Miyerkules, Nobyembre 30, 2011
Martes, Nobyembre 29, 2011
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) is a system of digital phone connections which is compatible with the existing (analog) telephone system
SEM Rush has long been one of my favorite SEO tools. We wrote a review of SEM Rush years ago. They were best of breed back then & they have only added more features since, including competitive research data for many local versions of Google outside of the core US results: UK, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil.
Set up a free account on their website & enter the promotional code "6M53-4165-0N3W-F3D5"
For full disclosure, SEM Rush has been an SEO Book partner for years, as we have licensed their API to use in our competitive research tool. They also have an affiliate program & we are paid if you become a paying customer, however we do not get paid for recommending their free trial & their free trial doesn't even require giving them a credit card, so it literally is a no-risk free trial.
What is SEM Rush?
SEM Rush is a competitive research tool which helps you spy on how competing sites are performing in search. The big value add that SEM Rush has over a tool like Compete.com is that SEM Rush offers CPC estimates (from Google's Traffic Estimator tool) & estimated traffic volumes (from the Google AdWords keyword tool) near each keyword. Thus, rather than showing the traffic distribution to each site, this tool can list keyword value distribution for the sites (keyword value * estimated traffic).
As Google has started blocking showing some referral data the value of using these 3rd party tools has increased.
Using these estimates generally does not provide overall traffic totals that are as accurate as Compete.com's data licensing strategy, but if you own a site and know what it earns, you can set up a ratio to normalize the differences (at least to some extent, within the same vertical, for sites of similar size, using a similar business model).
One of our sites that earns about $5,000 a month shows a Google traffic value of close to $20,000 a month.
5,000/20,000 = 1/4 = 0.25
A similar site in the same vertical shows $10,000
$10,000 * 0.25 = $2,500
A couple big advantages over Compete.com and services like QuantCast for SEM Rush are that:
- they focus exclusively on estimating search traffic
- you get click volume estimates and click value estimates right next to each other
- they help you spot valuable up-and-coming keywords where you might not yet get much traffic because you rank on page 2 or 3
Disclaimers With Normalizing Data
It is hard to monetize traffic as well as Google does, so in virtually every competitive market your profit per visitor (after expenses) will generally be less than Google. Some reason why..
- In some markets people are losing money to buy marketshare, while in other markets people may overbid just to block out competition.
- Some merchants simply have fatter profit margins and can afford to outbid affiliates.
- It is hard to integrate advertising in your site anywhere near as aggressively as Google does while still creating a site that will be able to gather enough links (and other signals of quality) to take a #1 organic ranking in competitive markets...so by default there will typically be some amount of slippage.
- A site that offers editorial content wrapped in light ads will not convert eyeballs into cash anywhere near as well as a lead generation oriented affiliate site would.
SEM Rush Features
Keyword Values & Volumes
As mentioned above, this data is scraped from the Google Traffic Estimator and the Google Keyword Tool. More recently Google combined their search-based keyword tool features into their regular keyword tool & this data has become much harder to scrape (unless you are already sitting on a lot of it like SEM Rush is).
Top Search Traffic Domains
A list of the top 100 domain names that are estimated to be the highest value downstream traffic sources from Google.
You could get a similar list from Compete.com's Referral Analytics by running a downstream report on Google.com, although I think that might also include traffic from some of Google's non-search properties like Reader. Since SEM Rush looks at both traffic volume and traffic value it gives you a better idea of the potential profits in any market than looking at raw traffic stats alone would.
Most competitors are quite obvious, however sometimes they will highlight competitors that you didn't realize, and in some cases those competitors are also working in other fertile keyword themes that you may have missed.
These sorts of charts are great for trying to show clients how site x performs against site y in order to help allocate more resources.
Compare AdWords to Organic Search
Before SEM Rush came out there were not many (or perhaps any?) tools that made it easy to compare AdWords against organic search.
SEM Rush Pro costs $79 per month (or $69 if you sign up recurring), so this free trial is worth about $35 to $40.
Take advantage of SEMRush's free 2-week trial today.
Set up a free account on their website & enter the promotional code "6M53-4165-0N3W-F3D5"
If you have any questions about getting the most out of SEM Rush feel free to ask in the comments below. We have used their service for years & can answer just about any question you may have & offer a wide variety of tips to help you get the most out of this powerful tool.
Lunes, Nobyembre 28, 2011
a "There are a lot of providers to choose from and it is hard to know where to start looking or which features I may need
Linggo, Nobyembre 27, 2011
Sabado, Nobyembre 26, 2011
Another friend sent me a message today: "just got a whole swathe of non-interlinked microsites torched today. Bastard! Just watching the rank reports coming in..."
I haven't seen his sites, but based on how he described them "whole swathe" I wouldn't guess the quality to be super high. One thing you could say for them was that they were unique.
Where putting in the effort to create original content falls flat on its face is when search engines chose to outrank aggregators (or later copies) over the original source. The issue has got so out of hand that Google has come right out & asked for help with it.
When Google launched Knol I was quick to flame them after I saw them ranking recycled content on Knol ahead of the original source. The Knol even highlighted similar works, showing that Google allowed Knol to outrank earlier sources of the same work.
In a recent WebmasterWorld thread Brett Tabke stated that Google is putting serious weight on Google+:
Some Google+ SEO factors now trump linking as prime algo ingredient. Google+ is already and clearly influencing rankings. I watched a presentation last night that definitely showed that rankings can occur from Google+ postings and photo's with no other means of support.
As Google+ grows - so will Google's understanding of how to use it as rankings signals.
We are not playing Google+ because we want too - we are playing Google+ because we have to.
I read that sorta half hoping he was wrong, but know he rarely is.
And then today Google hit me across the head with a 2x4, proving he was right again.
Business Insider is not some small niche site that Google can justify accidentally deleting from the web with 2 clicks of a mouse, yet when I was doing a *navigational* search, trying to find a piece of their content I had already read, guess what popped up in the search results.
What's worse is that isn't from a friend, isn't from the original source, is the full article wholesale, from Google Reader, and the source URL has Google's feedproxy in it.
If Google wants to add value to the ecosystem & insert themselves as a new layer of value then how can we do anything but welcome it. However, when they want to take 3rd party content & "wrap it in Google" it is absolutely unacceptable for them to outrank the original source with their copy of it, even if they feel the deserve to outrank it & have made multiple copies of it.
But Google's dominance in search coupled with their dominance in display (from owning DoubleClick & YouTube) has led competing portals to team up to try to compete against Google with display ads.
And, if the big portals are struggling that much, then at the individual publisher level, how do you profitably produce content when Google takes your content & ranks their copy ahead of yours?
Google has recently began refining search queries far more aggressively. In the past they would refine search queries if they thought there was a misspelling, but new refinements have taken to changing keywords that are spelled correctly to align them with more common (and thus profitable) keywords.
As one example, the search result [weight loss estimator] is now highly influenced by [weight loss calculator]. The below chart compares the old weight loss estimator SERP, the current weight loss estimator SERP & the current weight loss calculator SERP. Click on the image for a larger view.
There are 2 serious issues with this change
- disclosure: in the past refinement disclosures appeared at the top of the search results, but now it often ends up at the bottom
- awful errors: a couple months after I was born my wife was born in Manila. When I was doing some searches about visiting & things like that, sometimes Google would take the word "Manila" out of the search query. (My guess is because the word "Manila" is also a type of envelope?)
Here is an example of an "awful error" in action. Let's say while traveling you find a great gift & want to send it to extended family. Search for [shipping from las vegas to manila] and you get the following
The search results contain irrelevant garbage like an Urban Spoon page for Las Vegas delivery restaurants.
How USELESS is that?
And now, with disclosure of changes at the bottom of the search results, there isn't even a strong & clean signal to let end users tell Google "hey you are screwing this up badly."
In some ways I am inspired by Google's willingness to test and tweak, but in others I wonder if their new model for search is to care less about testing and hope that SEOs will highlight where Google is punting it bad. In that case, they just roped me into offering free advice. ;)
Biyernes, Nobyembre 25, 2011
The tool also has the ability to search on multiple levels (so for example if you maintain a directory it is able to spider the categories and subcategories).
Huwebes, Nobyembre 24, 2011
The Big Portals Can't Grow Ad Revenues
In spite of the transitioning of print Dollars to digital dimes for print media, TV advertising remains healthy and robust. Much like the decline of print media, the flow of brand ad Dollars online is skipping over even some of the largest players, leaving them out of the growth from the shift to online media.
While Yahoo! is still a leader in many categories they are struggling to sell their ad inventory directly & are selling more of it as backfill/remnant inventory. This issue has also hit AOL pretty hard. In spite of acquiring Huffington Post & being willing to sell ads at a bogus $1000 CPM, they are still losing money and their ad revenues were only up marginally.
The Stock Market Values Big Portals at Next to Nothing
Some of the bigger portals are hoping that TV-styled web ratings will lift their ad sales, but I am skeptical & so is the market. AOL's stock was down about 50% over the past month before the recent rally (and half of what was left was cash on the books). Part of AOL's recent stock price recovery is from them announcing a stock buy back. Yahoo! is basically valued at $0 when you back out their cash on hand & investments in foreign assets.
Why Can't the Portals Grow?
Part of the lack of growth in ad budgets for the large portals comes down to hype around mobile (which is now ~ 12% of search ad clicks), Facebook & social media. The brand ad Dollars that are being spent to "look cool" are riding the new fads & trends.
Riding the social hype, now even AdWords ads have a social element to them.
Three other big issues that are impacting the portals (discussed further below) are ad retargeting, custom integrated media buys, and the mixing of traffic quality.
As a baseline to consider how significantly these trends are impacting the big portals are, consider that...
- Demand Media's eHow was hit by Panda
- eHow removed 300,000 pages
... yet their quarterly traffic was roughly flat compared to Q1 & revenue was up 32% year over year. In spite of having a search-first distribution strategy, getting hammered by Panda, and removing tons of content, Demand Media is still growing far faster than AOL or Yahoo! are. Thus it is no wonder that Yahoo! & AOL are not highly valued by the investment community.
1. Ad Retargeting
Between contextual ad targeting & ad retargeting advertisers have many options to reach their audience without paying premium ad inventory rates to show up where they are less relevant.
At first I thought ad retargeting would lift CPMs as another ad channel to compete for inventory. For smaller sites about knitting or celebrity gossip it probably does, but for "premium" media that is way overpriced, it does the opposite. At first this hit some of the sorta b-list sites but not the big portals, then over time that trend grew and it eventually even consumed the big portals.
Google took ad retargeting mainstream. At first advertisers bid artificially high for this traffic, based on its perceived value, but since these advertisers were largely only competing/bidding against themselves & these ads can appear anywhere, many have now figured out that they can significantly cut their bids & still get plenty of exposure.
Some ecommerce websites not only do ad retargeting to people who visited their website, but some go so far as to target the individual products you looked at or put in your cart. You may not notice the trend if you are shopping for things you purchase (as a reflection of our identity we generally tend to perceive the things we like as being normal & as being more widely popular than they are), but if you shop for something out of the blue then the ads that follow you are far more noticeable.
Sometimes I buy a gag gift to give away before the real gift so as to sorta mis-set expectations & see a range of responses. :)
When I was buying a 4th anniversary gift for my wife, while shopping online I joked with a friend about how ugly & over-the-top some of the Zales items were. Those items then started to follow me around the web in banner ads!
What is more valuable than seeing a person putting an item in a shopping cart is seeing the actual items a person has already purchased. Amazon suggests related products on their web pages, sends personalized "you might like" email recommendations, and is leveraging their data to build a distributed ad network:
Amazon will now use its huge supply of data to pool consumers into buckets based on the products they looked at or purchased on the retailer's website. The company will help advertisers reach these consumers with targeted media, using behaviorally targeted display ads to drive them to
There are many other technologies & business models built off of retargeting: some businesses try to rent a pixel on 3rd party websites, some analytics services respawn cookies, Akamai's CDN offers pixel-free tracking, Facebook's like button collects data even if you do not click on it, and 3rd party social media "add to" buttons collect & sell similar data.
2. Integrated Media Buys
WebMD has sponsored sections where you go from information to self-quiz right into integrated custom ad channels tied directly to the disease.
Pay Per Post sort of took the low road in their marketing approach with getting exposure on blogs. ReviewMe (which I co-founded & sold my share in many years ago) intended to take a somewhat higher road, but perhaps didn't attract as much brand attention as we had hoped for, at least not initially.
More recently many of the online blogging communities have become custom ad networks. Want to reach moms? P&G did a deal with BlogHer & it was popular enough that there are blog posts and videos about it.
Shortly after watching a Youtube video about sugar and insulin I soon saw the following YouTube experience, with an ad over a video & another related ad unit off to the right
Taking the "be the content rather than the ad unit" one step further, YouTube has done custom ads for Nintendo, where the entire Youtube website interface reflected the game.
Google's Nikesh Arora gave a speech where he mentioned that WillItBlend blends in product placements for $5,000.
3. Watering Down of Network Quality
That mixing in of slop traffic only further drives down network pricing, but that only becomes such a big issue because of the other above changes. Part of why the fraudulent "inventory" on ad "networks" is appealing is that there is likely a far higher markup by the ad agency than there is when buying premium ad inventory.
"We just got u 34 trillion ad impressions...and these are 1/5th the cost of the other ones" sounds efficient & appealing. They can mystery meat up the margin a lot higher on the junk than they can on the premium & they can mix in enough ad retargeting into the aggregate buy so you don't know where the performance came from, but it looks ok in aggregate (so long as you don't look any deeper).
This is no different than email co-registration & incentivized leads being mixed in with quality SEO & PPC driven leads. Backfill with junk to increase volume, but mix in enough of the good stuff to keep the aggregate performance high enough to still make it worth doing, all the while arbitraging the value of existing brand strength & the additional yield from retargeting.
4. Search Engines as Stealth Web Portals
Want local? Use Google Places. Want video? Watch Google's YouTube. Looking to buy something? See the item listings in the search results. Need a stock quote? Its right in the search results.
A lot of the general purpose generic traffic that helped subsidize the large portals is now being ate by search engines like Google & Bing that are putting more data directly into the search results. This trend is even more significant than it appears on the surface when you consider investments in 3rd party companies that are arbitraging the search results (like Whaleshark Media), the inclusion of custom ad formats & lead generation funnels in the search results, and tests of vertical refinements currently being built out (in travel, deals, games and social networks like Google+).
5. The Next Big Issue? Author Identity & Retaining Talent
Services like Klout aim to create a currency out of a person's influence, which helps advertisers figure out who they should pitch.
Google's weighting on domain authority to some degree locks authors into their current jobs by making it hard for a new site to build up the initial momentum needed to become profitable. Google has implemented rel=author as a way to experiment with creating an author ranking system. If they are successful with it (and share author ratings publicly) that will give the most successful individual authors more leverage over the networks they write for, which in turn would only further weaken the big broad portals by making it easier for authors to jump ship and do their own thing.
"They [AOL] absolutely have some core assets, but I think you would have a hard time finding someone who would describe them as a 'must buy,'" says Craig Atkinson, chief digital officer at PHD, the media-buying unit owned by Omnicom Group Inc. - source
Affiliates Are a Dying Breed
Being an ecommerce affiliate keeps getting harder & harder unless you have a strong brand and/or are selling things with a complex sales cycle.
Portable air conditioners is a pretty niche category, but when I look at it I simply don't see any opportunity on the SEO front unless you take on the significant risk of carrying inventory & drop hundreds of thousands to millions of Dollars on branding.
The Corporate, The Bad & The Ugly
Head keyword: note the brand navigation, the extended AdWords ads & the product search results that drive the traditional search results below the fold
Tail keywords are every bit as ugly, with Google product ads sometimes coming in inline, further driving down the organic search results.
And it is nastier when Google Instant is still extended. 10% of browsers can see a single organic search result!
Corporate, Corporate, Corporate
As ugly as that looks, not only do the larger merchants have an advantage in AdWords (getting their product ads on a CPA basis while smaller merchants have to pay on a CPC basis), Google product search (more reviews), inline search navigation options (featuring the same brands yet again), but most of the organic results (that are generally below the fold) are also the same big brands after the Panda update gave them a boost while torching their smaller competitors.
The Chicken vs Egg Problem of Scale
For online pure-plays (outside of Amazon.com, eBay & a few others) the "no opportunity anywhere" problem in search also harms the ability to be competitive on pricing because without the ability to rank you don't have the leverage over the supply chain the way that the big box stores do from winning everywhere in the SERP & having offline distribution. There is little opportunity to organically grow to scale over time unless you enter the market with some point of leverage (like going so far as creating the product right on through to marketing it to consumers), sell something totally different than what is already available in the market (and hope it doesn't get cloned), buy out an existing company that went bankrupt, and/or build significant non-search distribution channels first.
I suppose the last option on that front would be to promote your stuff on a large platform that is already doing well in Google (say eBay, Amazon, or Facebook), but doing that gives you limited control over the customer experience & forces you to keep chasing new one-off sales rather than building & deepening relationships with customers.
Killing Off Diversity
As Google collects more usage date (mobile is already 12% of search) these big box stores will have an even bigger moat between them & smaller competitors.
The "big box stores only" search results also create an experience that is bland & uniform. At first glance things may look different, but it is the same type of sites again and again: a lot of the brands cross hire, have similar "politically correct" cultures & have roughly similar customer experience sets. When you buy from Walmart you are not going to get that caring email from a founder offering hands on tips & advice. Scale requires homoginization, which generally kills of personality & differentiation.
Killing Off Innovation
The problem with the "be huge or die" approach to search is that most legitimate economic innovation comes from smaller players that challenge the existing power structure. Set the barrier to entry too high and you might have less spam to fight, but you certainly will have less economic innovation & more of the would-be innovators will be stuck working dead end job at dysfunctional corporations.
Now You See it, Now You Don't
Most people can't see what they are missing out on so they won't know, but (as Tim Wu put it so eloquently in The Master Switch) the same was true for AT&T when it held back innovations like the answering machine & what ultimately came to be the WWW. What sort of price do you put on email taking a decade longer to launch? How many other disruptive changes built off of incremental improvements will never appear because they simply weren't large & corporate enough to compete on Google's web?
The web was great because it offered something different. Unfortunately you have to search using something other than Google to find it.
Miyerkules, Nobyembre 23, 2011
Martes, Nobyembre 22, 2011
Link Assistant's Rank Tracker Reviewed
Link Assistant offers SEO's a suite of tools, under an umbrella aptly named SEO Power Suite, which covers many aspects of an SEO campaign.
Link Assistant provides the following tools inside of their Power Suite:
- Rank Tracker - rank tracking software
- WebSite Auditor - on-page optimization tool
- SEO Spy Glass - competitive link research tool
- Link Assistant - their flagship link prospecting, management, and tracking tool
We'll be reviewing their popular Rank Tracking tool in this post. I've used their tools for awhile now and have no issue in recommending them. They also claim to have the following companies as clients:
Rank Tracker is one of the more robust, fast, and reliable rank checking tools out there.
Is Rank Tracker a Worthy Investment?
Rank Tracker offers a few different pricing options:
All of the editions have the following features:
- Unlimited sites
- Unlimited keywords
- Customizable reports (you can only save and print with Enterprise level however, kind of a drawback in my opinion. Pro accounts should have this functionality)
- API key's
- Human search emulation built in
- User agent rotation
- Proxy support
- Proxy rotation
- Google analytics integration
- Multiple language support (English, German, Russian, French, Dutch, Spanish, Slovak)
- Runs on Windows, Mac, Linux
All editions offer access to their keyword research features, with all the features included, the only difference here is the free edition doesn't allow KEI updates.
Rank Tracker Feature Set
Rank Tracker offers a keyword research tool and a rank checking component within the application. A more thorough breakdown of the feature set is as follows:
I prefer to do my keyword research outside of tools like this. Generally specific tools seem to excel at their chosen discipline, in this case rank checking, but fall kind of short in areas they try to add-on. I like to use a variety of tools when doing keyword research and it's easier for me, personally, to create and merge various spreadsheets and various data points rather than doing research inside of an application.
However, Rank Tracker does offer a one-stop shop for cumbersome research options like various search suggest methods and unique offerings like estimated traffic based on ranking #1 for that specified term.
Overall, a nice set of keyword research features if you want to add on to the research you've already done.
Rank Tracker also gives you the option to factor in data from Google Trends as well as through Google Analytics (see current ranking for each keyword and actual traffic).
As this is the core piece tool it's really no surprise that this part of Rank Tracker shines. Some of the interesting options here are in the ability to track multiple Google search areas like images, videos, and places.
In addition to the interesting features I mentioned above, Rank Tracker also includes a wide array of charting and design options to help you work with your data more directly and in a clearer way:
Usability is Top Notch
While the interfaces aren't the prettiest, this is one of one most user-friendly rank tracking tools that I've come across.
First you simply enter the URL you wish to track. Rank Tracker will automatically find the page AND sub-domain on the domain ranking for the keywords chosen, so you don't have to enter these separately.
You enter the site you want to check (remember, subpages and subdomains are automatically included)
Choose from a whole host of engines and select universal search if you wish to factor in places taken up by Google insertions into the SERPS:
Enter your keywords:
Let Rank Tracker go to work: (you can choose to display the running tasks as line views or tree views, a minor visual preference)
That's all there is to it. It is extremely easy to get a project up and running inside of this tool.
Working with Rank Tracker
Inside of Rank Tracker the data is displayed clearly, in an easy to understand format:
In the top part you'll get to see:
- the keywords you selected
- current rank compared to last rank
- overall visibility (top rankings) in each search engine selected
- custom tags you might decide to choose to tag your keywords with for tracking purposes or something
On the bottom chart you'll see three options for the selected search engine (bottom) and keyword (top):
- ranking information for each search engine for the selected keyword
- historical records (last check date and position)
- progress graph (visual representation of rankings, customizable with sliders as shown in the picture)
The ranking chart shows the chart for the chosen keyword and search engine:
Within the ranking results page, you can select from these options to get a broader view of how your site is performing on the whole:
Customizing Rank Tracker
Inside of Rank Tracker's preferences you'll see the following options, most of which are self-explanatory:
This is where you can take advantage of some of their cooler features like:
- adding competitors to track
- adding in your Google Analytics account
- customizing your reporting templates
- changing up human emulation settings
- adding in a captcha service
- scheduling reports
- adding in multiple proxies to help with the speed of the tool as well as to prevent blocks
You can track up to 5 competitors per Rank Tracker profile (meaning, 5 competitors per one of your sites).
Key Configuration Options
Rank Tracker has a ton of options as you can see from the screenshot above. Some of the more important ones you'll want to pay attention to begin with their reporting options.
You'll want to set up your company information as shown here: (this is what will show on your reports)
On a per profile basis you can customize client-specific details likeso:
You can create new and modify existing templates for multiple report types here as well:
Emulation settings are important, you want to make sure you are set up so your requests look as normal and human as possible. It makes sense to check off the "visit search engine home page" option to help it appear more natural in addition to having delays between queries (again, to promote a natural approach to checking rankings/searching).
One thing that irks me about Rank Tracker is that they have emulation turned off by default. If you don't adjust your settings and you try and run a moderately sized report you'll get a Google automated ban in short order, so be careful!
In addition to emulation, search approach is also worthy of a bit of tinkering as well. Given how often Google inserts things like images, products, and videos into search results you might want to consider using universal search when checking rankings.
Also, the result depth is important. Going deep here can help identifying sites that have been torched rather than sites that simply fell outside the top 20 or 50. 100 is a good baseline as a default.
Successive search gives you a more accurate view as it manually goes page by page rather than grabbing 100 results at a time (double listings, as an example, can throw off the count when not using successive search)
Finally, another important option is scheduling. You can schedule emails, FTP uploads, and so on (as well as rank checks) from this options panel. Your machine does have to be on for this to work (not in sleep mode for instance). In my experience Rank Tracker has been pretty solid on this front, with respect to executing the tasks you tell it to execute (consistently).
Software versus Cloud
There are some strong, cloud based competitors to Rank Tracker. Our Rank Checker is a great solution for quick checks and for ongoing tracking if you do not need graphical charts and such (though, you can easily make those in excel if you need to).
Competitors and Options
Raven offers rank tracking as a part of their package and there are other cloud based services like Authority Labs (who actually power Raven's tools) you can look into if you want to avoid using software tools for rank checking.
There are some drawbacks to cloud-based rank tracking though. Some of them do not have granular date-based comparisons as they typically run on the provider's schedule rather than yours.
Also, most cloud rank checking solutions offer limits on how many keywords you can track. So if you are doing enterprise level rank checking it makes sense to use a software tool + a proxy service like Trusted Proxies
Pricing and Final Thoughts
Rank Tracker offers a generous discount if you grab all their tools in one bundle. If you want to customize, schedule, and print reports you'll need the enterprise edition.
I think requiring the purchase of your top tier for the basic functionality of printing reports is a mistake. I can see having that limitation on the free edition, but if you pay you should get access to reports.
You can find their bundle prices here and Rank Tracker's specific pricing here. Also, similar to competitors, they have an ongoing service plan which is required if you plan to continue to receive updates after the initial 6 months.
Despite my pricing concern regarding the reporting options, I think this is one of the top rank checkers out there. It has a ton of features and is very simple to use. I would recommend that you give this tool a shot if you are in the market for a robust rank checking solution. Oh I almost forgot, rank checking is still useful :)
One More Note of Caution
Be sure to read the below complaints about how unclear & sneaky the maintenance plan pricing is. This is something they should fix ASAP.
Lunes, Nobyembre 21, 2011
Is Paid Search Incremental or Cannibalistic?
Earlier this month Google referenced a "study" they did which showed that 89% of AdWords ad clicks were incremental (meaning that they were clicks that the website would not have received if they relied on organic search results alone).
As part of that "study" they stated that "indirect navigation to the advertiser site is not considered." Why did they chose to exclude that segment of traffic? Because they advertiser would have got almost all of it anyway. They never really defined what indirect navigation is though, so you are left to guess as to what qualifies as being part of that segment.
The "study" also stated:
A low value of incremental ad clicks may occur when the paid and organic results are both similar and in close proximity to each other on the search results page. This increases the likelihood of a user clicking on an organic result as opposed to a paid result. Close proximity occurs when the ranking of the organic result is high, placing it near the paid results. Organic results triggered by branded search terms tend to have a higher ranking on average and this may lead to a low IAC value.
So which keywords should you advertise on? And which keywords are buying the milk when you already have the cow for free? According to Google:
A low IAC value does not necessarily suggest a pause in search advertising is in order. In fact, for many advertisers with a low IAC, it is still profitable to invest in search advertising. To evaluate the economic benefits of search advertising, an advertiser must run a calculation incorporating their individual IAC, conversion rates, and conversion revenue. The below equation can help determine whether search advertising is worthwhile on a case by case basis.
Is an Experiment Required?
Google later suggests that a more rigorous test would include a split test experiment that compares a control group against an ad group with paid search ads held back. They then suggest that "many advertisers are adverse to conducting such experiments due to the setup costs involved and the potential revenue impact from having a hold-out group."
What I don't buy *at all* is the suggestion that such studies need to be rigorous & expensive. On the organic search front, Google Webmaster Tools already offers organic search CTR stats by ranking position & ranked page:
And since Google is heavily promoting adoption of the +1 button, they also offer A/B split data for how that button impacts search performance.
If Google provides this data for free for organic search then why (other than protecting their own revenues) do they suggest this data is hard to attain for paid search? If Google respected their advertisers & wanted the advertisers to advertise based on complete data they would make this data available automatically, like they do with the +1 button data.
No "Study" Required
Here is my big problem I have with Google suggesting that I need a quantitative study to know if I should buy my own branded keywords:
- I know I am going to get almost all the clicks anyhow (Google removed "indirect navigation" from their study for a reason, and 3rd party studies have shown how directly cannibalistic these ads are)
- the whole point of building a brand is increased affinity with users & not needing to pay for incremental distribution driven by brand demand. To spend money to build brand only to have to keep rebuying the existing brand equity is quite a futile exercise.
- in the bid auction Google sets arbitrary pricing floors at the keyword level to squeeze advertisers (almost nobody is bidding on "seo book" but if I do Google will want $2 or $3 per click)
- even if I go through said "quantitative study" I end up needing to re-test it every so often as Google arbitrarily juices the ad prices to increase their revenues
- when Google offers the enhanced long sitelinks they are doing so because they think the search query is primarily navigational, yet they still put ads above the organic search results, which IMHO is pretty dirty
- and the dirtiest bit of it all (that smells the worst) is that competing against you in the ad auction is not only arbitrary pricing floors, but also Google itself, which buys keywords against your brand (using their own monopoly money)
Larger Sitelinks Drive Down Competition
Google recently expanded sitelinks in the organic search results to make them take up a huge portion of the above-the-fold screen real estate, driving down attempted organic search brand arbitrage & negative reputation issues.
Driving Down the Search Results
Each month there is another test of some new feature that pushes the organic search results downward.
Zero Moment of Burning Ad Budget
Google promotes a concept called "the zero moment of truth" suggesting that you need to advertise just about anywhere late in the conversion cycle to "be there" and reinforce your messaging.
However, with enhanced organic sitelinks, the brand owns so much of the search real estate that it will lose limited traffic to competitors if it doesn't buy AdWords on its branded keywords. Further, given the ability to block certain sitelinks & edit the page title & meta description you should be able to control the copy on your branded organic listing to make it look and feel like the ad copy you would use in AdWords.
There are some nuanced exceptions though, as brands are not always well aligned with how people search...
When You Should Buy Your Brand Keywords
Short Term Specials & Promotions
If you have an event coming up that you need to promote for a short duration of time then running AdWords ads is a great way to instantly get exposure for that campaign.
In the past if you misspelled keywords Google would put the spell correction right at the top of the page. More recently they have decided to put it below the AdWords ads. So on this type of ad (where Amazon already ranks #1, but has the organic search results pushed down by the ad & then a spell suggestion) I think that ad is burning money.
In other cases, like where you don't rank high in the organic search results, buying AdWords ads on common misspellings is a much smarter idea. For instance, I think this is a smart ad buy by Agoda.
However, in the longrun, if I ran Agoda, I would point a few misspelled links at my website to boost my rankings for common misspellings.
One way to reach misspellings and longertailed searches for your brand is to use an embedded match, where you bid on agoda and then use -[agoda] as a negative keyword.
Brand is Shared By Multiple Companies
Mercedes Benz is burning a bit of their ad budget by advertising where they are irrelevant.
Certainly it makes sense for them to buy exposure for the branded keywords, but in the above examples they should put -kingston as a negative keyword.
When Google Runs Negative Ads
In some cases Google ads promote negative messaging. For instance, while using Gmail I saw an ad suggesting that I should "uninstall McAfee" in a computer that did not even have it.
Buying branded ads in those cases would likely make sense, if for no other reason to compete with & block out risky negative ads that could go viral. Whether Google should even allow such ads is another question for debate.
Big Money Markets Full of Spam
Google was recently clipped by the DOJ for a half-BILLION Dollars for running illicit ads promoting Canadian pharmacies. The DOJ went so far as highlighting that Larry Page knew what was going on & intentionally allowed these ads to run:
Mr. Neronha said those efforts amounted to "window-dressing," allowing Google to continue earning revenues from the allegedly illicit ad sales even as it professed to be taking action against them. Google employees helped undercover Justice Department agents in the sting operation evade controls designed to stop companies from advertising illegally, he said.
"Suffice it to say that this is not two or three rogue employees at the customer service level doing this on their own," Mr. Neronha said in an interview. "This was a corporate decision to engage in this conduct."
After the above instance, Google is perhaps going to be "guilty until proven innocent" where they are running sketchy ads.
In the short run it is likely appropriate to still run branded keyword ads while the issue is getting sorted out, but if you see anything like the following on your branded search results it probably makes sense to fight it on the public relations front in the background while opening the wallet to protect the brand publicly.
And since most major pharmaceutical corporations are routinely fined for running illegal ads, I don't understand why these pharma corps don't have a black hat SEO (or 3) on staff to help manage the search results.
If Google wants brand then give it to them in spades. ;)