Monday, 19 February 2007

Interesting Professional SEO Suggestions

I am currently doing some web development work for a client and was asked to implement some changes that he has been advised to make to his web site by a local professional SEO company. I thought their recommendations made interesting reading given some of the the topics that I have written about in this blog.

  1. Ensure there are 15 keywords in meta name/description tags [Aside: I think that must mean title and description]
  2. Use H1 tags for headings and H2 tags for subheadings
  3. Change internal hyperlinks to incorporate relevant keywords rather than using generic terms such as "order online."
Now, I'm all for putting keywords in page titles and meta descriptions but I've never come across the magical number 15 before. Have you? If so, please leave a comment!

As far as H1 and H2 tags are concerned. When it comes to accessible web sites and just plain ole good practice, I'm all for using the Hn tags for their intended purposes but, as this previous post on the role of H1 tags indicates, I'm still not convinced one way or the other whether it has any benefit for SEO purposes.

Finally, using keywords in internal hyperlinks does seem to be a generally accepted "good practice" in SEO circles. For example, SEO guru Jill Whalen recently responded to the following question in her High Rankings forum with a clear unequivocal "Yes,"
can anyone tell me if it will help my search engine rankings if I have links going back to my home page (from my own pages) with the anchor text containing my main keyword phrase
I always find it interesting to see what other SEO organizations are advising their clients to do and how adamant many of them are that their methods are all essential and valid.

Personally, I certainly think there are some "must do" SEO tactics, such as optimizing your title tags, but I also think other methods happen to be successful on some sites and not on others. Therefore, as always, the bottom line is that you just have to try all of these methods and if they work, great; if they don't, scrap them and try something else!

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Saturday, 17 February 2007

AdWords Minimum Bids Have Been Fixed

It appears that Google has fixed many of the weird minimum bids that were appearing earlier today.

For example, the keyword "norfolk church" that I wrote about earlier as having a minimum bid of £5 and classed as poor, now has a £0.02 minimum bid and is classified as great!

However, it's not all good news, my "mortuary management software" keyword that I referred to earlier still has a $10 minimum bid!

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Friday, 16 February 2007

Even Less Happy with the New Quality Scores!


I just looked at another account I manage, it's for funeral home/mortuary management software.

The keyword "mortuary management software" (phrase match) is now listed as poor and has a $10 minimum bid!!! How can a keyword that accurately describes the product be considered poor and demand a $10 bid!!

I hope Google is prepared for the upset they are causing.

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Stupid New AdWords Quality Scores!

Well, today I felt the effects of the new AdWords Quality Score algorithms and I'm not happy. I'm not just "not happy," I think their assessment is just plain stupid!!

I run a small AdWords campaign for my church, Proclaimers Church in Norwich , U.K. The church is called Proclaimers Church and the web site is

Today I discovered that 3 of my keywords are now inactive for search and the minimum bid has been raised to £0.50 and they are classified as "Poor." Prior to the new changes, these keywords were costing me £0.03 or less!!

So what are these poor quality keywords for Proclaimers Church in Norwich? Well you might ask!

They are:

  • "proclaimers church" (phrase match)
  • proclaimers church (broad match)
  • proclaimers church norwich (broad match)
Now, I guess that I can just about understand the logic behind the broad match keywords, because synonyms of "proclaimers," "church" and "norwich" wouldn't necessarily apply to this particular church. However, the following keywords are considered "OK":
  • proclaimer's church (broad match)
  • "proclaimer's church" (phrase match)
What's more, I even have one "GREAT" keyword, which is:
  • proclaimers church norfolk
Now, that really is confusing, and here's why.

First, the church's name is "Proclaimers Church" NOT "Proclaimer's Church" yet the version with the apostrophe ranks higher!

Second, Norwich is the city in which this church is located and Norwich is in the county of Norfolk. However, the broad match proclaimers church norfolk is considered great whereas the broad match proclaimers church norwich is considered poor, even though it more accurately describes the church!!

What's more, in another ad group, the following keywords are also considered great:
  • christian norwich (broad match)
  • jesus norwich (broad match)
  • church norfolk (broad match)
Yet this keyword is considered poor and now has a £5 minimum bid (which is nearly $10!!!):
  • "norfolk church" (phrase match)
How can this make sense when the keyword "norfolk churches" (phrase match) is considered OK and has a £0.10 minimum bid.

So, take a look at the church's web site and see if you think those keywords warrant Google's assessment.

I wonder if there's a way to appeal these ratings because they sure are STUPID!!!!

Now, I gather that Google is aware of a bug in their new algorithm, I can only hope when they fix it these keywords assessments will make more sense, otherwise I see a fury ahead that will make the outcry against the last update seem like nothing in comparison.

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Thursday, 15 February 2007

AdWords & Checkout Icons

As you may have noticed, Google is now displaying Checkout icons by advertisements for advertisers who use Google Checkout. According to their blog post on the subject, "[w]hen people begin shopping by searching online, they're looking for places to shop that are convenient and secure. The Google Checkout badge makes it easier to find these places . . . ."

I see two possible repercussions of the Checkout badge.

First, those ads with the badge may get higher CTRs simply because the badge will draw people's attention to those ads, in the same way localized ads have an extra line of text. This could be a good thing for those advetisers, but not necessarily . . .

Second, those advertisers with higher CTRs may find their conversions dropping simply because their ads were clicked on out of curiosity regarding the Checkout icon, rather than the content of the ad itself.

My gut feeling, at this stage, is that the Checkout icon may well be a good thing for those advertisers. However, whether anyone will want to sign up with Google Checkout just so they get an icon by their ads remains to be seen.

The bottom line is that really Google is just trying to get more users of a system that pales in comparison to its well-established competitor, PayPal!

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CPC Site Targeted AdWords Ads

Google has just announced it will soon be beta testing CPC site-targeted ads. Up until now, all site targeted ads have been on a CPM (cost per thousand) basis.

According to the announcement, "CPC bidding has often been requested by advertisers who would like to utilize site targeting, but are not comfortable bidding on a CPM basis."

I find that an interesting statement. My gut feeling is that, in most instances, CPC site-targeted ads will end up costing more than CPM ads. Furthermore, if advertisers are really uncomfortable with CPM ads and would prefer CPC ads, that implies to me that those advertisers are not expecting many clicks and feel they are, therefore, more likely to spend less on CPC ads than CPMs. In fact, this could possibly benefit advertisers who are not hoping for clicks but are merely wanting to be seen for brand awareness, or some other reason.

This change also indicates a change to the way Google AdSense will work in future. AdSense is on the flip-side of Site Targeted ads so we can only assume that, in future, AdSense publishers will be able to earn on a CPC basis for such ads rather than the current CPM-only basis.

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AdWords: More Quality Score Changes

The official AdWords blog yesterday posted a message outlining two new changes that are going to be taking place over the next few days.

New Quality Score Column

The first change, which was first mentioned a while ago, is that there is soon going to be a new column in the AdWords interface. This column will display the minimum bid required for each keyword as well as a description of each keyword as "great," "OK," or "poor."

Quality Changes

The second change is that the quality score algorithm is being refined again. In theory, this change is supposed to encourage high quality ads and discourage low quality ads. This change essentially has two parts to it: the way the minimum bid is calculated and the actual quality score algorithm.

According to Google, these changes should result in some keywords having lower minimum bids and other ads having higher minimums.


I am glad to see that Google have responded to their users' requests for more transparency regarding the quality score. However, having a simple 3-value scale is hardly transparent, but at least it's better than nothing!

As far as the algorithm changes are concerned, it's hard to predict at this point whether these changes will really be for the better. Personally, I don't think that Google has any means of accurately assessing the quality of many keywords and their "narrow targeting" approach is not always, in my opinion, the optimal means of advertising in some niches.

I can only hope, however, that these changes quell some of the outcry against high minimum bids for campaigns that, at face value anyway, appear to be well optimized and targeted.

I have to admit, I've lost some faith in the whole Quality Score mechanism, which is worrying given that Yahoo are introducing a similar methodology. I wait with bated breath to see the results of these latest changes.

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Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Google Thinks This is a Spam Blog!

When I went to create a post today, I discovered that Blogger is now requiring a Captcha entry before I am able to publish. Clicking on the little question mark that appeared by the Captcha, I discovered that "Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that [my] blog has characteristics of a spam blog."

Blogger goes on to describe a spam blog as one that

can be recognised by their irrelevant, repetitive or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.
I guess the Blogger spam bots have detected that this blog frequently links to posts that I have written on other blogs and that behavior is considered as potentially spamming.

I have now initiated the process of getting this blog's good name cleared, which seems like a relatively straightforward process but we shall see.

So, if you have multiple blogs and regularly link between them, beware, you too may get classified as a blog spammer . . . or is that a spam blogger?

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Most Popular Posts in January

This blog's most popular posts in January were as follows:

  1. Joel Comm or Joel Con? - Questions Joel Comm's integrity with specific reference to a hyperlink on his blog to
  2. What Every AdWords Advertiser Should Know About AdSense - A slightly tongue-in-cheek look at the seamier side of AdSense
  3. H1 – What Role, If Any, Does the H1 Tag Play in Effective SEO? - An overview of the use of the Hn tags and what role the H1 tag plays in SEO, if any.
  4. AdSense Publishers, Don't Forget Who Really Pays You - A call to all AdSense publishers to remember that it's not Google but regular advertisers who ultimately pay them.
  5. Internet Marketing Predictions for 2007 - My not-so-serious predictions for the coming year
Actually, those were the 5 most popular "regular" posts. The most popular single page, apart from the home page, was my "About Me" page! Also, the 5-things blog tag meme post was in the top 5 but I don't think that one really counts!