appear on any Google search page. You can achieve a higher position through
a combination of a higher cost-per-click and a better clickthrough rate.
Creating AdWords Reports
The Control Center’s most potent statistical features are located in the Reports
tab. Click that tab to see something resembling Figure 8-9. This screen shot
illustrates the Reports main page after several reports have been run. The
right-hand column offers quick links to recent and saved reports. You may
also have created reports updated periodically and sent to you automatically
through e-mail.
The six preset report modules in the Report Center spit out usefully assembled
information, without any adjusting of their settings. However, you may adjust
the presets. Figure 8-10 shows the Keyword Report form ready to deliver a
report of one campaign (adjusted from the default, which is all campaigns),
showing information about all disabled keywords (adjusted from the default,
which is Any status).
Figure 8-9:
Click the
Reports tab
to see a
of report
links to
and saved
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 8-10:
Report form,
ready to run
a search for
in one
This Keyword Report in Figure 8-10 is one I use all the time — a few times each
day, believe it or not. If you have a dozen or more Ad Groups, it becomes too
difficult to repeatedly look into each one to see whether Google has put at
risk, slowed, or disabled any keywords. Running a quick report reveals the
presence of badly performing keywords and their performance statistics.
(Although, as mentioned, you don’t get the statistics that really count — those
describing the keyword’s performance on Google pages exclusively.) I typically run that report for all campaigns simultaneously; when I’m checking for
disabled keywords the result looks like Figure 8-11. (Note that in this example,
the CTRs of the five disabled keywords are above the 0.5-percent threshold,
and four of those keywords are much higher. This weirdness illustrates why
it’s a good idea to run this report; the overall CTR, as reported on the Campaign Management screens, gives no cause for worry. In that situation, disabled keywords can go unnoticed for a long time.)
Make sure you become familiar with the Custom Report. Figures 8-12 and
8-13 illustrate just a few of the detailed controls at your disposal. The Custom
Report blends the features of all the preset report modules and adds more
power, such as the ability to enter specific keywords (Figure 8-12) and specify many settings with check boxes (Figure 8-13). One of the beauties of the
Custom Report is that you can build columns based on individual lines of
ad copy.
Chapter 8: Understanding AdWords Statistics and Reports
Figure 8-11:
A keyword
statistics of
Figure 8-12:
Part of
the Custom
Report form,
where you
may specify
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 8-13:
of the
Report form.
In addition to arranging for reports to be e-mailed on a preset schedule
(bottom of Figure 8-13), you may save the report as a CSV database file. A
CSV (comma-separated value) file can be imported to spreadsheet programs
and then displayed in various ways for statistical analysis.
Chapter 9
Creating Effective Ad Groups
In This Chapter
Creating Ad Groups
Editing keywords, ads, and bids in Ad Groups
Using the Keyword Suggestion Tool
Brainstorming imaginative and productive keywords
Utilizing keyword-matching options
d Groups are the fundamental marketing units that propel your AdWords
campaign. If keywords are the sparks of AdWords success, Ad Groups
are the flames. And, one hopes, your campaign is a roaring bonfire. But forget
the heated analogy. The point is that success in AdWords depends largely on
the effective creation and manipulation of Ad Groups.
Why is the Ad Group the most powerful element of your campaign? Because
it contains the four motors of your advertising and conversion strategy: ads,
keywords, bid prices, and destination pages. As such, the Ad Group defines
what your advertising campaign looks like, who it is shown to, how much it
costs, and the location where your business meets your customers.
Although it might seem excessive to devote an entire chapter to Ad Groups,
the truth is that I could probably write an entire book about them. (Such a
book would also include pictures of my editor’s dog and my personal ruminations on Leno versus Letterman.) So be happy that I’m limiting this examination of Ad Groups to one chapter.
Here you find strategies and mechanics that are not covered elsewhere. The
mechanical aspects include creating Ad Groups in the Control Center and
editing their parameters (keywords, ads, and bid prices). The strategic issues
include the competitive struggle for placement on the page (effective bidding)
and putting your ads on productive search pages (researching and selecting
keywords). The important crafts of writing good ads and composing dynamic
landing pages are covered in Chapter 8.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Creating New Ad Groups
You create Ad Groups in AdWords Campaigns. You can’t open an account
without creating an Ad Group, even if you never deploy that initial effort.
Assuming that you own an AdWords account, then, you have some experience with the mechanics of creating an Ad Group. Busy advertisers open
new Ad Groups frequently. Here’s how it happens:
1. In the Control Center, click the Campaign Management tab.
2. In the Campaign Name column, click any campaign.
Naturally, you should click the target campaign of the new Ad Group. If
you don’t want the new Ad Group to be influenced by that campaign’s
global Campaign settings, click the Create New Campaign link instead of
an existing campaign. Do not hesitate to begin new campaigns, and lots
of them. When you do open a new campaign, Google walks you through
the Campaign settings, and then returns you to this point and marches
you through the creation of a new Ad Group.
3. Click the Create New Ad Group link.
4. Enter the name of the Ad Group.
I used to include the campaign name in my Ad Group titles, but I lost that
habit after experiencing screen clutter when running AdWords reports.
There’s no need to duplicate the campaign name in the Ad Group title,
because the campaign name is always visible somewhere on the screen
when you drill into its Ad Groups.
5. Scroll down and compose your ad, and then click the Create Ad &
Continue button.
If this Ad Group is not the first Ad Group of the campaign, Google supplies the most recently created ad of the campaign to work with. So you’re
not necessarily creating the ad from scratch. Even if the ad copy differs
substantially from the previous ad, chances are good that you won’t
change the display URL and the destination URL. This convenience
saves time when mass-producing Ad Groups with ads that are nearly
6. Enter your keyword(s), and then click the Save Keywords button.
7. Enter your bid in the Traffic Estimator, and then click the Calculate
Estimates button.
8. Adjust your bid and recalculate the traffic and placement estimates
until you reach a good balance of cost versus position.
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
Later in this chapter, I discuss bidding strategies and the importance of
knowing your return on investment (ROI) needs. For now, try for an average position of four or higher (which means 4.0 or lower in the Average
Position column), without committing to paying more than you think a
clickthrough is worth. See Figure 9-1.
9. Click the Save & Continue button.
Your Ad Group is created, and begins running immediately. That immediacy always takes me a bit by surprise. For some reason I expect a confirmation and review of my selections, like you see in an online shopping
cart, before the Ad Group is launched to the public. The Save & Continue
button sounds like a mid-process button, not the final launch button
that it is.
If you want to stop the process, immediately click the Pause Ad Group link
after Step 9. Even in those few seconds of activity, you could generate hundreds of impressions and some clickthroughs if your keywords are popular.
So get in the habit of deliberating on your Ad Group choices before clicking
that final Save & Continue button.
Figure 9-1:
what you
think the
are worth,
per click.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Editing Elements of an Ad Group
After you set up your Ad Group, the work begins. Rarely does an Ad Group run
for long without issuing a call for maintenance. That call might derive from
your examination of your Ad Group’s performance. You might be pressed into
action by Google’s clamping down on an underperforming keyword. You might
discover that a lower-than-expected conversion rate at your site is resulting
in a negative ROI for your campaign, and you need to revise your bids in several Ad Groups.
Whatever the reason for tweaking, you will eventually find yourself needing
to know (quickly, sometimes) how to edit your ads, keywords, and maximum bids.
Editing ads
You use the same screen to edit, delete, and create ads in an existing Ad Group.
Editing and creating ads are essentially the same process. In this section, I concentrate on editing as a way of modifying an ongoing Ad Group.
If you choose to create a new ad, which can also be an effective way to try
out a different wording or a new landing page, Google runs both ads concurrently against the same keywords and shows you each ad’s distribution percentage. Running two ads in one Ad Group might seem like a less precise type
of marketing, and it would be if there were no way to determine individual
statistics for each ad. But you can easily break apart the data of concurrent
ads in the Reports section (see Chapter 8).
At any rate, in this section I walk you through the mechanics of editing an
existing ad. Follow these steps:
1. In the Control Center, click the Campaign Management tab.
2. In the Campaign Name column, click the campaign that contains the
Ad Group running the individual ad you want to edit.
3. Click the Ad Group containing the ad you want to edit.
4. Click the Edit link next to the display of the ad you want to edit.
When the Ad Group has only one ad, the Edit link is positioned above
the statistics table, next to the display of your ad. If multiple ads exist,
the Edit links appear with the display of your multiple ads, below the
statistics table, as shown in Figure 9-2.
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
Figure 9-2:
When an
Ad Group
more than
one ad,
below the
table for the
Edit links.
5. On the edit screen, make changes to your ad.
As you no doubt recognize, this screen is the same as the ad-creation
screen. Type your edits, and watch the display lines change when you
click out of the edit box.
6. Click the Save changes button.
Your ad begins appearing in its new version immediately.
Of course, you may delete ads instead of editing them. Doing so is a one-click
process, and that click should be directed at the Delete link below any displayed ad on your Ad Group page. Deleting the only ad of an Ad Group does
not make the Ad Group implode and vanish. (You must select an Ad Group
and click the Delete button to obliterate that Ad Group.) If you delete the sole
ad of your Ad Group, you are no longer marketing to keywords of that Ad
Group. But the Ad Group structure remains in your campaign, waiting for you
to create a new ad for it.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Adding and editing keywords
Most advertisers adjust keywords more frequently than they adjust ads. This
phenomenon is partly due to most advertisers using more keywords than ads.
(In other words, common practice is to associate one ad with many keywords.)
Advertisers and their marketing agents spend alarming amounts of time brainstorming and researching keywords, so they naturally spend more time tweaking keywords than tweaking ads.
Then there’s the fact that when Google slows or disables keywords, ads are
slowed or disabled on search pages for those faltering keywords. The natural
impulse, rightly or wrongly, is to correct the keyword. (It’s the right impulse
most of the time.)
Finally, the overwhelming emphasis on keywords throughout the SEM (search
engine marketing) universe leads to the popular belief that successful keyword selection is the key to AdWords success.
True enough, creating successful keywords is crucial. Without a keyword, an
ad can’t run. And without a relevant keyword, the ad won’t run for long. Campaigns of any respectable duration endure many ups and downs with their
keywords. I don’t believe there’s an AdWords advertiser on the planet who
hasn’t had a keyword disabled or a campaign slowed. And even if Google
doesn’t lower the boom, ROI considerations force resourceful advertisers to
continually refine their keyword selections.
Almost certainly, you will need to modify your keywords at some point (and
probably often). The following steps walk you through the mechanical part of
editing and adding keywords. I get into strategic considerations later.
1. In the Control Center, click the Campaign Management tab.
2. In the Campaign Name column, click the campaign containing the keywords you want to edit.
You can’t edit shared keywords across campaigns.
3. Click the Ad Group containing the keywords you want to edit.
You can’t edit shared keywords across Ad Groups in a campaign. However,
you can make one specific campaign-wide keyword edit: adding negative
keywords that apply to every Ad Group in the campaign. Negative keywords represent one of four keyword-matching options that I describe
later in the chapter. For now, assume that adding negative matching is not
the kind of keyword edit you’re after.
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
4. Click the Edit Keywords link.
Note the Add Keywords link right next to it. The two resulting screens —
one for editing keywords, the other for adding keywords — are nearly
The Edit Keywords page (see Figure 9-3) includes a box showing your
CPC bid, giving you the chance to adjust it as you edit your keywords.
Furthermore, on that screen, nothing stops you from adding keywords
while you’re editing existing keywords. So there’s never any reason to
use the Add Keywords link.
5. Edit your keywords, add new keywords, and adjust your CPC bid, as
6. Click the Estimate Traffic button for further adjustments of your bid,
or click the Save button to finish.
See Chapter 7 for a guide to using the Traffic Estimator.
Figure 9-3:
You can
and bids on
one screen.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Editing your bid
The Control Center provides three ways to edit the crucial CPC (cost-per-click)
bid. This is the bid that helps determine your ad’s position on search pages.
Normally, the bid applies to all keywords in an Ad Group, but you may also
specify unique bids for individual keywords. Following are the three methods
of tweaking your CPC bid:
Using the Edit Keywords link. I describe this method in the preceding
section, in the discussion about editing keywords. The same screen allows
keyword editing and CPC editing.
Using the Edit Keywords link, but this time with a different method
for determining keyword-specific CPC bids. As you type new or edited
keywords, separate your bid amount from the keyword by two asterisks
(**), putting the bid amount on the same line as the keyword. Here’s an
ancient coins**0.45
Do not use a dollar sign. In addition to specifying a unique CPC bid for
each keyword, you may include a unique destination page. Just extend
the line with another two asterisks, and then type the complete URL of
your landing page for that keyword. For example:
ancient coins**0.45**
Don’t put spaces between any characters. Do type the complete URL,
including the http:// prefix.
Using the Edit CPCs/URLs button. This button, located on the Ad Group
page, leads to a friendlier interface for entering unique bids and landing
pages, as shown in Figure 9-4. Click the check box next to the keywords
you want to select, and then click the Edit CPCs/URLs button. (On this
screen you don’t have to bother with asterisks.) Notice the small arrows
in the screen shot (they’re yellow on the screen); use the arrows to
enforce the same value for all selected keywords.
Use the arrows even if a minority of keywords will eventually receive
different CPC or URL values. After setting those values and clicking the
arrows, travel down the page and change the keywords that need to be
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
Figure 9-4:
Here’s a
interface for
Researching and Refining Keywords
Enough mechanics. The remainder of this chapter is mostly about strategic
issues. I discuss formulating keyword concepts using the Keyword Suggestion
Tool, the widespread reliance on keyword generators, finding keywords by
thinking like your customer, and the four keyword-matching options at your
disposal. You find out about tactical positioning of ads on search pages, planning for distribution in Google’s extended networks, and trademark controversies. I continue the discussion of Google’s insistence on relevance at all
costs. Let’s get started.
Hunting for the ideal keyword
Imagine the gold ring of search advertising: the mythical keyword that’s in
high demand by searchers but has no competition from other advertisers.
That sweet spot in Google where, even if only for a short time, you can reach
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
millions of hungry searchers for the absolute minimum cost per click. In that
Eden-like scenario, your ad would be the only paid link on the page, floating
majestically in alluring solitude, receiving hordes of dirt-cheap clickthroughs.
That’s the ideal. Reality usually differs considerably. Sharp, opportunistic
advertisers converge on important keywords, driving up the price of good
positioning into the realm of dollars per click. But, amazingly, ideal and nearideal keyword discoveries do exist. I’ve launched dozens of Ad Groups with
keywords for which I bid the minimum of $.05 per click, and watched the ads
claim positions no lower than third on the page (and several times the top
spot), earning very robust clickthrough rates. Driving highly targeted clicks
at a cost of $50 per thousand is a true bargain.
Chapter 4 describes Wordtracker, which strives to evaluate keywords based on
their popularity as search terms and their prevalence on Web sites, to arrive at
a competitive profile of a keyword or phrase. Wordtracker is certainly a tool
you should know about. It’s also important to research on your own, especially
in Google, where your keywords must perform well to stay in play. (Actually,
the ads perform well or badly, but the keywords are disabled if the ads fail.)
When you identify a potential keyword, search for it in Google — that’s the
most direct way to survey the competitive landscape in the venue that really
counts. Click the Search button a few times to catch ads that are in slowed or
spread-out distribution patterns. Notice also how many search results Google
finds. These two pieces of information — the number of search results and
the number of ads on the page — give you a good idea of the demand (from
searchers and advertisers) for that keyword. When demand from searchers
(represented indirectly by the number of search results) seems to exceed
demand from advertisers (represented directly by the number of ads), you
know you have a potentially productive keyword.
Remember that an attractive keyword need not result in millions of page
results in Google; hundreds of thousands of links represents a healthy marketplace in which to present your ads. With this perspective, look at Figures 9-5
and 9-6. The first screen is Google’s results page for the keyword phrase discount cds. The second screen shows the results for budget cds. The first page
shows strong demand everywhere: roughly 2.5 million search results and an
AdWords column full of ads. The second page shows strong consumer demand
(753,000 results) and faltering advertiser demand.
Is there room in that AdWords column for a third ad? Most certainly, especially because one of the displayed ads is owned by a local shop. Whether a
third ad would be successful depends on many factors. But for the moment,
it appears that the third spot could be purchased for a low CPC bid. This situation is ripe for testing, and it took me about 30 seconds to find it. Search
Google with your prospective keywords and with productive variations!
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
Figure 9-5:
This page
for the
is fierce and
Figure 9-6:
This page
and weak
space is
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
One possibility to remember as you strive for the perfect keyword is counterintuitive. Namely, being lower on the page can deliver better results than top
placement. The point of bidding up a keyword is to attain a higher position.
But there’s some question as to whether a high position necessarily means
better visibility, and there’s even more question about correlated advertising
results. Consider these factors, based on anecdotal experience shared by the
Google advertising community:
Top-placed ads suffer from drone clickthroughs. Tire-kickers, it’s widely
supposed, veer straight for the top ad and click through it with no intent
to do business. Those determined to find useful information and products are just as likely to click further down the AdWords column of ads.
Also, determined searchers — who are often the best leads and most
likely future customers — comparison-shop in the AdWords column,
clicking several in succession and examining each landing page.
Competitive ad-bashing normally targets the top-placed ad. It isn’t particularly ethical, but when competitors want to drive top-placed ads out
of their lofty position, they click through the ads, driving up costs (and
driving down ROI) for the advertiser. Such hostility is usually not
directed at lower-placed ads. (Google is alert to such ad-bashing and
penalizes those who are caught.)
Top-of-page ads might not be as visible as ads in the AdWords column.
AdWords ads roll up to the top of the page when 9 or 10 ads qualify for
placement on the page, as shown in Figure 9-7. In those cases, only 8 ads
are placed in the AdWords column. While reaching the top of the page
(where Google used to sell cost-per-impression sponsored links) is an
accomplishment and an honor, there’s some doubt about the effectiveness of that perch. Google users are accustomed to glancing over to the
right when checking out the ad portion of search results. And “ad blindness,” in which the viewer disregards top-of-page, horizontal ads, is also
common. (For more on ad blindness, see Chapter 13.)
Here’s an example of a lower placement beating a higher placement. The report
in Figure 9-8 shows the Ad Groups of a campaign. Notice the performance of
the Josh Turner Ad Group. Although its average page position is the secondlowest of the group, its CTR is the highest, by far.
Notwithstanding everything I say about low positions having certain advantages over high positions, one aspect of high placement gives it undeniable
value. Google’s extended advertising networks present ads differently from
Google, in ways that dramatically reward the top spot. On AOL Search,
for example, often only a single ad is presented on the results page (see
Figure 9-9), and I have experienced outstanding clickthrough rates on ads
claiming that spot.
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
Figure 9-7:
ads roll
up to the
top of the
page when
every spot
is taken.
Figure 9-8:
A low
position can
lead to high
rates, as
shown by
the Josh
Ad Group.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 9-9:
AOL Search
AdWords in
its own
format. My
ad claims
top spot and
enjoys a
high CTR.
Placement: It’s not just bidding
One crucial feature of the Google system that all
advertisers must remember is the two-part formula that determines the placement of ads on
Google pages. Bidding price gets most of the
attention in this department, as competing advertisers slug it out with clickthrough dollars for premium placement atop the AdWords column. But
clickthrough rate (CTR) is as important as the bid
The specific formula multiplies the two. If one
advertiser bids 50 cents for a keyword and develops a CTR of 1.4 for that keyword, his or her ad
would place second to an advertiser who bids 40
cents (10 cents less) and develops a CTR of 1.9.
A third advertiser bidding only 35 cents would
rise above both competitors if his or her CTR
were 2.2. Here’s how the ads would be ordered:
35 cents x 2.2 CTR = 0.77 (1st place)
40 cents x 1.9 CTR = 0.76 (2d place)
50 cents x 1.4 CTR = 0.70 (3d place)
This formula creates turbulence in the AdWords
column: you never know for sure where your ads
will land. The competitive situation is always
changing. Don’t attempt to game the formula.
Google cares overwhelmingly about the clickthrough rate because it reflects relevance, and
the company rewards advertisers with successful ads by placing them higher — sometimes
much higher — than they might have earned by
their bid rate alone. Success breeds success in
AdWords. Smart advertisers concentrate less on
bidding wars than on relevancy wars.
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
The content network (AdSense sites) presents its own twist on placement
value. Many AdSense publishers choose horizontal banner-like displays of
AdWords ads, in which four ads are positioned side-by-side. A good argument
can be made that none of those positions is more valuable than another, and
that argument speaks to the cost-saving value of dropping out of the top
spot. (AdSense also provides publishers with a vertical display, in which the
top spot is arguably more visible and productive than lower positions.)
When considering your performance in the content network, you drop off the
radar when your ad is ranked below the fifth position, because none of the ad
displays in the AdSense program contains more than five ads. Most of them
contain four, and some of them contain two or one. (See Figure 9-10.)
These ramifications are interesting, but I must issue a closing reminder of
this crucial fact: Google evaluates your ad performance strictly on Google’s
pages. Although you get clickthroughs on the extended networks, pay for
them, and see them reported in the Control Center, they don’t count toward
the official CTR that Google uses to reward or punish your ads. Keywords are
slowed and disabled according to how their associated ads perform on
Google’s pages, and nowhere else.
Figure 9-10:
ads on an
site. If your
bids did not
earn fourth
place or
higher, your
ad would
not appear
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Using the Keyword Suggestion Tool
The most dangerous keyword strategy is one that’s too broad. Broad keywords
are usually thoughtless keywords, and Google advertising punishes lazy marketing. The danger is not even so much that you lose money deploying overly
general keywords; worse, you lose time. You probably can’t get the clicks you
need with wide, fuzzy targeting, yet you’ll accrue an enormous number of
impressions before you can make a cup of coffee. Then Google will shut you
down before your statistics have even arrived in your Control Center.
Targeted relevance is the key. The more precise your targeting — which is to
say, the more precisely your ad’s keyword matches both your ad copy and the
searcher’s keyword — the more magnetic your ad. One way to find out what
your potential customers are searching for is to ask Google. The Keyword
Suggestion Tool is Google’s way of answering your question.
The Keyword Suggestion Tool is no more than three clicks away from anywhere in the Control Center:
1. Click the Campaign Management tab.
2. Click Tools.
3. Click Keyword Suggestion Tool.
The Keyword Suggestion tool is designed to spit out search terms related
(in varying degrees) to one or more keywords you entered. The best results
come from not mixing and matching unconnected keywords, though Google
allows any combination.
Google delivers three lists of keyword suggestions, though the organization is
a little confusing:
On the left side of the page, under More Specific Keywords, is a list of
words and phrases matching your entry — most are phrases. These are
broad matches that might trigger any ads associated with the keyword
you entered, if that keyword is set on broad matching. (I cover keyword
matching later in this chapter.) In the example of Figure 9-11, the list of
phrases would probably trigger any ad associated with the mp3 keyword.
That popular keyword is too broad for most advertisers, but the more
specific key phrases might not be. Of course, you need to choose relevant items from the list.
On the right side of the page, under Similar Keywords, are two lists. The
top list consists of expanded broad matches to the keyword you entered.
Any keyword in this list would trigger your ads if your keyword were set
on broad matching. The Similar Keywords list is not as related to your
keywords as the More Specific Keywords list.
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
Also on the right side of the page but further down are more suggested
keywords, but these don’t trigger ads associated with the keyword you
entered. I often find that these words are the most useful. This list is
where Google’s contextual intelligence shines in the Keyword Suggestion
Tool. The best new, yet related, ideas are in this list. Most of the keywords
and phrases here do not include the keyword you entered but are related
in concept. This type of relationship is extremely valuable and sometimes
difficult to invent without assistance. And, because Google gets its ideas
from its immense database of search terms that people have entered,
you know these are viable search queries.
Thinking like a customer
The sad truth is that business people often don’t think the way their customers
think. As consumers, we see this frustrating reality every day in the products
we complain about. When advertising on Google, and in particular when selecting keywords, the big challenge is understanding the mind of potential customers as they enter the search engine. Even if you know what they’re looking
for, do you know the search terms they’ll use to find it? That is the question
that counts.
Figure 9-11:
The list of
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Breaking the addiction to keyword generators
Much fuss is made in the CPC-advertising world
about keyword generators and suggestion tools.
In this book I promote not only Google’s Keyword
Suggestion Tool, but also standard workhorse
tools from Overture and Wordtracker. Each one
is a fine research aid.
But my experience has led me to believe that
these interactive assistants are best used to fill
in the gaps of brain-powered research. It’s
impossible to think of every permutation of a
word or a concept. And it’s certainly beyond
human capacity to consolidate, in a flash, millions of search results and rank their keywords
by relevance and frequency. But the human
mind excels in imagination, and that’s where
great keyword ideas come from. After you have
great ideas, use the keyword generators to
flesh them out with related words, commonly
searched phrases, and important misspellings.
You must find your own specific terms that match your product or service, of
course. But to get on the same page (literally) as your potential customers,
who are trying their best to find you, consider exercising your mind with
these thought inversions:
Solution versus problem. As an expert in your field, you think in terms
of solutions. But a customer’s mind is filled with the problem. Searchers
commonly express their queries as questions, not answers; problems,
not solutions. So although your impulse might be to advertise on the
keyword landscape grade repair, your customers are probably running to
Google with queries like how do I stop my basement from flooding. There’s
not a search engine in the world that expects its users to enter solutions
and answers in the search box. You shouldn’t expect it, either. Build keyword lists not just around your products, but also around the questions
that will lead to your products as answers.
Knowledgeable versus naive. Assume that your potential customers
are naive about the terms that define your industry. We all tend to think
everyone knows what we know. When you brainstorm for keywords,
dedicate some keyword lists to avoiding buzzwords and industry “in”
phrases. You might fill some Ad Groups with keywords such as home
improvement contractor, landscaping materials, and retaining walls. But
don’t neglect other keyword opportunities to reach potential naive customers who might be searching for healthy grass, golf green in back yard,
and fixing dog damage.
Using versus discovering. You use your product or service, and you no
doubt get repeat business. But a certain percentage of your customers
are brand new. When attracting these people, don’t assume that they
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
search with the mindset of someone who is familiar with what you offer.
Imagine that you know nothing about your industry. What words lead to
a first discovery of your business?
All these inversions are similar, in that they all require you to erase your selfknowledge, approaching your own product with a fresh mind. One trick is to
ask your friends, acquaintances, family, and even strangers what search terms
they would use to find what your offer. The beauty of AdWords is that you can
perform keyword experiments. If the keywords get disabled for poor performance, you probably don’t want them anyway.
People type all sorts of things into Google, including mistakes. Even misspellings return results — and sometimes ads. How does an ad get roped
onto a search page for a misspelled keyword? The advertiser anticipated that
misspelling and put it in the ad’s keyword list, that’s how, and that advertiser
is in the excellent position of being perhaps the only relevant link for the
searcher who hit a typo. Thinking up every plausible way to misspell your
keywords is a grueling chore, but every serious advertiser does it.
I recently experienced the benefit of productive misspellings. I ran a series of
ads keyed around the names of musicians and bands. I wanted an ad for the
group Blink-182, and it occurred to me that many searchers probably wouldn’t
know about the hyphen (or, trusting Google, simply wouldn’t bother typing it
in) and would also omit the space between blink and 182. So I included two
keywords: blink-182 and blink182. Indeed, the proper spelling ended up getting
disabled by Google for poor CTR, while the misspelling delivered outstanding
Complying with Google’s
need for relevance
Throughout this book, I talk about Google’s obsessive enforcement of relevance on its pages. The AdWords program doesn’t hold to lower standards.
You might not realize it because of the smooth automation with which the
Control Center operates, but every ad in the system is cleared by a human.
These gatekeepers check stylistic considerations, but simple relevance is
equally important. Don’t attempt to blanket Google with irrelevant ads. Google
will probably stop you — and their prevention would save you time, because
nobody would click on irrelevant ads.
The quality of ads on a search results page is as important to Google as the
quality of its editorial search results. It is all content to Google, content that
is judged and responded to by people searching the index. Google doesn’t
want anything on the page that fails to meet its standard of relevance.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
The gray area of trademark infringement
The standard of relevance for which Google is renowned is tested painfully
by some companies for allowing competing companies to place ads on their
search pages. By “their” search pages, I mean pages answering search queries
about that company. The complaining companies claim that their trademarks
are violated, a claim implying that the company thinks it owns the search
results page.
Perhaps the most celebrated trademark case involved an environmental organization that ran AdWords ads critical of a cruise company, and associated
those ads with keywords related to the cruise company. On the surface, this
tactic might seem no less sporting than attack-and-response ad campaigns,
common in political advertising. Political opponents might hate each other,
but they don’t claim trademark infringement when the ads get dirty.
The problem on Google arises in the very concept of relevance. Everyone
wants Google’s search pages, including the ads, to express a high level of relevance. When an advertiser reaches across competitive lines to appropriate
a keyword normally associated with a rival, the rival can charge that the relevancy of “its” results page has been compromised, and the users of that page
(the searchers) have been betrayed. Google is responsive to such arguments,
or at least cautious enough in the early days of this new type of dispute, to
generally accede to requests for editorial control of the situation. In the example just mentioned, the environmental organization’s ads were taken down
within a day.
The lesson for advertisers is simple: Don’t make obvious crossovers into competitive territory to plug your products. That goes for affiliate advertisers,
selling other companies’ stuff. You can see this caution played out on Google’s
search pages. Search for a well-known company, and you rarely see its competitors’ ads. If you do, you never see those ads mentioning the competing
company by name.
Using keyword-matching options
Google provides four ways to treat your keywords so that it interprets them
exactly the way you want. These treatments, called matching options, are similar to the search operators used on the front end of Google. (You might want to
refer to Google For Dummies for a complete discussion of search operators.)
One of those search operators — the quote operator — is the same as one of
the keyword-matching operators discussed here.
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
The four keyword-matching options at your disposal are
Broad matching
Negative keywords
Phrase matching
Exact matching
Keyword matching is powerful stuff and sometimes ignored by advertisers. In
the rush to launch a campaign, it’s tempting to throw in untreated keywords
(which default to the broad matching option) and let them ride. Slowed
accounts and disabled keywords are often the result of such carelessness.
Read on to find out about these four important options.
Broad matching
Do nothing, and your keyword is broadly matched to a potentially huge array
of related keywords. Your ad might be displayed on search results pages for
variations of your keyword, misspellings of your keyword, or conceptual similarities to your keyword. Broad matching is convenient, because you let Google
do the work of researching keywords. With a single word, you cover a lot of
search queries.
On the other hand, broad matches might not work for your ad, and Google is
the sole determinant of broad matching if you don’t balance a broad match
with a negative keyword (see the next section).
Broad matching is risky, and most experienced advertisers use it cautiously.
If a broadly matched keyword is disabled by Google (a common occurrence),
you may put it back in play with a different matching option. Narrowing the
effect with phrase or exact matching often makes a sputtering keyword suddenly potent.
Negative keywords
Placing a minus sign (hyphen) immediately before a keyword excludes that
keyword from matching your keyword and triggering an ad impression. Negative matching looks like this:
Google recently introduced a valuable feature that assigns negative matches
to the entire campaign — every Ad Group. The Campaign page contains an
Add link for creating a campaign-wide list of negative keywords. That link
becomes a View/edit link after you add at least one negative keyword.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Figure 9-12 illustrates the screen on which you create the negative word list
for the entire campaign. Note the Clean Sweep feature on the right, which lets
you extract negative keywords individually embedded in Ad Groups and reassign them to the entire campaign.
Phrase matching
Phrase matching uses quotation marks around a key phrase, like this:
“coin trading”
The quotes force Google to match your keyword to queries in which the
quote-enclosed words appear exactly as spelled and as ordered. Google still
broad-matches the phrase to related words and concepts but keeps the
quoted phrase intact. Don’t use phrase matching on a single word.
Exact matching
Putting brackets around a key phrase is the most restrictive treatment. Exact
matching looks like this:
[coin trading]
Figure 9-12:
Use this
to add
that affect
your entire
Chapter 9: Creating Effective Ad Groups
This match forces Google to place the ad only on pages responding to the
exact query, with no other related matching. If any other words appear in the
query, your ad will not be called onto the results page. Don’t use exact matching with single words.
A useful keyword-matching tool lurks under Tools in the Campaign Management tab. Go there and click Change Keyword Matching Options. This interactive timesaver lets you change all of one type of match to another type of
match, throughout an AdWords Campaign, as shown in Figure 9-13.
Rather a blunt tool for advertisers with carefully tailored keyword lists containing different matching options, this tool is good for running experiments
on campaigns built entirely on broad matching. If you are running all broad
matches, and if the campaign is struggling, changing all broad matches to
phrase matches might prove a worthy experiment. Note that the first dropdown menu (see Figure 9-12) invites you to take all broad-, phrase-, and exactmatched words and change them into one type of matching.
Figure 9-13:
You can
change the
option of all
keywords in
an entire
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Chapter 10
Managing Ongoing Campaigns
In This Chapter
Pausing and resuming campaigns and Ad Groups
Reactivating a slowed account
Reviving disabled keywords
Understanding geo-targeting
Setting up conversion tracking
his chapter is about the daily operation of AdWords campaigns. I emphasize five important topics in this chapter:
Pausing and resuming campaigns and Ad Groups
Understanding why accounts are slowed, and knowing how to reactivate
a slowed account
Coping with slowed and disabled keywords, situations that can be baffling to the uninitiated
Understanding and choosing geo-targeting
Implementing Google’s conversion tracking feature
Pausing and Resuming Portions
of Your Campaigns
One advantage of AdWords advertising is the control you have over stopping
and restarting portions of your marketing. Following are some reasons why
you might want to interrupt your advertising:
Budgetary. Your return on investment is suffering and your business is
leaking marketing dollars.
Assessment. You want data from different portions of your overall enterprise to settle without ongoing activity distorting your ROI calculations.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
This factor is especially pertinent to affiliate marketing, in which the
marketer must balance site statistics, AdWords statistics, and reporting
statistics at the affiliate agency.
More assessment. You need time to catch your breath in AdWords,
survey the account, and analyze your ROI.
Breakdown. Not your breakdown, I hope, but the breakdown of some
portion of your AdWords effort. You may stop and restart elements of
your campaign down to the Ad Group level. You may also delete keywords, but you can’t pause and resume keywords short of plucking them
out entirely and then building them back in.
The pause-and-resume system in AdWords allows you to stop activity without
losing settings. The system responds quickly, if not quite instantaneously.
However, it can take up to three hours for reporting statistics in the Control
Center to catch up with paused reality. When a campaign is running, of
course, statistics never catch up to reality — there’s always a lag of no more
than three hours.
Little instruction is required for pausing campaigns and Ad Groups. In the
case of campaigns, you can do the job from the top page of the Campaign
Management tab, like this:
1. Click the Campaign Management tab.
2. Use the check boxes to select one or more campaigns you want to
3. Click the Pause button.
You pause and resume Ad Groups in the same manner, but from the Ad Group
page. Specifically:
1. Click the Campaign Management tab.
2. In the Campaign Name column, click any campaign.
3. Use the check boxes to select one or more Ad Groups.
4. Click the Pause or Resume button.
Paused campaigns and Ad Groups continue to display their statistics (see
Figure 10-1) and to contribute those numbers to your account or campaign
totals. However, the display of those statistics is date-sensitive. So if you use
the date menus to specify a day in which some Ad Groups were paused for
the entire day, those Ad Groups show no data.
Chapter 10: Managing Ongoing Campaigns
Figure 10-1:
Paused Ad
them to the
bottom line.
Repairing Broken Campaigns
Sometimes things can go wrong. Specifically, Google puts its nose in your
account, inhibiting the distribution of your ads. This grim fact is frustrating
at first to nearly every advertiser, but it’s all in the cause of relevance, which
in the end is the key to everyone’s success.
Things can go wrong with your marketing effort that have nothing to do with
Google’s intrusions and corrections. You might not convert leads to sales on
your site. You might spend too much for clickthroughs, generating high clickthrough rates (CTRs) but dragging down your return on investment (ROI).
These issues seek a variety of solutions ranging from product pricing to site
design to advertising strategy. The purpose of this section is to show you how
to deal with the problems that arise and are solved in the AdWords Control
Center, namely, recovering from slowed and disabled account elements.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Reactivating a slowed account
Google puts the brakes on your campaigns for one basic reason: low CTR.
Google assesses your clickthrough rate on two extreme levels: keyword by
keyword and account-wide. For the most part, Google begins these measurements after 1000 impressions. Under certain circumstances (for example,
after a disabled keyword is reinstated), fewer impressions are counted. If
your account’s total CTR is below the threshold of 0.5 percent, which necessarily means some of your keywords are below that level, Google might
(probably will) slow the account. If the overall account CTR is acceptable,
Google slows individual keywords when they don’t perform up to spec.
When the account is slowed, the Control Center displays a notice. You may
reactivate the account whenever you like with a single click of the button in
the notice. Every third time you do so, Google charges your account five dollars. Nearly everyone accrues a few of those charges, but be careful about
reactivating the account without correcting the problem, which resides in
your Ad Group(s). Fixing troublesome keyword performance is a matter of
discarding the keyword, rewriting the ad with which the keyword is associated, changing the matching option of the keyword, or adjusting the bid
amount to encourage a higher clickthrough rate. These creative issues are
discussed in Chapters 8 and 9.
Recovering disabled keywords
Google never stops the activity of an advertiser’s entire account, though it
does slow the distribution of all ads when the account isn’t performing well.
At the keyword level, Google does stop ad distribution completely when an
ad is failing on its keywords’ search pages. Three factors must correspond to
motivate Google to disable a keyword:
The associated ad must accrue at least 1000 impressions, unless it’s a
formerly disabled keyword in use again.
The CTR must fall below 0.5 percent for ads in the top page position or
below slightly lower thresholds for lower positions.
The performance meltdown must happen on, regardless of
the ad’s performance on the extended distribution networks.
Google first issues the At risk warning in the Status column of the Ad Group
page, as described and illustrated in Chapter 9. Google might also slow the
ads associated with the failing keyword. Then, if you make no corrections,
Google lowers the boom and disables the keyword, meaning that ads associated with that keyword no longer appear on any pages in Google and
throughout the extended networks.
Chapter 10: Managing Ongoing Campaigns
When bad things happen to good keywords
Not uncommonly, Google slows or disables keywords that appear to be thriving. This phenomenon is a source of mystery to new advertisers,
who watch in horror as Google takes their best
keywords out of play. The advertiser’s best keywords are not necessarily Google’s best keywords. The reason for this contradictory
scenario is that Google computes the deciding
CTR on advertising performance on Google’s
search pages only. It does not factor in ad performance on its search or content partner sites.
If an advertiser chooses to distribute ads to the
search network and content network (in
Campaign settings), the Control Center’s statistics
for the campaign total all metrics generated
throughout the networks. Ironically, Google doesn’t break out the important numbers regarding
performance in Google. Instead, Google implements the “At risk” warning system — a surprisingly blunt tool in an otherwise laser-sharp
reporting environment.
Frustration can run high when good, productive,
profitable keywords are disabled. I’ve seen keywords with an overall CTR above 3.0 fall under
the knife because their hidden performance
numbers on Google were below the 0.5 threshold. The question naturally arises, Why do some
ads perform so well outside Google and so
poorly on Google search pages? Several reasons
contribute to this puzzle. Important sites in the
extended networks display ads differently from
Google, and those display differences can work
favorably for certain ads. Perhaps consumers
are more accustomed to the presence of advertising in Google than on other sites. Whatever the
reasons, expect to run into the situation.
The AdWords community has buzzed with complaint about this issue, wondering why advertisers are not offered a choice of getting off
Google’s pages entirely. If advertisers are
allowed to opt in and out of the Google Network,
why not the home site? After all, when robust
keywords are disabled because of Google-only
performance, everybody loses — the advertiser, the search network owners, the content
publishers, and Google.
Following are two facts to know when a keyword is disabled:
Keywords in good standing continue operating at full throttle, triggering
the appearance of your ads.
Keyword phrases that include a keyword that is failing elsewhere in the
account are slowed along with the failing keyword, even if those phrases
are performing well in their Ad Groups. So, if the keyword mp3 is disabled, the phrase portable mp3 player is disabled also, no matter where
it is used in your account.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
You may resuscitate a disabled keyword, but the process is not as easy as the
one click that reactivates a slowed account. Google really doesn’t want underperforming ads appearing on its pages, and it regards a low CTR as a mark of
poor relevance. Therefore, advertisers may not simply turn the keyword back
on in the same Ad Group. Here are your options:
Ignore the disabled keyword. Let it stay disabled and forget about it.
Delete the disabled keyword. Doing so gets rid of the problem but
doesn’t reactivate an account when it has been slowed by a slowed or
disabled keyword.
Change the matching option of the keyword, leaving it in the same Ad
Delete the keyword from its Ad Group and put it in another Ad
Group. This option, while allowed, brings an extraordinary level of
scrutiny to that keyword’s performance. Google no longer allows 1000
impressions to accrue to resuscitated keywords, and boots them into
disability at the first sign of low-CTR trouble. You may continue reviving
the keyword in this fashion, but the exercise is futile and frustrating and
doesn’t address the underlying problem, which is the poor relevance of
the keyword to the ad, and the ad to the searcher’s keyword.
Pros and Cons of Geo-Targeting
Geo-targeting is one of the newest and most valuable of the Campaign settings. I describe how to select target countries and U.S. regions in Chapter 7.
There’s really no mystery to it:
1. Click the Campaign Management tab.
2. Select any campaign by clicking its check box.
3. Click the Edit Settings button.
4. In the scrolling list, select one or more countries.
If you want to geo-target U.S. regions, select United States — regional targeting. Then select one or more regions from the new list that appears.
Geo-targeted ads appear on the search pages of people residing in the
selected countries or regions. Google is reasonably accurate in determining
the location of users.
Chapter 10: Managing Ongoing Campaigns
One quirk of this program that advertisers should be aware of concerns the
display of geo-targeted ads. As you can see in Figure 10-2, these geographically astute ads promote their own region with an extra line in the ad copy.
The problem is, that line isn’t always accurate, because of the way the country is divided in the system. For example, in Figure 10-2, the ad for a CD store
in New Jersey displays a Philadelphia, PA geo-target line. Confusion ensues. I
operated a brief AdWords campaign for a non-profit corporation, and their
geo-targeted fundraising ads were likewise mislabeled. The organization
feared the resulting confusion, pulled back into full U.S. distribution, and
watched the CTR plummet. We found other ways in AdWords to market their
program, but advertisers should watch how geo-targeted ads appear, and
make sure the regional locator doesn’t hurt more than help.
That wrinkle notwithstanding, geo-targeting is a fine way to make every ad
impression count, and many advertisers hone their geo-placements, building
up CTR by withholding their ads from locations where they would be ineffective. Again, it’s all about relevance, and geographical relevance is a strong
determinant of advertising success in service-oriented businesses.
Figure 10-2:
Geotargeted ads
display the
location, not
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Setting Up Conversion Tracking
Conversion Tracking is Google’s answer to third-party software packages that
trace traffic through a site. Specialized programs provide a more detailed picture than Google does of where traffic comes from, how it proceeds through
the site, and the manner in which it exits. Google’s tool is geared to tracking
how many clickthrough visitors get through a simple conversion process at
the landing site.
In most situations, a customer who clicks through an AdWords ad is asked to
perform some sort of behavior on the landing page. If the advertising site
merely wants traffic, no conversion is necessarily called for. But most landing
pages are geared towards collecting a registration or sign-up or selling a
product. Affiliate marketers aim clickthroughs at other companies’ sites, so
conversion tracking doesn’t work for affiliate marketers.
Implementing conversion tracking in your account is simple, but it does
require a knowledge of HTML code, at least to the extent of being able to cut
and paste preset code into a Web page’s source document. After you alter the
document, you must upload it to the site’s server. Google provides the code.
Without getting technical, here’s a description of conversion tracking in
1. The advertiser pastes Google’s code (which is javascript) into the page
to be tracked. In most cases, this page is not the initial landing page, but
the page a customer lands on after performing a conversion. So, the
code might be placed in a “Thank You” page after a newsletter sign-up,
for example.
2. Google tracks consumers as they click through ads and land on the
advertiser’s site.
3. If the customer performs the conversion action and lands on the postconversion page, Google’s javascript tabulates the activity.
4. Google reports conversion tracking statistics in the Control Center.
Google offers two versions of conversion tracking: basic and customized. The
customization mostly consists of the ability to put in a price value on a product sold at the target site, so Google can perform ROI statistics on the Control
Center pages.
Most advertisers who are unaccustomed to conversion tracking start with
the basic version, which does a fine job of tracking how many clickthroughs
Chapter 10: Managing Ongoing Campaigns
end up on the post-conversion page. This basic statistic is crucial in calculating the advertiser’s ROI and the effectiveness of AdWords marketing.
To set up your account for basic conversion tracking, follow these steps:
1. Click the Campaign Management tab.
2. Click Conversion Tracking.
3. Under Basic Conversion Tracking, click the Learn more link.
4. Click the Start tracking button.
Select a language and your site’s security level. If you operate a secure
commerce site, your security level on the post-conversion page is most
likely https://. If not, your page’s prefix is the regular http://.
5. Copy the javascript code shown in Figure 10-3.
6. Paste the code into your post-conversion page.
Figure 10-3:
Copy and
code into
your postconversion
page, such
as a “Thank
You” page.
Part II: Creating and Managing an AdWords Campaign
Part III
Creating Site
Revenue with
In this part . . .
p to now, the book has been devoted to optimizing
your site, attracting visitors, and converting them
to customers. The value of the optimization and advertising process kicks in for Webmasters and companies that
carry products or editorial content of value. The purpose
of visiting those sites is to buy something or sign up for
The Google AdSense service, the subject of Part III, is a
program for creating revenue from the site itself, not from
products promoted by the site. AdSense is a groundbreaking ad-syndicating program available to nearly anyone with
a decent site. A fast-growing segment of Google’s business
services, AdSense is gaining much publicity and grassroots
As with Google’s other services on the consumer and business sides, the democratic nature of AdSense appeals to all
types of participants. Small sites with no previous experience running ads can join the game with astonishing ease.
Major media empires also use AdSense for its simplicity,
contextual relevance, great reporting tools, streamlined
ad displays, and outstanding ROI.
This section covers the AdSense program from soup to
nuts. Chapter 11 sketches an overview of advertising
publishing, ad syndication, and the linchpins of Google’s
program. Chapter 12 gets you started with an AdSense
account, enabling you to run ads. You also discover how
to customize the appearance of ads. Chapter 13 covers
advanced topics and style considerations.
Chapter 11
Introducing the Google
AdSense Program
In This Chapter
Evaluating the AdSense program
Meeting AdSense eligibility requirements
Keeping content-sensitive ads relevant to your page
Understanding Google’s revenue-sharing plan
dSense is Google’s “other half” of the advertising business. After
making search advertising famous with AdWords, by enabling anyone
to be a global online advertiser, Google introduced a program that enables
anyone to get into the other side of the advertising business by publishing
ads. I say “anyone” reservedly, because Google limits AdSense in certain
ways, whereas AdWords is open to anyone with five dollars and a landing
page. (See Chapter 6.)
This chapter surveys the AdSense program in an introductory fashion, from
the theory of ad syndication to the particular way Google lets Webmasters
publish ads. Chapters 12 and 13 provide more detailed tutorials in applying
for the program and publishing ads on your site. The glossary, at the end of
the book, includes every important AdSense term you need to know.
The Business of Serving Ads
If you follow tech stocks, and especially if you followed them during the
1990s, you know about the importance of ad revenue to online media sites.
Since its inception as a public company, Yahoo!’s quarterly earnings have
been largely about the company’s advertising revenue. Heck, you don’t need
to follow Wall Street to understand the connection between on-screen ads
and Internet revenue — just go to nearly any newspaper site and watch the
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Serving ads is big business across all media. In fact, the magazine industry
isn’t really an editorial industry at all; it’s an advertising industry. We readers
think of pages of content interspersed with ads, which get in the way of articles and stories. But publishers view it quite differently. To the publisher, ads
are the content. Articles and stories are merely the vehicle which drives
advertising content into the hands of readers. TV? An ad industry. Programs
are excuses for ads. Television is a medium for delivering scheduled advertisements into the home, and that’s the only purpose of its Emmy-Awardwinning dramas and comedies. (An exception is a few cable channels that
earn revenue through subscription fees to cable companies.)
The Internet is more complicated because an online business can actually
transact a product sale, earn a service commission, or take a content subscription directly from a Web page. Nevertheless, advertising started out as
the main business model of the commercial Internet, and it remains one of
the three fundamental revenue plans in the Internet space. Old-media though
it be, advertising drives business online.
Chapter 6 describes how search advertising drives a new-media twist into the
heart of old-school blanket advertising used in television and magazines.
Instead of built-in irrelevancy, search advertising builds in targeted relevancy.
Instead of pushing ads to passive, often sullen recipients, keyword advertising matches business with consumers who are actively looking for something, pulling keyword-related content to their screens. And whereas blanket
advertising forces clients to pay for large amounts of irrelevant impressions,
search advertising charges only for clickthroughs to the advertiser.
The advantages are good for everyone — the advertiser, the consumer, and
the search engine serving the ads. The enhanced control and streamlined
costs of keyword-based advertising have rocked the business world and are
poised to change the face of ad-based commerce on the Internet. Google is
really onto something. And with AdSense, you can ride on Google’s coattails.
AdSense enables Webmasters to share Google’s clickthrough revenue derived
from the AdWords program. The little effort that’s required is covered in
the three chapters of this part. AdSense is like a big, unexpected gift to
Webmasters who, until now, have lacked a nearly effortless way to cut their
sliver of the global media pie.
The AdSense Overview
Google AdSense is an extension of Google AdWords. Specifically, the AdSense
program allows non-Google Web sites to display Google advertising (AdWords
ads), and then share the revenue Google charges advertisers when site visitors click through the displayed ads. Clear as mud? Well, look at it this way:
Google ads appear not just on Google but on thousands of sites all over the
Web. These sites serve as syndicators of Google ads. (See Figure 11-1.)
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program
Figure 11-1:
in action.
This holiday
gift site
for other,
not directly
gift sites.
So, what does this seemingly slapdash distribution of Google ads do to the
vaunted relevancy of AdWords and search advertising? On Google, AdWords
ads are associated with keywords and are displayed when somebody searches
on those keywords. When the advertiser does a good job choosing keywords
related to the advertised site or product, relevancy is automatic and chances
are good that the ad is of interest to the Google user. What kind of relevancy
ensues when AdWords ads are displayed on a non-Google site — a site that is,
in most cases, not even a search engine?
Google builds relevancy between ads and their host sites by analyzing the
sites and determining keywords appropriate to them. This task might seem
presumptuous, but remember how much experience and success Google has
in crawling, absorbing, understanding, and indexing Web pages. After all,
Google is in the keyword-matching business and is arguably better at making
those matches than any other company in the world. So if you trust Google to
find Web pages matched to keywords, there’s no problem trusting Google to
display relevant ads on AdSense sites. It’s all about keywords.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
The optimization piece of the AdSense puzzle
Relevance is the name of the game at Google,
no matter how you approach it. On the front end,
searchers seek sites relevant to their keywords.
On the back end, advertisers seek relevant
matches between their ads and consumers
using the search engine. When it comes to
AdSense, relevance is likewise crucial to the
content publisher. The Webmaster needs ad
displays relevant to site content. If the ads are
irrelevant, visitors ignore them at best and are
annoyed with them at worst.
Google does its part by applying its relevancy
algorithm to the content site, deducing what it’s
about and serving up targeted ads. My experience is that Google does a fine job . . . when the
site is well optimized. Here, I’m harking back to
Chapter 4, and pulling the Google business
process full circle. The major elements of building your business with Google — optimizing
the site, building PageRank, advertising in
AdWords, and syndicating with AdSense — are
tied together by keywords. In this case, publishers in the AdSense program get the relevancy that they — or, more accurately, their
sites — deserve. Finely optimized pages, with
clear keyword associations built into their tags,
headers, and editorial content, get the most
finely relevant AdWords ads. Relevancy brings
higher clickthrough rates and more revenue.
Evaluating Your Site’s Eligibility
for AdSense
The AdWords program is available to anyone willing to pay for qualified clickthroughs. Google prevents the display of ads that are not sufficiently relevant
to gain a minimum clickthrough rate, sparing consumers irrelevancy on their
search results pages. Above all, Google protects the consumer search experience on the Google site. Next on the food chain is the AdWords advertiser,
whom Google strives to protect from poor-quality exposure. For that reason,
Google limits AdSense host sites in certain ways.
To keep the value chain sparkling throughout the AdSense network, Google
establishes the following basic guidelines and terms-of-service rules:
Vanity sites aren’t allowed. This limitation is perhaps confusing because
some sites start out as personal expressions but add informational, editorial, and service value over time. Google is the only arbiter of these situations. A 15-year-old who puts up a Web page showing pictures of her
dog probably wouldn’t be allowed to run AdSense ads. An amateur historian who describes Civil War reenactments and collects articles probably would be allowed to run AdSense ads. AdSense sites don’t have to be
commercial, but they must contain content of some substance. Google
leans toward professional sites, whether they’re operated by individuals
or companies.
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program
Content sites are scrutinized for appropriateness. Like many terms-ofservice rules applying to hosted content, Google’s guidelines prohibit
running AdSense ads on sites that promote illegal behavior, pornography, or gambling. In a similar vein, excessive profanity can get an
AdSense site excluded from the program, as can content promoting hate
or violence. Copyright infringement of any sort (music, books, video) is
also out of the question.
The site must be functional. This is basic optimization. Make sure your
links work and that the site is available to visitors without undue delay
or difficulty. Remember, Google crawls the entire site and can easily discover dysfunctional navigation.
You may not reference the displayed ads in your content. Just let the
ads appear. Don’t talk about them, and — most importantly — don’t
advise your visitors to click them. Don’t click the ads yourself. (See a special warning about this point in the last paragraph in this section.) Don’t
offer incentives for clicking the ads or plead with visitors to support your
site by clicking any advertising on any page running AdSense ads. You
should probably avoid mentioning any of your advertising throughout
the site. Google is serious about protecting the clickthrough quality on
behalf of its advertisers. Clickthroughs are supposed to represent qualified leads to the advertiser. If you dilute the quality of your site’s clickthroughs, Google will cut you off like a stern bartender at closing time.
Use only supported languages. Google currently supports sites whose
main language is English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese,
Japanese, or Spanish. AdWords advertisers have access to greater language support, including Danish, Finnish, and Chinese. But the issue is
not just displaying ads in the language of your site but also crawling and
identifying your site effectively.
Competing ads are not allowed. Before you advertising veterans get
alarmed, Google means “competing” in a strict sense. You can’t run other
ads derived from search engines, or text ads that look substantially similar to AdWords ads. You’re certainly permitted to run banner ads (see
Figure 11-2) and, in most cases, simple sponsored links. Affiliate links are
definitely allowed.
To be accepted into the AdSense program, Google must check out your site’s
suitability. Interested parties simply apply online (a short contact form, which
includes your URL for their review). Once accepted, participating sites begin
by simply placing AdSense HTML code on their Web pages. (I describe this in
more detail in the Chapter 12.) AdSense ads start appearing almost immediately. When that happens, Google is alerted to the presence of a new AdSense
site in the network and reviews the site for eligibility. Sites that fail to qualify
are discontinued soon after they begin hosting ads.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Figure 11-2:
This site is
running a
banner ad
and Google
(through the
program) in
the right
The exact order of events is as follows:
1. Apply for and open an AdSense account.
As with other Google accounts, starting an account is free. The AdSense
program has no activation fee nor do you have to provide payment information. However, you do need to provide a Social Security number or
tax ID number as well as an address so that Google can pay you. The
necessary tax-form submission is accomplished online — no need to
print and mail any forms.
2. Select an ad style for the AdWords ads that will appear on your pages.
Google provides interactive pages so that you can choose a display
configuration and the colors of the ad text and borders, as shown in
Figure 11-3.
3. Clip the code.
As you select display properties, Google creates HTML for pasting into
your page(s), as shown in Figure 11-4. The code uses javascript to call
the ads and pull them from Google to your site.
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program
Figure 11-3:
Select color
palettes and
ad layout
styles for
Figure 11-4:
HTML code
tailored to
your ad
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
4. Incorporate the code.
Here, you put Google’s code into your page documents. You decide
which pages will run AdWords displays, and where on the page the ads
will appear. You need to have a working knowledge of HTML, or use a
page-building program that understands javascript and lets you drag it
around the page.
5. Upload your new pages and wait.
Your new pages, embedded with Google’s code addition, must be
uploaded to your server, of course. In most cases, Google ads start
appearing instantly when the pages are visited. If you visit your own site
immediately after uploading, you’ll probably see ads.
6. Google crawls your site.
Soon after your AdSense-enhanced site is first visited, Google crawls your
pages. Google is extremely responsive to new AdSense sites and performs
a relevancy crawl within minutes, in many cases. Whether or not your site
is in Google’s main Web index, it is still crawled for AdSense. In the (usually brief) time between uploading your AdSense-enhanced pages and
Google’s AdSense crawl, the ads served to your site might not seem relevant. Google fills the ad space with broadly targeted public service ads,
in most cases. Keep watching your pages — click your browser’s Reload
button or sequentially visit your pages. In most cases, within minutes you
see a change from broad, untargeted ads to highly relevant, sharply targeted ads. The better your site is optimized, the more relevant its ads
will be.
Note: Chapter 12 probes the details of each of these steps. Google’s AdSense
pages also walk you through the steps in simple fashion. If you’re certain
your site is eligible, and you want to dive in without reading Chapter 12, feel
free. Experienced Webmasters can’t damage their sites with AdSense. You
can always bail out, temporarily or permanently, by simply removing the
AdSense code from one or more pages. (Each AdSense page operates independently.) And you can always make changes when you want to alter the
display properties of the ads.
AdSense is not a path into Google’s main Web index. In reading this chapter
and in understanding that Google crawls every AdSense site, you might think
that clipping AdSense code and planting it on your pages is the quickest way
to get your site crawled. This tactic is neither a quick nor a slow way of getting into the Web index and starting a PageRank. Google’s AdSense index is
separate from the Web index. Being in one does not put you in the other and
doesn’t hasten the other to crawl your site.
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program
Bringing a page up to spec for AdSense
The AdSense program can motivate you to make
a personal site more professional and to make a
bit of money from operating that site. Both design
and content considerations apply, as described
in Chapter 4. The key is to offer some kind of user
experience that isn’t just about you. Not that you
aren’t a fascinating person. But think about your
target audience. If your site is aimed at friends
and family, it’s probably inappropriate as an
AdSense host. Furthermore, if your audience is
very small and your traffic is low, the AdSense
program won’t make you much money anyway.
Broaden your audience and increase your traffic by deepening your content and optimizing
your site. If you describe a hobby at your site,
add articles and links and optimize your tags.
Build your pages around keywords and aim for
a higher placement on Google’s search results
pages for those keywords. Building your site’s
PageRank leads to greater AdWords success.
Being accepted in the first place is mostly a
matter of the site’s attitude. Imagine a larger
audience seeking serious information, even
before you actually have that audience.
Google’s paramount interests are that users
have a good experience by seeing the most relevant ads and that advertisers, in turn, get good
exposure to interested users.
Weblogs (blogs) may be considered for the
AdSense program, but they’re not guaranteed
entry simply because they’re content sites.
Developing a smart, interesting blog on a
focused topic (not just random personal observations) can yield AdSense revenue. As with
other sites, Google will determine your blog’s
viability for the program.
If you’d like to be in the AdSense program but
are in doubt about whether your pages are eligible, there’s one answer: Try.
Perhaps the quickest way to be booted out of the AdSense program is to click
your own ads. I strongly warn you against this practice because it is so tempting. What could be easier than earning a little money by clicking the mouse?
Don’t do it. Don’t tell your friends to do it. Google is very good at identifying
unusual click patterns and locating their source. Google knows the IP address
of every computer that touches the Google system, so your fraudulent clicks
would be identified instantly. Ganging your friends into your site to click ads
would likewise be uncovered quickly. Google usually issues warnings about
content indiscretions, but clicking your own ads is considered a heinous abuse
of the system, unworthy of lenience or second chances. Out you would go.
Content-Sensitive Ads . . . or Not
Success in the AdSense program depends on relevancy. That basic fact is true
for Webmasters of AdSense sites, for AdWords advertisers who allow their
ads to be distributed in the AdSense network, and for Google itself. Two factors can inhibit the relevancy of ads on your site:
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Weak optimization
Quickly changing content
You have control over the first problem. Optimize your pages according to
the principles and techniques described in Chapter 4. Mainly, that means
constructing pages around core keywords, and embedding those words in
your text content, headers, and HTML tags in proper proportions.
The second problem arises on pages that change focus frequently. A topically
restless site normally implies poor optimization, but in many cases actually
reflects quick growth (new pages) or dynamic changes that are part of the
site’s purpose (such as a news site). Whatever the case might be, quick content changes can leave your AdSense ads somewhat behind.
Google is aware of this situation and recrawls all participating AdSense sites
with some degree of frequency. “Some degree of frequency” . . . why am I so
vague? Because Google is a secretive company, and this issue is yet another
point at which Google shuts its trap. I have gone to the ropes with Google on
this point, and here is what I can tell you for certain:
The AdSense crawling schedule is automated.
The crawling schedule varies from site to site.
Participants in the premium AdSense program (see Chapter 15) are
crawled more frequently and reliably.
If your content shows a history of daily change, chances are good (but
not guaranteed) that your site will be crawled every day.
Remember that the AdSense index is distinct from Google’s main Web
index, and the crawl schedule of one index has nothing to do with the
The upshot: If you change the focus of your content infrequently, Google
might take a while to catch up and deliver relevant ads again. If you regularly
change editorial focus, Google probably keeps up with your site pretty well,
serving ads nimbly.
Running AdSense on Existing
and New Sites
Most AdSense publishers incorporate the program into existing Web sites to
generate extra revenue. As long as the site qualifies according to Google’s
standards of professionalism, implementing AdSense takes no more than a
few minutes.
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program
AdSense is such a good deal that a question naturally arises: How about creating sites specifically as additions to the AdSense network? In other words,
does Google allow Web pages that were created exclusively to display
AdSense ads? The answer is twofold:
Officially, no
Practically, yes
I’m not advising any attempts to fool Google. The best answer to this question is complex. Google forbids pages whose only or main purpose is to display AdSense ads. Those lame business attempts are cut out of the system
with alacrity. However, the motivation for creating a Web site isn’t really the
point. Google doesn’t interview Webmasters and doesn’t try to discern why
a page was created. Google cares about results, and the results it most cares
about are relevancy, user experience, and value for its advertisers. When
examining sites for eligibility in the AdSense program (and such examinations
are human processes, not automated ones), Google looks for solid content
enhanced by ads — not ads enhanced by scraps of content.
Whether you start a site with the intent of monetizing it with AdSense, or start
it with other business plans and incorporate AdSense as a supplement to your
main strategy, you should construct the resulting Web site according to the
same principles. Optimization, PageRank, relevancy, and usability are the
foundation stones of Google-related success no matter which part of Google
you angle into first. Build a site dedicated to AdSense revenue if you like, but
it won’t work to slap up a few bare-bones pages and throw AdSense ads onto
them. You’ll probably be kicked out, and even if you aren’t, you won’t make
any money. Build your content, build your PageRank, start drawing traffic, and
then start your AdSense account and you’ll be fine.
Show Me the Money
I vowed to never use a movie tagline as a section header. How depressing.
Okay, I’m over it.
When contemplating AdSense revenue, two questions naturally come to
How much can a Webmaster make?
What percentage of clickthrough revenue does Google pass on to
AdSense Webmasters?
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
The answer to the first question is all over the map. Revenue levels depend
on site traffic, ad relevancy, clickthrough rates, and the value of the keywords
associated with the ads displayed on your site. Read the AdWords chapters
for a detailed tutorial — for now, just know that AdWords advertisers bid for
placement on Google pages by offering to pay certain maximum amounts on
each keyword they assign to their ads. Some keywords are far more valuable
than others.
Because AdSense buttons and banners (which I explain in Chapter 12) display
one, two, four, or five ads, whereas a Google page displays up to ten ads, you’re
hosting ads from the top bidders of the keywords associated with your site and
its ads. You’re sharing revenue from the biggest players and highest rollers.
Still, some ads yield spectacular clickthrough revenue (dollars per click) and
others yield miniscule clickthrough charges (pennies per click).
The second question is unknown. Google doesn’t publicize the revenue split.
Nobody outside the company knows what percentage of a clickthrough goes
to the AdSense Webmaster. Google operates what is probably the only affiliate program in the industry that refuses to divulge the terms of payment. The
frequency is not a secret: Google pays monthly. But the split is shrouded in
Don’t think there isn’t a great deal of grumbling throughout the AdSense community about this peculiar state of affairs. A tribute to Google’s clout, the company’s secrecy hasn’t stopped thousands of Webmasters from signing up. My
experience and the consensus of the community lead to the conclusion that
Google is sharing generously at this point. At any rate, right now AdSense provides worthwhile money to well-trafficked and finely optimized sites.
Working Both Sides of the Fence:
AdSense and AdWords
Here’s another question that ambitious Webmasters and publishers are asking:
Can we run AdSense and AdWords accounts at the same time? Can we run an
AdWords ad to drive traffic to an AdSense site? Or, to phrase this in yet another
fashion, can an AdSense page be the landing page of an AdWords site?
No matter how the question is phrased, the answer is yes. Google allows you
to work AdWords and AdSense in sync. Whether such a tactic is advisable is
another question. On the surface, paying for clickthroughs (in AdWords) to
get clickthroughs (in AdSense) seems futile. But consider the following two
Pay less for your AdWords ads than you receive for AdSense clickthroughs. Your AdSense ads represent the highest-bidding advertisers
for certain keywords because lower-bidding advertisers tend not to
Chapter 11: Introducing the Google AdSense Program
appear on content sites. If you run AdWords ads for those same keywords, and bid low for them using the Traffic Estimator in AdWords,
chances are good that your ad will be positioned lower on the page, and
run more cheaply, than others. This gambit requires some experimenting, and the last thing you want is for your own AdWords ad to appear
on your site as an AdSense ad — leading dizzily right back to your site.
Bid on less valuable keywords leading to the same page. Suppose that
you’ve optimized your page for the keywords coins and coin trading. You
then build an AdWords campaign around more specific and less costly
keyword phrases, such as ancient roman coins. Your ads might not generate overwhelming traffic, but the traffic won’t be expensive, either. With
your Web page optimally running AdSense ads keyed to more expensive
key concepts (coins and coin trading), your traffic could result in net gain.
In both these scenarios, remember that not every person who clicks through
your AdWords ad to your site will click your AdSense ads. Your AdSense
clickthrough rate might be less than 5 percent. So the differential between
what you’re paying for AdWords and what you’re receiving for AdSense must
be greater than 1-to-20. For example, if you pay only $0.05 per AdWords clickthrough, you must average $1.00 per AdSense clickthrough to break even.
That’s a tough nut to crack.
Playing AdWords against AdSense is a risky strategy. Because the AdWords
program gives you the flexibility to try out strategies, you might want to
experiment with concurrent AdWords and AdSense usage. But generally, the
purpose of AdWords is to drive traffic that returns the investment in clearer
and more predictable ways. If you want to add AdSense to the revenue mix,
nothing is stopping you. Just remember that an AdSense click takes visitors
away from your site, a result that is at cross-purposes with most conversion
strategies. The best bet might be to place AdSense ads on your post-conversion page, where you thank visitors for accepting a newsletter, buying a product, or registering at the site — whatever the target conversion of your
AdWords campaign is.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Chapter 12
Starting an AdSense Account
and Publishing Ads
In This Chapter
Starting an AdSense account
Creating the code that pulls your ads from Google
Choosing ad layouts and making color palettes
Viewing AdSense reports
Creating AdSense channels
Adding pages and sites in AdSense
Removing AdSense ads
dSense is a beautiful thing, especially for clearly focused sites that
enjoy a reasonable amount of traffic. Once started, AdSense provides
easy revenue — sometimes the primary revenue — for information sites. And
getting started is simple if you have a basic familiarity with HTML, updating
Web pages, and uploading changes to the site server. AdSense is a bit more
technical than AdWords, but once launched on your pages, it steams along
on its own for the most part, generating passive income. (You are passive
while the income, which can be remarkably active, rolls in.)
This chapter extends the overview of Chapter 11 into a tutorial in opening an
AdSense account, creating the necessary HTML code, customizing the ads
you publish, and viewing your account’s performance reports. Chapter 13 is
more advanced, delving into finer customization, page-design issues, performance strategies, ad filtering, and optimization.
Joining AdSense
The first step in becoming an AdSense publisher is applying for and starting
an AdSense account. As with AdWords, opening the account doesn’t obligate
you in any way and doesn’t cost a dime. Nothing about AdSense ever costs
you anything.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
The AdSense account never requires your credit card information but you
must at some point supply tax information so that Google can pay you. That
information consists essentially of your tax ID number or Social Security
number. (The latter is the appropriate identifier for sole proprietors and
small-business operators with no employees.) You use the W-9 form to
convey this information to Google. You may fill out and submit that form
online or mail a paper version of the form through an anachronistic institution known as the “post office.”
AdSense offers three significant features:
Performance reports. Use your account to check the number of
AdSense ad displays at your pages, the number of clickthroughs, the
clickthrough rate (CTR), and your earnings. This information can be
delineated by date range.
Payment reports. Use this section to check your history of payments
received. Google pays monthly, whenever $100 or more is due.
HTML code for ad layouts. This section provides HTML code for all
available ad layouts and color palettes.
If Google doesn’t know you through the AdWords program, you must apply
for an AdSense account. The application process takes only a few minutes,
but the acceptance process and opening the account can take up to three
days. If you’re an AdWords advertiser and use the same password for the
AdWords and AdSense accounts, your AdSense account starts immediately.
To get going, follow these steps:
1. Go to the AdSense home page here:
2. Click the Click Here to Apply button.
3. Fill in the Email address and Password fields, and then click the
Continue button.
If you have an AdWords account, you may use its e-mail address and password for your AdSense account. If you don’t have an AdWords account,
you must enter your e-mail address and create a password, though it can
be the same password you use for any other Google account, such as a
Google Answers account. For this series of steps, I assume that you don’t
have an AdWords account.
4. Fill in all the information required on this page and click the Submit
Included here is an opt-out check box for periodic newsletters from
Google. Don’t worry about spam; Google is the least spammy company I
know. Frankly, I wish it would send more e-mail.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
5. Open the e-mail verification from Google and click the supplied link.
This standard e-mail verification procedure lets Google know that you’re
for real.
6. Wait for Google’s acceptance e-mail.
After you receive that, you can log in to AdSense with the password you
chose in Step 3.
If you open your AdSense account as an AdWords user, with the same e-mail
and password combination, Google skips the formal application procedure
through e-mail just described. Instead, Google assumes you’re legit and takes
you directly to your new AdSense account. Along the way, Google lets you fill
out the necessary tax information. Starting your account this way, as an
AdWords user, gets you off to a quicker start. If you have an AdWords account,
I can think of no reason to open an AdSense account as a new user instead.
Even if you own more than one site, and intend to publish AdSense ads on all
your domains, open just one account. If you start a new account for each site,
and if Google connects the dots between them, your accounts might all be
closed. Some AdSense users do have multiple accounts that they procured by
writing Google for special permission. If you want to try acquiring your own
permission after opening one account, use the Contact Us link on your account
pages. The purpose of running multiple accounts is to separate the reporting of
different sites, because AdSense currently lumps everything into one set of
reports. The account doesn’t distinguish Web sites owned by the account
holder, even though the account holder is perfectly free to create and paste
AdSense code into any site he or she owns. Help is on the way. Google recognizes the demand for site-specific accounting and is working to provide it.
Creating Your AdSense Code
AdSense is a simple, automated program. You need only place a snippet of
code into your page’s HTML, and then let the ads appear. When your page is
visited and loads into the visitor’s browser, the code reaches into Google and
pulls the appropriate ads onto your page. As with other ad servers, your
page content comes from two locations: The editorial content originates from
your server, and the ads come from Google’s server. This mechanism is invisible to the visitor, and Google ads load extremely fast, thanks to the absence
of graphics.
After joining AdSense, Google provides you with a bit of HTML code. You
choose which pages you want ads to run on, and paste the code on those
pages. For this task you don’t need to know much about HTML, but it helps
to know a little more when you want to manually alter the code (in Googleapproved ways).
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
As I walk you through the creation of AdSense code and describe how to
paste that code into your page, you might get the impression that you may
use only one code sample. Far from it! You may use variously altered versions
of the basic code throughout your site — a different layout and different
colors on each page, if you like.
Choosing an ad layout and color palette
You start creating your ads in the Settings portion of the AdSense account,
as shown in Figure 12-1. Two sections of the Settings tab help create ads that
conform to your site’s design scheme: the Ad Layout Code section and the
Ad Colors section. Actually, both sections deal with ad colors. The Ad Layout
Code section offers preset color palettes; the Ad Colors section lets you modify
those presets and save them. Here, I look at the Ad Layout Code section, but
you can head straight for the Ad Colors page if you want to play with more
advanced color controls.
To get to the Ad Layout Code page, simply log on to your AdSense account
and click the Settings tab. The screen shown in Figure 12-1 appears. Scroll
down to see the page’s interactive controls, shown in Figure 12-2.
Figure 12-1:
Select an
ad configuration and
choose a
preset color
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
Figure 12-2:
color and
Then follow these steps:
1. In the Select Palettes list, choose a color palette.
Use the scroll bar to see the full selection of palettes. Click once on a
selection to see an ad example on the right. Compare up to four palettes,
as shown in Figure 12-2, by making multiple selections. To make contiguous selections, hold down the Shift key and click any two selections. To
make noncontiguous selections from the list, click while pressing the
Ctrl key.
2. Choose an ad layout by clicking a radio button next to a banner,
button, tower, or inline rectangle.
Click the View examples link to see what these ad layouts look like. (See
Figure 12-3.) Chapter 13 discusses style and effectiveness considerations
when choosing an ad layout.
3. Scroll down to the Copy-and-Paste box, and select the code.
With the mouse cursor inside the box, press Ctrl+A to select the entire
code snippet. It’s important to clip the whole thing; if you drag with the
mouse, you can accidentally leave out a top or bottom line.
4. Press Ctrl+C to copy the code.
5. Paste the code into your Web page document.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Figure 12-3:
examples of
all ad
You may place the AdSense ad unit wherever you want on the page. Those
accustomed to working with raw HTML should have no problem positioning
the ad unit. Most WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) page-building programs recognize Google’s code as javascript. Therefore, these programs represent the Google code on the graphical layout page like any other javascript
element, allowing you to move it around the page until it’s displayed correctly. Depending on the program, you might need to upload the page and
view it in a browser to see how the ads appear in a live display. Some programs make live calls to specified servers in their WYSIWYG display mode,
allowing you to display AdSense ads while rearranging their placement,
before uploading the page to the server.
When pasting code in my HTML documents, I find it useful to separate the
code, making future color alterations easier. (Chapter 13 discusses such onthe-fly alterations.) Such a separation doesn’t affect the page’s performance.
Figure 12-4 shows a page’s source document with Google’s code set apart
from the surrounding code.
AdSense ad units are not HTML tables, though they resemble tables. But as
far as placement on the page is concerned, you can embed ad units into
HTML table cells as if they were child tables. Simply place the AdSense code
in the appropriate <tr> or <td> tags. Figure 12-5 illustrates a site that plainly
embeds the ad unit in a table cell.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
Figure 12-4:
Make your
code easy
to locate by
separating it
from the
Figure 12-5:
an ad unit in
table cell.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Making a custom color palette
Google appreciates that the limited set of preset color palettes (described in
the preceding section) might not float your boat. Each ad unit consists of five
elements whose colors can be changed:
Border. The thin bar at the bottom of each ad, which continues around
the entire ad unit.
Background. The shaded area behind the ad’s text.
Title. The first line of text; the ad’s headline.
Text. The one or two lines of ad copy in the middle of each ad.
URL. The visible URL below the ad text, which might and might not be
the destination URL.
The Ad Colors page makes it easy to assign a distinct color value to each of
these five elements, thereby creating your own preset color palette. You can
name and save your custom palettes, after which they appear on both the Ad
Colors page (in a drop-down list of Custom and Built-in palettes) and the Ad
Layout Code page (in the scrolling list of palettes).
The interactive palette tool on the Ad Colors page doesn’t offer all possible
colors, by a long stretch. Specifically, the page provides 222 colors. See
Chapter 13 for ways to expand this palette.
For now, follow these steps to use Google’s colors in making custom palettes
for your ad units:
1. Go to the Ad Colors page of the Settings tab, shown in Figure 12-6.
2. Use the drop-down menu to select a starting color palette.
3. Click the radio button next to any of the five ad unit elements.
4. Click any color in the color chart.
Note that the example ad changes interactively.
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for each ad unit element.
6. In the Palette name box, type a name for your new palette.
7. Click the Save button.
Your palette’s name appears in the Custom Palettes box and in the dropdown list higher on the page. It appears also in the Select Palettes list on
the Ad Layout Code page.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
Figure 12-6:
Use this
page to
create new
palettes for
your ad
To get rid of a saved custom palette, click the Delete button below the
Custom Palettes box. The deleted palette disappears from that box, from the
Choose a Palette drop-down menu higher on the page, and from the Select
Palettes list on the Ad Layout Code page.
Inserting your custom palettes into your AdSense code is simple. Here’s how:
1. After saving one or more custom palettes, go to the Ad Layout Code
page on the Settings tab.
2. In the Select Palettes box, choose one of your custom palettes.
3. Using a radio button, select an ad layout.
4. Scroll down to the Copy-and-Paste window, and select the entire code
5. Copy the code sample and paste it into your HTML page.
Note: The Alternate Ads box and the URL Filter page make their appearance
in Chapter 13. There, I explain how to (in the first case) substitute non-Google
ads for AdSense ads, and (in the second case) block certain AdWords ads
from appearing in your ad units.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Viewing AdSense Reports
The Reports tab of the AdSense account is where you track earnings and
related statistics. Google summarizes information daily but compiles it continuously throughout the day. Statistics are reported quickly but not in real
time. As in AdWords, it can take a few hours for clickthroughs to appear in
your report.
The AdSense account provides two ways of viewing your clickthrough data:
Aggregate data. Clickthrough information is lumped together from all
your pages and sites and presented as an integrated set.
Channel data. Clickthrough information is separated by pages, sites,
and even specific ad units, as determined by you.
Before Google introduced AdSense channels in March, 2004, AdSense publishers couldn’t see where their clickthroughs were coming from. If you were a
publisher operating two sites, both filled with ad units and making good revenue overall, you wouldn’t know whether most clickthroughs came from one
site and the effort of putting AdSense code in the other site was largely wasted.
With channels, you can determine which sites, pages, types of ad unit, or specific ad units are earning for you.
Viewing aggregate data
The AdSense account defaults to the aggregate view. Even if you leave the
account in channel view, it reverts to aggregate view when you next log in.
Figure 12-7 shows the report screen. Google’s terms of service for AdSense
prohibit disclosing report statistics, so Figure 12-7 extends down just to the
top of the reporting columns, and not to the numbers in those columns.
Google furnishes five columns of information:
Date. Reporting data is summarized daily.
Page impressions. The total number of times your ad units have been
displayed to visitors of your site. Each displayed ad unit on any page
counts as a single impression, so do not divide page impressions by the
number of ads in your ad units. (Trying to count impressions of individual ads would not be feasible because you might be using multiple ad layouts, each of which contains a different number of ads.) Google doesn’t
separate impressions by site, so the Page impressions column reports
total displays across all your sites and all their pages.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
Figure 12-7:
clicks, and
Clicks. The daily number of clickthroughs across all your Web sites and
pages running AdSense ads.
Clickthrough rate. Calculated by dividing daily clicks by daily page
Your earnings. A daily accounting of money credited to your account,
paid monthly when it totals more than $100.
The performance chart can give you some idea of the cost-per-click (CPC)
you’re earning from your ads. Divide the daily earnings summary by the
number of clicks to get an average CPC for that day.
Remember that you’re sharing revenue with Google, but the revenue split is
not disclosed by Google. I’ve never heard anyone complain about the phantom split amount — which is to say, people grumble that the percentage is
undisclosed but seem satisfied with the amount of money coming in per
click. There can be wide disparity in what clicks are worth to you, especially
if you operate diverse sites or pages that pull diverse ads. For example, a
non-profit site keyed to developmental disabilities is likely to pull ads with
lower clickthrough value than a site about digital music.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Totals for impressions, clicks, clickthrough rate (CTR), and earnings are tabulated at the bottom of the performance chart. New accounts can extrapolate
annual earnings by counting the number of days summarized, dividing that
number into 365, and then multiplying the result by total earnings so far. Using
the date-constraining feature described next, you can also wait for a calendar
month to pass, and then multiply that month’s total earnings by 12. No matter
how you extrapolate, remember that CTR often goes down over time if your
ad placement is left unattended. Chapter 13 describes strategies for keeping
your ad performance fresh over many months of AdSense publishing.
Immediately above the performance table are a series of drop-down menus
that invite you to capture reported statistics by time period. The upper menu
contains six preset date constraints: today, yesterday, last 7 days, this month,
last month, and all time. The default setting, which appears every time you
log into the account, no matter which setting was selected when you logged
out, is “today.” Simply click any item in that menu, and then click the Display
Report button.
To fine-tune a date range, click the lower Date Range radio button and use its
set of drop-down menus to select a reporting period. Then click the Display
Report button. Here, too, Google forgets your setting when you log out. The
next time you view your account, the performance report displays statistics
for the current day.
Viewing channel data
The second way to view the clickthrough data in your AdSense account is as
channel data. AdSense channels are optional; I explain how to set them up in
the next section.
You view channel data on the same account screen as aggregate data, but not
at the same time. You need to make four clicks to switch from aggregate data
to channel data:
1. Click the Channel data radio button (see Figure 12-8).
2. In the list, select which channels to view.
To select multiple channels, hold the Ctrl key while clicking channels.
3. Click the Date, Channel, or Both radio button to select how the display is sorted.
4. Click the Display Report button.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
Figure 12-8:
screen set
to display
The statistical column headings are the same in channel view as in aggregate
view. The Show Data By group of radio buttons makes the following adjustments to the data display:
If you select the Date radio button, Google aggregates the information
just as in the aggregate view, but only for the channels you selected in
Step 2.
The Channel radio button divides the data by channel and displays it
without a breakdown of individual days.
The Both radio button combines these two features, displaying data for
each channel and for every day of the time period you selected with the
Date Range menus.
Setting Up AdSense Channels
Using channels is a great way (well, the only way) to discover which portions
of your AdSense effort are making money. Before Google introduced channels, AdSense publishers were collecting revenue with no idea of where,
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
exactly, it came from. The pre-channel version of AdSense wasn’t a bad deal,
by any means, but there was a growing clamor for more precise reporting.
AdSense channels bring the program to an important level of maturity, and I
urge every publisher to use them.
Understanding channels
Google could have simply instituted per-domain reporting, which would have
helped publishers running AdSense on two or more sites. That would have
been an important improvement, but the channels system takes AdSense to
a higher level by being user-configurable. You decide how the channels are
assigned and how your AdSense data is broken down on the report page.
AdSense channels are groupings of pages, sites, or ad units. You may use up
to 20 channels at once, and you decide what goes into a channel.
Google assigns a number to each channel you create. A line of code containing
the channel number is inserted into your AdSense code (by Google or you)
and placed in your HTML (by you). That extra line of code tracks impressions,
clicks, and earnings for that ad unit, and compiles the information as belonging to that channel. You might have many ad units or just one contributing
information to that channel. The ad units assigned to that channel might exist
on many sites or just one. The configuration of the channels is up to you.
Following are some common channel uses:
Per-site reporting. Assign every ad unit on each domain to a separate
Per-page reporting. If you display one ad unit per page, make each one
report to a different channel. If you run two or more ad units on a page,
make each page’s units report to the same channel. This strategy works
only if you operate 20 or fewer pages on your site. (Of course, if you
have more than 20 pages, you could select just 20 of them.)
Per-page-cluster reporting. Assign groups of pages to the same channel.
This tactic is useful when multiple pages perform the same function in
your site and are similarly trafficked.
Per-format reporting. If you use multiple AdSense formats and wonder
whether one style is more effective than another style, put all skyscrapers in one channel and all horizontal units in another channel. This idea
works best when the varied formats are placed on pages that function
similarly in your site and are fairly equally trafficked.
Although you can’t receive reporting of more than 20 channels, you may
create more channels. You select which to activate and deactivate (I get to
this in just a bit). Deactivated channels continue to hold their accumulated
data; when you activate them, they pick up where they left off.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
You can get around the limitation of only 20 active channels. To do so, create
additional channels and rotate their activation. This way, you can get fully
precise recording of your AdSense performance — just not all at once. Because
high-volume sites don’t require much time to accumulate meaningful data, a
week or so rotation through channel activation could provide a complete picture of AdSense clickthroughs.
Creating channels
You create AdSense channels in a special section of the AdSense account.
Follow these steps:
1. Click the Settings tab.
2. Click the Channels link.
3. Click the Create new channel radio button, and type the name of your
See Figure 12-9. Name the channel descriptively, so you can recognize it
on the report page.
Figure 12-9:
Create as
channels as
you want.
Up to 20 can
be active at
any time.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
4. Click the Edit/Activate Channel button.
Your channel moves to the Active Channels list. Newly created channels
are active by default but can be immediately deactivated.
5. After creating as many channels as you want for now, click the
Continue to Ad Layout button.
You may return to this page at any time to create channels, deactivate
active channels, and activate inactive channels.
6. On the Ad Layout Code page, make the same format and color selections you used when setting up your first version of AdSense code.
This can be tricky. In this step and the next, you’re modifying your previous AdSense code by inserting a line that defines which channel the ad
unit belongs to. You don’t want to change anything else about the display of your ad unit, so you must make the same selections now as you
did when first creating the code (see the “Creating Your AdSense Code”
section, earlier in this chapter). I describe another way of inserting the
channel information after these steps, and that method is easier for
anyone comfortable with manually changing simple code.
7. Pull down the Channel menu and select one of your channels.
See Figure 12-10. The AdSense code is instantly updated to include the
google_ad_channel line.
8. Copy the entire code snippet and paste it into the page(s) containing
the ad units that you want to be part of this channel.
If you run many ad units, I have a much easier way of altering your many
instances of AdSense code and inserting the channel information. In Figure
12-10, note the code snippet, which is the google_ad_channel line. The
number in that line is a unique identifier that associates the ad unit with a
channel in your account. That single line is the only modification necessary
to the AdSense code. Knowing that fact, it’s a simple matter to insert that
single line in the code of all ad units that you want to belong to that channel.
This is what I do:
1. Create your channels.
2. On the Ad Layout Code page, use the pull-down menu (shown in
Figure 12-10) to select the first channel in the list.
3. Highlight and copy (using Ctrl+C) the google_ad_channel line in the
AdSense code.
Copy only that single line.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
Figure 12-10:
When you
select a
channel on
the Ad
Layout Code
page, the
4. Paste the line into a text file using WordPad, Notepad, or any text
Type the channel name above or below the line of code. You may jot
down the channel name and line of code on a piece of paper if you
prefer. You’re going to repeat this process with each of your channels, so
making a text file is probably the best way to establish this record.
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for each of your channels.
You end up with a list of channel names and their lines of code.
6. Insert the appropriate line of code into each of your AdSense code
Place the line in the same location that Google places it on the Ad
Layout Code page: between the google_ad_format line and the
google_ad_border line. That portion of the AdSense code should end
up looking something like this:
google_ad_format = “728x90_as”;
google_ad_channel =”4855956454”;
google_color_border = “B4D0DC”;
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Following this method saves you the trouble of remembering your AdSense
code values and replicating them on the Ad Layout Code page. Many publishers run several formats and color schemes; recreating them all on the Ad
Layout Code page would be a nightmare. If you saved custom color palettes
on the Ad Layout Code page, you don’t have a problem, and you might prefer
clipping and pasting the entire snippet of AdSense code. But any publisher
who has created custom palettes by inserting hex color codes in the AdSense
snippet, as I describe in Chapter 13, will prefer the preceding method when
altering code for AdSense channels.
Activating a channel doesn’t flip a switch that affects your reports. You need
to insert the modified code in your AdSense pages. Activation and deactivation affect which channels compile information and place it on the report
page. But you must complete the arduous chore of inserting the modified
code in all AdSense pages you want to group into channels before your activations and deactivations have any meaning.
Adding New Pages and Sites
AdSense is limitlessly expandable because you can add AdSense to new pages
and sites anytime. Simply paste your preferred code into any new pages developed for your site. If you use a consistent template across your site, simply
putting the AdSense code in the template assures that ads will appear on new
live pages. Leave the rest to Google — in time, according to your site’s crawl
schedule, relevant ads will appear on the new pages. If there’s a gap between
the time you launch a page and Google crawling it for content, the AdSense
program places public service ads on the page.
You may submit new pages to Google’s Web index if you like, though it’s probably unnecessary (see Chapter 2). If your site is in the Web index, Google
usually finds new pages during its deep crawl, which occurs approximately
monthly. The best reason for not submitting new pages is that the AdSense
index is different from the Web index. In both cases, the best bet is to post
the page and wait.
Somewhat surprisingly, considering its stringent approval requirements,
Google allows AdSense publishers to paste code into entirely new sites
located at new domains. No application is necessary. After you’re in, you’re
in, and you have unlimited use of the AdSense code. Keep in mind, however,
that Google does send a human to every new site that makes a call for
AdSense ads to examine it for appropriateness. At that time, or very near that
time, Google crawls the new AdSense site for content.
Chapter 12: Starting an AdSense Account and Publishing Ads
Removing Ads and Stopping
Your Ad Publishing
Just as adding new pages and sites is hassle-free, Google puts up no barriers
to exiting the AdSense program or reducing your involvement with it.
AdSense is entirely configurable on this point; you may publish ads on one
page of a large site, all pages, some pages, or across as many domains as you
deem productive.
Simply remove the AdSense code from any page you want to be ad-free.
Removing a page from the program doesn’t penalize other pages or change
the quality of ads delivered to your pages. To stop your involvement with
AdSense altogether, dump all the code. There’s no way to close your AdSense
account, nor is there any need to. It remains there, in case you decide to publish ads again in the future.
When you remove AdSense code, remember to adjust your page code to fill
the hole you’ve just ripped in it. If you created a table cell to hold your ad
unit, for example, eliminate the cell or put something else in it.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Chapter 13
Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
In This Chapter
Optimizing your site for AdSense
Optimizing to pull high-value ads from Google
Improving clickthrough rates
Battling “ad blindness”
Keeping your competitor’s ads off your site
Using an alternate ad
dSense is a new program, and a simple one. Starting up is easy (see
Chapter 12), and there’s no risk. You can’t lose money publishing
AdWords ads. The worst that can happen with AdSense is that you make no
money. I’ve never heard of anyone making absolutely no money — not a
single clickthrough; not a penny earned. Even one low-revenue click through
an ad on your page is an encouraging sign that the program works. This chapter is about getting more clickthroughs.
Improving your AdSense performance involves mostly optimization and
design issues. It’s vital to remember that providing incentives to click your
AdSense ads, or merely pleading for clicks, violates the AdSense terms of service and can easily get you kicked out of the program. Relevancy drives
clicks. Google’s job is to provide relevant ads, and your job is to focus your
page’s topic clearly so Google can do its job.
This chapter is also about eliminating competition from your pages (or
making a business decision to not eliminate it) and setting up alternate ads —
the two account features not covered in Chapter 12.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Optimizing Your Site for AdSense Success
Success in the AdSense program depends on several factors, most of which
are under your control. To get clickthroughs, you need
Relevant ads
If nobody is visiting your site, you obviously won’t get clicks. If you have traffic but your ads aren’t relevant, your visitors won’t feel motivated to click
them. You might think that it’s Google’s responsibility to send you relevant
ads (especially since I stated exactly that in the introduction to this chapter),
but successful AdSense publishers take responsibility for relevancy by giving
Google a clearly optimized site to work with. Optimization works both ends
of the equation, helping you attract more traffic while helping Google provide
relevant ads.
Briefly put, site optimization for search engines (usually called search engine
optimization, or SEO) is a bundle of writing, designing, and HTML-coding
techniques with two goals:
Creating a more coherent experience for visitors
Improving the site’s visibility in search engines
The two goals are tied together by Google’s primary mission to provide good
content to its users. Google strives to reward visitor-friendly sites with high
placement on its search results pages — taking into consideration other factors as well. If you haven’t read Chapter 4, this is a good time to soak up its
elaborate tutorial in site optimization. That chapter is geared to improving
your site’s stature in Google, building PageRank, and climbing up the search
results page — all to the purpose of attracting traffic.
Promoting your site on other related sites is a tangential aspect of optimization
but a pertinent part of traffic building. Building a network of incoming links is
the most potent way to improve your PageRank in Google (see Chapter 3 for
much more about this). Building links is important also to your success with
AdSense. AdSense revenue benefits from all the normal ways that enterprising
Webmasters promote their online businesses.
Now, on to relevancy. Relevancy converts visitors to clickthroughs. Ironically, a
successful conversion sends the visitor away from your site, which might seem
counterproductive. Never mind that for now; if your site provides good information value, your visitors will come back. Later in this chapter I describe how
to keep them anchored on your page even when they click an ad.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
It’s no surprise that the AdSense program is much beloved by Webmasters running information sites, as opposed to service, subscription, or transaction sites
that generate nonadvertising revenue. Information sites are often labors of
love, having been constructed from the ground up out of passion for the subject. When AdSense burst on the scene, these hard-working, under-rewarded
folks began experiencing Internet-derived revenue for the first time. In those
cases, AdSense is the only source of site income. More established media sites
that build AdSense into the revenue mix are sometimes surprised to find it contributing a larger-than-expected portion of income. No matter what your site’s
focus or scope, cleanly optimized content delivers more pertinent ads and
higher clickthrough rates.
The following is an AdSense-specific checklist of optimization points:
Have only one subject per page. Get your site fiercely organized, and
eliminate extraneous content from any page. Don’t be afraid to add pages
to accommodate short subjects that don’t fit on other pages. Let there be
no question as to what a page is about.
Determine key concepts, words, and phrases. For each page, that is.
Then, make sure those words and phrases are represented on the page.
Pay particular attention to getting those words into headlines. Your concentration of keywords should be skewed toward the top of the page.
Don’t go overboard; your text must read naturally or your visitors (and
Google) will know that you’re spamming them.
Put keywords in your tags. Take those keywords and phrases from
the preceding item and put them into your meta tags (the keyword,
description, and title tags). See Chapter 4 for details. Don’t use any
word more than three times in any single tag.
Use text instead of images. Google doesn’t understand words that are
embedded in images, such as what you often seen in navigation buttons.
(Navigation buttons and other images are important in defining the subject of the page and the site.) Replace the buttons with text navigation
Try to fulfill these points before opening an AdSense account. Ideally, your
site is in its optimized state when Google first crawls it. You don’t know how
often your site will be crawled in the future, so getting properly indexed the
first time is key.
These optimization points apply more to home-grown information sites than
to database-driven media sites, such as online editions of newspapers, where
content deployment is determined by offsite editorial determinants. An online
newspaper follows the news, not the other way around, so the topicality of a
page might be torn apart by diverse stories. But even sites that drop in their
content from offline sources (such as reporters in the field) can optimize
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
their subject categories by organizing site structure along topical lines whenever possible. Keeping to shorter pages of focused content encourages
AdSense success.
So far, I’ve discussed optimization as it applies to sites already built and operating. Such optimization is largely about defining your subject by keywords,
and putting those keywords into the page’s content and tags. Taking the
reverse approach is also possible: developing a site around keywords that
lead to a high-revenue AdSense account. That approach, which I cover later
in the next section, is trickier. The middle ground between optimizing a built
site and building an optimized site is adding pages to an existing site without
betraying the overall topicality, primarily to enhance AdSense revenue. Keep
reading to explore both these possibilities.
Shooting for More Valuable Ads
It’s no secret: All AdSense ads are not equally valuable. The value of any ad
displayed in your ad unit depends primarily on what the advertiser bid to put
it on your page, in its position in the Ad Group. That bid is the most that the
ad can be worth to both you and Google; Google might, in fact, charge the
advertiser less, depending on mathematical considerations I describe in the
AdWords chapters. And whatever the ad is worth to you and Google combined, it’s worth less to you alone. You don’t know the percentage of its total
value that you receive per clickthrough, and you don’t know the overall value
in dollars and cents, either. That’s a lot of not knowing. Here’s the formula:
Advertiser’s bid minus Google’s discount to the advertiser minus Google’s
portion of the revenue split
With all this subtraction, it’s amazing that AdSense pays out at all, but it does.
Some of those advertiser’s bids are sky-high (and the AdWords bid market is
inflating all the time), and Google’s split with AdSense publishers appears to
be generous. Still, AdSense publishers who keep an eagle eye on their reports
quickly learn that some clickthroughs are worth much more than others. That
means that some ads are more valuable than others. Ideally, you want the
most valuable ads to appear on your pages.
To some extent, the relative value of ads you receive is a factor out of your
control. The best you can do is optimize each page to most clearly convey its
topic and run the ads Google sends. But you can travel down two other
avenues in the quest for more valuable ads:
Start a new site
Create new pages optimized for more valuable ads
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
The first option is not a possibility for Webmasters who are not devoted fulltime to their Internet businesses. Even if they are working full-time online,
their hands might be full with properties they already run.
I must also point out that Google discourages building a site solely as a vehicle for AdSense, but does not outright forbid such a site. Google looks for
quality content, regardless of its motivation. If you slap up nearly blank pages
with keywords stuffed into the meta tags, and start running AdSense ads on
them, Google will likely shut you down. (That means closing your entire
AdSense account, eliminating AdSense on any legitimate properties you
might be running.)
Dire consequences notwithstanding, there isn’t much difference between
a new site designed for AdSense and a long-running site that just joined
AdSense, if both sites have substantial and worthy content. A new genre of
Web site has started to appear, optimized for valuable AdSense ads and created to earn AdSense revenue. If the content is good, nobody is harmed by
this scenario. Visitors enjoy a positive site experience; advertisers receive
high-quality clickthroughs; the AdSense publisher builds revenue; and Google
maintains the integrity of its value chain. It’s all about content and relevancy.
Identifying high-value keywords
So, looking back at those two methods of attracting high-value ads, the point to
remember is that the processes are identical. Whether starting a new site or
spinning off new pages, pulling more valuable ads from Google is accomplished
by identifying high-value keywords and optimizing new content around those
keywords. That’s a densely packed concept, so let me unwind it:
The value of keywords is determined by advertiser bids on those
High bids for certain keywords represent an advertiser’s wish for a top
position on search results pages as well as on content pages.
Clickthroughs on ads associated with expensive keywords cost advertisers more, and yield more to AdSense publishers, than clickthroughs on
less valuable ads.
AdSense publishers can use a variety of tools to determine the relative
value of keywords.
Given the same number of clickthroughs, optimizing content around
expensive keywords versus less expensive keywords leads to higher
AdSense revenue.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
For existing sites, building new content optimized around high-value keywords is a three-step process:
1. Identify current keywords.
These keywords are the core concepts of your page(s), which might or
might not be incorporated in your meta tags and embedded in your page
2. Research related keywords.
Keyword research is . . . well, key to the whole Google ad game, for
advertisers and AdSense publishers alike. Your goal is to find keywords
that advertisers are bidding up. See the tip after this list for two interactive tools that uncover this vital bidding information.
3. Build content around high-value keywords.
Building content is easier said than done. Writing and assembling page
content that keeps visitors coming back is a long-term process. For
existing sites, the issue might be one of reorganizing existing content to
optimize pages around high-value keywords.
The two biggest providers of pay-per-click search engine advertising, Google
and Overture, both provide on-screen tools for determining the relative value
of keywords. Using Google’s Traffic Estimator is more work than using
Overture’s Bid Estimator and yields less explicit results. However, the results
are more pertinent because you’re trying to attract high-value Google ads,
not Overture ads. Successful AdSense publishers put themselves in the mindset of an AdWords advertiser. Achieving that state of mind is best accomplished by opening an AdWords account and using the Keyword Suggestion
Tool and the Keyword Estimator. There’s no cost or obligation in opening an
AdWords account. See Chapter 7 for complete instructions.
Making the most of AdWords tools requires a certain amount of savvy. Figure
13-1 illustrates the Traffic Estimator. You can see that certain keywords generate more clicks per day than others, meaning they are more popular search
terms. You can also see that a relatively high cost-per-click (such as 38 cents
for the keyword ipod) yields a lower ad position than a less expensive keyword (such as imusic). By inference, you know that ipod is a more valuable
keyword than imusic, and if you create a content page optimized for ipod it
will probably pull more valuable ads than if you optimized for imusic.
Overture provides a more direct view of comparative keyword value. Follow
these steps to view Overture bid amounts:
1. Go to the Overture site at
2. In the search box, type a keyword.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
Figure 13-1:
The Traffic
in the
infers the
value of
3. On the search results page, click the View Advertisers’ Max Bids link,
near the upper-right corner.
The View Bids window pops open.
4. Type the security code in the provided box.
This little speed bump prevents automated access of Overture’s Max
Bids features. Entering the code assures Overture that you are a human.
5. Click the Search button.
As you can see in Figure 13-2, Overture displays its advertisers’ ads for the
keyword you entered, listed in descending order of bid amount. This remarkably public disclosure of what companies pay for their Overture ads does not
necessarily correlate with Google bid amounts, which are probably higher.
But it does give you a basis for comparison, especially if you repeat the
process with related keywords. (You can launch a new search directly from
the results window.) A recent search revealed a top bid of 40 cents for the
keyword ipod, and no bids at all for the keyword imusic, confirming the inference of Google’s Traffic Estimator.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Figure 13-2:
divulges its
inventory of
ads for
terms and
the amount
the advertiser bid
for that
Keyword-bid research isn’t of much value, however, if you can’t think of
related keywords. Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool (in the AdWords
account) creates spectacular lists of related keywords, and is free to use
after opening an AdWords account. Overture provides a similar service, at
this URL:
Figure 13-3 illustrates the results of Overture’s Search Term Suggestion Tool.
Notice that in addition to spitting out a list of related terms, Overture divulges
the search count for each term and presents the list in order of search term
Wordtracker is another popular keyword suggestion tool, with added features
that calculate how popular the keywords are as search terms in various
search engines. The service is located here:
Wordtracker does not attempt to gauge bid value. The service is used by
advertisers and site optimizers to target subject niches. I discuss Wordtracker
comprehensively in Chapter 3.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
Figure 13-3:
and their
as search
Conceiving and building high-value
AdSense pages
After you’ve identified high-value keywords, you need to find ways of extending your content to those key concepts without damaging or diluting your
site’s focus. If you operate a directory of bed-and-breakfast establishments,
for example, you don’t want to spin off pages about iPods just because of
their high keyword value. You might want to start an entirely new site about
iPods and digital music, but that’s a big project. The goal here is not mindless
opportunism. The goal is content management that leverages the best keyword value that can legitimately be applied to your site.
Although it’s valuable to think like an AdWords advertiser and use the
AdWords tools, remember that your priorities are the opposite of the
advertiser’s priorities in one respect. The advertiser seeks niche categories
represented by highly targeted keywords over which there is little bidding
competition. The ideal keyword is used as a search term by a specific demographic of searchers and has been overlooked by other advertisers. The
AdSense publisher, conversely, seeks broad categories represented by highdemand keywords over which there is a great deal of competition. The ideal
keyword is both hugely popular as a search term and in demand by other
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
advertisers. The advertiser’s pain (high bid expenses to hit the desired
market) is your gain (high clickthrough revenue).
Creating higher-value pages from an existing site is often a matter of generalizing from the specific. Returning to the bed-and-breakfast directory, whose
pages might naturally be optimized for the keyword phrase bed and breakfast,
the Webmaster could realize that hotel is a more valuable keyword. In
Overture, bed and breakfast draws a high bid of $0.35, while hotel enjoys
stronger demand with a high bid of $1.04. These numbers don’t speak for the
bid amounts in Google AdWords, but what does it matter? The Webmaster
never knows the absolute value of any ad on the page; only relative value
matters. With this awareness, the Webmaster might create a page optimized
in part for hotel.
High value is not necessarily the point. Capturing previously disregarded
value is also important. As an AdSense publisher, look at all your pages. If
you see the same ads on many of them, Google is perceiving your pages as
similarly optimized. There’s nothing wrong with topical consistency across
the site, but from an AdSense perspective that consistency is inefficient. Ad
replication can work for you and against you. Multiple impressions can
impose awareness of the ad on your visitors, motivating clicks that might not
occur with single impressions. At the same time, you risk annoying visitors
with repeated ads and encouraging “ad blindness,” in which visitors reflexively block out ad displays. At the very least, you’re losing revenue by not
exploiting ads that would be drawn to topical pages related to, but different
from, your main pages. Continue adding content pages, with an eye to distinguishing their keyword optimizations.
Improving Clickthrough Rates
Whatever your site’s level of traffic, clickthrough rate (CTR) is the determinant of AdSense success. All AdSense Webmasters should monitor the clickthrough rate in the account performance chart and watch its fluctuations.
Divulging any site’s CTR is a violation of Google’s terms of service, so a discussion of specifics is out of bounds here. Shooting for a standard of excellence isn’t the point in AdSense; improving CTR and maintaining that level is.
Remember, do not raise your CTR artificially. This is serious business; Google
will close accounts if it detects CTR mischief. Artificial clickthroughs mean
wasted advertiser money and the destruction of value in the AdWords program, over which Google is fiercely protective. Playing it safe is the only way,
so avoid these three false types of clickthrough:
Clicking your own ads
Telling friends to visit your site and click ads
Promoting ad clicks on your Web page
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
Fortunately, you can try a number of legitimate tactics to raise your CTR.
Experimentation is key. The only way to know what works for your site is to
try both sides of a strategy. The more traffic your site attracts, the more
quickly you can evaluate your CTR experiments.
Placing ads above the fold
You are concerned with the highest fold point. The lower the screen resolution, the higher the fold point. Visitors running a monitor resolution of 640 x
480 pixels see very little of your page without scrolling. Most Webmasters no
longer design for 640 x 480 viewing, but 800 x 600 is widely in use, and that
resolution, too, has a high fold point. If you normally view your site with
higher resolutions, the advice here is to drop down to lower rez and see
where your ad units appear.
Horizontal ad layouts are far easier to squeeze above the fold than vertical
layouts that stretch down the page. (See Figure 13-4.) Some AdSense veterans
recommend against horizontal layouts for reasons I discuss a bit later. If you
choose a skyscraper ad unit, running down the page vertically, try to place
the first ad, at least, above the fold (see Figure 13-5).
Figure 13-4:
Believe it or
not, this
page is
ads. The ad
unit is below
the fold of
an 800 x 600
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Figure 13-5:
A vertical ad
pushed high
up on the
page, where
two full ads
are visible
above the
800 x 600
Choosing your pages
Leaving behind the fold issue, another consideration is which pages should host
your ads. There is logic to thinking that you might as well code ads into every
page of your site. Indeed, if you use templates that establish the unchanging
elements of all your pages, it might be difficult to keep ads off individual pages.
But two tactics for enhancing your AdSense presentation come to mind.
First, consider eliminating ads from your index page — the first page of your
site. The rationale here is that an ad-free opening page welcomes your visitors and won’t get their defenses up. The phenomenon of ad blindness can be
instilled on the home page and persist as the visitor moves through the site.
Eliminating ads from the index page makes your ad units stand out more in
the inner pages.
Ad-free index pages don’t work for all sites. If your index page is the highestranked entry page and exit page, the index page is your main chance to generate clickthroughs; if visitors exit the site from that page anyway, you might
as well lure them into exiting through your ads. Check your traffic logs.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
An experiment with exit pages
Manuel Lemos operates an information and filedownload site at
focused on the PHP programming language. He
is an AdSense publisher. In trying to juice up his
clickthrough rate, Lemos experimented with a
placement strategy using primarily exit pages.
This is his account: “I formulated a thesis that
stated that if, on interesting content pages the
users tend to ignore the ads, the ads would be
more efficient on pages that would be less interesting. To test the thesis, I figured that the less
interesting pages would be the exit pages. A
quick look at my site statistics showed me that
typical exit pages are the download pages. The
user’s tendency is to come to the site, check the
new components, and download them if they
are interesting. So I created new pages with
statistics of the files being downloaded and
placed ad units on them.
“The thesis turned out to be correct. These
pages have typical clickthrough rates that are
three or four times greater than content pages.
Users usually wait some time to download the
files, and while waiting they stare at the page a
bit. When the downloads end, users usually
leave the site because they got what they
wanted. At that time, they often click on the ads
on the page.”
Now look at the site, shown in Figure 13-5. That figure illustrates one of the main inner pages of the infoplease domain. If you visit, you see that the home page doesn’t run AdSense ads, though it
does sprout display banners and pop-ups. While not presenting an ad-free
environment by a long shot, the busy index page prepares visitors for the
quieter presentation of AdSense ads displayed on the inner pages.
Another strategy of great interest and potential is to limit ad displays
to boring and post-conversion pages of the site. Boring pages? Is it blasphemy to suppose anyone’s pages are boring? Not at all. By “boring,” I
mean lacking in substantive content. Registration confirmation pages, for
example, contain little information. The same is true of post-download
pages. These pages represent lulls in the site experience during which the
visitor might be attracted to an AdSense ad as the most interesting content
on the page. Since many of these “boring” pages are presented after the
visitor has been converted in some way (signing up for a newsletter, for
example, or registering at the site), getting a clickthrough at that point is
icing on the cake, turning otherwise useless pages into revenue earners.
See the sidebar titled “An experiment with exit pages” for a real-life success
story using this strategy.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Fighting ad blindness
Ad blindness affects content providers in all media. I read The New Yorker
magazine, and occasionally I’m startled to realize that the outer borders are
filled with ads that I block out of my perception. Television, of course, suffers
badly from not only ad blindness but ad walkaway and ad skipthrough, both
of which are a sort of self-enforced blindness. On the Internet, banners at the
top and sides of pages have accustomed the online citizenry to advertising
and created an immunity to it.
AdSense ads enjoy a threefold advantage over banner advertising that helps
them overcome ad blindness:
Text ads look different than banners.
Google ads are more relevant to the page’s content than most banner ads.
Google ad colors can be customized to blend in with the page, appearing
almost as part of the editorial content.
Despite these advantages, visitors can get used to your ads and stop noticing
them. In a way, Google contributes to the problem by conditioning a huge percentage of the online population to AdWords ads in Google. No doubt many
Google searchers contract AdWords blindness. On the other hand, Google has
also enlightened the Internet citizenry to the possibility and potential of highly
relevant advertising that doesn’t flash, pop up, or balloon across the page.
Searchers who have discovered good experiences clicking AdWords ads in
Google are likely to extend the expectation of a good experience when they see
AdWords ads on your page.
Four factors affect the ad blindness quotient of your site:
Display location
Color coordination
Repeating ads
Ad layout type
My purpose here is not to make hard-and-fast recommendations about where
your ads appear, what colors you use, or which ad layout is best. Opinions in
the AdSense community vary on these questions. I do think it’s important to
be aware of the factors under your control and to experiment. I also make the
following general recommendation regarding ad blindness: Don’t get into a
rut. Many AdSense publishers find that their clickthrough rate degrades over
time. If traffic remains steady, this distressing CTR phenomenon can easily be
attributed to visitors getting so used to your ads that they simply don’t see
them. When this seems to be the case, the antidote is to shake up your
AdSense presentation with new locations, new colors, new layout types, and
(this is more difficult) new ads.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
In the previous two sections I discuss display location in a few respects:
placing ads above the fold, omitting ads from the index page, and concentrating ads on exit pages. Although those sections are not presented in
the context of ad blindness, the location of ads certainly is part of the
problem. Now I want to move on to issues of layout type and customized
Fighting ad blindness with the right ad layout
In this section and the next, we move into the realm of subjectivity. No fast
rules apply to ad layout. You must balance two considerations, which don’t
always agree:
What looks best in your page design
What works best in your page design
By “what works best,” I mean what delivers the best clickthrough rate.Google
gives you four basic ad layout choices:
Horizontal: Leaderboard and banner (see Figure 13-6)
Vertical: Skyscrapers, also called towers
Button: Two styles containing one ad each
Inline: More rectangular than horizontals and verticals (see Figure 13-7)
Note that despite terminology that includes the words “banner” and “button,”
both of which imply graphic ads, all Google ad layouts contain identically formatted text ads. Check out all available layout formats here:
One school of thought believes that leaderboard and banner layouts should
be avoided, because the Web’s history of banner advertising has blinded visitors to the horizontal format. Also, Google uses vertical layouts for the most
part on its pages, acclimating users to seeing AdWords displayed in a tower
format. Thus, deviating from established success is risky. Arguing against
that viewpoint is the mandate to place ads high on the page, which is easier
to do with a horizontal layout.
Google’s ad layouts use inflexible dimensions and can stretch your table cells
to an accommodating size. This factor is a special issue with the leaderboard
horizontal layout, which is 728 pixels wide. Placing that wide unit into a narrower table cell can widen the entire table beyond its original dimensions.
Such enlargement can be a problem for pages optimized for unscrolled viewing at the 800 x 600 resolution.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Figure 13-6:
provides ten
and vertical
ad layouts,
some of
which are
shown here.
Figure 13-7:
The inline
rectangle ad
layouts are
meant to be
in a block
of text.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
You must discover through trial and error whether vertical or horizontal
layout works best for you. Consensus is evenly divided on the matter. Design
considerations play a part in the decision; if you don’t have free sidebar
space for a tower above the fold, you might feel forced into a leaderboard or
banner. The rectangular inline layouts work well in wide blocks of text; the
text flows around the ads. (See Figure 13-8.)
The two button options provided by Google are new layout choices, and
interesting ones. (By publication time, these single-ad buttons were not in
wide use.) Their advantage is clear: Such a small layout footprint is easy to
position all over the page. Their disadvantage is likewise obvious: With only
one ad to click, you reduce clickthrough opportunities. On the other hand,
people don’t always respond well to multiple choices, so a single, pointed
advertisement might work well in your user demographic. Are you getting
the idea that AdSense success is more art than science? Actually, in the true
spirit of science, AdSense responds to experimentation.
In the quest to reduce ad blindness, variety is key. Run different layouts
on different pages, and change each page’s layout from time to time. Track
performance in your AdSense account, and shake things up when your CTR
Figure 13-8:
Wide text
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Fighting ad blindness with the right colors
Just as ad layout issues split opinion in the AdSense publishing community, so
does custom coloring of the ad unit. Many Webmasters simply don’t bother
with the detailed HTML tweaking necessary to fully integrate an ad unit into
the look-and-feel of the host page. Others deliberately let their ad units stand
out garishly on the page, to attract attention and defeat ad blindness. (Whether
garish ad displays defeat or encourage ad blindness is debatable.) And a small
minority of Webmasters carefully insinuate their ad units into the page design
until they are nearly indistinguishable from editorial content.
You have three basic customization choices:
Don’t do anything. This is the choice of many Webmasters, and you see
a lot of the default Mother Earth palette in the AdSense network. (See
Figure 13-9.)
Create custom palettes in the AdSense account. I describe how to do
this in Chapter 12.
Fine-tune colors using HTML hex values. This option integrates ad units
into pages with complex designs or pages using background colors not
found in Google’s custom palette section.
Figure 13-9:
Many Webmasters
use the
Here, blue
ads contrast
with a redthemed
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
Changing the colors of the ad unit is an acceptable alteration of the code, but
no other tweaking is allowed. Do not squash the ads, enlarge them, or attempt
to change the dimensions of the ad unit. Doing so violates the AdSense terms
of service.
To fully customize your ad unit colors, you need a reference source of hex
codes, which are six-digit numbers that pinpoint colors in HTML code. All
browsers understand hex code. If you use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what
you get) page builder, you can probably check the hex codes of the colors
on your page by looking at the HTML view of that page. When customizing
Google ad units, finding the page’s background color is especially important.
You can also use an online chart such as the one located here:
Each customized hex code is plugged into one of five lines of the Google
AdSense code. Here is an example of those five lines:
google_color_border = “25314C”;
google_color_bg = “25314C”;
google_color_link = “FFFFCC”;
google_color_url = “008000”;
google_color_text = “999999”;
You can recognize these color lines by the word color in each of them; that
word doesn’t appear anywhere else in the AdSense code. When you create a
custom palette in your AdSense account, Google fills in those lines with hex
code. Here, you’re manually changing the hex code to better match your page
design. Note that each line corresponds to a different element of the ad unit.
You can customize five elements:
border refers to the bottom bar and thin border extending around the
ad unit
bg refers to the background color of the ad unit
link refers to the ad’s headline, which is linked to the destination URL
url refers to the display URL below the ad text
text refers to the one- or two-line (depending on the display) ad text
In my experience, altering the border and bg elements makes the biggest difference when integrating ad colors with page colors. If you match both those
colors to the page’s background color, the ad unit seems to sink into the page.
Figure 13-10 illustrates a page displaying the AdSense banner layout, displayed
with the default Mother Earth colors. The border is light blue against the
page’s dark blue, and the ad background is white (although you can’t see this
in the grayscale screen shot). The ad unit stands out boldly against the page.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Figure 13-10:
Uncustomized ad units
stand out
boldly from
the page.
Figure 13-11 shows the same page with customized ad colors; the border and
background elements now match the page’s background color. The ad colors
in Figure 13-11 match the code in the example; the background color’s hex
code is 25314C. I altered the other elements too, but they don’t matter as
much. Making the border and background disappear into the page creates
the important effect.
Be creative! If you combine customized colors with a specially prepared table
cell, you can construct an ad display that blends in (and even enhances) your
page’s look-and-feel, while subtly calling attention to the ads. Figure 13-12
shows such a page; the ad unit sits in a specially built table cell with complementary colors. The ad’s headline color matches the background color of the
column below, and the background color exactly matches the overall black
background of the page.
The question remains: Do slickly customized ad units work as well as uncustomized units? That question can be answered only by experimentation on a
site-by-site basis. If your site pulls extremely relevant ads, and your visitors
respond to ads best when they seem to blend into editorial content, customize
away. If you prefer grabbing your visitors’ attention forcefully, perhaps the
ugliest possible ad display works best for you.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
Figure 13-11:
A customized ad
unit, with
border and
the page’s
to sink into
the page.
Figure 13-12:
The ad unit
blends into
the page
yet looks
thanks to
color management
and a
table cell.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Don’t be afraid to mix customized ad units with uncustomized units on the
same site. (Only one ad unit per page, of course, per the AdSense terms of
service.) Remember, part of defeating ad blindness is surprising your visitors’
When CTR doesn’t matter
Some AdSense publishers don’t give a hoot about
CTR. To them, it’s all about total revenue. This
approach works well when the Webmaster adds
new pages regularly. If the CTR slips downward,
the deficit is made up by higher click volume.
Rob Arnold, Webmaster of www.linear1.
org, shares his experience:
“AdSense complements my content well. My
readers clearly find it useful; the clickthrough
rates reflect that. I had a significant body of text
to begin with, and coherent navigation and layout.
If you’re starting up a site you’ll need a few
hundred thousand words of content, organized
coherently, to achieve good results. I also spent
a short time in the early stages investigating the
impact of ad placement and color changes. But
what has proven to be the most effective use of
my time is producing quality content. If you can
add a page a day of quality content to your site,
that can matter more than tweaking your ad
layout or positioning.”
Rob Arnold’s total AdSense presentation includes
highly color-coordinated palettes and abovethe-fold leaderboards, as shown in the figure.
Custom colors can make ad units blend into the
page as if they were part of the editorial content.
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
Filtering Ads
Understandably, you might not want to display AdWords ads from your competitors. If you and your competitors operate information sites, the competition doesn’t matter as much — if a visitor clicks away from you to a competing
site, you gain a bit of income without losing a sale. But if you sell products
through your site, losing a sale for a clickthrough might not be good business.
In that case, consider blocking your competitors’ URLs. This type of filtering
targets the destination URL of an AdWords ad, not the display URL. You have
two basic methods at your disposal:
Make a list of your known competitors, and filter out their home-page
Systematically check the destination URLs of ads that appear on your
pages, and keep adding competing URLs to your filter list.
Your best bet might be to combine the two methods: Start with a known list
of competing URLs, and then keep your eye out for others.
When it comes to the easiest way of determining the destination URLs
of any ad unit, disregard the complicated procedure provided in the
AdSense Help section. Instead, just click the Ads by Google link at the
edge of any ad unit. (You can do this on any AdSense page, not just your
own.) A new browser window pops up with an explanation of AdWords
that includes the URLs of the specific ad unit you clicked, as shown in
Figure 13-13.
However you come up with your list — through your own knowledge of competitors or by vigilantly watching your ads and clicking Ads by Google — use
the URL filter page in your AdSense account to maintain your list of blocked
URLs. Follow these steps:
1. In your AdSense account, click the Settings tab.
2. Click the URL filter link.
3. Click the Add/Edit sites button.
4. Type URLs into the box, one per line.
As shown in Figure 13-14, you add the URLs of sites whose ads you want
to block from your site.
5. Click the Save changes button.
New filters should take effect within a few hours of adding them to
your list.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Figure 13-13:
You can see
the destination URLs
of specific
ad units.
Figure 13-14:
Add URLs of
sites whose
ads you do
not want
on your
Chapter 13: Enhancing Your AdSense Revenue
When adding site URLs to your list, you can block the entire site by eliminating the www. prefix. Using the www. prefix tells Google to block that distinct
page location, which is usually the index page of the filtered site. In that case,
AdWords ads that point to an inner page as the destination URL can still be
displayed on your sites.
Using Alternate Ads
In rare cases, Google can’t deliver ads to an AdSense page. You might want to
signify a stand-by ad source, or even a noncommercial image, to slip into the
spot normally occupied by Google’s ad unit. You may indicate that alternate
source at any time in the AdSense account. Here’s how:
1. In the AdSense account, click the Setting tab.
2. Click the Ad layout code link.
3. Scroll down to the Alternate Ads box, and enter the http:// destination
of your alternate ad or image source.
4. Click the Update code button.
5. Copy and paste Google’s updated script into your HTML document.
Even though the Alternate Ads box is located on the Ad Layout Code page,
along with choices of ad layout and palette, this setting has nothing to do with
the ad layout or palette. But you must make the settings of the Ad Layout Code
page conform to the ad settings used on your site page, so that the appearance
of your ad units doesn’t change when you paste the new code into your page.
Part III: Creating Site Revenue with AdSense
Part IV
Google Business
for the Larger
In this part . . .
s a technology company, Google has built its business on the grassroots level with its AdWords and
AdSense programs. And if offers premium programs for
large accounts and enterprise-level search customers.
This part explains how companies can submit product
information to Froogle, Google’s shopping engine,
and Google Catalogs, a service for mail-order houses.
Chapter 14 offers detailed help with maximizing your
products’ exposure in Froogle.
The AdWords and AdSense programs both offer enhanced
services for large companies. Chapter 15 is a summary
those services. Custom search solutions are described
in Chapter 15 as well.
Chapter 14
Getting into Froogle and
Google Catalogs
In This Chapter
Window shopping in Google
Getting into Froogle
Feeding data to Froogle
Making the most of your Froogle entries
Sending your product catalog to Google Catalogs
ecause of the huge amount of publicity doled out to AdWords and
AdSense, you might think that Google’s business services are only advertising services. Not true. Google is really in the exposure business, increasing
visibility for both advertisers and sites listed in the Google indexes — including
its two shopping indexes, the subjects of this chapter. To put Google’s business
services in an even broader light, you might say that Google is in the keyword
business. As a keyword services company, Google brings together those who
seek with those who provide, matching them through the powerful relevancy
of keywords.
When it comes to seeking and providing, shopping is at the center of the
mating dance, on equal footing with information and services. Froogle and
Google Catalogs, Google’s two keyword-based shopping portals, employ dedicated engines that match Google searchers to products on the Web (Froogle)
and to products in mail-order catalogs (Google Catalogs).
The following section describes the kind of shopping portal Google aspires to
be, and is.
Google as the Ultimate Shop Window
Through Froogle and Google Catalogs, consumers experience a digital twist
on the time-honored pastime of window shopping. Rather than strolling from
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
window to window, consumers gaze through the single Google window as its
contents change on demand.
Froogle and Google Catalogs are hybrid directories/engines that respond to
keyword searches. The main difference between Google’s shopping services
and those in other major portals is that Google doesn’t get its hands on the
money. Customers don’t buy anything through Google. Both Froogle and
Google Catalogs function purely as directories to products, sending consumers
elsewhere to make their purchases.
Following are two important points for merchants:
Google has no revenue-sharing arrangement with any merchant represented in either Froogle or Google Catalogs.
Preferred placement in the search results for Froogle or Google Catalogs
is not available.
Although you can’t buy your way to the top of a Froogle or Google Catalogs
search results page, Google does place AdWords ads on Froogle pages. Froogle
ads might be the most powerful possible deployment of a product-oriented
AdWords campaign because those ads share the page not with information
links (as is likely on a Google search page), but with product links. Essentially,
every link on a Froogle page is an ad, so AdWords ads don’t stand out as ads
to the same extent as on any other page.
If you’re a merchant who wants to extend your AdWords campaign to Froogle,
you need only set your ads to appear in Google’s network of search sites, in
the Campaign settings of your AdWords account (see Chapter 7). However,
you can’t limit your ads to Froogle pages — you must accept AdWords distribution throughout Google search pages. (See Chapters 6 through 10 for an
extensive discussion of AdWords.)
Google doesn’t assist you in setting up an e-commerce shop or transacting
business. Compare this approach to Yahoo! Shopping, which is a virtual mall
where any merchant can rent space. Yahoo! helps design and implement the
online store and offers extensive transaction services, including a universal
shopping cart and easy payment-data collection through Yahoo! Wallet. Banners of featured stores clutter the main pages. The underlying search engine
has some smarts. All this is useful, and Yahoo! houses many of the most important online retailers in the business. AOL and MSN have similar programs.
You may operate your online store at Yahoo! Store (or in AOL or MSN) and still
be represented in Froogle and in Google Catalogs. In fact, many Yahoo! Stores
are included in Froogle thanks to a Yahoo! setting that makes the store’s products compatible with Froogle’s crawler. (The setting turns Yahoo! Store product information into something similar to a Froogle data feed, which I describe
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs
in the next section.) Besides the Yahoo! Store quirk, Google is store-agnostic;
it doesn’t care where you’re located or who handles your transactions.
Systems like Yahoo!’s and AOL’s, modeled on shopping malls, are purchase
oriented. Google is search oriented. Google is not currently interested in selling products directly, taking payment information, or hosting stores. There’s
no Google Wallet.
The Google shopping portal is a search engine that separates products from
stores to deliver targeted search lists. Furthermore, it uses evaluations similar to those in a Web search to determine which products matching your
keywords are most important and should be listed first. Froogle and Google
Catalogs recognize merchant branding but downplay it. The product is far
more important than the store, because Google recognizes that priority in the
minds of most shoppers. The pages of Froogle and Google Catalogs are as
banner-free as all other Google pages, as you can see in Figures 14-1 and 14-2.
When it comes to buying through Google, through is the right word, as opposed
to from. Froogle search results are like Web search results, insofar as they link
you to target sites, in this case e-commerce sites with their own shopping carts
and payment systems. Google Catalogs provides mail-order phone numbers
and — where possible — links to Web sites.
Figure 14-1:
results and
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Figure 14-2:
Understanding Froogle’s Index
and Search Results
Getting into Froogle resembles getting into Google’s Web index. Two methods
are at your disposal:
Let Froogle find your products
Submit your products to Froogle
Submitting to Froogle is a more complicated affair than submitting a site URL
to Google’s Web index and requires a familiarity with database files. More on
that a bit later.
Being crawled by Froogle
Froogle’s strength, like that of Google’s flagship service, lies in its crawling and
ranking engine. This dedicated engine crawls deeply through the Web, as
Google’s Web spider does, and uses contextual analysis to find product pages.
From those pages Froogle extracts categories of information — product type,
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs
name, description, price, and a photograph if there is one. Then Froogle ranks
the page, places the product into a category of the Froogle directory, associates the page with keywords, and incorporates all this in its index. When a
consumer searches Froogle by keyword, the crawled product appears in the
results list according to its rank and relevancy.
Most of this index-building works remarkably well. Froogle is good at recognizing products and e-commerce pages in the colossal mass of Web content
that it sifts through. If your product pages contain standard indicators of
e-commerce, such as prices, references to a shopping cart, and product
descriptions, Froogle can identify those pages as relevant to its mission and
extract the information more or less accurately.
Will Froogle find the pages in the first place? Your visibility to Froogle is based
on the same principles as your visibility to Google’s Web index: Primarily, you
must be linked to be found. Froogle finds products the same way Google’s
engines find anything — by crawling links. At least one link to your product
page must exist, somewhere, for Google to make the connection. That link can
come from your own site, as long as that site is represented in Google’s Web
index. If Google knows about you in the Web index, Froogle knows you exist
also, and can put your products in the Froogle index.
Search results in Froogle
Froogle’s search results are delivered in two categories:
Confirmed results
Total results
For the most part, confirmed results are submitted products. The rest of the
total results (which I call unconfirmed results, but Froogle doesn’t call anything) consist of product information extracted from the Web and assembled
by Froogle’s spider. Confirmed results are distinguished by three important
features that merchants should be aware of:
Confirmed results always appear first, above the unconfirmed results
(refer to Figure 14-1).
Confirmed results always include the store name.
Confirmed results are always accurate, to the degree that they are submitted accurately. Unconfirmed results might be accurate too, but the
merchant has only indirect control over their accuracy.
The separation of confirmed results from total results is a relatively new
Froogle feature, and it puts pressure on merchants to submit their products
lest they be dropped lower on the results list. The next section discusses the
Froogle data feed by which products are submitted.
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Froogle’s eligibility rules
Froogle listings are free, and merchants are
welcome to aggressively submit products to
Froogle’s index. A few requirements hold sway:
You must be an e-merchant, and your site
must transact sales online. Specifically, you
must accept online payments. Merely promoting products on a Web site is not good
enough if you require offline transactions
such as phone orders or mail orders.
You must transact payments in U.S. dollars.
You must fulfill your orders yourself. The
important point of this rule is: no affiliates.
For example, a member of the
affiliate program may not put books from
Amazon’s catalog into Froogle, linking to the
affiliate’s site, from which users would click
through to Amazon and generate a commission for the affiliate.
You must specify product pricing on the
product page of your site.
You must sell a product, not a service. Your
wares needn’t be tangible — software is
acceptable — but a travel agency, for example, is not suitable for Froogle.
Froogle search results default to the order in which Froogle ranks the product pages, displayed as a vertical list of links with pictures. Users can reorder
Froogle results in various ways:
Grid view. Arranging results in a grid displays more products “above the
fold” — that is, before you have to scroll down the page (see Figure 14-3).
Sort by price. Users may arrange results from low price to high, or high
price to low.
Sort by price range. Getting more specific about price sorting, users
may define low and high prices in dollars. Froogle then displays products within that range.
Group by store. This setting arranges Froogle results by merchant. Stores
with higher PageRanks appear higher on the list, unless the user is sorting the page by price.
Froogle results are independent of Google Web results. You need not choose
between the two indexes; neither blocks the other. Being listed in one index
does not improve your rank in the other index.
Sometimes, however, Froogle items appear on Google Web search results
pages. Google began promoting Froogle more assertively in December 2003,
and placed Froogle results near the top of Web results for keywords related
to products. Froogle listings placed atop Web search results are called Product
search results (see Figure 14-4). This crossover is unpredictable: Some productoriented keywords produce the Product search results while others do not.
Even keywords that do generate Product search results do not necessarily
display them every time.
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs
Figure 14-3:
results in
grid view.
Figure 14-4:
listings atop
Web search
results . . .
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
The quality of Froogle searches
Portions of the Froogle merchant community are
grumbling about the quality and consistency of
search results. Froogle is a beta product, meaning that, while functional, it is still in a testing and
development phase. As a consumer myself, I
have found Froogle searches rewarding. In one
instance, my sister-in-law could not find a certain lace tablecloth for her mother’s Christmas
gift after searching for weeks. My wife found it
in seconds using Froogle. So Froogle can cut to
the chase impressively. At the same time, many
observers believe the technology of this search
engine is immature and its results sometimes
Size is not an issue in Froogle — the index contains a gigantic repository of product information, and many major retailers are represented.
The main issue for merchants is the relevancy
of results. Indeed, it’s easy to bring up results
pages whose products are less relevant and
appealing than the accompanying AdWords ads
in the right column. A recent search for mp3 jukebox, for example, returned several instances of
one particular model atop the list — no other
products appeared above the fold of an 800 x
600 screen. The accompanying AdWords ads
linked to review-and-comparison sites where
one might narrow the search more intelligently.
From this experience you might think that Froogle
responds better to longer keyword phrases and
keywords that include the exact model being
searched (if you’ve already narrowed the search
to an exact model). Indeed, searching for archos
jukebox recorder (a model of mp3 jukebox) delivered more productive results, roughly on par with
the accompanying ads. However, a recent search
for ipod resulted in several top listings for an arm
band accessory that fits on the iPod mp3 device,
when one might have expected to find iPods
themselves populating the top results.
Perplexing problems pop up when you spend
time with Froogle. A search for formal wear
yielded a full page of evening gowns and other
items for women, while the accompanying ads
were uniformly promoting tuxedo shops. Being
a man, I found the ads far more compelling than
the listings. The top ten results for the keywords
antique books included a model of an antique car,
a globe, a bookend, a set of old dolls, and a vintage post card. The accompanying ads offered, eBay,, and other
productive results.
The observation that Froogle’s ad column often
presents better results than the editorial listings
leads to an oft-expressed wish in the merchant
community for a cost-per-click model in Froogle.
If that were the case, merchants would bid
for position in the listings and pay for each
clickthrough — very much like the AdWords program. Generally, sound business favors paying
for a good service over tolerating a questionable
service that’s free. This is not to say that Froogle
is useless by a long stretch. If it were, major companies would not bother making gigantic, regular
submissions of their online product information.
Companies of all sizes that track the sources of
their incoming customers often find that Froogle
generates respectable traffic and important
sales. All the same, almost everyone believes
that there’s room for improvement in the Froogle
Froogle ranking depends on an algorithm no more publicized than the Web
index’s PageRank. In fact, more mystery enshrouds Froogle’s ranking. Nobody
outside Google knows whether PageRank (from the Web index) has any sway
in Froogle. I spoke to one merchant who created a new product page with
no incoming links, and submitted that page’s product to Froogle. Thanks to
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs
relevancy, a good category fit, price, and other factors, this merchant’s product shot up to a top spot for certain keywords. Since the new page didn’t exist
in Google’s Web index (the merchant did not submit it there, and without
incoming links the spider could not have found it), the merchant concluded
that Web PageRank doesn’t exist as a factor in Froogle ranking. The possibility
remains, though, that this merchant’s product rode the coattails of its site’s
PageRank in the Web index, even if its specific product page had no PageRank.
The mystery remains. But two factors improve a merchant’s product positioning in Froogle:
Manual submission of product information
Optimization of product pages
The following two sections cover these points.
Submitting Product Information
to Froogle
The only advantage to submitting a site to Google’s Web index is getting into
the index — there are no additional advantages such as a higher or more accurate listing. If the spider can find your Web page without a manual submission,
there’s no advantage at all to submitting manually. Froogle is different.
Submitting product information requires some work, rewarded by these
Guaranteed inclusion in the Froogle index even if your products aren’t
already included.
Fast, automated service — submitted information is included within a
few hours at most, and sometimes within minutes.
Assured accuracy, if the information you submit is accurate.
Better placement on the Froogle results page. Before the separation of
confirmed results from unconfirmed results (see the preceding section),
better placement did not necessarily follow submission. Now, when the
searcher is running default Froogle settings, submitted (confirmed)
products always appear before unconfirmed products.
Quick changes of your product lineup as represented in Froogle.
Submission to Froogle is accomplished in a data feed. Throughout this chapter, when I refer to submitting “your product,” I mean product information —
don’t send actual products to Google. A Froogle data feed is a text document
submitted to Froogle through FTP (file transfer protocol). This process sounds
technical — and it is, somewhat.
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Submitting to Froogle requires an acquaintance with database creation and
FTP. It’s beyond the scope of this book to instruct you in the creation of a
database, especially because many different database programs are available.
Likewise with FTP uploads. Furthermore, the details of creating the data feed,
and the categories of product information it may contain, might change. For
all these reasons, the best way to proceed is through Froogle’s forms and
instructions. I’ll get to them in a moment. First, a few bits of information about
what’s in the data feed.
As I mentioned, the Froogle data feed is a simple text file. This text file is
derived from a database file. You create the database file by inserting product
information according to certain Froogle-approved categories (fields). Then
you save the file as a tab-delimited text file. Just about all database programs
offer this option in the Save window. After you have that tab-delimited text
file containing your product information, you upload it directly to Froogle’s
FTP address (which is supplied to you when you request the data feed forms),
using a unique username and password (also supplied to you).
Submitting a data feed is not a one-time event. Merchants may submit revised
data feeds daily, weekly, or monthly. Some e-tailers even experiment with submitting multiple revised feeds during the course of a single day. These rapidfire feeds are sometimes rejected, but there’s no punishment for a rejected
feed. In some cases, multiple daily feeds are accepted and take effect in the
Froogle index quickly. Although submitting multiple feeds during the day
leads to unpredictable results, merchants may certainly update their product
information as frequently as every 24 hours. Anecdotal reports of latency (the
amount of time required for updates to take effect) vary from near-instant to
a few hours.
After submitting your first Froogle data feed, you’re committed to a monthly
update schedule. You may update more frequently, at your discretion. But you
must update within a month, or the products represented in your latest feed
disappear from the Froogle index. To retain your Froogle listings unchanged,
simply upload the same data feed every month.
A Froogle data feed has seven standard product information fields:
Product URL. The page at which your product resides. Froogle guidelines insist that a visitor be able to purchase the product from that very
page. The page can’t be merely promotional; it must be transactional.
Name. The name of the product, which usually includes the brand and
model number or name. You may allot up to 80 characters to the product name.
Description. The product description may be as long as 1000 characters,
but many fewer characters will be selected by Froogle for display on any
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs
search results page. The description text is selected automatically by the
Froogle engine, based on its understanding of the description context
and its match to the keywords used to bring up the results page.
Price. The product’s price.
Image URL. Products sell better with pictures than without them. In this
field, you insert the URL of the product’s photograph on your server.
Category. You may insert the category in which the product resides
at your site, but merchants report greater visibility in search results
when they identify the correct category in the Froogle directory for
each product.
Offer ID. This field contains a product-unique alphanumeric tag. This
value must remain constant across all data feeds containing the product.
In addition to the standard product information fields, Froogle data feeds may
contain any combination of several available extended fields. The extended
fields offer slots to input additional product information such as shipping
cost, product availability (yes or no), UPC code, color and size, quantity discounts, and the expiration date of an offer. Perhaps most important among
the extended fields is the Product ID, which you can use with the Offer ID
(see the preceding list). The Product ID represents groups of products, such
as music CDs, and the Offer ID represents a single item. Read Froogle’s current information on data feeds to find which extended fields it accepts.
When you upload a Froogle data feed, it fully updates the previous data feed.
The new data feed does not supplement the previous data feed. Therefore,
do not create a new data feed containing only new products if you still want
the previous products to remain in Froogle. If you upload such a feed, Froogle
replaces the old products with the new products. To supplement your product
inventory on Froogle, create a new data feed containing the old products and
the new products. (You may change the information fields of a continuing
product, but use the same Offer ID as in the previous data feed.) To eliminate
a product from your Froogle inventory, submit a new data feed containing all
previous products except the one you want to remove.
You now have an overview of the Froogle data feed, but you need to get up-tothe-minute information and explicit instructions from Google. Remember, if
you sell products online, you’re probably already represented in Froogle. You
don’t need to submit a data feed. But your performance in the Froogle index —
in other words, your Froogle visibility — will probably benefit from embarking on the monthly (at least) commitment to creating and uploading data feeds.
Get started by filling out the on-screen form located here:
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Optimizing for Froogle
Did you think I would end my discussion of Froogle without a section on optimization? I hammer home this subject throughout the book because it’s an
essential nail in the marketing edifice.
Google doesn’t provide guidance about Froogle optimization, as it does (to a
limited extent) for Web index optimization. But common-sense rules combined
with anecdotal reports from Froogle merchants yield principles for creating
product Web pages that Froogle ranks high on the results page.
It’s (still) all about keywords
Keywords are at the heart of everything related to Google. Chapter 4 emphasizes the importance of identifying keywords as the first step in effective
page optimization. That principle holds true for Froogle optimization. Read
Chapter 4 to understand the principles of assigning core keywords to a page
and embedding them in the page’s content.
Principles of keyword optimization break down somewhat on the pages
of e-commerce sites, mainly because those pages are often dynamically
generated — their content is pulled from an underlying database, and the exact
content depends on what the customer has clicked or entered. Static Web pages
are unchanging and can be optimized individually. Most e-commerce sites
display thousands of differing dynamic pages with certain common elements.
Those elements, which are usually part of a site-wide template, can be optimized. Consider these points:
Surround your product displays with commercial words such as buy,
cart, basket, product, and purchase, dollar signs, and so forth.
Insofar as keywords apply to your entire site, target keyword strings of
two words and longer. Optimizing for specific searches results in higher
placement on Froogle pages seen by your best prospects.
Use brand names.
Optimize your site’s meta tags and link text according to the principles
described in Chapter 4. In particular, use the keywords tag to include
brand names you sell and product-specific keywords that you can’t
place on the text of individual pages.
Optimization is particularly important for merchants who do not submit
Froogle data feeds and instead rely on the Froogle spider to find, understand,
and rank product pages.
Chapter 14: Getting into Froogle and Google Catalogs
Create sales
One of the best ways to increase visibility on Froogle is to create product
sales and submit the lowered prices in a Froogle data feed. Underselling
competing merchants is a tactic with major visibility advantages:
When a Froogle user isolates your product category and reorders the
page by price (lowest to highest), you rise to the top of the page.
When Google lists Froogle results on a Google Web search page for keywords relevant to your product, the three lowest-priced Froogle instances
of that product tend to be the ones listed on the Google results page.
Anecdotal reports strongly suggest that clickthrough rates for Froogle listings increase dramatically when the listings appear on Web search pages.
One way to lower prices is to extract products from packaged groups and list
them separately on-site. Then create separate entries for each product in your
Froogle data feed. You may, if you want, keep track of products broken out in
this fashion by assigning each one the same Product ID but a unique Offer ID.
If you don’t submit data feeds, breaking out products on individual Web pages
increases your visibility to Froogle’s spider.
Optimizing your product description
Froogle snips descriptive material from the target page (or from the submitted
data feed) for its list description just as Google does for its Web search listings.
It is therefore important to optimize the descriptive text surrounding your
product on the target page. Under no condition does Froogle excerpt more
than 1000 characters of descriptive material. As you easily notice when browsing through Froogle, most descriptions are much shorter than 1000 characters. Remember, as with the Web results, Froogle selects excerpts that seem
to match the keywords of the results page. To best optimize your descriptive
content, remember these two rules:
Keep the total description less than 1000 characters.
Embed keywords in your description to target Froogle users searching
for those keywords.
If you follow these two golden rules, none of your description will be lost to
Froogle (first rule), and the relevant portion of your description will appear
in Froogle’s descriptive snippet of your product.
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
If you want to avoid having your product descriptions excerpted — in other
words, if you want entire descriptions to appear — keep them short! Short
means fewer than 200 characters. Follow this route only if keeping the description intact is more important than striving to match snippets to a range of
Two final optimization tips
Remember that the product category is a standard field in the Froogle data
feed, and therefore open to experimentation. Informal merchant reports indicate that finding the right category has a vital influence on a product’s position
in search results.
Finally, if you’re displeased with your Froogle positioning, search for your product and note which stores and items are listed first. Visit those pages and note
how they are optimized. Emulate whatever principles seem evident — not to
the extent, of course, of copying artwork.
Getting into Google Catalogs
Google Catalogs is a listing and search service for companies that sell mailorder products and publish mail-order catalogs. This section of the chapter
is short, because getting into Google Catalogs and staying in its index is far
simpler than in Froogle. In fact, a two-step process does the trick.
First, put Google on your catalog mailing list. Subscribe this address:
Google Catalogs
171 Main St. #280A
Los Altos, CA 94022
Then, write Google an e-mail notification of the incoming catalog. Write to
[email protected]
When Google receives your first catalog, it scans the entire thing and incorporates the content in Google Catalogs. Once in the index, your catalog (and subsequent editions received by Google) becomes fully searchable by keyword.
Google Catalogs does not link to specific product pages. The service does link
to the merchant’s main Web address, but that link is difficult to find. The primary mission of this service is to present scanned, searchable catalogs. For the
most part, customers are converted, or not, in Google Catalogs — not on your
Web site. If they want to purchase something, they call your order number
like any other customer.
Chapter 15
Premium Services
In This Chapter
Signing on to Premium AdWords for larger advertisers
Understanding Premium AdSense for content sites
Knowing about Premium AdSense for searth sites
Becoming a search destination with Custom WebSearch
Taking advantage of Silver and Gold Search for medium-sized search sites
oogle provides premium versions of its three major programs for
high-traffic and high-budget sites. Those three programs are AdWords
(see Part II), AdSense (see Part III), and on-site Google searching (see
Chapter 5). This chapter describes the high-end versions of these programs,
premium AdWords, premium AdSense, Custom WebSearch, and Silver and
Gold Search.
Premium AdWords
Google AdWords is not just for small businesses and entrepreneurs anymore.
Small accounts put the program on the marketing map, but now corporations
of all types are represented in the advertising column on Google search results
pages. When Google eliminated its Sponsored Link program, which sold placement on a pay-by-impression basis, the corporate segment of its advertising
clientele was rolled into AdWords — probably with little complaint. The efficiency and control afforded by AdWords applies just as happily to large companies as to small ones.
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Large advertisers are eligible for a special program called premium-level
AdWords. (No one, even the largest, most budgetarily advantaged advertisers,
is forced to use the program.) Similar to regular AdWords, the premium program offers a more involved customer service experience throughout the campaign. Many a small-business owner wishes he or she could enjoy the service
perks built into premium-level AdWords.
To qualify for premium-level service, AdWords advertisers must commit
to spending a minimum of $30,000 over a three-month period and at least
$10,000 per month. (There is no charge beyond the spending minimum.)
Because AdWords is a pay-per-click system, a natural question arises: What
if the company’s ads don’t generate $10,000 worth of clickthroughs in a
month? After all, it can be difficult for little businesses to keep their clickthrough rates high enough to spend money seriously. This is where Google
steps in.
Each premium AdWords account is assigned a customer service team that
assists the client at every step, from soup to nuts. This level of assistance
includes industry-specific marketing advice, creative help writing ads, handson account maintenance if desired, campaign structuring, keyword generation, account planning and optimization, performance analysis — basically,
everything an excellent third-party agency would do when implementing an
AdWords campaign for a client.
Conceiving of Google as a specialized ad agency brings up an interesting
issue: Should a high-spending company operate in non-premium AdWords
with the help of a hired ad agency? Or is it better to enter premium AdWords
and let Google be your de facto agency? Going with Google saves money —
that’s one consideration right off the bat. However, if AdWords is part of
a large, multifaceted marketing campaign, the ideal situation might be to
manage the entire effort under one roof, which would not be Google’s
roof. Then again, just as Google doesn’t manage non-AdWords aspects
of the campaign, most traditional ad agencies do not specialize in AdWords.
So getting it all under one roof — either Google’s or a hired agency — is
A few miscellaneous notes about premium AdWords:
Despite the special service provided to premium AdWords clients,
Google doesn’t bend basic AdWords rules. The ads are the same —
small boxes of text. The competitive environment for placement on
the page is identical to the competition faced by regular AdWords customers, and premium-level advertisers bid on keywords in the same
fashion as non-premium-level users.
Chapter 15: Premium Services
The pay-for-placement Sponsored Links, which were once placed atop
search results pages, no longer exist as pay-for-impression ads. AdWords
ads receiving the top two spots on pages populated by ten ads go in those
top-of-page slots, but they’re paid for by the click just like any AdWords
ad. Premium-level AdWords doesn’t offer pay-for-placement service.
Just as with regular AdWords, participation in premium AdWords doesn’t
affect a site’s listing or PageRank in Google’s Web index.
Although account management is offered to premium-level accounts,
those clients are free to use the standard AdWords reporting and administrative tools available to everyone.
If your company is interested in the premium level of AdWords and meets the
spending commitment requirement, you notify Google of your interest by filling in an on-screen form. The form, shown in Figure 15-1, requests basic contact, industry, and URL information and serves as an introductory letter to
Google. Find that form here:
Figure 15-1:
This form
serves as an
letter to
Google for
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Premium AdSense for Content Sites
As it does with AdWords, Google offers a premium-level version of AdSense.
Because AdSense publishers at any level do not pay Google, the requirement
for breathing the thin air of premium membership is not a financial commitment, but a traffic threshold. Sites serving at least 20 million page views per
month (not unique visitors, but total page views) are eligible to apply.
Whereas premium-level AdWords provides essentially the same AdWords
features but with enhanced customer service, premium-level AdSense for
content sites differs a bit from standard AdSense. These variations include
the following:
Custom ad layouts and formats diverge from the presets in regular
AdSense. However, many premium publishers use the standard ad
layouts. (See Figures 15-2 and 15-3.)
Dedicated account management is available, offering site optimization
and technical support as needed.
Standard AdSense allows publishers to block ads from competitive
domains (see Chapter 13). In premium AdSense, competitive filtering
of unwanted ads is a more serious and robust tool.
The AdSense for content program pays selected publishers to sell their
ad space to Google on a cost-per-impression basis for running AdWords
ads. Prospective publishers must qualify for this program independently
from the normal premium-level AdSense program.
Although regular AdSense publishers enter, start, pause, and exit the
program at will (given basic eligibility), at least some premium clients
contract with Google for a certain term (for example, six months).
These term contracts are sometimes terminated by Google for poor
CTR performance. Even though the publisher is not aware of the clickthrough statistics associated with ads appearing on the publisher’s site,
Google definitely keeps track of everything.
Note that page traffic of 20 million views per month doesn’t necessarily qualify
a site for premium-level AdSense. Google employs unpublicized criteria when
deciding who is admitted and who is not. I have spoken with owners of sites
who claim that they have been declined although their traffic exceeds the
threshold. Other AdSense publishers with high traffic claim to have received
unsolicited invitations to shift to premium AdSense.
Interested companies may start the application process by filling in an introductory on-screen form here:
Chapter 15: Premium Services
Figure 15-2:
may use
modified ad
layouts not
available in
Figure 15-3:
site uses a
wider ad
layout with
than normal.
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Premium AdSense for Search Sites
Premium-level AdSense is available to search portals in formats that don’t
resemble normal AdSense publishing. Just as Google sometimes displays
AdWords ads at the top of its own pages (and that format is not available to
AdSense publishers), so too does Google provide layout alternatives to other
search engines who want to share Google’s advertising engine and revenue.
AOL Web Search is a good example; this major portal licenses both editorial
search results and related advertising from Google. AOL’s entire search results
page is driven by Google engines, yet it’s displayed in AOL’s proprietary formats and page templates. (See Figure 15-4.) is an example of a
destination portal that functions as a search site thanks to its massive traffic,
and uses Google engines to deliver both objective and pay-per-click search
results. (See Figure 15-5.)
Google supplies this specialized version of premium AdSense to Netscape,
Excite,,,, Teoma,, Disney, and
many others.
Figure 15-4:
Search is a
client of
pay-perclick ads on
its result
Chapter 15: Premium Services
Figure 15-5:
com is not
a search
engine, but
it provides
Web search
results and
related ads
Custom WebSearch
In the preceding section I discuss the premium AdSense program for search
sites, which delivers Google AdWords on search results pages presented at
large sites with search engines. Google’s Custom WebSearch is similar, except
it provides editorial search results, not ads. Custom WebSearch enables a site
with sufficient traffic to become a search destination, with results provided
by Google. This program is a premium version of Google’s free search, which
is described in Chapter 5.
Custom WebSearch is acquired through a licensing arrangement with Google.
A company gets started by sending Google an online form located here:
Custom WebSearch works similarly to Google’s free search service: The client
site puts a search box on its pages. When users enter a search, the keywords
are sent to Google, which returns results to the host site. The host site then
presents the results on its site, formatted to look like that site. The results
don’t necessarily look much like Google (see Figure 15-6), but it is Google.
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Figure 15-6:
results are
with the host
site’s lookand-feel.
Most of the familiar features of Google, including Advanced Search, Similar
Pages, and site descriptions, are available to Custom WebSearch clients.
Note: Custom WebSearch sites may sell advertising on search results pages.
An easy way to monetize those pages is through Google’s AdSense for content program. But if a site is already in the advertising business, delivering
search results pages is a swift method of dramatically increasing the site’s
advertising inventory to its existing advertisers and agencies.
Silver and Gold Search
Two on-site Google search programs are available to sites with solid search
traffic but less traffic than Custom WebSearch clients: Silver Search and Gold
Search. These two services are similar to Google’s Free Search described in
Chapter 5. As with Free Search, Silver and Gold customers place a Google
search box on their pages, and their users are taken to Google for semicustomized search results. Three major differences distinguish Silver and Gold
Search from Free Search:
Chapter 15: Premium Services
The Silver and Gold results are more customizable than in Free Search.
Free Search users may place a logo atop the search results and modify
colors. Silver and Gold customers may create an elaborate header and
footer for their pages, extending those elements into full-blown HTML
tables that include sidebars.
Silver and Gold customers may serve advertisements on the search
results pages.
The Silver and Gold services are not free.
The monthly fee distinguishes Silver from Gold. At the time of this writing,
Silver Search costs $599 per month, plus $10 per thousand search queries
over one million per year. Gold Search, which is designed for sites that normally experience more than four million queries per year, costs $1999 each
month plus $8 per thousand queries over four million per year.
Google doesn’t allow Silver and Gold Search pages to display AdWords ads or
any other advertising on results pages. Sites that have implemented Custom
WebSearch, however, may sell their own keywords advertising against search
Part IV: Google Business for the Larger Company
Part V
The Part of Tens
In this part . . .
arrying on the For Dummies tradition, this part gathers
lists of destinations and tips that don’t fit elsewhere
in the book.
The first chapter spotlights ten site optimization resources.
The second chapter is gold: SEM (search engine marketing)
tips from the pros. These are the folks who run optimization companies and consulting services. You might not end
up hiring them for your optimization and search-marketing
needs, but they give away some of their hard-won wisdom
in these pages.
Chapter 16
Ten Site Optimization Resources
In This Chapter
Search Innovation
Keyword verification and link popularity tools
SEO Consultants directory
Search Engine World tools
Eric Ward
SEO directory
ptimizing your Web site is not a Google-exclusive tactic. A site optimized
according to globally recognized standards attains better stature than a
non-optimized site in every search engine. The SEO (search engine optimization) field predates Google’s index and PageRank algorithm. Living as we do
in the Google era, however, SEO is mainly concerned with Google-specific
page optimizing. In this regard, most professional optimizers are one of two
types: general optimizers who work across the board or Google optimizers.
The truth is, optimizing exclusively for Google is needlessly fanatical. First,
Google doesn’t publicize its algorithm tweaks and the subsequent recalculations of PageRanks and reordering of search results. Following a silent but influential Google upgrade, wails of anguish from Webmasters around the world can
be heard as their sites drop from previously hard-won positions. As a community, Google optimizers try to figure out what changed and how to reoptimize
their domains. This manic-depressive process is ongoing and necessary, but
it probably shouldn’t be the only page-tweaking task on your plate.
Second, and the main reason that general optimization is the way to go,
all important search engines respond well to the same basic optimization
improvements. If your site needs an optimization overhaul, chances are the
most basic spider-friendly improvements will dramatically raise your visibility in Google — and in any other index that lists your site.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Hitch your wagon carefully
This chapter spotlights optimization sites, tools,
gadgets, and more. When following these suggestions and exploring on your own, you’re bound
to encounter some strong come-ons from optimization companies and specialists. SEO is a
competitive field, especially with the Google feeding frenzy. Some optimization pitches resemble
get-rich-quick spam. Outlandish promises are followed by unrealistic (and probably untrustworthy) guarantees. However, I’m not one to throw
out the baby with the bathwater. (Who coined
that barbaric expression?) Plenty of great optimization specialists are just a link away. You just
need to know the telltale signs to avoid.
Guarantees of any sort should set off alarms in
your head. Google’s indexing can lead to unpredictable results — and no optimizer can seriously
promise a specific search ranking or ad position.
The more dramatic the guarantee, the less
you should trust it. Guaranteed number-one
placement on a search results page is frankly
absurd. You might indeed claim the top spot for
certain keywords, but don’t believe anyone who
promises you such a thing. Another enticement
is the promise of placement on the first page of
listings — this is both unrealistic and a bit sleazy.
The first results page in Google can be as short
as 10 listings or as long as 100, depending on the
user’s Preferences setting.
Automated optimization is troublesome. Certain
handy tools automate the creation of meta tags;
I cover these tools in this chapter and they’re
fine. Automated measurements — of keyword
density and crawler readiness, for example —
might or might not be accurate or helpful, but
they’re not dangerous. But automated rankchecking engines violate Google’s terms of service and can get your site into hot water.
Optimization is mostly a hands-on affair. Some
SEO companies sell software packages that
assist the process with a combined set of online
and offline tools. Various invasive elements can
be planted in your computer whenever you install
a new program, and I’ve never found it necessary
or desirable to employ desktop applications when
Speaking of automation, some companies offer
bulk submissions to hundreds of search engines.
According to traffic measurement statistics, more
than 95 percent of all search engine traffic
derives from a handful of top engines. Hiring
somebody to bulk-submit your site globally might
not be the best investment.
Link farming (see Chapter 3) is not optimizing. Be
wary of any SEO company that proposes mutual
links between its site and yours.
Finally, understand the difference between optimized results and paid results. Some search
engines (not Google) accept fees for placement
in their search results (not off to the side). Nothing
is inherently unethical in this business model,
even though it did give the entire search industry
a bad reputation in the 1990s. But a lack of ethics
is at play when an optimization consultant spends
your money gaining paid placement in some
search engines instead of spending it working
up the Google results page. Sometimes this
strategy is used to fulfill a promise of top-page
search listing — a promise that should never be
made to begin with.
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
Google optimization, as a specific tactic, comes into play when a Webmaster
limits the entire marketing plan to Google. There’s nothing wrong with that at
Google’s current levels of traffic. (See Chapter 1 for a discussion of Google’s
competition and the prospects for the future.) Another example of Googlespecific optimization is a highly optimized site that tweaks its page features
specifically to eke out better returns from Google. In both cases, optimizations made for Google tend to help in other search engines, just as general
optimization helps in Google.
The resources suggested in this chapter fall into three categories:
Do-it-yourself optimization. These sites offer tutorials, interactive tools,
directories, and other resources, some of which might cost money.
Don’t expect consulting, site management, or individualized optimization reports.
Don’t-do-it-yourself optimization. These companies and individuals cater
to Webmasters and businesses that don’t want to master optimization fundamentals or plunge their hands into code and keywords. This category
also includes many of the questionable SEO practices that leverage their
clients’ naiveté and need to outsource, promising unrealistic results and
employing unwholesome strategies. At the same time, this space is where
you find the many honest, smart, and skilled optimization specialists who
can deliver personalized site evaluations for a reasonable cost, tighten
your code, deepen your keyword identity, and multiply your Googlederived leads in a single crawl cycle. Don’t be afraid of SEO specialists;
just be cautious.
Hands-on tools. Online gadgets! Keyword analyzers, meta tag generators,
page evaluators, and other interactive assistants populate this category.
These tools are for the do-it-yourself crowd.
Some sites cover all three bases. SEO specialists usually (but not always)
include some do-it-yourself content on their sites.
Search Innovation
Search Innovation is a search engine marketing company with a strong optimization streak. Two sections of this site generously provide information: the
Articles and Resources sections.
Part V: The Part of Tens
The site’s articles, mostly written by founders Daria and Dale Goetsch, are
detailed, serious, and informative. These pieces cover such topics as effective
keywords, “organic” SEO (the practice of optimizing toward high placement
in search listings, as opposed to purchasing placement on search pages),
optimizing dynamic pages (a tricky subject many optimizers don’t go near),
link building, SEO myths, crawler methods, building site maps, writing effective link text, and content writing.
The articles at this site are enough to get this site mentioned in this chapter,
but the Resources page shines just as brightly. Here you find a directory of
forums, newsletters, blogs, interactive tools, seminars, and Web sites that are
resourceful in other ways.
Operated by Jill Whelan, an optimization consultant, the HighRankings site
is distinguished by a friendly atmosphere, a generous allotment of free articles, a free, almost-weekly newsletter, and a discussion forum dedicated to
The High Rankings Advisor newsletter, contains articles by Whalen and
guest writers. Many of these pieces are archived in the Advisor Articles
section; new and mid-level optimizers would do well to read through
the whole lot of them. The articles tend to be detail-oriented, with, for
example, entire tutorials devoted to a single meta tag. You can also find
great information about getting framed sites indexed in Google, submitting
to directories, and other basic tasks sometimes ignored by high-pressure
optimization shops. maintains a vigorous do-it-yourself
sensibility, even as it offers site evaluations, writing services, and content
The discussion forum is possibly the most thorough and SEO-dedicated set of
message boards anywhere. This forum hosts well over 1000 topics and about
15,000 messages covering every possible aspect of site optimization. (See
Figure 16-1.)
Jill Whalen is an active participant and friendly moderator of the voluminous
Webmaster chatter. Conversations, like the articles, tend toward technical
details. Participants use the space to work out fine points of site coding, CSS
style sheets, supplementary programs that bundle code in spider-friendly
ways, strategies for organizing page elements at the code level, and so forth.
I recommend the HighRankings forum most highly to serious optimizers and
Webmasters at all levels who have questions.
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
Figure 16-1:
The HighRankings.
com forum
is the most
area for
Newsletters and newsletter archives are a terrific resource for optimization
tips. Beyond the sheer informational value, receiving newsletters sparks
continued work on your site, reminding you that optimization is an ongoing
(frankly, never-ending) occupation. True, you can’t avoid repetition when
scanning dozens of articles, but sometimes we need to be nudged repeatedly
to do our online chores.
Medium Blue is an optimization and marketing consultancy with a free monthly
newsletter. Less chatty and varied than Jill Whalen’s High Rankings Advisor
(see the preceding section), the Medium Blue sheet is informative in its formal
way. Each newsletter is a single article utterly lacking in chatter, ads, links,
and other distractions.
Past editions are archived back to November 2001, forming a useful knowledge
bank covering subjects as diverse as keywords (of course), evaluating site performance, monitoring search engine positions, long-term techniques to attain
high rankings, and site traffic analysis. Broad rather than detailed, the articles don’t divulge finicky matters of HTML tagging or keyword density. One
newsletter from 2003 contains an interview with the founder of Wordtracker
(see Chapter 4).
Part V: The Part of Tens
Keyword Verification and
Link Popularity Tools
This section spotlights a few interactive tools. These pages don’t provide optimization tools per se, such as meta tag generators. Rather, these gadgets check
on the results of your optimization efforts in two areas:
Keyword verification, which checks a URL’s presence on the results
pages of several search engines, when searching for certain keywords
Link popularity, which checks the number of incoming links to a URL, as
viewed through multiple search engines
Marketleap Keyword Verification tool provides an integrated set of optimization checks. The two
tools described here are beautifully designed and create elegant displays of
results. These gadgets are free to use.
Figure 16-2 shows the Keyword Verification tool. It tells you whether your site
(or specific page) is returned in the search results of 11 major search engines
and, if so, on what search results page it appears. (The definition of a results
page is not provided; my experiments indicate that a page probably equals 10
Follow these steps:
1. Enter a URL.
If you’re checking an inner page of your site, you don’t need to enter the
full address of that page, although it doesn’t hurt to do so. Marketleap
finds inner-page matches to your keywords to whatever extent the tested
search engines can find them.
2. Enter a keyword or phrase.
Type whatever you’ve optimized for, as if a Google user were searching for
that phrase. You’re likely to get more encouraging results if you enter a
phrase, not a single word. Placing quotes around the phrase, for an exact
match to word order, creates more hits, but doesn’t necessarily create a
realistic report of your site’s visibility to the average Google user.
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
Figure 16-2:
tool, ready
to search
the engines
for a site’s
3. Enter the displayed access code.
Simply type the code that appears in colored letters. Forcing users to
replicate the code prevents this tool from being overused by automated
4. Click the Generate Report button.
A moment after the results first appear, they’re redrawn in a table, as
shown in Figure 16-3.
Note in Figure 16-3 that some engines match your keywords with a targeted
inner page (in this example, the page that’s best optimized for the keyword
phrase), and other engines can’t see that deeply. Google has crawled the site
carefully, but AltaVista has not.
Marketleap doesn’t check any engines beyond the third page. If your page
doesn’t appear in the results table, the omission is not necessarily an indicator that your page has not been crawled by that engine. However, it does indicate that the page is not optimized powerfully for that engine. In the context
of this book, Google is the top priority, so all is well with the results shown in
Figure 16-3.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Figure 16-3:
of the
test. Some
engines see
the inner
page; some
do not.
Marketleap Link Popularity Check
Marketleap’s second optimization tool measures your incoming link network
(see Chapter 3). In an attractive twist, this little engine also lets you compare
your main link with three comparison URLs, as shown in Figure 16-4.
Finally — and this goes above the call of duty — the results page fills in gaps
by supplying total incoming links for many other URLs, providing a broad
context in which to evaluate your site. The result can be discouraging, but
here goes:
1. Enter your site’s URL, and then enter three comparison URLs.
In both cases, enter the exact page you want to compare, with the
understanding that in most cases it should be the home, or index, page.
Most incoming links aim straight for the front door. However, if you have
been optimizing and networking an inner page, this is the place to check
out the results.
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
Figure 16-4:
The Link
ready to
the backlink
totals of four
sites in five
2. Select an industry from the drop-down list.
This selection determines the nature of the fill-in sites that Marketleap
provides on the results page. The more accurately you choose the industry, the more meaningful the context of your results.
3. Enter the access code.
Again, this step blocks automated scripts.
4. Click the Generate Report button.
Wait a few seconds for the results to appear on your screen. This tool is
usually slower than the Keyword Verification device.
Figure 16-5 illustrates a results table. You see only part of the table; the
comparison results continue down the page, ending with media juggernaut and its impressive 6.6 million backlinks.
Note that Google often shows fewer incoming links than the other four search
engines in the table. It can be a shock to think that your site’s hard-won backlinks are incompletely represented in Google. Actually, Google doesn’t necessarily divulge all incoming links in its index for a given page.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Figure 16-5:
The Link
table. You
can search
against a
Google excludes similar results, which, in many cases, means inner pages of
sites. Those inner pages might be in your own site, if you generate a lot of your
own incoming links (most sites do). Furthermore, Google (at its discretion)
excludes the display of incoming links with low PageRanks. The result of these
omissions can make it seem that other engines do a better job of assessing a
site’s backlink network. That might or might not be true in any given crawl
cycle. The more common truth is that Google withholds some results of some
searches using the link: operator. Google explicitly warns Webmasters not to
trust the link: operator (used here for Google’s column in the results table)
for a full backlink picture. The value of this table lies in the comparisons it
From the search results table, use the drop-down menu to run the search
again against a different industry.
Mike’s Link Popularity Checker
An alternative to the Marketleap tool described in the preceding section, Mike’s
backlink checker does not include results from HotBot but adds Teoma to the
mix. Google, of course, is included. The results are packaged in an attractive
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
table, and several preset sites from diverse industries are checked along with
yours, for comparison, as shown in Figure 16-6. Google is one of those comparative sites — notice that Google’s assessment of its own backlink network
is much lower than the networks of MSN, AllTheWeb, and AltaVista.
Mike’s backlink checker conveniently remembers the five URLs you last
searched. Each search after your first includes the results for your previous
five searches.
When you get to the page listed in the URL, scroll down a bit to find the Link
Popularity Check button and URL entry box.
TopSiteListings is an optimization consultancy with an abundance of do-ityourself information on the site. The preceding link leads you directly to a
section of the News & Article archive devoted to optimization.
Figure 16-6:
Results of
Mike’s Link
Part V: The Part of Tens
These articles are for serious, technically minded Webmasters. The articles
don’t shy away from thorny subjects such as dynamic page optimization and
using your server logs as optimization indicators. Mathematical formulas are
sometimes used to convey a point. This archive might be the spot where you
find answers to nagging questions, such as how to optimize a graphical site
without devolving to all text, thus destroying its look and feel. TopSiteListings,
as a company, responds quickly to Google emergencies such as the late-2003
algorithm change that sent many top listings plummeting down the search
results page. Bookmark this page and check it often. New articles are posted
weekly, more or less.
SEO Consultants Directory
SEO Consultants is what it says it is, and more. Although the site focuses on
SEO issues, the company also consults on the larger field of search engine
marketing. The directory published at this site is excellent. Click the SEO
Resources button in the left navigation panel to get started.
This site provides a definite rarity: a Froogle optimization tutorial. Click the
Froogle SEO button in the left navigation bar. If that button doesn’t exist
when you read this, try the following link:
Search Engine World Tools
Search Engine World is a terrific search marketing resource that every
Webmaster should know about. Here, I want to point you to three tools
related to optimization.
Webpage Size Checker
You don’t need a special tool to see the file size of your Web page; a quick
glance on your hard drive can tell you that. But this gadget gives you more
than just the raw file size, as shown in Figure 16-7.
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
Figure 16-7:
Below the Total WebPage Size in the results table are three related statistics:
Visible Text Size, Size of HTML Tags, and Text to HTML Ratio. In Figure 16-7,
you can see that the text in the HTML tags (all of which are listed below the
table) outsizes the text on the page body by more than two to one. Troubling?
Well, it depends on the page’s intent. Low text-to-HTML ratios often indicate
pages hosting many links, because links take up a lot of HTML space. So a
directory page, for example, should have a low text-to-HTML ratio.
The next three statistics in Figure 16-7 are also related to each other: Number
of Images, Largest Image Size, and Size of All Images. From the standpoint of
usability and optimization, you want these numbers to be low: few images
(because the Google crawler doesn’t understand what the images are saying),
small images, and low total size of images (for the user’s benefit when loading
the page).
Sim Spider
Sim Spider presents a view of any Web page as a search engine spider sees it.
Spiders also crunch the page down into a compressed index form, which you
don’t see.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Figure 16-8 shows what Sim Spider looks like after it has finished surveying
a page. The illustration shows only a small part of a moderate-sized page.
Beneath the text summary is an inventory of every link on the page. You can
launch a Sim Spider crawl through that link with a single click.
Keyword Density Analyzer
The Keyword Density Analyzer, shown in Figure 16-9, is frequently used by
Webmasters who optimize. This famous, indispensable gadget crawls whatever
page you put into it and computes the frequency with which your chosen keywords appear on the page. Keyword density is usually regarded as a crucial
optimization consideration. Generally, the more dense, the better. This means
that the more instances of your keywords on the page, the more readily Google
can understand what the page is about and rank it accurately. However, too
many mentions of a keyword can be interpreted as spam by Google, serving
to lower the page’s rank rather than raise it.
Figure 16-8:
Sim Spider
a Web page
with all formatting and
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
Figure 16-9:
an analysis.
Figure 16-9 shows this tool just before launching a search. Note the following:
It is important to include the page title, meta keywords, and meta description in the analysis. Remember that the density should be much higher
in those fields.
The default word length is set to four letters and above; this is reasonable.
I’ve never changed it.
Using the stop word list prevents small words from mucking up your
results. Click the stop word list link to see a complete list of excluded
For a general analysis of every word that appears on your page, select
the radio button next to Ignore the following word list. To analyze specific
keywords, select the radio button next Include only the following word
list, and then enter your keywords in the box.
Figure 16-10 shows the keyword density results. Note that the engine analyzes
all possible variations of your keywords, even if they make no sense. Those
tables can be ignored.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Figure 16-10:
A Keyword
Another articles-and-forums site, JimWorld is stronger in the latter department. A slim but useful selection of articles leads to a fine optimization forum
featuring four major discussion areas and about 60,000 messages divided into
some 8000 topics. Registration is free.
Finding SEO forums
Optimization results are hard-won, involving
fastidious work and patience while waiting for
its rewards. Community forums are wonderful
places for would-be and experienced optimizers to visit. Finding a home in one or more of
these forums gives you someplace to go when
you need a question answered. Beyond that
convenience, the message boards make good
and informative reading.
The best communities maintain a topical focus
broader than just site optimization, ranging over
the spectrum of search engine marketing. Here
are two that cover optimization issues within
their diverse marketing topics:
Chapter 16: Ten Site Optimization Resources
Eric Ward
Eric Ward is a link-building specialist, and this site is a must-bookmark for any
Webmaster who focuses on the networking aspect of Google optimization.
Because Google plainly states that backlink networking is the single most
important factor in PageRank, every Webmaster should be concerned with
incoming links. An astonishing persistence of focus on backlinks creates the
most concentrated resource site on this crucial topic I’ve ever seen. Tons of
articles explore every angle of creating backlinks. Legal issues of deep-linking
are covered. Guest writers contribute generously.
SEO Directory
This optimization directory seeks to be a topical link farm, but that aspect
isn’t as important as its articles. The site is young, and the selection of articles is a bit sparse. Let’s hope it grows with an emphasis on the editorial side.
Pros and cons of hiring an SEO company
The time might come when you decide that
you’re not an optimization do-it-yourselfer. Don’t
be embarrassed; endlessly tweaking your tags
and headers might not be the best delegation of
your time and energy.
The main advantages of hiring an SEO firm for
ongoing work are threefold: you buy expertise,
you buy resources, and you save time. Those
resources can be in the form of in-house staff
at the SEO firm and proprietary technology such
as evaluation software.
The main disadvantages of hiring an SEO firm are
also threefold: loss of control, loss of awareness
about what’s going on in your site, and cost. Be
sure to find a communicative company that’s willing to keep you in the loop, so you understand
the game plan for your site every step of the way.
When is it time to hire an SEO company? Not
finding your site on a search results page might
not be a clear-cut indicator that you need professional help. Perhaps you’re searching with
keywords that don’t represent your site or don’t
represent your customers. However, if you see
competitors in Google while you remain invisible, you know that your site is failing to expose
your company.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 17
Ten SEM and SEO Tips
from the Pros
In This Chapter
SEM is (somewhat) revolutionary
On keyword targeting
Finding the balance between free and paid marketing
Optimization versus incoming links
Content and site design
The all-important title tag
Aiming for the top ten
On large and small companies
Building incoming links
The “most important” tips
n this chapter I turn the floor over to professionals in the closely related
fields of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization
(SEO). Optimization is one small but vitally important aspect of online marketing in general and search engine marketing in particular. (Chapter 4 tackles
the subject of optimization with gusto.)
You’ll see some affirmations of principles I talk about throughout the book,
especially in Parts I and II. More than parroting, though, this chapter offers
diversions, alternative thinking, and some contrary views. Marketing is as
much art as science, and this chapter gives space to several top-flight marketing artists.
These professionals were not paid for their contributions, nor did they pay to
be represented in the book. I selected these individuals for the excellence of
their Web-published articles and contacted them with invitations to provide
some words of wisdom. I was frankly astonished at the generosity and enthusiasm that met my unassuming invitation. As you can see in this chapter, many
of the quoted responses are extensive, but I was reluctantly forced to cut out
much more material than I included. These folks are passionate about SEO
Part V: The Part of Tens
and SEM! They gave and gave, and offered to give more. My sincere thanks to
each person who made this chapter possible.
This chapter is structured as a sort of printed roundtable, over which I moderate. However, the chapter is not a transcription, and I didn’t converse with
these folks in real-time. The words of our experts were gathered one by one,
through e-mail, as answers to a broad series of questions. I have culled highlights and organized them according to topics that were most prominent in
the entire body of responses.
Many of the quotes are Google-specific, but I also encouraged the experts to
speak broadly about search-marketing and optimization issues. Indeed, many
principles of sound Google marketing match broader marketing rules. If there’s
one unanimous theme among these experts, it’s that the connection between
site usability and effective customer conversion transcends the mandates of
a specific search engine. In other words: Implement the basics, and you’ll do
well in Google.
SEM Is (Somewhat) Revolutionary
Search engine marketing represents a radical break from traditional media
promotion. How important is this marketing channel? Should every company
be addressing SEM issues and making an effort to extend their brand onto
search results pages? Opinion differs on the revolutionary effect of SEM, but
every expert in this roundup agrees that targeting searchers is a marketing
approach with unique advantages. David Wallace, the C.E.O. and founder of
SearchRank emphasizes the readiness-to-consume among Google users who
are searching for something, as opposed to the relative inertia of consumers
watching traditional advertising.
Search engine marketing is revolutionary in that it targets people
who are actively looking for the services you offer. Conventional
advertising such as television, radio, print, and the like, will try
to get a person’s attention. That person could be watching a
football game or listening to their favorite radio station. Then an
advertisement appears and tries to get them to change whatever
they are doing or thinking about in order to focus on the product
or service that is being offered. With search engine marketing,
that person is already thinking about a particular product or
service and they are actively searching for a business that offers
it. Therefore the business simply needs to make sure they can be
found. With conventional marketing, you find customers. With
SEM, they find you!
David Wallace,
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
Andy Beal, Vice President of Search Marketing at KeywordRanking notes the
sheer volume of consumer traffic through search engines, and compares SEM
to advertising in the Yellow Pages.
Search engine marketing is one of the most cost-effective methods
of marketing available. Over 500-million searches are conducted
worldwide each day, and every one of them is a request for a
product, a service, or information. For an investment that often
equates to the price of an annual Yellow Pages listing, a business
can reach an audience that far exceeds even that of a Super Bowl
commercial. Bottom line, if you have a Web site for a commercial
reason, whether to sell a product or promote a brand, you will
benefit from search engine marketing.
Andy Beal,
Kalena Jordan, C.E.O. of Web Rank Ltd., demurs on the revolutionary aspect
of search marketing. She describes a future that realizes a more mature venue
in which advertisers will connect with qualified leads.
SEM is not so much revolutionary now, as evolutionary. Most
people don’t know how to search the Web properly, meaning they
are often frustrated with the results presented. Search engines
are recognizing this and have begun to promote their “Advanced
Search” features more transparently and educate users on how
to get the most out of advanced search techniques rather than
use “hit-and-miss” techniques. As the search engines learn more
about their users, better technology is being developed to meet
the needs of those users.
The better the search engines become at providing high quality,
relevant search results, the more people will come to rely on
them to find goods and services. This provides an enormous
opportunity for companies to use search engines as vehicles to
be seen by a local, national, or global audience. Savvy companies
have already implemented SEM. Search engine marketing is very
inexpensive compared to offline advertising and much more
effective in terms of ROI because of the targeting potential, so it
simply cannot be overlooked by any company serious about their
online business. SEM and SEO should be seen as a vital and
compulsory component of any Web site budget. After all, what’s
the point of launching a web site if you are going to sabotage its
ability to be found?
Kalena Jordan,
Part V: The Part of Tens
Search engine marketing is indeed revolutionary, and is a great fit
for most businesses. Some companies still continue to believe that
their buyers are not online, but an analysis of the popularity of
keywords and key phrases related to their business will usually
demonstrate otherwise. Typically, if people are looking for something offline, they are also looking for it online (and a recent
study conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology found
that 85% of prospective Web customers use search engines to
find product solutions and vendors).
Another revolutionary aspect of search engine marketing is that
results are directly quantifiable, much more so than any other
form of advertising. When you spend time and effort to increase
your search engine positions or spend money on pay-per-click
advertising, the results of your efforts are directly available in
real-time. Sophisticated and affordable analytic tools tell you how
many additional visitors you are getting, what phrases are bringing
you the most traffic, and even which phrases are bringing you the
most valuable traffic (whether “value” is defined as buying your
products, visiting your contact page, filling out a request form, or
downloading a product demo). Try getting those types of metrics
the next time you run some newspaper ads!
Scott Buresh,
Barry Schwartz, President of RustyBrick, Inc., notes that SEM is 10 years old
and most Web designers and developers are not aware of optimization basics.
On that basis, “revolutionary” is not an appropriate descriptor for SEM; Barry
believes that SEM should be mainstream.
I would not say SEM is revolutionary, as it has been around for
10 years — ever since the search engine was developed. Many
small businesses are not really aware of SEM, and I have seen
several big businesses that do not utilize Google AdWords, let
alone the SEO basics. The beauty of SEM or SEO is that if you
are paying for or optimizing for the correct keyword phrases,
then leads from search engines are already qualified prospects
for your business. It is probably the best type of lead a company
can obtain, except for a client referral. Putting ads in newspapers
or specialized Web sites are not as good by nature.
Today, I think the most crucial aspect of SEO for all businesses is
that the Web designer or Web developer is often lacking the knowledge of what “Search Engine Friendly Design” is all about. Many,
many Web developers just do not understand the basics of SEO
and deploy Web sites that do not comply with simple standards.
Barry Schwartz,
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
To Michael Marshall, C.E.O. and founder of Internet Marketing Analysts, LLC,
perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of search marketing is the democracy
of it; small businesses can compete effectively with larger corporations on
the same search page.
Search engine marketing is revolutionary in the sense that it is an
advertising medium that levels the playing field to a significant
degree. A small or new business can compete with older and larger
businesses because what makes the difference in successful
advertising in search engines is more a matter of what you know,
not who you know or how much money you can throw at it.
Furthermore, if you have optimized your site correctly, ALL of
your search engine traffic is pre-qualified targeted traffic! What
you have is the least expensive (often free), just-in-time (exactly
when they want your product) advertising. This is why every
company should be directing resources along this avenue.
Chances are your competition already has.
Michael Marshall,
Finally, Prabuddha Raychaudhuri, C.E.O. of Search Engine Optimization Guru
Pvt. Ltd., quotes marketing figures to make his point that most companies
should be more involved in search marketing.
A company should invest in all avenues of internet marketing,
including SEO/SEM to maximize its ROI of marketing spending.
According to one SEO report by CyberAtlas, it was found that
“nearly 46 percent of the marketers surveyed said they allocate
less than 0.5 percent of their annual marketing budgets on search
engine optimization (SEO) services, while only 10 percent spend
more than 25 percent of their marketing budgets on increasing
their visibility on the Web.
Prabuddha S. Raychaudhuri,
On Keyword Targeting
Of all aspects of search engine marketing, identifying core keywords at the
center of every campaign and Web site is the most crucial.
The most important aspect of any SEO/SEM campaign is to
determine what keywords your target audience is searching for
and ensure that your web site content is the most relevant to that
search. Google is looking to display the most relevant search
Part V: The Part of Tens
results, and in doing so, looks for web pages that appear to focus
on the keyword searched. Optimizing your web site does not
mean tricking the search engines, but involves enhancing the
theme within each page to demonstrate to Google that your site
is the best match to the entered search.
Andy Beal,
Kalena Jordan emphasizes the easily forgotten, yet obvious, point of including
keywords in page text. She also recommends strict divisions in a site’s page
structure based on highly niched product categories and their associated
The secret is to focus. Search engines aren’t going to rank your web
site about socks highly if your body copy talks about foot sizes.
You need to get specific. It sounds really obvious, but if you sell
socks, make sure your site copy has plenty of references to the
word socks! If you sell green wool socks, target the phrase “green
wool socks” and not “foot apparel in lovely shades of emerald”!
Who’s going to search for socks using that phrase? At the risk of
sounding like Dr Seuss, if you want to be the destination site for
big socks, small socks, cotton socks, and wool socks, then mention
them all. Better still, sort your copy into categories based on your
various products and services. If you sell wool socks AND cotton
socks, then have a page dedicated to each kind. This allows you
to target niche keywords within your copy and meet the search
engine’s relevancy guidelines for related search queries.
Kalena Jordan,
Kalena also offers practical advice for deterring the most effective keywords.
When choosing keywords and phrases to target, ask yourself
“What would I type in to a search engine to find my product or
service?” If you don’t feel confident choosing your own keywords,
use a keyword research tool such as to determine
what people are typing into search engines. Ask your friends,
family, and colleagues what words they would use to locate sites
like yours.
Kalena Jordan,
Using multiple keywords is important — nearly everyone agrees on that.
Single keywords tend to be more competitive, more expensive to target, and
less effective from an ROI perspective. Consumers searching on Google are
realizing a similar insight: searching on multiple-word strings gets them to
the best sites faster than entering broad, one-word queries.
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
Recent studies indicate that as the Web evolves, searchers are
becoming much more skilled at finding what they need, and
are using multiple terms in their search queries. As this trend
continues, the multiple-word keyphrase you target today will be
even more valuable tomorrow.
Scott Buresh,
Instead of trying to achieve top-ten positioning on Google for a
handful of one-word, highly competitive (and highly ambiguous)
search terms, consider targeting hundreds of two- or three-word
search terms instead. You’ll not only achieve faster results, but
also attract better qualified traffic.
Andy Beal,
Alan Webb, C.E.O. of ABAKUS Internet Marketing, warns of two mutual dangers: targeting too narrowly and too broadly.
Establishing the best keywords for your domain is crucial for
success. There is no point being on top for a search term that is
either irrelevant to your content or hardly ever gets searched for.
You can also, however, go the other way and optimize for terms
that are too broad. They may receive hundreds if not thousands of
searches per day, but are in many cases extremely difficult to rank
well and are simply not targeted enough in most cases to what
your web presence actually offers. An example would be a games
console repair company targeting the keyword “playstation.” How
many searchers Googling that keyword are actually looking for a
games console repair company?
Alan Webb,
On Finding the Balance between
Free and Paid Marketing
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of this book are devoted to free methods of heightening a
site’s visibility in Google. Chapters 6 through 10 discuss the complex, fast-lane
method of bidding in the AdWords program for instant, first-page positioning
on Google’s results pages. In Google and in the larger world of search marketing, a balance must be struck between free and paid methods of attracting
customers. In the discussion of free marketing vs. paid marketing, the free, socalled organic methods consist primarily of site optimization and its spinoff,
Part V: The Part of Tens
link building. (See Chapter 3 for ways to build a network of incoming links.)
The paid method under consideration is cost-per-click (CPC) advertising,
also known as pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.
Most of our experts recommend a blend of optimization and paid placement.
Andy Beal gets specific about this balance:
In an ideal world, a business would simply need organic search
engine optimization in order to drive traffic and increase online
revenues. Unfortunately, in the real world, that is often not possible.
Many businesses discover that they need to include some CPC
advertising in order to fully benefit from search engine traffic. CPC
is especially useful for any type of marketing that needs to be
launched in a timely manner. If you implement a well-considered
and targeted organic search engine optimization campaign, CPC
advertising should not account for more than 15-20% of your
overall search engine marketing efforts.
Andy Beal,
In Kalena Jordan’s universe, the optimal balance varies depending on situation
and should be determined by return on investment.
The optimum balance is one that provides you with a solid ROI on
your SEM investment. For example, you might have successfully
optimized your site to rank highly for targeted keywords and
phrases via the organic search listings, but have trouble cracking
the top-ten rankings for more generic competitive terms. That’s
when you implement a pay-per-click campaign to purchase the
more generic terms and out-bid your competitors for those. That
way your site is always in front of eyeballs in the search engines —
whether in the organic listings or on the advertising side.
Kalena Jordan,
Barry Schwartz makes a compelling case for intensifying one’s attempt to
land on a search page as both an organic listing and a paid advertiser. Scott
Buresh makes the same point, by comparing search advertising to magazine
advertising, in which a company’s ads might appear in the same issue as editorial content that mentions the company. Forced to choose, though, Scott
would probably take the organic approach — not for the cost savings, but
because of the greater perceived integrity of a high organic listing on a search
results page.
Some companies just allocate budgets to SEO or PPC but not
both. This is a huge mistake. You have a 94% chance of achieving
a click if your listing appears both in the organic results and the
paid results on the same page. That is huge. In addition, if Google
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
makes a major change to their ranking algorithm you can drop
off the organic (free) results and your business can tank with no
warning. If you do not allocate your SEM budget properly to both
SEO and PPC then you have a lot to worry about.
Barry Schwartz,
Ideally, a company would want to be represented in both the
organic results and the paid results of a search engine. To draw a
comparison, consider a trade publication related to your business.
The publication is full of articles, editorials, and stories about
your industry, akin to the “organic results” of a search engine. In
addition, there are numerous ads, akin to the “paid results” of a
search engine. Many people will skip over the ads entirely and
delve straight into the articles. Some will also take note of the
ads. Being represented in both will give you the best chance to
reach your prospects.
If you had to choose one strategy for long term results, however,
you would probably opt to be included in the organic results. Much
like the articles in a trade publication, these results are purported
to be non-biased, and people tend to be less skeptical of them than
of paid advertisements. However, properly optimizing a website
can take a great deal of time, much like developing sustained PR
exposure. With paid advertisements, your ad appears more or less
immediately, but once you stop paying, your exposure disappears.
Scott Buresh,
Michael Marshall returns the focus to the bottom line — the company’s ROI,
while also sketching the ideal situation of low CPC expenses in marketing highmargin products. Mike points out what is, to his view, the most potent advantage of CPC over organic listings: the instant results of buying placement on
the first results page. Organic marketing, which requires gradual improvement
of a site’s marketing efficiency and relies on Google’s crawl schedule, is the
slower path to visibility. On the other hand, the results of optimization endure
beyond the expense of creating a highly optimized site, whereas the advantages of CPC placement end the moment you stop spending for them.
The optimum balance for organic marketing and ad marketing
(CPC) should be gauged by (1) the ROI for you of these different
approaches, and (2) the needs and goals of a particular marketing
campaign. For example, if you need exposure quickly and because
of a time-sensitive promotional, CPC may be the way to go.
Similarly, if you are fortunate enough to a have a low CPC cost
in combination with a high ticket-price item you’re selling, your
conversion ratio may make this approach well worth the money
spent (lost) on the visitors that don’t buy.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Now, in many cases it is possible to achieve all of the benefits
of CPC by using organic marketing (search engine optimization).
The main difference and primary advantage of CPC over organic
marketing is a faster “speed to market” for your ad. However, it
is possible to structure and optimize your site in such a way that
when adding a new page to the site, it might take only a couple
of days for that page to show up in the search engines and if it is
optimized well it will achieve a high ranking for its keyphrase(s)
as well. Achieving this via organic marketing requires more skill
on the front-end of optimizing your main site prior to whatever
special promotional needs or goals you have that are timesensitive. So if you haven’t already done that and you’re in a
hurry, CPC will still be your best bet for your goal.
Michael Marshall,
Dave Davies of StepForth Placement Services doesn’t deny the time advantage
of paid marketing but still emphasizes organic placement as the preferred form
of visibility.
Generally speaking, top organic placements are the most effective
(organic placements get more attention) and lucrative form of
promotion in the online marketplace. Organic marketing should
be the first target for any Internet promotion plan. Even secondpage organic placements, however, can take time to achieve, so,
depending on the budget available, it is recommended that a
small CPC campaign be implemented to generate interim traffic
while organic placements are assessed. This two-pronged approach
will ultimately provide the marketer with a clearer picture of which
marketing tool is more efficient for their targeted terms, thus
determining the proper balance for ROI. The exception is where
the competition is so well entrenched that obtaining a top placement is expected to take a great deal of time to attain. In this case,
a larger CPC campaign should be created to generate traffic to
the web site while organic placements slowly improve.
Dave Davies,
Karyn Greenstreet, a freelance SEO specialist and founder of Passion for
Business, purports the most radical viewpoint in this section, recommending
that a marketing plan should forget about organic methods entirely when
competing in high-profile, broadly targeted search areas.
If your site is based on very competitive keywords, dump search
engine optimization efforts altogether and spend the money on
pay-per-click advertising such as AdWords. For instance, if you
type in “online advertising strategy” in Google and see 3 million
responses, you know it is time to turn to pay-per-click. How will
you know which to choose (SEO vs. AdWords)? Do the math.
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
Calculate your cost to hire someone to do SEO work for you (or
calculate the hours you’ll spend in both initial SEO work and
monthly SEO updates), and compare that cost to a fixed monthly
budget for AdWords. Since you get to set the daily budget amount
in AdWords, you may find that AdWords is the better deal in the
long run.
Karyn Greenstreet,
Optimization versus Incoming Links
In the area of site optimization, another balance must be decided: the one
between page optimization (including tag authoring, keyword embedding,
content design, and other considerations covered in Chapter 4) and link
building (constructing a network of incoming links from other sites in your
topical field). These two tasks are the twin drivers of organic list position in
Google, determined by Google’s PageRank, Google states clearly that incoming links (the number and quality of those links) represent the greatest single
factor in a site’s PageRank, but some of our experts surprisingly put their
weight into the optimization side of the equation.
Every search engine marketing campaign should start with a focus
on the actual content and structure of the website. Not until you
have conducted your keyword research, improved the keyword
density of your text and ensured a search engine friendly structure,
should you consider building the number of inbound links.
However, you should not consider building links as a separate
practice. Obtaining quality links from external sources should be
an integral part of any search engine marketing campaign.
Andy Beal,
Building links and optimizing your site are both important.
Personally, I would give primary importance, between the two,
to optimization of the site itself. Backlinks, links pointing to your
site from other sites, can improve the ranking of your site quite
considerably. It must be understood, however, that it’s not simply
a matter of the number of backlinks but the quality of backlinks
that counts. You must have the right kinds of sites linking to you
in the right kinds of ways. Having the right kind of site linking to
you in the wrong way may cause you to lose the benefit from
that link you could have had. Having the wrong kind of site linking
to you (link farms, for example) might even cause a decrease in
your ranking.
Michael Marshall,
Part V: The Part of Tens
The more competitive the keyword the more you need to build
links. Always, always need to optimize your site — that is always
step one no matter what.
Barry Schwartz,
David Wallace makes an interesting comparison between incoming links and
political endorsement. It’s a good point, and the endorsement angle is exactly
why Google rewards highly linked sites.
Optimizing a Web site for keyword phrases that are relevant to
one’s business and obtaining quality external links are equally
important. Think of it as a political race. A candidate can have a
good character, support relevant issues, and have a great message.
However, if no one endorses or votes for them, they are not going
to hold office for the position they are running for. A Web site is
the same in that it may have great content and be aesthetically
pleasing, but if no one links to it, it is not going to hold a very
high position in a search engine.
David Wallace,
Dave Davies takes the middle road: Optimization and incoming links are
equally important. Why not cover all bases?
Link building and site optimization are equally important.
A well optimized website allows clear paths for not only Google,
but all search engine spiders. As it stands today Google relies
heavily on relevant inbound links for ranking websites. With an
aggressive link building campaign it is quite possible to rank in the
top ten without having done any optimization work. But keep in
mind; if Google makes an adjustment to its algorithm to give links
less weight, your rankings could plummet. If you pursue a wellrounded campaign combining optimization with link building, not
only do you have a stronger chance to achieve top rankings in the
first place, but your placements are more likely to remain in place
after an algorithm change.
Google loves links, and lots of them. At the time this answer was
written, the most important factor to a strong ranking at Google
is highly relevant links coming in from sites with higher page ranks
than yours. We see lots of sites that, in our opinion, should not be
ranking at Google. However, these sites always have a ton of links
coming in from highly relevant and high PR sites.
Dave Davies,
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
On Content and Site Design
This section is all about optimization.
If your web site doesn’t contain any body text on the home page,
give yourself a good smack and go to your room without supper.
When you’re ready to behave and design your site with the search
engines in mind, come back out and start over.
Kalena Jordan,
You need rich, relevant content to support your keyphrases, and I
advise having at least 200 words on any page that is optimized for
search engine ranking.
Michael Marshall,
Does each page of your site stand on its own as a content page? Scott Buresh
recommends building pages around keywords, not finding space on preexisting pages for new keywords.
Treat each page of your site as a separate potential entry page.
Many “optimized” sites are really only optimized for the home
page — a tremendous waste of potential. Use software like
Wordtracker to find out what your potential customers are typing
in search engines, and make sure that you directly address these
areas of interest on your site. Don’t be afraid to add content to
your site to cover additional topics — especially if you know that
your visitors are interested in them. As a rule of thumb, don’t ask
“Where am I going to fit these keyphrases on my site?” Ask
instead “Why do I not have a page of my site devoted to this
popular topic?”
Make your website an authority on your area of business. After
optimizing their website, people are often dismayed to discover
that it is very difficult to collect relevant incoming links. They don’t
realize that webmasters of quality sites will often link to sites that
provide valuable information without even being asked. Make
sure you devote a large portion of your site to informational
content that people in your industry would find useful. There is a
direct relationship between valuable content, incoming links, and
search engine rankings — but very often people try to achieve the
last two without devoting any energy toward the first.
Scott Buresh,
Part V: The Part of Tens
Genius is in the details! Lee Traupel, founder and C.E.O. of Intelective
Communications, likes to place important keywords toward the top of
each optimized page:
Google’s “spider” (automated bot that visits and archives
information) also “likes” sites that have keywords that are
closer to the top of a page — the spider does not like to wade
through a great deal of HTML code to find keywords. So, utilize
your keywords at the top of the page in titles, headers, first two
to three sentences, etc.
Lee Traupel,
The single most important aspect to consider when optimizing
your website is to approach it from a user’s perspective. The folks
at Google conduct extensive studies on what types of results and
websites their users like to see, and naturally tailor their algorithms
accordingly. While there are many tricks du jour that will work in
the short term, the real secret to long term success on Google is
to piggyback on the knowledge that they have acquired about
web searchers. By deducing through the Google algorithm what
the preferences of Google searchers are and applying these
qualities to your site, you are making your site more attractive
not only to Google, but also to the user.
Scott Buresh,
Very important is the structure of the site. Are all pages fewer than
three clicks away from the homepage, for example? Are the links
normal href links and not javascript, flash, or image map links?
Alan Webb,
The simple truth is this: search engines read text and not much else.
You absolutely, positively need to use text on the pages of your
site that you want indexed and ranked highly. Not graphical text
that you created in your fancy design software, but actual, visible
body text. Whether it’s Google or AskJeeves or AllTheWeb or
AltaVista or whoever, you need to include visible text on your site
pages if you want them indexed and found by potential visitors.
Kalena Jordan,
Finally, a technical note from Scott Buresh:
Sites built completely in Flash are a nightmare from a search
engine perspective, since very few search engines can properly
index the technology. In the past few years, many big-name
companies have spent big dollars on Flash sites, only to discover
that Flash rendered their site essentially invisible to search engines.
Another thing to avoid is framesets, since they hinder the spider’s
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
ability to distinguish between individual pages on the site. Also,
the text on your site should be in standard HTML. While using
graphic text might give you more aesthetic options, a search engine
spider can’t read it, and therefore the engine won’t be able to tell
what your page is about. Finally, if you are going to use certain
navigation schemes, such as javascript pulldown menus, make
sure that you also create an alternate text navigation scheme
to ensure that the spider has a path to follow. Many sites
unintentionally limit the spider’s access to only the homepage.
Scott Buresh,
On the All-Important Title Tag
You might think that asking several SEO experts what they think is the most
important optimization detail would yield a fierce and diverse argument.
Amazingly, one simple answer emerges with remarkable agreement. The good
news is that the single most important optimization trick is also one of the
easiest to accomplish.
The title might be the single most important on-page SEO element,
because (1) it tells search engines what to find on that page, and
(2) search engines use that title in the search engine results page.
So if you have your company name in the title of your page and it
does not accurately describe what that page is about (example:
your product) then the search engine will not rank that page well
for your product. In addition, if you do rank for that page, the
search engine user (searcher) will see just your company name
and say, “What does this have to do with my search?” and skip
over to a more relevant listing.
Barry Schwartz,
How many times have you looked at a web site where the page
Title in your browser reads “Welcome to [company name]’s web
site” or simply “[Company Name]”? Nothing wrong with that, I
hear you say? Well if you want to achieve high search engine
rankings, there’s PLENTY wrong with it. You see, while it may not
be common knowledge amongst webmasters or (shock, horror!)
even some web designers, most search engines index the content
of the Title Attribute and consider it to be one of THE most important
factors in their relevancy algorithm. What you place in your Title
can make or break your ranking for particular search terms on the
various engines. If you don’t include your most important search
phrases within your Title tag (and target the content of each Title to
the content on each page), you are overlooking a vital opportunity
in your quest for higher search rankings.
Part V: The Part of Tens
Having said this, you should try and keep your Title to a maximum
of 200 characters, as that is the average limit most search engines
will truncate to. If you really insist on including your company
name in your title and you’re willing to sacrifice good keyword
real estate to do so, put it at the very end of the tag, because
search engines give more relevancy “weight” to content at the
start of your tag.
Kalena Jordan,
As for what is known as ‘on-page’ optimization, which involves
the source code on your website, probably the most important
thing to get right is the Title tag. This has to be the most weighted
tag on a webpage, and if your keywords do not show up in it,
then you can expect poor rankings.
Alan Webb,
The two most important aspects when optimizing a site for Google
or any other crawler-based search engine are the title tag and
content of each page. One should make sure that the keywords
that are relevant to each page are represented in the title tag of
the page as opposed to saying something like “Welcome to our
site!”. One must also make sure they have well-written HTML text
that also represents the keywords they wish to target. With Google,
more often than not, content is king.
David Wallace,
Aiming for the Top Ten
It is perhaps not surprising that a crew of SEM consultants would wax optimistic about the chances of cracking the top ten search results in Google.
They’re not likely to conclude that the quest is hopeless. But every one of
the pros recognizes the daunting challenge of competing for top listings for
single, generic keywords. The recipe for success pulls together marketing
precepts scattered throughout the book.
It is quite realistic to aim for top ten (or, what is often just as
effective, top twenty) search results. In fact, you should aim for
nothing less. It is a well-known fact of searching behavior that
most people do not look at more than the first 2 pages (top 20)
in the search results before either revising their search term or
switching to another search engine if they don’t find what they
want on those first 2 pages. You can crack the competition by
following long-standing, tried-and-true SEM principles (no tricks
or spamming).
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
Principle #1: Find what terms and phrases (related to your business)
people are using in their searches. Principle #2: Give the search
engines what they want, and they will give you the traffic that you
want. Principle #3: Always follow a search engine’s own guidelines
for URL submission. Principle #4: Always follow a search engine’s
own page guidelines for avoiding penalties. Principle #5: Once
you’ve ascertained the specifics related to principle #2, analyze
what your competition is doing that you can improve upon, or
what they are not doing that will give you the edge. Principle #6:
Develop a strategy that is long-term, not a quick fix. If you want
results that last and grow, run this race as a marathon, not a
sprint. Principle #7: Don’t put all your efforts into just one strategy
or search engine. Principle #8: Track results in a nice closed-loop
fashion to better assess ROI and which strategies do and don’t
produce desired results. Principle #9: With regard to the quality of
link partners you choose, guilt by association is just as important
as good reputation by association, in the eyes of the search
engines. Principle #10: Be Patient!
Michael Marshall,
It is entirely realistic for a small business to crack the top ten
under almost any two-keyword phrase but it is pretty difficult to
crack the top ten under a one-keyword phrase. When considering
keyword targets, we generally advise clients to select a variety of
highly relevant two- or three-keyword phrases. This is almost
always more beneficial for smaller websites simply because the
more words are associated with the keyword-target, the better
chance we have of getting the top-ten listing.
It is also advisable to map out your search engine placement
campaign in stages, taking the easier-to-reach keyword targets
first and getting the more competitive phrases later. This method
establishes your site as a top-ten player, likely garners you more
initial visitors in a short time (which is noted and tracked by
Google), and gives you a strong platform from which to chase
more competitive phrases.
Dave Davies,
Achieving top-ten Google and other search engine rankings
through a natural (organic) process is realistic and possible, even
for the most generic and highly competitive terms like “internet
marketing,” “weight loss,” etc. However, successful organic SEO
campaigns need continuous SEO efforts and patience (may take
5-6 months) before a web site attains top-ten rankings.
Vudatala Meena,
Part V: The Part of Tens
It’s not very realistic for many small businesses to achieve top-ten
search results on Google unless they are utilizing keywords that
are not too competitive but that will still drive traffic. The “less
competitive” traffic may not be as great as what a top-tier
keyword might provide; but in the end, a conservative strategy
will frequently pay off with quality traffic that generates a desired
action like a lead or revenue generation.
Lee Traupel,
On Large and Small Companies
One of the most potent attractions of search engine marketing, as well as a
reason for its surging influence in online promotion, is its accessibility. Any
site can increase its business with Google. In fact, small businesses often
have advantages over corporations in this realm, because they tend to be
more nimble and, in certain ways, more resourceful. Search marketing isn’t a
puzzle that can usually be solved by throwing money at it. So the deep-pocket
path to dominance in media promotion doesn’t work when it comes to optimization and CPC battles. Small businesses are racing to gain traction in the
most democratic of all marketing venues.
Small businesses can indeed compete with larger companies
on search engines, and in fact have certain advantages. They
are typically able to make necessary search engine adjustments
to the company Web site without running it through multiple
departments and then making a board presentation (all the while
defending against complaints from IT and Marketing about
perceived infringements on their turf). Also, large corporations
are much more likely to assign the task to an internal person,
who typically has no background in search engine marketing and
has many other job functions to fulfill. This is a primary reason
that some of the most egregious search engine errors you will
ever see consistently come from household name companies.
Scott Buresh,
For small-business owners and entrepreneurs, the advantages of
search engine placement are enormous. SEO is still one of the
most affordable forms of advertising available. In no other way
can a business promote their products/services to a worldwide
market for the costs associated with SEO.
Compare, for example, the cost of SEO to Yellow Pages ads. A full
SEO campaign can often be undertaken for a fraction of the cost of
a single Yellow Pages ad yet make your site visible to a worldwide
market rather than just the local market served by the Yellow Pages.
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
Additionally, once the SEO is complete, the cost to maintain it
is relatively low. In traditional forms of media, the high cost of
continued marketing is generally maintained with little reduction
over time.
Dave Davies,
SEO/SEM is an area that can be harnessed by the small-business
owners to the fullest extent. In other words, SEO/SEM is a tool
that can aid the small-business owners to fight with their bigger
brothers on the same platform and even surpass them. Though
small businesses are often impaired by limited advertising/
marketing budgets, proper utilization of that budget through
SEO/SEM can provide high returns for them. In a nutshell, the
most crucial aspect of SEO/SEM for a small-business owner or
entrepreneur is the unlimited business opportunity that it achieves
through top-ten Google ranking of their Web site even when pitted
against some of the major corporations.
Prabuddha S. Raychaudhuri,
A small business should concentrate on not just creating a few
brochure pages, but making their Web site a resource that is worthy
of bookmarking. Check the top results for your main search term
and see how many pages those sites at the top have listed. To do
that, type into the Google search box “site:www.domaintobe” (without the quotation marks). Then build your site
with at least as many pages as they have, if not more. Also be
sure to actively seek links to your site. A small business doesn’t
have to have a small (and insignificant) Web site!
Alan Webb,
Sumantra Roy, founder of 1st Search Ranking, has a few priority guidelines for
larger companies.
For the larger enterprise (I am talking of very large companies with
well-known brands like IBM, Nokia, etc.) link popularity presents
less of a challenge. Their reputation ensures that lots of other Web
sites will link to them without being asked to do so. For larger
enterprises, the most important thing would be to ensure that the
thousands of pages they have in their sites are properly optimized
in terms of proper placement of keywords in the Title tag and in
the main content. Secondly, large organizations need to have a
proper internal linking strategy so that all the pages in the site can
be spidered by the search engines. Lastly, large organizations need
to have proper documentation and quality assurance policies in
place so that any changes that are made to a page in order to boost
its rankings in the search engines are properly documented. This
Part V: The Part of Tens
ensures that after a page has been optimized, the changes are not
reversed by someone else in the organization who does not know
that these changes are supposed to be there.
Sumantra Roy,
Building Incoming Links
While the important backlink network isn’t part of on-site optimization, it is
definitely part of marketing the site to Google. So, optimization specialists
cannot, and do not, ignore this crucial area.
The best way to get incoming links from other webmasters is of
course to have quality content. Consider a FAQ, tutorial, forum,
glossary, unique online tool, detailed product pages, and technical
Alan Webb,
The most important thing that a small business should do is to
improve the link popularity of its website. Link Popularity is by far
the most important factor as far as getting top rankings in Google
(and many of the other major search engines) is concerned. You
can’t build your link popularity simply by setting up multiple websites and having them link to your website. You also can’t build
your link popularity by submitting your website to hundreds of
free-for-all pages. You should first submit your site to directories
like the Open Directory and to other industry-specific directories.
Then, you should have an ongoing reciprocal linking program for
your website, i.e. you should approach other sites that are related
to your site and ask them whether they would be interested in
linking to your site in exchange for your site linking to them.
Sumantra Roy,
On-the-page techniques alone can often get great results for less
competitive keyphrases without requiring a great deal of link
building. However, on-page factors can only take you so far.
As your less competitive keyphrases become more competitive
(and if they are valuable they almost certainly will), your site
will inevitably show a steady decline in rankings over time as
competing sites concentrate on both aspects of optimization. And
if you target more competitive phrases at the outset, you will
almost certainly need to do some quality link building if you
intend to crack the top twenty.
On the other hand, if you concentrate on link building alone, you
run the risk of being judged solely by the company you keep. If
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
you don’t pay attention to any on-page factors (especially technical
issues), Google might decide what your site is about only by the
type of sites that are linking to you, not by the type of information
you provide. This makes it very difficult to target the wide range
of phrases that are necessary for a successful search engine
optimization initiative.
Scott Buresh,
Getting links from other sites will help to boost your rankings in
Google. But not just any site will do. Choose sites that have a high
Google Page Ranking (use the Google Toolbar to see a site’s page
ranking). Also, choose sites which are rich in content, as they will
attract the most visitors, who will also see your site. Finally, sites
with high Page Ranking and rich content tend to score better on
Google’s search results rankings, so having a link from their site
to your site will drive business to you as a secondary click off a
high ranking search result (from Google’s results, to the high
ranking page where your site is listed, to your page).
Karyn Greenstreet,
It is also advisable to cultivate several highly relevant links from
sites with page ranks higher than yours. Use the anchor text in
these links wisely by having a variety of keyword phrases used
across different sites.
Dave Davies,
The Most Important Tips
This section is for final arguments — the crucial, boil-it-down, golden-rule
words of wisdom.
Karyn Greenstreet and David Wallace agree that the emotional strategies of
patience and tenacity are as important as anything you do on the screen.
The most important part of search engine optimization is patience,
patience, patience. Many search engines update their database
every four to six weeks. If you just missed an update, you might
have to wait a month before your listing is added or modified.
Patience is also key if your rankings drop. Don’t feel pressured to
make SEO changes to your site if you know you did a good job
optimizing it originally. Hold on for a few weeks to see if your
ranking in reinstated before updating your site.
Karyn Greenstreet,
Part V: The Part of Tens
The most crucial aspect of SEO or SEM for both small business and
large business is to be tenacious. SEO/SEM is not a “one time shotin-the-arm cure” as many people believe it to be. It is much like
body-building, which requires a lot of hard work and a continuous
effort. Someone who is going to build muscle mass must commit
to it for the rest of their life or else it will eventually turn to fat. SEO/
SEM is the same. It will take a lot of hard work in the beginning
and even some trial and error to earn high positions. Once a person
has those positions, it requires a continuous effort to keep them.
It is the classic “king of the hill” battle: It is tough to get to the top
and even tougher to fight the elements to stay there.
David Wallace,
It’s no surprise that keyword targeting comes up again in the “most important”
The most crucial aspect of SEO or SEM for any size business,
entrepreneur or enterprise, is choosing the right keyphrase(s) as
the focal point(s) of your search engine marketing strategy. Choose
the wrong keyphrase(s), and everything else you do will be a waste
of time, effort, and money.
Michael Marshall,
Whether you are a large company or a one-person home biz,
whether you are optimizing your web site for performance in the
traditional free or “organic” search engine listings or are purchasing
pay-per-click ads, sponsored listings, or paid listings, the MOST
crucial element to successful search engine marketing is keyword
targeting. The Internet is no place for verbosity. People are in a
hurry — they want to find what they seek quickly and easily with
the least hassle possible. You can help them in this quest by
ensuring that your site copy uses simple language, easy to grasp
concepts, and logical keywords that they are likely to look for.
Kalena Jordan,
Are you in Google? Barry Schwartz reminds you that you’re not “in” unless all
of you is in — every page of your site.
Your Web site, each and every page, must be in the Google index.
To check this you can type into the Google search box “allinurl:” and it will bring back
all the pages of your Web site that are included in the index. If all
your pages are not in the index, then that is the most crucial part
to work on.
Chapter 17: Ten SEM and SEO Tips from the Pros
If you are in the Google index, then you need to make sure that
each one of your pages is targeting a unique and meaningful
Barry Schwartz,
The following comment from Scott Buresh shows a deep understanding of
how SEM should fit into a company’s overall marketing effort.
The most crucial aspect of SEO or SEM is almost certainly
recognition of the value of the channel and a commitment to
using it to further your business objectives. It isn’t a good idea
to pursue an SEO or SEM campaign simply because you can’t
find your site on a search engine. Leave your ego at the door —
it’s more important to consider how showing up on searches
for certain terms might benefit your business than how it will
impress your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Search Engine
Optimization or Marketing should be no different than any
traditional advertising or marketing program. Goals should be
established at the outset, along with the means to measure the
progress and return of the channel.
Scott Buresh,
In my opinion, there are two essential components to a good
Google placement campaign. First of all, the text used in all site
elements is extremely important. Clear, concise, and relevant text
used in titles, description tags, and body text is the most important
element for Google or any other search engine. With Google
specifically in mind, incoming links from relevant sites is the
second most important.
The key that binds text and incoming links is theme-relevancy. The
site linking to your site must address a similar topic or theme.
Dave Davies,
There are two vital components to optimizing a web site. The first
is to ensure that every page that you wish to market contains a
unique Title Tag that includes two or three of your targeted search
terms in its text. Relevant, focused Title Tags appear to be important
across all search engines when trying to improve your search
engine positioning.The second most important component is
to ensure that the page you are optimizing actually contains
the search terms that you are targeting. It’s not enough to have
relevant graphics or use text that implies the content; you need to
be explicit in your wording and actually use the phrases that
searches enter at Google each day.
Andy Beal,
Part V: The Part of Tens
Karyn Greenstreet wraps up this chapter with a reminder of the ultimate
goal: conversion and sales.
No matter how much effort you put into your search engine
marketing efforts, you will not get paying customers unless your
website leads the customer through the sales process.
Karyn Greenstreet,
SEO Terms
Above the fold (ATF): Originally a newspaper term, above the fold means on
the top half of the page. Placing a story above the fold makes it more visible.
In Web publishing, in which no fold exists, premium placement generally
means toward the top of the page, in a position where visitors don’t have to
scroll down. Screen resolutions differ, of course, so if you design your page
using a resolution of 1280 x 1024, for example, your own fold is way down the
page. The higher the resolution, the more material you can put into each
“fold” portion of the page, because high resolutions make text and graphics
smaller. (In effect, high resolution makes the screen bigger.)
For years, I optimized my page design with the assumption that my visitors
were viewing the site on a 640 x 480 screen. I now regard that resolution as
sufficiently obsolete to upgrade my optimization to 800 x 600 screens, which
are still prevalent on laptops. (My apologies to 640 x 480 users, who must
scroll vertically and horizontally at my sites.) Keeping all this in mind, and
perhaps viewing your pages through different resolutions, try to place your
most magnetic content so that it’s visible without scrolling.
Backlink: A link at another site, leading to your site. Also called an incoming
link. The number and quality of backlinks represent the most important factor
in determining a site’s PageRank. The value of any backlink is determined
partly by the PageRank of the linking site, which is determined partly by the
quality of its backlinks, and so on.
Bridge page: See doorway page.
Cloaking: A type of search-engine subterfuge in which an indexed Web page
is not shown to visitors who click its link in Google (or another search engine).
The cloaking works two ways: Visitor content is cloaked from Google, and
Google’s indexed content is cloaked from visitors. This serves to give a high
PageRank to content that ordinarily would rate a low PageRank. Cloaking is
not always illicit. A certain type of cloaking are used to deliver pages tailored
to a visitor’s ISP (America Online, for example) or specific Web browser.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Crawler: See spider.
Cross linking: Intentionally or unintentionally, cross linking creates large
backlink networks among sites that exist in the same domain or are owned
by the same entity. Unintentional cross linking happens when a site generates
a large number of pages with identical navigation links or when at least two
sites mutually link related content. When cross linking is done intentionally,
the Webmaster is seeking to raise the PageRank of the involved sites. Excessive
cross linking can backfire. If Google decides that the resulting enhanced
PageRank is artificial, any or all of the sites might be expelled from the
Web index. Innocent cross linking between two related sites is usually not
a problem.
Deepbot: The unofficial name for Google’s monthly spider. Freshbot is the
unofficial name of Google’s frequently crawling spider. The official name for
both crawlers is Googlebot.
Domain: The first- and second-level address of a Web site. Top-level
destinations are defined by the domain extension: .com, .net, .org,
.biz, and others. The second level adds a domain name:
Domain name: The second-level domain address that identifies and brands a
site, such as and
Domain name registration: The process of taking ownership of a domain
name. Registrations are processed by dozens of registrars approved by ICANN
(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). The cost of domain
ownership is no more than $35 per year. (Hosting the domain’s Web site is an
additional expense.) Registration takes place online, and the activation of a
new domain (or moving a domain from one host to another) generally requires
no more than 48 hours.
Doorway page: An entry page to a Web site, sometimes known as a splash
page. Doorway pages endure a negative connotation due to illicit techniques
that send visitors to an entirely different site than the destination they clicked
in Google.
Dynamic content: Web pages generated by an in-site process that depends on
input from the visitor. Most dynamic content comes from a database operating
behind the scenes, feeding information to a Web page created in response to
a visitor’s query. Search engines are among the largest producers of dynamic
content; every Google results page, for example, is pulled from the background
index in response to a keyword query. Google’s spider generally avoids portions of sites that rely on dynamic page-generation, making it difficult to index
the content of those sites.
Entry page: See doorway page.
Fresh crawl: Google’s frequent scan of Web content that occurs between the
deep monthly crawls. Google does not publicize the schedule of its intermediate crawls or its target sites. The term “fresh crawl” is an unofficial one used
by Webmasters, site optimizers, and other Google obsessives.
Freshbot: The unofficial name for Google’s near-daily spider. Deepbot is the
unofficial name of Google’s monthly-crawling spider. The official name for
both crawlers is Googlebot.
Googlebot: Google’s Web spider.
Incoming link: See backlink.
Index: In the context of Google, the index is the database of Web content gathered by the Google spider. When Google receives a search query, it matches
the query keywords against the index.
Keyword: As an optimization term, a keyword represents a core concept of
a site or a page. The site’s content, HTML tagging, and layout strategies are
based on effective deployment of keywords, which could also be key phrases.
Google matches search results to keywords entered by its users and assigns
a PageRank in part on how consistently a site presents its keywords.
Keyword density: A proportional measurement of keywords embedded in a
page’s content. High keyword density focuses the page’s subject in a way that
Google’s spider understands. The spider can interpret too high a density as
spam, which results in a lower PageRank or elimination from the index. Most
optimization specialists recommend a density between 5 and 15 percent.
Keyword stuffing: The attempt to gain a higher PageRank (or higher ranking
in any search engine) by loading a page’s HTML code or text with keywords.
In most cases a visitor can’t see the keywords because they’re buried in HTML
tags, camouflaged against the background color of the page, or reduced to a
tiny typeface. Keyword stuffing violates Google’s guidelines for Webmasters
and can result in expulsion from the index.
Link farm: A site whose only function is to display outgoing links to participating Web sites. Link farms are disreputable versions of legitimate, topical
link exchange sites through which visitors gain some content value. Link farms
often have no topicality and present no guidelines or standards of submission.
Google does not explicitly threaten expulsion for joining link farms, but it discourages their use.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Meta tag: Positioned near the top of an HTML document, the meta tag defines
basic identifying characteristics of a Web page. Often, several meta tags are
used on each page. In those tags you set the page’s title, description, and
Mirror site: Mirror sites duplicate content and are used for both legitimate
and engine-spamming purposes. Legitimate mirror sites assist in downloading
when a great deal of traffic is trying to reach a page or acquire a file. Illicit
mirror sites attempt to fill a search results page with multiple destinations
owned by a single entity. When Google discovers a mirror site whose only
purpose is to dominate a search page, that site risks expulsion.
Optimization: A set of techniques to improve a Web site’s presentation to
visitors and its stature in a search engine’s index. As a specific field, search
engine optimization has suffered in reputation due to unscrupulous individuals
and companies using tactics that degrade the integrity of search results and
violate guidelines set by those engines. Generally, any optimization scheme
that tricks a search engine also tricks visitors to that site, making online life
worse for everyone involved. Pure optimization, though, helps everyone: the
Webmaster, the search engine, and the visitor. The true values of optimization
are clear content, coherent navigation, wide reputation for quality, and high
visibility in search engines.
Outgoing link: A link from your page to another page. Outgoing links don’t
build PageRank by volume, as incoming links (backlinks) do. However, Google
pays attention to the text elements of outgoing links, and a page’s optimization
can be strengthened by consistent placement of key concepts in that text.
Page redirect: A background link that sends site visitors to another site. Page
redirects can be used legitimately, as when a site moves from one domain to
another. In that scenario, the Webmaster sensibly keeps the old domain active
for a while, seamlessly sending visitors to the new location when they click the
old one. As an illicit optimization technique, page redirects deflect visitors
from the site indexed by Google to another site that would not be able to gain
as high a PageRank. This type of redirect, when uncovered by Google, risks
the expulsion of both sites from the index.
PageRank: A proprietary measurement of Google’s proprietary ordering of
pages in its Web index. PageRank is the most intense point of focus, speculation, observation, and desire in the Webmaster and optimization communities.
More than any other single marketing factor, PageRank has the power to determine a site’s visibility. A high PageRank moves a page toward the top of any
search results page in Google when that page matches the user’s keywords.
Obtaining a PageRank high enough to break a page into the top ten is the
primary goal of Google optimization. An approximate version of any page’s
PageRank can be checked by displaying the page in Internet Explorer while
running the Google Toolbar. Hover your mouse over the PageRank cursor to
see the current page’s rank on a 0-to-10 scale.
Robots.txt file: A simple text file that stops Google (and other search engines
that recognize the file and its commands) from crawling the site, selected
pages in the site, or selected file types in the site.
SE (search engine): A site, such as, that matches keywords to
Web page content.
SEO (search engine optimization): SEO seeks to increase a site’s visibility in
search engines and enhance its value to visitors through topical page design,
consistent HTML tagging, and focusing content on core keywords.
SERP: Search engine results page. A page of links leading to Web pages that
match a searcher’s keywords.
Spam: Generally refers to repeated and irrelevant content. As an optimization
term, spam refers to loading a page with keywords or loading a search
engine’s index with mirror sites. Google reacts strongly to spamming, and
takes harsh measures against Web sites that use spamming techniques to
improve PageRank.
Spider: An automated software program that travels from link to link on the
Web, collecting content from Web pages. Spiders assemble this vast collection
of content into an index, used by search engines to provide relevant sites to
searchers. Spiders are also called crawlers, bots (short for robots), or Web
bots. Google’s spider appears in Webmaster logs as Googlebot.
Splash page: See doorway page.
AdWords and Search Advertising Terms
Account: A Google AdWords account provides the Web space in which you
design and operate a campaign. Opening an account costs nothing; activating
your account costs five dollars. Account holders have access to Google’s keyword research and traffic estimation tools, even before activation. Therefore,
you can conceive and budget a complete ad campaign before spending a dime.
Activation: To activate a Google AdWords account, you select a payment
method and currency and provide billing details. After you activate an account,
you’re ready to launch a campaign.
Activation fee: A five-dollar fee is charged when AdWords advertisers
first activate their accounts. An additional five-dollar fee is imposed every
third time you reactivate a campaign after Google has stopped it due to
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Actual cost-per-click: As compared to cost-per-click, the actual cost-per-click
is the billable amount charged by Google when a searcher clicks your ad. This
amount might be the same as or lower than your maximum bid for your ad
placement, but it’s never higher.
Ad Group: The main subdivision of an ad Campaign, an Ad Group consists
of one or more ads associated with one or more keywords. Keywords define
the Ad Group. New Ad Groups in a Campaign are associated with different
keywords, though they might have the same ads.
AdRank: Advertisements are placed in sequence based on AdRank, with the
top-ranked ad at the top of the column. AdRank is measured as a combination
of bid value (maximum CPC set by the advertiser) and clickthrough rate (CTR).
Successful ads with high CTRs are sometimes ranked and placed higher than
less successful ads with higher CPC bids. The measurement, ranking, and
placement of ads are automated.
AdWords column: The right-hand stack of AdWords advertisements on a
Google search results page. Ads are placed in that column according to
AdRank, which is a calculation of maximum CPC and clickthrough rate.
Affiliate (aff): Affiliate marketers direct their clickthroughs to third-party
destinations that sell products or services. The affiliate receives a commission
when the clickthrough results in a sale. Google’s guidelines require advertisers
to indicate in their ad copy if they’re engaging in affiliate marketing. To save
space, the aff abbreviation is often used.
Broad match: The default keyword-matching setting in Google AdWords. Broad
match displays your ad on search results pages that match your keywords and
a large peripheral universe of keywords that Google determines is relevant —
so your ads appear on the results pages of keywords you might not have
directly chosen. Broad match is an easy way to spread your ad out to keywords that haven’t occurred to you. In choosing this option, however, you’re
relying on Google’s relevancy algorithm to choose keywords related to your
selections. (See also keyword-matching options, expanded match, exact match,
and negative match.)
Call to action: Google recommends using short phrases that command the
viewer to do something. These calls to action encourage clickthroughs with
phrases such as “Learn more,” or “Download now for free.” Some marketers
dispute the effectiveness of calls to action. A good way to test the value of
calls to action is to use multiple ads in an ad group, some with calls to action
and others without.
Campaign: The largest subdivision of a Google AdWords account, a Campaign
holds one or more Ad Groups. Campaigns can be paused, resumed, budgeted,
networked, and scheduled — these settings affect all Ad Groups simultaneously and equally. Ad Groups have their own settings for finer control.
Clickthrough: Clickthroughs occur when a viewer clicks your AdWords ad.
Clicking through generates a charge to your account.
Clickthrough rate (CTR): The CTR is a calculation of an ad’s clickthroughs
divided by its impressions (the number of times it’s displayed). CTR measures
the effectiveness of an ad.
Content network: Non-search-engine sites that publish Google AdWords
make up the Google content network. These sites participate in the AdSense
or premium AdSense programs. AdWords advertisers decide whether or not
they want to release their ads to this expanded network.
Content-targeted ads: AdWords ads targeted to the information pages of the
content network and distributed through Google’s AdSense program.
Control Center: The Control Center is the entire suite of ad-creation and
campaign-reporting tools located in Google AdWords.
Conversion: Conversion occurs when a site visitor performs an action
planned and desired by the Webmaster. In a business context, conversion
usually involves a capture of information (such as registering at the site
or joining a mailing list) or a transaction (such as buying a product).
In the context of AdWords, conversion is the final step of a successful
Conversion rate: A calculation determined by dividing a site’s conversions by
AdWords clickthroughs. Conversion rate measures the success of an AdWords
ad and, ultimately, the return on investment (ROI) of the campaign.
Conversion tracking: A tool in the AdWords Control Center that measures
conversions resulting from ad clickthroughs.
Cost-per-click (CPC): The maximum or billable cost of a viewer clicking an
AdWords ad. In Google’s system, unlike competing systems (at the time of
this writing), actual CPC is often lower than the maximum CPC established
by the advertiser. Cost-per-click is assigned to an entire Ad Group, or to individual keywords of that Ad Group, or both. You can think of your maximum
CPC as a bid for placement in the AdWords column.
Cost-per-thousand (CPM): A measurement of the cost for each thousand
impressions (displays) of an ad. CPM is not used in Google AdWords, which
employs a cost-per-click (CPC) system. However, some other search engines
sell advertising on a CPM basis.
Creative: The text copy of an AdWords ad. Google is reducing its use of
this word to describe ad text, but it remains in widespread use in forums
and articles about the AdWords program.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Daily budget: Set at the Campaign level, the daily budget establishes a ceiling
on Campaign expenses. Google recommends a daily Campaign budget based
on projected impression frequency and clickthrough rate. The actual ceiling
is set by the advertiser.
Destination URL: Not necessarily visible in the ad, the destination URL points
to the ad’s landing page.
Display URL: Visible in the ad, the display URL doesn’t necessarily match
the destination URL. The main purpose of a different display URL is to
reduce the destination URL to a size that fits in the small ad box. The
shortened URL makes it easy for viewers to see the ad’s target site before
Distribution preference: This setting allows the advertiser to release or not
release a Campaign’s ads to Google’s content networks.
Exact match: One of Google’s keyword-matching options, exact match forces
Google to display your ads only on search results pages that exactly match
your selected keyword or key phrase. Exact match may be selected for individual keywords in an Ad Group. (See also keyword-matching options, broad
match, expanded match, and negative match.)
Expanded match: Expanded matches are variations of your selected keywords
(such as plurals, synonyms, and misspellings) that Google deems relevant and
helpful to your ad’s success. Expanded matching is included in the broad
match option. (See also keyword-matching options, broad match, exact match,
and negative match.)
Geo-targeting: Google enables advertisers to target ads by geographic region,
according to a preset list of countries, American states, and certain American
metropolitan areas. Geo-targeting works by identifying the searcher’s IP
(Internet Protocol) address, thereby locating the searcher geographically.
Geo-targeted ads are displayed only to searchers viewing Google in the targeted area.
Google advertising network: The total reach of Google AdWords, consisting
of, Google Groups, the Google Directory, and Froogle, plus its
search partners (AOL Search, Netscape, AskJeeves, and others), and the
Google content network of AdSense sites.
Impression: A single ad displayed on a user’s screen.
Keyword: The specific word combinations and phrases users search on and
advertisers bid on.
Keyword Suggestion Tool: This interactive tool is Google’s in-house keyword
generator for AdWords users. The Keyword Suggestion Tool spits out long
lists of words and phrases related to a selected keyword.
Keyword-matching options: Google offers four keyword-matching options
for expanding or restricting how your ads match keyword searches. These
options are broad, expanded, exact, and negative. Refining the keywordmatching options can turn around a faltering campaign.
Landing page: A Web page represented by the destination URL. The landing
page usually seeks to convert visitors to customers.
Negative match: This option prohibits an ad being displayed once a negative
term has been applied. (See also keyword-matching options, broad match, exact
match, and expanded match.)
Optimization: In the context of Google AdWords, optimization has nothing to
do with Web site design (see Chapter 4). AdWords optimization is about the
distribution of multiple ads in an Ad Group. Google tracks the relative success
of ads and manages their rotation accordingly. This optimization can be turned
off by advertisers who prefer a random rotation of ads in an Ad Group.
Overdelivery: Overdelivery refers to Google’s optimization allowance. In the
Terms of Service agreement, Google is permitted to exceed your daily budget
by 20 percent but must reconcile this overdelivery of ad impressions (and
resulting clickthroughs) every month. Your monthly budget, which is determined by multiplying the daily budget 30 or 31 times, can’t be overcharged.
Furthermore, if Google overshoots the daily budget by more than 20 percent,
it issues an overdelivery credit for the additional clickthroughs.
Paid placement: Search result listings paid by sponsors, these listings might
be indistinguishable from index results. Some search engines accept paid
placement as a form of advertising, but Google does not.
Pay-per-click (PPC): Pay-per-click is another term for cost-per-click (CPC).
Phrase match: One of Google’s four keyword-matching options, phrase match
forces Google to restrict the placement of your ad to search results pages that
exactly match your key phrase, including matching the word order. Other
words might be included in the user’s keyword string, but the exact phrase
specified in your phrase match must be present.
Return on investment (ROI): A general business and advertising term,
return on investment measures the profitability of a campaign. Simplified,
ROI calculates a formula by which expenses are subtracted from sales to
measure revenue gain. As an AdWords measurement, ROI is about conversions exceeding clickthrough expenses.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Rotation: Rotation is the formula by which multiple ads in an Ad Group are
selected for display. In Google, rotation may be random or optimized.
Start and end dates: Google enables AdWords advertisers to determine in
advance the start and end dates of a Campaign.
Traffic Estimator: The Traffic Estimator is an indispensable tool in the
AdWords Control Center that enables advertisers to gauge the clickthrough
rates of individual keywords.
AdSense Terms
Ad layout: An ad configuration for AdSense publishers. Google offers ten ad
layouts; you can choose horizontal or vertical layouts containing one, two,
four, or five ads. AdSense publishers cannot alter the configuration of ads
within the bars and banners that constitute ad layouts, but they may change
the colors in which text and borders are displayed.
Ad unit: One set of AdSense ads displayed in an ad layout.
AdSense code: The snippet of HTML and javascript that Webmasters paste
into their pages to begin serving AdWords ads.
Alternate ads: AdSense publishers may specify non-Google ad sources for the
space occupied by an ad unit, in preparation for those occasional times when
Google can’t deliver ads. Once specified, the alternate ad source is bundled
into the AdSense code, and the replacement of Google ads by alternate ads
occurs automatically if Google has no relevant ads to serve.
Banner: One type of ad layout. Three banners are available; one vertical and
the other two horizontal. Each banner contains multiple ads.
Button: A type of ad layout that holds a single ad.
Clickthrough rate (CTR): Calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the
number of displays (impressions). AdWords advertisers are charged for clicks
through their ads. AdSense publishers are paid for clicks through the ads they
host, sharing the revenue with Google.
Color palette: Individually adjusted colors for each of five elements in AdWords
ads: headline text, ad text, URL text, border, and background. Google supplies
several preset color palettes.
Content-targeted advertising: The generic name for Google’s distribution
of AdWords ads to AdSense sites. The AdSense network is also known as
the content network. The word content is important in this context because
Google uses its analysis of an AdSense page’s content to determine which
ads should be served on it.
Cost-per-click (CPC): A monetary amount charged by Google, and paid by the
advertiser, when a user clicks through an ad. Advertisers bid for placement by
offering a maximum CPC per keyword; Google charges the minimum amount
beneath that amount (called the actual CPC) required to hold the best possible
page position for the advertiser. AdSense publishers are paid an undisclosed
percentage of the actual CPC.
Cybersquatting: The practice of unfairly capitalizing on ownership of a domain
name that infringes a trademark or copyright. Google doesn’t allow AdSense
publication on a cybersquatting Web page.
Destination URL: An underlying URL in an AdWords ad that specifies the destination of clickthroughs. The destination URL is not necessarily the same as
the URL displayed on the ad (called the display URL). When you set up a URL
filter, the destination URL is blocked.
Distribution preference: Set by AdWords advertisers to include, or exclude,
the content network of AdSense sites. AdSense publishers run AdWords ads
only when those advertisers opt to have their ads appear on content pages.
Double serving: The practice of placing AdSense code in more than one
location on a single page. Doing so violates Google’s terms of service and
is grounds for a warning and possibly expulsion from AdSense.
Impressions: Ad displays. AdSense measures and reports the impressions of
all your ad units.
Inline rectangle: A type of ad layout meant to be placed within bodies of
text, not in sidebars. Google offers four configurations of inline rectangle.
Leaderboard: A type of ad layout featuring four AdWords ads arranged horizontally. Leaderboards are designed to be placed at the top of Web pages but
can be placed anywhere on the page.
Public service ad (PSA): Used to fill an AdWords ad before an AdSense site is
crawled for the first time or if topical relevancy can’t be established for some
Publisher: An AdSense account holder and operator of a content site.
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Skyscraper: A vertical arrangement of ads. Two skyscrapers are available,
one holds four ads and one holds five.
Towers: All the vertical ad layouts: two skyscrapers and one vertical banner.
Towers are usually placed on AdSense pages in the sidebars.
Typosquatting: The practice of purchasing and capitalizing on a misspelling
of a prominent domain name, such as
URL filter: A means of blocking specific AdWords ads from displaying on
an AdSense site. This feature is normally used to prevent competitors from
advertising on your site, taking away your visitors. Webmasters need to know
the destination URL of any ad to block it.
• Numbers & Symbols •
* (asterisk) robots.txt file wildcard
character, 31, 32
** (asterisks) keyword/bid amount
separator, 166
[ ] (brackets, square) search
delimiters, 180
1st Search Ranking Web site, 320
- (minus sign) negative keyword
prefix, 179
“ ” (quotation marks) search
delimiters, 180
; (semicolon) search domain list
separator, 94
/ (slash) robots.txt file directory
prefix, 31
a HTML tag, 43, 44
ABAKUS Internet Marketing Web site, 307
above the fold (ATF), 239–240, 325
AdSense account management,
dedicated, 274
AdSense account, setting up, 200–202,
AdWords account, activating, 110, 113,
186, 329
AdWords account, setting up, 110, 113,
117, 139–143, 146
overview, 329
ad blindness
banner ad, 242
color, reducing using, 242, 246–250
home page, on, 240
introduced, 238
layout, reducing using, 243–245
The New Yorker magazine, 242
television, 242
Ad Group. See also AdWords
bid, enforcing across Ad Groups,
150, 151
budget, 143, 160–161
campaign, place in, 119, 123,
125–126, 159
CPC, 127
creating, 141–143, 160–161
deleting, 163
deleting ad from, 150, 163
described, 330
editing ad, 162–163
information about, displaying,
initiating ad distribution, 143
keyword, adding, 120, 160, 164
keyword, editing, 164–165
keyword, relation to, 119, 125–127
link URL, entering, 166
marketing goal, 127
multiple Ad Groups, working with,
125, 136, 150, 151
naming, 122, 141, 160
pausing, 124, 150, 161
planning, 125–127
rotation, 124, 334
statistics, displaying, 150–155
Ad Layout Code page, 212, 216,
224, 226
ad unit, 239, 246–250, 251, 334
AdRank, 330
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
account management, dedicated, 274
account, setting up, 200–202, 209–211
ad blindness, reducing, 238, 242–245
Ad Layout Code page, 212, 216, 224, 226
ad unit, 239, 246–250, 251, 334
adding page or site to existing
account, 226
adoption curve, 17
AdWords, relation to, 19, 196, 206
AdWords, running with, 206–207
aggregate data, viewing, 218–220
alternate ad, 253, 334
approval process, 199, 205, 226
ATF, 239–240
audience, targeting, 203
background color, 216, 246, 247–248
backlinking, importance of, 230
banner ad compared, 242
banner ad, running with, 199, 200
banner display of AdSense ad,
206, 213, 243, 334
border, 200, 216, 225, 247–248
button ad display, 206, 213, 243,
245, 334
channel, activating/deactivating,
222–223, 224, 226
channel, creating, 223–226
channel data, viewing, 220–221
channel, editing, 224
clicking, fraudulent, 199, 203
color palette, 201, 212–213, 216–217,
226, 334
column position, 173, 239–240
competitor ad display, blocking,
251–253, 274
copyright considerations, 199
cost, 195, 200, 209–210
CPC information, viewing, 219
crawling, 199, 202, 204, 226, 231
creating site solely as vehicle for,
205, 233
CTR, 207, 219, 220, 238–239, 250
Custom Palettes dialog box, 216
delay in ad appearance, 202
discontinuing, 202, 227
distribution preference, 335
domain name, typosquatting, 69, 336
double serving, 335
eligibility, 198–203, 205, 274
e-mail verification, 211
exit page, placing ad on, 240–241
experimenting, 239, 245, 248
expulsion from, 203, 205
filtering, 251–253, 274, 336
focus of page, 204, 231
gambling site, suitability for, 199
Google competitor ad, running
with, 199
headline, 247
home page, 210
host page, choosing, 240–241
HTML code, 200–202, 210, 211–217,
HTML table cell, embedding ad in,
214–215, 248
index page, placing ad on, 240
indexing, 202
introduced, 14
javascript code, 200, 202
keyword, adding for, 203, 207, 232,
language, 199
layout, described, 334
layout, horizontal, 239, 243–245
layout, inline, 213, 243, 244, 335
layout, leaderboard, 243, 245, 335
layout, vertical, 213, 239, 243–245
multiple sites, applying to, 211
news-driven site, suitability for,
number of ads displayed,
maximum, 173
optimizing site for, 198, 203, 204,
password, 210, 211
payment report, 210
performance report, 210, 219–220
pornography site, suitability for, 199
premium service, 274–277
PSA, 226, 335
publisher, 335
quality control, 198–199, 205, 226
referencing displayed ad in site
content, 199
relevancy, 197, 202, 203–204, 229–230
removing ad, 227
report generation, 210, 218–221,
revenue model, 19, 196, 205–206, 219,
screen resolution effect on ad display,
239, 243
search box, integrating with, 85
search site, integrating premium
AdSense on, 276–277
Settings tab, 212, 223, 251, 253
size of ad, 243, 247
statistics, displaying, 218–221
stopping, 202, 227
style of ad, specifying, 200
subject per page, limiting to one, 231
tax handling, 200, 210, 211
template, using to build AdSense
site, 240
text, 200, 216, 231, 247
title, 216
topic consistency across site, effect on
ad display, 238
TOS, 198–199, 205
URL display, 216, 247
URL filtering, 251–253, 274, 336
URL of AdSense ad, determining, 251
value of ad display, increasing, 232–238
vanity site suitability for, 198
Weblog, suitability for, 203
W-9 form, submitting to Google, 210
WYSIWYG page editing for, 214, 247
advertising network, 332
AdWords. See also Control Center
account, activating, 110, 113, 186, 329
account, setting up, 110, 113, 117,
139–143, 146
adding keyword, 111, 120, 141–142,
160, 164
adoption curve, 17
AdSense, relation to, 19, 196, 206
AdSense, running with, 206–207
budget, Ad Group, 143, 160–161
budget, daily maximum, 113, 123–124,
129, 332
budget, pausing to assess campaign,
Campaign organizational level,
119, 121
Clean Sweep feature, 180
column described, 330
column position, 107, 113, 170–173
commitment, absence of, 109
content-targeted ad, 114, 331
conversion, 131, 136–139, 148, 190–191
cost of campaign, determining using
Traffic Estimator, 134–135, 142
creating Ad Group, 141–143, 160–161
creative (ad copy), 111, 136–137, 331
CTR, 120–121, 147, 172
date, setting start/end, 124, 134, 334
default bid, 135
delay in ad appearance, 144
deleting ad from Ad Group, 150, 163
deleting Ad Group, 163
deleting campaign, 147, 148
disabling keyword by Google due to
low CTR, 120–121, 153, 186–188
distribution preference, 151–152, 332
distribution venue overview, 114–115
Edit Campaign Setting page, 122
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
AdWords (continued)
editing Ad Group ad, 162–163
editing bid, 165, 166
editing keyword associated with
Ad Group, 164–165
e-mail verification, 143
enforcing bid across Ad Groups,
150, 151
entering bid, 111, 135
experimenting, 118, 133, 138–139,
160, 177
font, 137
Froogle, display on, 258
geo-targeting, 124–125, 140, 188–189
Gold Search page, display on, 279
Google Catalogs, display on, 258
home page, 143
information about Ad Group,
displaying, 150–155
information about campaign,
displaying, 148–150
initiating Ad Group ad distribution, 143
introduced, 14
keyword, Ad Group relation to,
119, 125–127
keyword bid, 111, 129, 166, 170, 207
Keyword Suggestion Tool, 64, 110, 146,
174–175, 333
language, 124–125, 140, 199
link URL of Ad Group, entering, 166
listing all campaigns, 147
marketing goal of Ad Group, 127
match setup for keyword, 179–180, 181
multiple Ad Groups, working with,
125, 136, 150, 151
multiple campaigns, running, 121–122,
147, 149, 160
naming Ad Group, 122, 141, 160
naming campaign, 123
password, 143, 146, 210
pausing Ad Group, 124, 150, 161
pausing campaign, 143, 148, 183–185
planning Ad Group, 125–127
planning campaign, 118–119, 121–125
PPC, 18–19
premium service, 271–273
relevancy, 136–137, 174, 177, 197
report, generating, 155–158
revenue model, 18–19, 272
ROI, 109, 132–133, 162, 170, 333
rotation, Ad Group, 124, 334
scheduling campaign, 124
SEO professional, ad placement by, 81
Silver Search page, display on, 279
Sponsored Link program, relation to,
271, 273
starting campaign, 117, 143, 334
statistics, displaying, 146, 147–155
status of campaign, displaying, 147
stopping campaign, 148, 334
style rule enforcement, 137–138
testing, 118, 133, 135
timing of ad display, 113
tracking using third-party tracker, 139
trademark infringement, 178
Traffic Estimator, determining bid
using, 135, 160, 165
traffic, increasing using, 18, 128–129
URL display, 138, 141, 332
URL of Ad Group link, entering, 166
viewing current campaign, 145–146
writing ad, 111, 136–138
affiliate advertising, 124, 128, 151, 330
aggregate data, AdSense, 218–220
Alexa Web site, 53–54
Froogle, 264–265
PageRank, 22
spider, 22
Alibris Web site, 131
alt HTML tag, 77–78
alternate ad, AdSense, 253, 334
Amazon Web site
Alexa, relation to, 53
conversion, 131
destination portal/search site, as, 276
Froogle, Amazon affiliate advertising
on, 262
relevance, 136
anchor text, 43, 44–45, 321
AOL (America Online)
Google search technology, use of,
14, 15, 276
shopping, 258–259
API (Application Programming
Interface), 98
Arnold, Rob ( Webmaster), 250
asterisk (*) robots.txt file wildcard
character, 31, 32
asterisks (**) keyword/bid amount
separator, 166
ATF (above the fold), 239–240, 325
AdSense success, importance to, 230
anchor text, to, 321
article, increasing backlinks through
publishing, 46–47
cross linking, 326
discussion forum, increasing backlinks
through participation in, 48
Froogle, importance to, 261
human networking, increasing
backlinks through, 39–40
link exchange, increasing backlinks
through, 40–45
listing backlinks, 49–50
PageRank, role in creating, 29, 38–39
popularity, checking using third-party
tool, 289–293
popularity of linking site, importance
of, 320–321
quality of backlink, assessing,
39, 41–42, 49, 50–54
quality of content, increasing backlinks
through, 320
SEO versus, 311–312
spider, crawling by, 26, 29
URL, considerations when changing, 29
Web site, from within, 291
banner ad
ad blindness, 242
AdSense ad compared, 242
AdSense ad display in, 206, 213,
243, 334
AdSense, running with, 199, 200
Beal, Andy (KeywordRanking Vice
backlinking, on, 311
keyword targeting, on, 305–306, 307
marketing, on free versus paid, 308
SEM, on, 303
title HTML tag, on, 323
Ad Groups, enforcing bid across,
150, 151
column position, effect on, 107, 113, 172
CPC bid, 111, 129, 135, 151, 165–166
default, 135
determining bid using Overture Bid
Estimator, 234–236
determining bid using Traffic Estimator,
135, 160, 165
editing bid, 165, 166
entering bid, 111, 135
experimenting, 133, 160
introduced, 107
keyword bid, 111, 129, 166, 170, 207
blanket advertising, 104, 109, 196
blindness, ad. See ad blindness
blog suitability for AdSense, 203
border, AdSense ad, 200, 216, 225,
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
brackets, square ([ ]) search
delimiters, 180
brand recognition, 128, 259, 268
bridge page. See splash page
Ad Group, 143, 160–161
calculation of total, 113, 129
campaign budget, 123–124, 129,
132–135, 148
campaign, pausing to assess, 183–184
clickthrough, 113, 129, 144
CPC-level, 129
daily maximum, 113, 123–124, 129, 332
keyword-level, 129
landing page considerations, 123
SEM cost effectiveness, 303, 305
SEO professional cost effectiveness,
statistics, displaying, 148
bulk SE submission, 284
bulletin board. See discussion forum
Buresh, Scott (Medium Blue SEO
backlinking, on, 321
Flash, on, 314
frame usage, on, 314–315
keyword targeting, on, 307
marketing, on free versus paid, 309
SEM, on, 304, 323
site design, on, 313, 314
small business, on, 318
button AdSense ad display, 206, 213, 243,
245, 334
excluding site from, 33–34
viewing cached page, 33
call to action, 138, 330
campaign, AdWords
Ad Group place in, 119, 123,
125–126, 159
AdWords organizational level, as,
119, 121
budget, 123–124, 129, 132–135, 148
cost, determining using Traffic
Estimator, 134–135, 142
deleting, 147, 148
described, 330
distribution preference, 151–152, 332
geo-targeting, 124, 188
information about, displaying, 148–150
landing page specific to, 131
language targeting, 124
listing all campaigns, 147
multiple, running, 121–122, 147,
149, 160
naming, 123
pausing, 143, 148, 183–185
planning, 118–119, 121–125
premium service environment, in, 272
report, generating, 155, 156
scheduling, 124
starting, 117, 143, 334
statistics, displaying, 148–150, 184
status, displaying, 147
stopping, 148, 334
testing, 118
viewing current, 145–146
Catalogs shopping portal. See Google
channel, AdSense
activating/deactivating, 222–223,
224, 226
creating, 223–226
described, 221–223
editing, 224
viewing channel data, 220–221
Clean Sweep feature, 180
budget, 113, 129, 144
described, 331
drone, 170
clickthrough rate. See CTR
cloaking, 79, 325
ad blindness, reducing using,
242, 246–250
background, AdSense ad, 216, 246,
border, AdSense ad, 200, 216, 247–248
experimenting with, 248
hexadecimal value, 97, 226, 247
HTML table, 248
keyword color coding, 153 Web site, use of, 250
palette, AdSense, 201, 212–213,
216–217, 226, 334
search box color scheme, 86, 95–97
text, AdSense, 200, 216, 247
URL display, AdSense, 216, 247
Webmonkey color chart, 247
column position
AdSense, 173, 239–240
AdWords, 107, 113, 170–173
bidding, effect on, 107, 113
guarantee by SEO professional, 81, 284
comma-separated value file (CSV file),
ad-bashing by, 170
AdSense display of competitor ad,
blocking, 251–253, 274
AdSense, running Google competitor ad
with, 199
Froogle, underselling on, 269
keyword usage, checking, 59, 60, 64–67
PageRank, 38
trademark infringement, 178
content network, 114, 331
Control Center
Campaign Management tab,
143, 147, 162, 164, 181
Campaign Settings screen, 148
Campaign Summary screen, 147–148
described, 331
My Account tab, 143
Reports tab, 155
screen overview, 145–146
AdWords, 131, 136–139, 148, 190–191
Amazon Web site, 131
call to action, 138, 330
described, 331
goal, as, 18, 324
landing page, orienting for, 131–132
rate, 107, 148, 331
ROI, relation to, 19
statistics, 107, 148, 190–191, 331
tracking, 107, 190–191, 331
AdSense copyright considerations, 199
trademark infringement, 178
cost-per-thousand (CPM), 331
count, keyword, 62
country, geo-targeting, 124, 140, 188
CPC (cost-per-click). See also PPC
actual, 330
Ad Group-level, 127
AdSense CPC information, viewing, 219
bidding, 111, 129, 135, 151, 165–166
budget, 129
described, 331
free marketing versus, 307–311
keyword-level, 129
maximum, setting, 111, 127, 129,
135, 142
statistics, displaying, 148, 219
CPM (cost-per-thousand), 331
crawler. See spider
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
creative (AdWords ad copy),
111, 136–137, 331
cross linking, 326
CSV (comma-separated value) file, 158
CTR (clickthrough rate)
account slowing due to low, 186
AdSense, 207, 219, 220, 238–239, 250
AdWords, 120–121, 147, 172
column placement formula, in, 172, 173
described, 331
fraudulent, 199, 203, 238
keyword disabling due to low, 120–121,
153, 186–188
relevancy of ad, importance of, 198
report, generating, 156
statistics, displaying, 148, 150, 219, 220
success measurement, as, 107
Custom Palettes dialog box, 216
Custom WebSearch premium service,
cybersquatting, 335
dance, Google, 25
data feed, Froogle, 265–267, 268, 269
database file, creating for Froogle, 266
Davies, Dave (StepForth Placement
Services SEO specialist)
backlinking, on, 312, 321, 323
marketing, on free versus paid, 310
PageRank optimization, on, 317
small business, on, 318–319
text choice, on, 323
Deepbot, 326
delay in ad appearance
AdSense, 202
AdWords, 144
Froogle, 265
democracy model of Google
advertising, 17
description HTML tag, 75, 76–77
developer’s kit, 99
directory, 27
Disallow command, 30–31
discussion forum
backlinks, increasing through
participation in, 48
optimization forum, 286, 287, 298
PageRank, 48
spam, 48
display URL, 138, 141, 332
distribution preference
AdSense, 335
AdWords, 151–152, 332
described, 326
search box, limiting to, 93–94
domain name
described, 326
extension, 68
keyword, incorporating in, 56, 68–69
registering, 326
SEO, role in, 68–69
typosquatting, 69, 336
doorway page. See splash page
double serving, 335
dynamic content, 35, 70, 326
eBay Web site
keyword usage, 66
revenue model, 17
Edit Campaign Setting page, 122
AdSense, 198–203, 205, 274
Froogle, 262
premium service, 272, 274
AdSense e-mail verification, 211
AdWords e-mail verification, 143
Google Catalogs e-mail notification, 270
visitor e-mail address, capturing, 128
empowerment model, 16–17
Eric Ward Web site, 298
everflux, 25
excluding site from Google, 30–35
exit page, placing AdSense ad on,
AdSense, 239, 245, 248
AdWords, 118, 133, 138–139, 160, 177
bid, with, 133, 160
color, with, 248
keyword, with, 177
expulsion from AdSense, 203, 205
e-zine, 47
type, excluding from index, 32
Web page file size statistics,
displaying, 294
filtering, AdSense, 251–253, 274, 336
1st Search Ranking Web site, 320
Flash-based site, avoiding, 314–315
focus of page
AdSense, 204, 231
landing page, 131
SEO, role in, 73, 131, 204, 231
fold point. See ATF (above the fold)
font formatting. See also text
AdWords, 137
search box, 90–91
frame crawling, 34, 70, 314–315
fresh crawl, 24, 25, 326, 327
Freshbot, 326, 327
accuracy, 261, 264
adding to inventory, 267
AdWords ad display, 258
algorithm, 264–265
Amazon affiliate advertising on, 262
backlinking, importance of, 261
beta status, 264
brand recognition, 259, 268
category information, 267, 270
competition, underselling, 269
confirmation of search result, 261
crawling, 260–261
data feed, 265–267, 268, 269
database file, creating for, 266
delay in ad appearance, 265
deleting from inventory, 267
description of product, 266–267,
directory/SE hybrid, as, 258
eligibility, 262
field, extended, 267
grid view, 262, 263
image display, 267
index, 260–261, 262, 265, 270
information needed by, 266–267
keyword, optimizing for, 268
lineup, changing, 265
link display, 258
Merchants page, 267
meta tag, optimizing for, 268
Offer ID, 267
optimizing site for, 268–270, 294
order fulfillment requirement, 262
PageRank effect on, 264–265
payment requirement, 262
position on result page, 264–265,
269, 270
price display requirement, 262
price information, entering, 267
price, sorting by, 262, 269
Product ID, 267
Product search result, 262, 263
relevancy, importance of, 265
revenue model, 258
search page, Froogle result display on
regular, 269
searching, 258, 259–260, 261–265
SEO Consultants Web site tutorial, 294
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Froogle (continued)
service, marketing using, 262
shopping cart, referencing, 261
sorting, 262, 269
store, grouping search result by, 262
submitting product, 265–267
text file needed for, 266
TOS, 262
updating, 266, 267
uploading data, 266
URL information, 266, 267
Web search result, 262
Yahoo! Store, running simultaneously,
gambling site suitability for AdSense, 199
Georgia Institute of Technology SE
survey, 304
accuracy, 189
AdWords, 124–125, 140, 188–189
campaign, 124, 188
country, 124, 140, 188
described, 332
United States region, 124, 188
Gold Search premium service,
83, 278–279
Google Catalogs
AdWords ad display, 258
brand recognition, 259
directory/SE hybrid, as, 258
e-mail notification, 270
mailing address, 270
revenue model, 258
searching, 258, 259–260, 270
subscribing, 270
Yahoo! Store, running simultaneously,
Google dance, 25
Google For Dummies, 15
Google Ultimate Interface Web site, 99
Google Web site
AdSense home page, 210
AdSense layout format page, 243
AdSense premium service page, 274
AdWords home page, 143
AdWords premium service page, 273
API resources, 98
Custom WebSearch page, 277
Froogle Merchants page, 267
logo page, 92
search code page, 87
URL submission page, 26
google_ad_border command, 225
google_ad_channel command, 224
google_ad_format command, 225
Googlebot, 31. See also spider
graphic. See image
Greenstreet, Karyn (Passion for Business
backlinking, on, 321
conversion, on, 324
marketing, on free versus paid, 310–311
patience, on, 321
heading, placing keyword in, 73
headline, AdSense, 247
hexadecimal color value, 97, 226, 247
High Rankings Web site, 286–287
hiring SEO professional
advantages and disadvantages, 55, 299
automation-based service, 81, 82, 284
bulk submission service, 284
cost effectiveness, 310–311
evaluating need for, 299
evaluating prospective service,
80–82, 284, 285
guarantee, 81, 284
link farm service, 284
SEO Consultants directory, 294
software-based approach, 82, 284
spam, avoiding company sending, 81
horizontal AdSense ad display, 239,
href HTML tag, 44
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
a tag, 43, 44
AdSense code, 200–202, 210, 211–217,
alt tag, 77–78
case sensitivity, 44
conversion tracking code, 190–191
description tag, 75, 76–77
href tag, 44
keywords tag, 75, 77, 268
search box code, 86–88, 92
table cell, using as layout element,
214–215, 248
table color, 248
template, using to build AdSense
site, 240
title tag, 44, 75–76, 315–316, 323
WYSIWYG editor, 214, 247
ICANN (Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers), 326
ihelpyou Web site, 298
alt HTML tag, 77–78
crawling, 32, 71, 72, 77–78
Froogle image display, 267
link, graphical, 72
logo, 72, 85, 92, 95
statistics, displaying, 294
text, avoiding image-based, 71, 231
impression, 218, 274, 332
index. See also spider
AdSense, 202
automated nature of, 25
depth of crawl, 24, 26, 322–323
described, 327
everflux, 25
excluding site from, 30–35
file type, excluding, 32
Froogle index, 260–261, 262, 265, 270
Google dance, 25
introduced, 22
status in, checking, 28
submitting site, 25–27
update, time needed for, 24, 28
Web index, 18
index page
AdSense ad, placing on, 240
landing page, using as, 130–131 Web site, 241
Inktomi search technology, 15
inline AdSense ad display, 213, 243,
244, 335
Intelective Communications
Web site, 314
interface for Google, building custom,
Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers (ICANN), 326
Internet Marketing Analysts
Web site, 305
intranet, searching, 97
javascript code
AdSense, 200, 202
conversion tracking, 190, 191
WYSIWYG editor, recognition
by, 214
JimWorld Web site, 298
Jordan, Kalena (Web Rank Ltd. C.E.O.)
home page text, on, 313
keyword targeting, on, 306, 322
marketing, on free versus paid, 308
SEM, on, 303
title HTML tag, on, 315–316
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index),
60, 62, 63
ad generation from, 16
Ad Group keyword, adding,
120, 160, 164
Ad Group keyword, editing, 164–165
Ad Group, relation to, 119, 125–127
AdSense, adding for, 203, 207, 232,
AdWords keyword, adding, 111, 120,
141–142, 160, 164
alt tag, including in, 77–78
At risk status, 120, 153, 187
bidding, 111, 129, 166, 170, 207
breadth, 62
budget, keyword-level, 129
buzzword, avoiding, 176
choosing using Keyword Suggestion
Tool, 64, 110, 146, 174–175, 333
choosing using Overture Search Term
Suggestion Tool, 62–64, 236
choosing using Wordtracker, 58–62, 236
color coding, 153
competition keyword usage, checking,
59, 60, 64–67
concept relationship, 175
content of page, including in, 56
count, 62
CPC, keyword-level, 129
current, identifying, 234
customer, orienting toward,
56, 58, 175–177, 305–307
density, 73, 74, 295–297, 313, 327
described, 327, 332
description HTML tag, including
in, 76
Disabled status, 120–121, 153, 186–188
distribution on page, 73, 314
domain name, including in, 56, 68–69
eBay use of, 66
experimenting, 177
Froogle, optimizing for, 268
Froogle, searching by, 258, 261, 264
Google Catalogs, searching by, 258
heading, including in, 73
hyphenation variation, catching, 177
introduced, 45
KEI, 60, 62, 63
link text, including in, 73
match, broad, 179, 330
match, exact, 180–181, 332
match, expanded, 174, 332
match, phrase, 180
meta tag, placing in, 75, 77, 231, 268, 297
misspelling, catching common, 176, 177
Moderate status, 153
negative, 179–180, 333
New York Times Web site use of, 66
page title, including in, 75
phrase, 51, 56, 58, 180, 187
popularity, 59, 63
question, as response to, 176
relevancy of keyword-based
advertising, 174, 196, 197
report, generating, 155–156
researching, 167–170, 173, 177, 234
SE coverage, verifying using Marketleap
Keyword Verification tool, 288–289
Slowed status, 153
spacing variation, catching, 177
statistics, displaying, 150, 151–154,
Strong status, 153
stuffing, 79, 327
success, measuring, 67–68
targeting, 305–307, 322
traffic, importance in increasing, 67
value, determining using Traffic
Estimator, 234–235
Keyword Density Analyzer utility,
73, 74, 295–297
Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI),
60, 62, 63
Keyword Suggestion Tool, 64, 110,
146, 174–175, 333
Keyword Verification tool (Marketleap),
KeywordRanking Web site, 303
keywords HTML tag, 75, 77, 268
landing page
budget considerations, 123
campaign, specific to, 131
conversion, designing for, 131–132
described, 333
destination URL, 141, 332
focus, 131
index page, using as, 130–131
introduced, 109
optimizing, 131
PageRank, 131
AdSense, 199
AdWords, 124–125, 140, 199
conversion tracking language
setting, 191
leaderboard AdSense ad display,
243, 245, 335
Lemos, Manuel (PHP Classes
Webmaster), 241
license key, 52, 99
licensing of Google search technology,
14, 15, 276 Web site, 250
AdSense, backlinking importance
to, 230
anchor text, backlinking to, 321
article, increasing backlinks through
publishing, 46–47
cross linking, 326
discussion forum, increasing backlinks
through participation in, 48
exchange, 40–45
farm, 41–42, 49, 284, 327
Froogle, backlinking importance to, 261
Froogle display, 258
graphical, 72
human networking, increasing
backlinks through, 39–40
inventory, generating using
Sim Spider, 295
keyword, incorporating in, 73
link exchange, increasing backlinks
through, 40–45
listing backlinks, 49–50
operator, 49–50, 291
outgoing, 33, 40, 328
PageRank, role in creating backlink,
29, 38–39
popularity of backlink, checking using
third-party tool, 289–293
popularity of backlinking site,
importance of, 320–321
quality of backlink, assessing, 39,
41–42, 49, 50–54
quality of content, increasing backlinks
through, 320
SEO versus backlinking, 311–312
spider, backlink crawling by, 26, 29
Sponsored Link program, 107, 271, 273
URL, backlink considerations when
changing, 29
URL display, 138, 141, 332
Web site, backlinking from within, 291
Link Popularity Check tool (Marketleap),
location targeting. See geo-targeting
logo, 72, 85, 92, 95
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
magazine industry revenue model, 196
market dominance of Google, 14–16
free versus paid, 307–311
goal, clarifying, 127, 128–129
organic method, 307
SEM place in marketing strategy, 323
Keyword Verification tool, 288–289
Link Popularity Check tool, 289–292
Marshall, Michael (Internet Marketing
Analysts C.E.O.)
backlinking, on, 311
keyword density, on, 313
keyword targeting, on, 322
marketing, on free versus paid, 309–310
PageRank optimization, on, 316–317
SEM, on, 305
Medium Blue Web site, 287, 304
Meena, Vudatala (Search Engine
Optimization Guru specialist), 317
meta tag
code, placement in, 33
described, 328
description HTML tag, 75, 76–77
displaying, 64–65
excluding site from crawl using,
32–33, 34
keyword, placing in, 75, 77, 231,
268, 297
noarchive command, 34
nofollow command, 33
noindex command, 33
optimizing, 75, 77, 231, 268, 297
title HTML tag, 44, 75–76, 315–316,
Mike’s Link Popularity Checker, 292–293
minus sign (-) negative keyword
prefix, 179
mirror site, 328
domain name, typosquatting, 69, 336
keyword misspelling, catching
common, 176, 177
Inktomi, use of, 15
Overture, relation to, 15
shopping, 258–259
Netscape Web site
AdWords display, 115
Google search technology, use of, 14, 15
Network Solutions Web site, 69
New York Times Web site, 66
The New Yorker magazine, 242
news-driven site, suitability for AdSense,
noarchive command, 34
nofollow command, 33
noindex command, 33
ODP (Open Directory Project), 27
Offer ID, Froogle, 267
optimizing site for Google. See also SEO
(search engine optimization)
AdSense, for, 198, 203, 204, 229–232
AdWords ad placement by SEO
professional, 81
alt tag, 77–78
anchor text, 44–45, 321
ATF, 239–240
automation, using, 81, 82, 284
breadth of keyword, 62
business, large versus small, 318–320
buzzword, avoiding, 176
campaign, 124
carryover to other SE, 285
choosing keyword using Keyword
Suggestion Tool, 64, 110, 146,
174–175, 333
choosing keyword using Overture
Search Term Suggestion Tool,
62–64, 236
choosing keyword using Wordtracker,
58–62, 236
coding detail, importance of, 43
concept relationship, keyword, 175
content, dynamic, 35, 70, 326
content, including keyword in, 56
crawl, optimizing site before, 231
customer, orienting keyword toward,
56, 58, 175–177, 305–307
density, keyword, 73, 74, 295–297, 313
description HTML tag, including
keyword in, 76
design of site, integrating optimization
in, 56–57, 70–72
discussion forum related to,
286, 287, 298
distribution of keywords on page,
73, 314
domain name, 56, 68–69
Eric Ward Web site resources, 298
experimenting with keyword, 177
Flash-based site, avoiding, 314–315
focus, page, 73, 131, 204, 231
frame-based site, avoiding,
34, 70, 314–315
Froogle, for, 268–270, 294
heading text, 73
High Rankings Web site resources,
home page, 313
hyphenation variation in keyword,
catching, 177
image-based text, avoiding, 71, 231
introduced, 19
JimWorld Web site resources, 298
landing page, 131
link exchange code, 43–45
link farming versus, 284
link text, 73
match, keyword, 179–180, 181, 330, 332
Medium Blue Web site resources, 287
meta tag, 75, 77, 231, 268, 297
misspelling of keyword, catching
common, 176, 177
PageRank, for, 24, 316–318
patience, importance of, 321
question, keyword as response to, 176
relevancy, for, 198
researching keyword, 167–170, 173,
177, 234
screen resolution, designing for,
239, 243, 325
Search Engine World Web site
resources, 294–297
Search Innovation Web site resources,
SEO Consultants Web site
resources, 294
SEO List Web site resources, 299
SEO professional, hiring, 55, 80–82,
284–285, 294, 299
size of page, 73
software, using third-party, 82, 284
spacing within keyword, catching
variant, 177
splash page, 34–35, 70
subject, limiting to one per page, 231
targeting, keyword, 305–307, 322
tenacity, importance of, 322
title, page, 44, 75–76, 315–316, 323
TopSiteListings Web site resources, 293
organic method of marketing, 307
overdelivery, 333
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Bid Estimator, 234–236, relation to, 15
Search Term Suggestion Tool,
62–64, 236
security code, 235
Yahoo!, relation to, 15
page redirect, 80, 328
algorithm, 22
backlink role in creating, 29, 38–39
competition for, 38
crawl frequency, effect on, 32
described, 328
discussion forum, of, 48
Froogle ranking, effect on, 264–265
importance of, 37
landing page, 131
link exchange, of, 42
link farm effect on, 41–42, 49
OPD, applied to, 27
optimizing for, 24, 316–318
premium service effect on, 273
Toolbar, display on, 22–23
Passion for Business Web site, 310–311
AdSense, 210, 211
AdWords, 143, 146, 210
Ad Group, 124, 150, 161
campaign, 143, 148, 183–185
pay-per-click. See PPC
personal video recorder (PVR), 104, 105
PHP Classes Web site, 241
picture. See image
pop-up window relevancy, 105
pornography site suitability for
AdSense, 199
position of ad on page
AdSense, 173, 239–240
AdWords, 107, 113, 170–173
bidding, effect on, 107, 113
Froogle, 264–265, 269, 270
guarantee by SEO professional, 81, 284
PPC (pay-per-click), 15, 107, 114, 333.
See also CPC (cost-per-click)
premium service
AdSense, 274–277
AdWords, 271–273
Custom WebSearch, 277–278
eligibility, 272, 274
Gold Search, 83, 278–279
PageRank, effect on, 273
revenue model, 272
Silver Search, 83, 278–279
traffic requirement, 274
PSA (public service ad), 226, 335
publisher (AdSense account holder), 335
pull medium, 105, 106
PVR (personal video recorder), 104, 105
quotation marks (“ “) search
delimiters, 180
Raychaudhuri, Prabuddha (Search
Engine Optimization Guru C.E.O.)
SEM, on, 305
small business, on, 319
reciprocity advertising model, 17
redirecting traffic, 80, 328
region targeting. See geo-targeting
AdSense, 197, 202, 203–204, 229–230
AdWords, 136–137, 174, 177, 197
Amazon Web site, 136
blanket advertising, 104, 196
CTR, importance to, 198
Froogle, importance to, 265
Internet advertising, 104–106
keyword-based advertising,
174, 196, 197
optimizing site for, 198
pop-up window, 105
pull medium, 105
search advertising, 106
SEM, 302, 303
spam, 105
television advertising, 104, 105
text, 323
ReplayTV PVR, 104
AdSense, 210, 218–221, 222–223
AdWords, 155–158
campaign, 155, 156
CTR, 156
exporting to CSV file, 158
keyword, 155–156
Marketleap Keyword Verification
tool, 288–289
resolution of screen, designing for,
239, 243, 325
return on investment. See ROI
revenue model
AdSense, 19, 196, 205–206, 219, 232–233
AdWords, 18–19, 272
eBay, 17
Froogle, 258
Google Catalogs, 258
Internet advertising, 195–196
introduced, 13–14
magazine industry, 196
passive, 19
PPC, 14, 18–19, 106
premium service, 272
reciprocity, 17
search result position, selling, 23
television, 196
Yahoo!, 13–14
robots.txt file, 30–32, 329 Web site, 31
ROI (return on investment)
AdWords, 109, 132–133, 162, 170, 333
conversion, relation to, 19
described, 333
marketing, free versus paid,
308, 309, 310
SEM, 303, 305, 308
rotation, Ad Group, 124, 334
Roy, Sumantra (1st Search Ranking
founder), 319–320
RustyBrick Web site, 304
SafeSearch feature, 83
Schwartz, Barry (RustyBrick, Inc.
backlinking, on, 312
Google index, on, 322–323
marketing, on free versus paid, 308–309
SEM, on, 304
title HTML tag, on, 315
screen resolution, designing for,
239, 243, 325
SE (search engine). See also SEM (search
engine marketing); SEO (search
engine optimization)
bulk submission, 284
described, 329
Georgia Institute of Technology
SE survey, 304
placement, paid, 307–311, 333
search advertising, 106
search box, adding to site
AdSense, integrating with, 85
coding, 86–88, 92
color scheme, 86, 95–97
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
search box, adding to site (continued)
Custom Web Search option, 83
Customized Free Web Search option, 83
domain, limiting search to, 93–94
font, 90–91
Gold Search option, 83
Google Free option, 83, 84, 86, 98
Google Free SafeSearch option, 83, 88
Google Free Web and Site Search
option, 83, 86, 88–89
intranet, searching, 97
logo display, 85, 92, 95
result, displaying, 84, 88, 91–92
service option overview, 83
Silver Search option, 83
sizing search box, 89–90
TOS, 84–85
search engine. See SE
search engine marketing. See SEM
search engine optimization. See SEO
Search Engine Optimization Guru
Web site, 305
search engine results page (SERP), 329
Search Engine World Web site,
73, 74, 294–297
Search Innovation Web site, 285–286
search result. See also PageRank
blocking sexual content, 88
displaying result of custom search box,
84, 88, 91–92
displaying using custom interface,
position in, selling, 23
SERP, 329
window, opening in new, 91–92
Search Term Suggestion Tool (Overture),
62–64, 236
banklink list, returning, 49–50
Custom WebSearch premium service,
Froogle, 258, 259–260, 261–265
Gold Search premium service,
83, 278–279
Google Catalogs, 258, 259–260, 270
intranet, 97
keyword match, 179–180, 181, 188,
330, 332
phrase match, 180
SafeSearch, 83
Silver Search premium service,
83, 278–279
URL, for specific, 28
SearchRank Web site, 302
AdSense password, 210, 211
AdWords password, 143, 146, 210
conversion tracking security level, 191
Overture security code, 235
SEM (search engine marketing)
business, large versus small, 318–320
cost effectiveness, 303, 305
democracy inherent in, 305
evaluating need for, 302–305
Georgia Institute of Technology
SE survey, 304
introduced, 301
marketing strategy, place in, 323
relevancy, 302, 303
result, quantifying, 304
ROI, 303, 305, 308
semicolon (;) search domain list
separator, 94
SEO Consultants Web site, 294
SEO List Web site, 299
SEO (search engine optimization).
See also optimizing site for Google
alt tag, 77–78
anchor text, 44–45, 321
ATF, 239–240
automation, using, 81, 82, 284
backlink versus, 311–312
breadth of keyword, 62
buzzword, avoiding, 176
coding detail, importance of, 43
concept relationship, keyword, 175
content, dynamic, 35, 70, 326
content, including keyword in, 56
crawl, optimizing site before, 231
customer, orienting keyword toward,
56, 58, 175–177, 305–307
density, keyword, 73, 74, 295–297, 313
description HTML tag, including
keyword in, 76
design of site, integrating optimization
in, 56–57, 70–72
discussion forum related to,
286, 287, 298
distribution of keywords on page,
73, 314
domain name, 56, 68–69
Eric Ward Web site resources, 298
experimenting with keyword, 177
Flash-based site, avoiding, 314–315
focus, page, 73, 131, 204, 231
frame-based site, avoiding,
34, 70, 314–315
heading text, 73
High Rankings Web site resources,
hiring SEO professional, 55, 80–82,
284–285, 294, 299
home page, 313
hyphenation variation in keyword,
catching, 177
image-based text, avoiding, 71, 231
introduced, 38
JimWorld Web site resources, 298
landing page, 131
link exchange code, 43–45
link farming versus, 284
link text, 73
match, keyword, 179–180, 181
Medium Blue Web site resources, 287
meta tag, 75, 77, 231, 268, 297
misspelling of keyword, catching
common, 176, 177
patience, importance of, 321
question, keyword as response
to, 176
relevancy, for, 198
researching keyword, 167–170, 173,
177, 234
Search Engine World Web site
resources, 294–297
Search Innovation Web site resources,
SEO Consultants Web site resources,
SEO List Web site resources, 299
SEO professional, hiring, 55, 80–82,
284–285, 294, 299
size of page, 73
software, using third-party, 82, 284
spacing within keyword, catching
variant, 177
splash page, 34–35, 70
subject, limiting to one per page, 231
targeting, keyword, 305–307, 322
tenacity, importance of, 322
title, page, 44, 75–76, 315–316, 323
TopSiteListings Web site resources, 293
SERP (search engine results page), 329
service, marketing using Froogle, 262
shopping portal. See Froogle; Google
sig file, 48
Silver Search premium service,
83, 278–279
Sim Spider utility, 295
skyscraper AdSense ad display.
See vertical AdSense ad display
slash (/) robots.txt file directory
prefix, 31
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
described, 329
discussion forum spam, 48
relevancy, 105
SEO company, from, 81
spider. See also index
AdSense site crawling, 199, 202, 204,
226, 231
algorithm, 22
backlink crawling, 26, 29
Deepbot, 326
depth of crawl, 24, 26, 322–323
described, 329
directory crawling, 27
dynamic content crawling, 35, 70, 326
excluding site from crawl, 30–35
file type, excluding from crawl, 32
Flash-based site crawling, 314–315
frame crawling, 34, 70, 314–315
frequency of crawl, 24, 32, 204
fresh crawl, 24, 25, 326, 327
Freshbot, 326, 327
Froogle crawling, 260–261
image crawling, 32, 71, 72, 77–78
optimizing site before crawl, 231
robots.txt file, referencing in, 31
splash page crawling, 34–35, 70
submitting site versus, 27
Usenet newsgroup crawling, 48
splash page, 34–35, 70, 80, 326
Sponsored Link program, 107, 271, 273
Ad Group, 150–155
AdSense, 218–221
AdWords, 146, 147–155
budget statistics, 148
campaign statistics, 148–150, 184
conversion statistics, 107, 148,
190–191, 331
CPC, 148, 219
CTR, 148, 150, 219, 220
date period, limiting by, 148
image statistics, 294
keyword statistics, 150, 151–154,
SEM result, quantifying, 304
traffic statistics, 53
Web page file size statistics, 294
StepForth Placement Services
Web site, 310
stuffing, keyword, 79, 327
submitting site
bulk submission, 284
Google, to, 25–27
OPD, to, 27
syndication of advertising, 19, 196.
See also AdSense
tab-delimited text file, 266
tax handling, AdSense, 200, 210, 211
ad blindness, 242
blanket advertising, 104
purpose, advertising as primary, 196
PVR, 104, 105
relevancy of television advertising,
104, 105
ReplayTV, 104
revenue model, 196
time taken by advertising, 103–104
TiVo, 104
template, using to build AdSense
site, 240
Terms of Service. See TOS
AdSense, 200, 216, 231, 247
AdWords ad, editing, 162–163
AdWords ad, writing, 111, 136–138
anchor text, 43, 44–45, 321
color, AdSense text, 200, 216, 247
font, AdWords, 137
font, search box, 90–91
Froogle, text file needed for, 266
heading text, 73
home page text, 313
hyphenation variation in keyword,
catching, 177
image-based, avoiding, 71, 231
keyword, including in page content, 56
link text, optimizing, 73
relevancy, 323
spacing variation in keyword,
catching, 177
tab-delimited text file, 266
Theme Link Reputation Tool, 50–52
timing of ad display, 113
tipping point, 103
AdSense ad, 216
HTML tag, 44, 75–76, 315–316, 323
link title, 44, 45
page title, 44, 75–76, 315–316, 323
TiVo PVR, 104
Toolbar, PageRank display on, 22–23
TopSiteListings Web site, 293
TOS (Terms of Service)
AdSense, 198–199, 205
Froogle, 262
search box, adding to site, 84–85
tower AdSense ad display. See vertical
AdSense ad display
trademark infringement, 178
increasing, keyword importance in, 67
increasing using AdWords, 18, 128–129
increasing using Usenet newsgroup, 48
premium service eligibility, for, 274
purchasing, 132
redirecting, 80, 328
sharing using human networking, 39
statistics, generating using third-party
solution, 53
tracing using third-party solution,
53, 190
Traffic Estimator
bid, determining using, 135, 160, 165
campaign cost, determining using,
134–135, 142
described, 334
keyword value, determining using,
Traupel, Lee (Intelective
Communications C.E.O.), 314, 318
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
Ad Group link URL, entering, 166
AdSense ad URL, determining, 251
AdSense filtering, 251–253, 274, 336
destination URL, 141, 332
display, 138, 141, 216, 247, 332
Froogle, submitting to, 266, 267
Google, submitting to, 25–27
link target page, of, 43, 44
moving site to new, 29
OPD, submitting to, 27
searching for specific, 28
Usenet newsgroup crawling, 48
User-agent command, 30–31
vanity site suitability for AdSense, 198
vertical AdSense ad display, 213, 239,
visitor e-mail address, capturing, 128
Wallace, David (SearchRank Web site
backlinking, on, 312
SEM, on, 302
tenacity, on, 322
title HTML tag, on, 316
Building Your Business with Google For Dummies
Ward, Eric (optimization specialist), 298
Web API, 98
Web index, 18
Web Rank Web site, 303
Webb, Alan (ABAKUS Internet
Marketing C.E.O.)
backlinking, on, 320
keyword targeting, on, 307
site design, on, 314
small business, on, 319
title HTML tag, on, 316
Weblog suitability for AdSense, 203
Webmaster World Web site, 298
Webmonkey Web site, 247
WebPage Size Checker utility, 294–295
WebSearch, Custom, 277–278
W-9 form, submitting to Google, 210
Wordtracker keyword suggestion tool,
58–62, 236, 287
WYSIWYG (what you see is what you
get) editor, 214, 247
Google search technology leased to, 14
Inktomi, use of, 15
Overture, relation to, 15
revenue model, 13–14
Shopping feature, 258
Store feature, 258–259
Wallet feature, 258
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