Crucial Firefox Plugins For SEM Professionals; Put Google To Work To Meet CPA Goals
Today’s news briefs: Google AdWords Editor update, Yahoo Search Marketing content upgrades, and upcoming features for Microsoft’s adCenter. An in-depth guide to some great Firefox plug-ins for search engine marketing professionals, followed up by the free tool of the week: Google’s Conversion Optimizer.
Quick News Briefs
Google Adwords: AdWords Editor 6.5 for Windows and Mac
As reported on the Inside AdWords blog, Google has released a new version of their very handy offline management tool which includes several features to help you navigate and manage your account, such as a new Keyword Opportunities tool, horizontal scrolling in the data view, and auto-sizing columns.
More info and download instructions are available at the Adwords Editor Help Center.
Yahoo Search Marketing: A better content network?
From the Yahoo Search Marketing blog:
We’ve been gradually moving Content Match to a new matching technology over the past few months. The new technology not only attempts to understand what the content is on a page, but also, who is viewing it, which helps you get your ad in front of the right customer. Content Match now combines a better understanding of web page and ad content with insights from users’ geographic and behavioral profiles.
This combination can lead to more relevant clicks. Since we started rolling out the new technology, we’ve generally seen increases in Content Match click-through rates—and some advertisers have seen those rates climb appreciably. What it does for you can depend on a lot of things, including the keywords you select, the ads you write, and the settings you choose.
I’m happy to hear about these changes. Combined, Yahoo.com and the rest of the Yahoo properties are one of the top destination points for online users and I know search marketers would love to take advantage of this inventory. I don’t know what the changes are, but if Yahoo is refocusing its efforts on this channel, then it will be worthwhile to at least benchmark its performance.
Microsoft: Sneak peek into the adCenter fall upgrade
Last week, Carolyn Miller on the adCenter Community Site offered some insights into some new changes to adCenter including:
- More control and flexibility to manage the delivery of your ads and keywords
- Clearer, more accessible editorial information to help improve your productivity
- Help to boost the performance of your Content Ads (note: U.S. customers only)
She didn’t mention anything specific, but I’m looking forward to any new changes to the platform.
In-depth: The SEM professional’s crucial Firefox plug-ins
If you’re like me, a lot of your time is spent online…both for business and personal usage. It is hard to think of a better product out there than Mozilla’s Firefox browser. It’s no secret the success of Firefox has been fueled by its community-driven nature and, in a “what’s the next best tool” mindset of online users, I suspect Firefox will stick. It grows with the Internet and its thousands of plug-ins and extensions can help you create a suped-up, personalized setup to drill through your daily tasks. That’s a great business model.
A few posts ago, I highlighted CheckFox, a Firefox plug-in that lets you check or uncheck any group of selected check boxes online. To me, this is a really great time saver as I’m always running into check boxes such as choosing which columns are in an AdWords report. I received some really good feedback on this tool so I thought I’d share some other Firefox plug-ins that my team and I find valuable in our day to day business of search engine marketing. Some have specific functions for internet marketers, while others are just efficiency tools that speed and ease the re-occurring tasks on our to-do list. I hope that if you find even one plug-in useful from this article, that I’ll have done a good service to our online community.
Quick Firefox Tip: Use the mouse wheel button (yes, you can push it in…lol) to open links immediately to new tabs instead of opening inside the current tab. This is especially useful for me when I read blogs because I wheel-click interesting links and then go back through them after I’m done with the post.
Crucial Plug-ins: (note, I still use Firefox 2.0 as it supports all of these plug-ins.)
- IE Tab – Embedding Internet Explorer in tabs of Mozilla/Firefox. Use it when working inside web solutions that just seem to work better in IE. I don’t know why they do, they just do. IE tab lets you work in IE without having to leave Firefox.
- Download Statusbar – Who downloads more stuff than us? Reports, white papers, brand guidelines, manuals, etc. See all downloads right from your Firefox bottom toolbar instead the annoying extra Download window.
- FireFTP – Fully functional and free FTP client right inside Firefox.
- Tab Mix Plus – So many uses! Takes your tabs to the next level. It includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, plus much more. Duplicating a tab is great because it also “remembers” your browsing history from that session so you can navigate back and forth.
- FireGestures – Use the default mouse gestures or record your own to create the ultimate “hotkey” function. For example, how long does it take you to open your bookmarks and navigate to one? Use a mouse gesture to open specific pages in less than a second.
- Roboform Toolbar for Firefox – Password manager. Nothing more frustrating than trying to remember a forgotten password. It does require downloading the freeware Roboform software and installing.
- FireShot – Screen capture tool. I’ve tried almost all of them and I like this one the best so far.
- SearchStatus – Your SEO swiss army knife. Displays the Google PageRank, Alexa rank and Compete ranking anywhere in your browser, along with fast keyword density analyzer, keyword/no-follow highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info and more.
- MetaTags – Quickly see the meta info for any web page. This is useful to research competitor sites for keyword brainstorming.
- iWEBTOOL Webmaster’s Toolbar – Another all in one SEO tool. Along with SearchStatus (and SEO for Firefox, you should have all of the quick tools available to SEO pros.
- Google Advanced Operations Toolbar – This toolbar provides a shortcut to some of Google’s advanced search functions such as the site:, define:, link:, etc…
- Web Analytics Solution Profiler/Debugger (WASP) – This is a plug-in geared towards analytics professionals but I know there are a lot of search guys (and gals) like me that also handle analytics duties from time to time. WASP provides detailed information about the data being collected trough Query String and Cookies by web analytics solutions. Covers 121 solutions, including Google Analytics, Omniture SiteCatalyst, Coremetrics, WebTrends, ad networks and several others.
- Google Global – My new favorite tool! Lets you search Google as if you were based in any location in the world. This is important when geo-targeting outside of your own area so that you can take a look at your competitors and ensure your ads are running properly.
- All-in-One Sidebar – It lets you quickly switch between sidebar panels, view dialog windows such as downloads, extensions, and more in the sidebar, or view source or websites in the sidebar.
- Snap Links – Allows users to easily open multiple links in new tabs by drawing a box around them. Links can also be opened in new windows, new tabs on a new window, copied to clipboard, bookmarked or downloaded.
- Tamper Data – This is a very technical tool that does a lot of things that I don’t understand. However, it’s useful for internet marketers because it shows all activity between your browser and the web. So, for example, when testing links online, it will show you all of the server calls which can be helpful when making sure your redirect links have the proper tracking codes on them.
- Morning Coffee – Let’s you open a group of websites with a click of a button. I know that when I sit down to the computer, I need to open my mail tool, AdWords, YSM, adCenter, my SEM bid management tool, etc.
I’ve undoubtedly missed a few great extensions out there so please email me if you have some good ones and I’ll list them in a future post.
FREE TOOL OF THE WEEK: Put Google to work for your CPA goals
For those of you who haven’t used it before, the Conversion Optimizer is an AdWords feature that manages your advertising costs around specific conversion goals. Just like some of the SEM bid managers out there, you input a desired Cost Per Action (CPA), and then the system changes your bids at the keyword level to meet that goal. Usually, if a keyword is not reaching it’s desired CPA, bid management systems will begin lowering the bid until either the cost is low enough to reach the dollar goal or lowers it to the point that it won’t show anymore and not waste any of your budget. Conversely, if a keyword is far exceeding its CPA goal, the system will raise your bids in order to get higher positions and more clicks to capitalize on these high performing terms. Google’s tool stands out as it uses back end data that you don’t have access to in order to determine the best bids.
Here’s a really good explanation from Google:
To determine your CPC bid, the Conversion Optimizer predicts a conversion rate for your ads every time they’re eligible to appear. This prediction is based on various factors. For example, here are some of the factors that affect the conversion rate on Kim’s custom shirt website:
The search query – Kim’s conversion rate is higher when users search for custom shirts than when they search for shirts. The location of the user. – Her conversion rate is highest when her ad shows in the United States. The conversion history of particular sites. – When her ad shows on certain types of content sites in the Google Network, Kim is more likely to get conversions.
Kim doesn’t have access to these details, but they directly affect her conversion rate and costs. By considering these factors every time her ads are eligible to appear, the Conversion Optimizer can adjust her bids based on when she’s likely to get conversions. It uses the optimal CPC bid for her ad in each auction, thereby working to keep her average cost per conversion below her CPA bid.
Using real-time performance data allows the Conversion Optimizer to adjust Kim’s bids for better performance than she’d get with manual bidding alone. Also, because the Conversion Optimizer chooses a new CPC bid for each auction, Kim only spends money on the sites and search queries where her ads are likely to get conversions.
You must have Google Conversion Tracking enabled on your site to use the Conversion Optimizer. If you do, here is the step-by-step guide to activating the tool:
- Select the check box next to the appropriate campaign or campaigns.
- Click Edit Settings.
- Find the Networks and bidding section of the next page. Click Change bidding strategy..
- On the Bidding Strategy page, select the radio button next to Conversion Optimizer.
- Click Save and Continue.
- Specify your ad group maximum cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bids. If a recommended bid is displayed, we suggest you use that amount.
- Click Save and Activate.
- To disable later, get back to the Bidding Strategy page and follow the steps.
For more info, check out the following Introduction to Conversion Optimizer Webinar or check out the Adwords dedicated section on this topic.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The In The Trenches column appears Fridays at Search Engine Land.
Sign up for weekly recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.