GCN – one more channel that works?

google_cpa_preformance

Google just released a white paper on the performance of Google Content Network vs Google search. Interesting reading and some worth thinking about findings. Find it through the Inside AdWords blog or get the PDF here.

How do Content Network ads perform for advertisers? We recently analyzed conversions, cost, and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) on the Content Network, and compared them to performance metrics on the search network across thousands of campaigns and many geographic regions.

This white paper presents the findings from this analysis. It shows that advertisers who advertise on the content network see good results on a number of levels:

  1. Ads on the Google Content Network are likely to be as cost-effective – or even more cost-effective – than ads on the search network.
    • The median advertiser has a content CPA that’s about 2% lower than their search CPA.
  2. The Content Network drives a significant share of total conversions.
    • The Content Network drives nearly 20% of total conversions for the median advertiser.
  3. Conversion rates are higher for advertisers who used either of two AdWords campaign management controls: the Conversion Optimizer and site exclusion.

Are Google’s SEO and quality score strategy the same?

Google Logo

While on the SEO subject I found this… very interesting… and at the end of the day a good thing. Make sure to read and implement.

An summary –

What Google tells us to do
Google preaches one thing: quality experience — for its users and your potential customers. To that end Google has taken it upon itself to ensure that the page you deliver is of high quality. Here’s what the company says it is specifically looking for:

  • Relevance: This is a no-brainer: If you sell electronics and someone clicks on your ad for a “digital camera,” send them to your digital camera page, not your home page.
  • Originality: Okay, that’s a weird one. Google specifically says “Feature unique content that can’t be found on another site.” Uh-oh, does this mean that my RSS feeds from related content sites aren’t helping me? Probably not. If Google says they want content that can’t be found on another site, then you can be sure they’re searching for your content on other sites. If they find it, your quality score will suffer.
  • Transparency: This covers the general best practices — like being open and clear about the nature of your business. If you offer a downloadable product or collect personal information from your users then there’s a lot to know and follow in order to stay on Google’s good side.
  • Navigability: Make it simple for users to find what they’re looking for. Keep the sales process short and to the point. Don’t use things like pop-ups, pop-unders or sliders.

Not wanted
Some of you are going to have a very hard time because Google is specifically targeting your site for removal. If you’re wondering which sites fall in this particular group, Google has laid it out. Here’s what they don’t want:

Data collection sites:
What, no more free iPods?

Arbitrage sites: The bane of Google’s existence.

Malware sites: Of course they’re on the list. Problem here is what is Google using to distinguish good software from bad software? Here are more guidelines for software publishers to read and follow.

eBook sites “that show frequent ads”:
Scrape together a bunch of content, wrap it all with tons of ads and make a good site? Not anymore. Here’s where unoriginal content gets hit.

Get rich quick sites:
(But I love pyramids!) Anytime making money is “Guaranteed” you know the business, and the site, are garbage. We should see the end of these sites on Google very soon.

Comparison shopping sites:
This was a bit of a surprise but makes sense. Google really wants to stop arbitrage and this is an arbitrage play. Pricegrabber, Shopping.com and some of the big guys might be able to make it. If you’re in this business and want to protect yourself, offer original, unique value to your users. That could be reviews, warranty info, user opinions and more. If you don’t, you could see your minimum bids rising soon.

Travel aggregators:
This is another arbitrage victim. Follow the same advice I gave to your buddy above. One example is Travelocity — is it in trouble? Probably not. But others trying to get into the space will have a tough time getting a foothold. What’s the key to getting up and staying up? Original content, relevant results based on the search and some sort of value given to the user.

Cover the basics: Conduct your link exchanges with relevant websites. Make sure your titles, meta tags and descriptions are all well put together.

Choose a topic and stick to it: Each domain should focus on one thing. Don’t try to cover too many products or topics on one site. We can’t all be Wikipedia.

Add a site map: Make it easy for Google to find your pages and content. Use the Sitemap Generator that Google recommends.

Page rank: If you have a few sites to choose from, choose the site that has the best Google page rank. Chances are that if the natural search algorithm likes it, so will the quality score.

Add a blog: A blog does many things. It keeps a dialogue open with your users, it gives you the original content Google is looking for and it gives you an easy way to update your site often. All of those are positives in Google’s eyes.

Make a good site: At the end of the day this is the best advice. Google wants to show users quality sites, whether through natural search clicks or paid clicks. Your best defense is building a large, well-thought-out website and sending your paid clicks to the most relevant page on that site for that click. The days of the quick one-off landing page are over. Are you ready?

Full story – Why Google keywords cost more but deliver less

To Be Seen

What should always be included in an online strategy? SEO/SEM, right. Now, this is defiantly not true for all and probably, truth be told, nor is the online strategy bit. But, cannot stress enough the importance of the search and the need to be appearing near or on top. Everyone who is online will (more accurately are) search for something at some point. There is a reason why people say “Google that”. So, if one wants to sell/promote a service/product/business/etc one should(must?) be seen in these searches. Yes, question is then how? Many ways and methods to do this.. One thing is for sure, need to be active (update and react to trends) and focused (many words to choose form). Good thing is, much can be done for free(ish) – many services from ex. Google are free, SEO is free, but one have to spend time doing this actively to see results and that time is most likely not free… Either way for free(ish) one can dramatically improve the chance to be seen. Or for even a small budget one can be victorious. Well, if making a suggestion – I would hire a specialist to make this happen, in the long run this will prover more lucrative and quicker…
Found an interesting article on just this subject from iMedia Connection (geared towards local but applies to all) .

Some key points:
Explosive growth in local search and the increased visibility potential due to universal search and personalization.

  • Explosive local search growth: Local search queries increased 24 percent in 2007, faster than general searches
  • Increased visibility potential: Google and some major search engines introduced personalized search and universal search, greatly impacting the search results landscape. This is both a blessing and a dilemma because it requires different optimization strategies, but it also offers multiple opportunities to be found in the SERPs

The importance of local listings
Every company needs a local listing, regardless of whether it sells locally, nationally or internationally.

  • Free Google maps listings: List your business in Google Maps by going to Google’s Local Business Center, where you’ll find information for creating your free listing.

Google maps advertising
Google Maps displays local business ads, integrating the local match options from Google AdWords into Google Maps.
Through Google enhanced listings, Local business ads, Logo image and Coupons.

Yahoo local listing
Your free local listing is called Yahoo Local Basic.

Yahoo provides sponsored search and local listings as local advertising options.

  • Sponsored search: These pay-per-click ads on Yahoo can be geo-targeted by user location or user interest (keyword). Geo-targeted sponsored search ads can also be inserted into the Yahoo Local results.
  • Local listings: These listings appear on Yahoo Local and have two flat-rate fee levels.

Optimization tips for local listings
To rank well in local search, it goes without saying that your site should be optimized for organic listings. Optimize all on-page and off-page factors, and get your site listed in important directories for your niche.

Other local search opportunities
Note: many are US only but I am sure may are likely to expand…

Live Search – player number 3. In maps etc
AskCity – name says it all
CitySearch – Provides local information for sites such as MSN Live, Ask, Expedia, Ticketmaster and more.
Google Product Search – Local merchants can get free listings on Google’s free product search engine (formerly Froogle)
Insider Pages – This site features local listings and user-generated reviews.
Local.com: Your business should take advantage of the free basic listing.
ReachLocal: This site provides services for setting up, maintaining and tracking local search advertising campaigns on sites like Google, Yahoo, MSN Live and AOL for a fee.

The local search advantage
Local search research by Kelsey Group shows that 70 percent of online searchers will use local search to find offline businesses. The TMPDM-comScore study shows 86 percent of online users will be searching for a local business at some point in time. So it’s important to be visible for local search queries by getting listed in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and all other local search engines and directories. It can also be advantageous for branding to buy sponsored local search listings for a good balance of natural and paid search listings.

For more information about the local search industry, you can download “Unlocking the Potential of the Local Internet” by Marchex, Inc. This 12-page white paper gives a detailed overview of the local search market and major players.

Quickly, go do it!