In the Trenches, April 18, 2008

In The Trenches is a weekly spotlight of tips, tricks, and news about the tools search engine marketing professionals use to give them a leg up on the competition. Today: News from the search engines, today’s in-depth look, “Two Tweak Tools That Work,” and this week’s free tips and tools.

News from the search engines

Google-Adwords: Not much news from the Big Goo, but I’d like to highlight the National Agency Team site where the “Google’s Agency Team hosts trainings and events all over the country, both in Google offices and at agencies. These offerings are designed specifically for you, our most strategic agency partners.” It’s a great place to stay on top of trainings for your new hires or anyone that wants to brush up on their Adwords expertise. I like the live webinar trainings a lot more than the on-demand videos because you get the most up-to-date info, get to ask questions, and you get to hear what other SEM folks around the country [world] are thinking and having problems understanding.

Here are some of the more interesting classes listed in their Class Descriptions. You can also email them “to schedule a customized session.”

  • The Google Ecosystem – Learn how to connect consumers with brands at the moment of relevance. This course will illustrate how you can use technology to manage your assets with precision and scale.
  • Building Gadgets – According to Newsweek (April 2007) and numerous industry sources, it is the year of widgets and gadgets! Learn how to create a branded Google gadget for your clients. This hands-on class will walk you through the code and demonstrate how to build a sample gadget.
  • Advanced AdWords Optimization (New!) – Learn how to increase account performance by optimizing for delivery, relevancy, and ROI.

Yahoo Panama: Okay, the big news this month from Yahoo is the launch of their new advertising management platform, AMP. Here’s the press release.

On their blog, there’s a demo video with more info, and this post from Yahoo! President Sue Decker explains further:

"Here’s the core premise that’s fueled this new platform: Online advertising is growing increasingly sophisticated, yet it is unnecessarily Byzantine to buy and sell. The online media landscape is incredibly fragmented. And, today, the process of finding your target audience, booking inventory, negotiating pricing, seeking approval, creating tearsheets, testing ads — it’s living in an 8-track world. Let’s just say people are doing a lot more faxing and phone calling than should be necessary in 2008. It is terribly inefficient.

AMP! will not only automate all of these processes and take the cycle time down from weeks to minutes, it will enable a new, more open paradigm, taking participants from private walled gardens to a new world where they will be able to buy and sell across the entire Web — all in one interface, with a few clicks of a mouse. It’s like a stock market for ads — the more efficient the marketplace, the more value in it. The impact is hard to overstate. This is simply not possible today and we think that is really hobbling the industry is ability to focus on what matters most — developing great creative and getting it front of the right person.”

I don’t know how AMP will affect SEM with Yahoo, but at my agency, Four Digital, we definitely believe in the synergy/interaction of all online media, especially Search and Display. My guess is that AMP will certainly address the need for integration.

Microsoft adCenter: Found this link while going through the AdCenter Community site: Register for upcoming adCenter Beta and Pilot Programs. Thought it might be good for all of you SEM pros to stay ahead of the game. Here’s the official word:

"Are you interested in helping to test new adCenter products or tools before they’re widely available? If so, we’ve launched a new interest form where you can sign up to participate in future Beta or Pilot Programs with adCenter. These programs help us gather your feedback on new products early in the development cycle.”

I signed up. Can’t wait to see what Microsoft has cooking.

Ask ASL: Had a really great catch up meeting with my IAC rep here in Chicago, Tony Roche. He’s a great guy and was really pumped to tell me about some of the advancements Ask has been making in the SEM front. He set some very realistic expectations for the kind of performance we’d see and he presented some positive numbers on the unique reach that Ask provides. Most importantly, their tool, as of March 28th, finally shows impression and CTR data! Excellent.

As well, they’ve opened up a conversion tracking pilot program and the entire platform is getting some upgrades in the next few months. I know Ask only represents 3.1% of U.S. searches, but that’s still almost 500 million/month. I’ve used Ask in the past and have seen some really great value, especially on branded terms. I’m definitely keeping my eye on them.


Google’s Site and Category Exclusion Tool

Found in the tools section of Adwords, you should “use this tool to prevent individual websites or categories of webpages in the Google Network from showing your ads. The exclusions you specify will only apply to the selected campaign. Unless otherwise noted, exclusions will not apply to the search portion of your campaigns.” Basically, it’s a way to optimize your content campaigns by opting out of content placements that aren’t performing well or that you just don’t want to be included.

Google Adwords

As seen above, the three parameters available to optimize around are:

  • Sites – “Use this tab to prevent your ads from showing on individual webpages. In the available field, list the URLs of any webpages that you don’t want showing your ads. You may enter top-level domains, first-level subdomains, and domains with a single directory name.” Learn more about formatting options here.
  • Topics – prevent your ads from showing on webpages classified under sensitive topics. Learn more about what topics you can exclude here.
  • Page Types – Use this tab to prevent your ads from showing on certain page types. Learn more about the acceptable page types here.

The Adwords Help page on this topic details all that you can do with this powerful tool. I definitely recommend that you optimize your content campaigns at least once a month (if not more often) using this option. Pull a content level report in Adwords and see which sites are eating up your clicks but not converting and then go from there.

Yahoo Search Marketing’s Campaign Tune-Up

From their blog:

“Kind of like installing a nitro booster, we’ve revved up your account with a tool called Campaign Tune-up. Campaign Tune-Up can help you optimize your Sponsored Search campaigns if you’re not running Campaign Optimizer. It automatically analyzes a campaign’s performance history, budget and business objectives, such as cost per click or conversions, and offers suggestions for bids, match types and budgets. You can either accept or reject the suggestions, but fine-tuning your bids could help your campaign run a lot better.

From your Campaign Details page, you’ll see the link, ‘Tune-up Campaign.’ Clicking the link starts the tuning. You can then set the business measurements that matter to you for tuning your campaign and will be walked through the rest of the process.”

One VERY SMART feature that you’ll see on the page before you start the tuning is that the system asks you if you want to Download Your Campaign before you begin. As with any auto-optimization tool, this is certainly a BEST PRACTICE and I recommend it strongly. Below are what you’ll see in the first two steps of the process:

Yahoo! Tune Up

The tool takes some time to work out the details, and you will see a “Tune-Up in Progress” note on your campaign until it’s finished. After it is done, you can review the recommendations and decide whether or not to go through with the results. You can learn more about this tool here.

Free tool of the week: Robot Replay

Okay, so Robot Replay isn’t specifically an SEM tool, but I find it VERY useful and a good addition to the toolbox. Basically, you add a piece of script to a landing page and Robot Replay creates a movie of the user’s visit, which you can watch later and get some very good insights into the kind of traffic your SEM campaigns are sending to the site. I decided to spread the word about this tool as SEM pros ultimately are about getting results for their clients, and post-click marketing is a way for you to increase your conversion rates when all other optimizations on the engine platforms have been exhausted.

From their site:

“Robot Replay lets you record and watch your website visitors in action. View recorded sessions of every mouse movement, click and keystroke.”
  • Improve your site’s usability
  • See where your readers get bored
  • Convert more visitors to buyers

Could there be some privacy issues going on here? Maybe. On their FAQ, they recommend letting your users know the tool is in place. I’ve found this tool helpful in figuring out the quality of my landing pages to the users which I’m sending my SEM traffic. I’ll let you decide if you want to use it or not.

Last Week’s Free Tool of the Week Follow-Up:

I received some good feedback regarding last week’s free tool profile of SEO Digger. So much so that I contacted them with a few questions and heard back from Gleb Suvorov on the SEO Digger team.

In The Trenches: How did you come up with the idea for this tool?

Gleb: The autumn of 2006, it became clear to us that manual monitoring of Google’s SERPs becomes impossible because its changes rapidly. So we have created noname prototype, which was analyzing Google’s serp for custom keywords and made it public. Then we decided to see which sites are leaders in terms of keywords numbers and shared it with friends. That was a success, and we decided to do more at the base of 20 million keywords. And even more at 60 million.

In The Trenches: What is the future of SEO Digger?

Gleb: We plan to improve SeoDigger functionality by adding some features like URLs to site’s pages for every keyword. That will simplify work with long-tail’s keywords. Perhaps we will make local search support.

Well, that’s all for this week. Check out the two tweak tools profiled and get your accounts humming. Next week, I’ll be profiling Geo-Targeting options in Google, Yahoo, and MSN, which will include a really useful one-page reference guide for your cube. As well, the free tool of the week will help you concatenate keyword lists very quickly.

Josh Dreller is the Director of Media Technology for Fuor Digital, an agency concentrated in the research, planning, buying and stewardship of digital media marketing campaigns. Josh can be reached at The In The Trenches column appears Fridays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing Toolbox


About The Author: has been a search marketer since 2003 with a focus on SEM technology. As a media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on business goals. He has a deep passion to monitor the constantly evolving intersection between marketing and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @mediatechguy.

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