AdSense Channels Explained

Channels are a great tool for tracking the clicks and impressions on your AdSense ad units, as well as figuring out which ad placements, sizes, and even colours generate the most revenue. For the new AdSense user looking at their control panel for the first time channels can look like some kind of Voodoo, however it’s worth taking the time to understand and implement the three main channel types.

In this three part video series Google AdSense optimization specialists explain core concepts and demonstrate best practices when using channels to analyse your AdSense revenue.

1. URL Channels

In the first episode, Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo from Google HQ talks about URL channels which can help you track revenue on a specific URL or domain.

2. Custom Channels

In this episode you will learn about the three pieces of information that are the most important to you: ad size, ad location, and page content, and how to analyse this information to figure out what ad formats and placements work best for your website.

3. Targetable Channels

Learn about the two ways in which advertisers can target your website: contextual and placement targeting. You’ll also learn how to make your channels targetable by advertisers and label them with information such as size, location, and audience so the advertiser can easily find your channels and make an informed decision when choosing to target your site.

More AdSense Videos

If you’d like to watch more videos from the Google AdSense team, visit the official AdSense channel at YouTube

Hyphens Vs Underscores in URLs

You may have heard that it’s usually better to use a hyphen (-) than an underscore ( _ ) in your URLs for SEO purposes. This is true, Matt Cutts from Google talks about the subject here, but why?

The short answer is because the people who build the search engine indexes are programmers, the long answer is probably too complex for most humans to understand.

However you can try it for yourself by opening a simple text editor such as notepad and pasting the following strings into it.

double-click-this-word-string
double_click_this_word_string

When double-clicking the string with hyphens you can see that only one word at a time is highlighted. However if you double-click the string with underscores you’ll see that the entire string of words is highlighted. It’s treated as a single word.

As Matt writes in the post mentioned above. “if you have a url like word1_word2, Google will only return that page if the user searches for word1_word2 (which almost never happens). If you have a url like word1-word2, that page can be returned for the searches word1, word2, and even ‘word1 word2’.”

So if you want the file name component of your URL to be indexed as multiple keywords use a hyphen to separate the words, (eg. mydomain.com/word1-word2.html).

It is important to mention at this point that I’m NOT suggesting that you change your domain name to include hyphens, (word1-word2.com), this has very limited value in the SEO context and has a lot of drawbacks in other contexts. More about this coming in another post.

Google Local Business Listings

A very fast and simple way for a local business to enhance their organic listing on a Google search results page is to add their business details to Google local search using the form at http://www.google.com/local/add/lookup

The process takes about five minutes to complete for a basic listing and the result is worth every minute. The image below shows how your listing will appear in the “Local business results” at the top of the main results page.

Google local business results example

This example above is a screenshot of the results for http://www.google.com/search?q=home+inspector+adelaide and I’m happy to say that three of my customers are on the first page when a search is conducted for “home inspector adelaide”. If you need your local business to appear on the first page of Google when a potential customer searches for your product or service see http://www.sthwind.com/services/search-optimisation.php for more information. (End of plug.)

Once you’ve registered and verified your listing you will have a free account with Google local business. From the account home page you can edit and add listings to include product photos and create online coupons.

Finally here’s a useful and free tool that you might be interested in, a web dashboard where you can see what’s happening with your website traffic, http://www.google.com/lbc. It’s a light version of Google Analytics. A good article about the dashboard is at http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/01/google-local-lures-small-businesses-with-their-own-web-dashboard/

Hot Dates with the Googlebot

The GooglebotThe Google Webmaster Central blog is where the people at Google try to explain their systems to us in simple terms that we can all understand. Worth reading are a couple of posts about exactly how the Googlebot crawls websites written as ‘dates’ between the bot and a website.

The first post (date) is about how the Googlebot identifies itself, what kind of files it accepts for reading and a little tip about how not to use the robots.txt file. First date with the Googlebot: Headers and compression

In the second post the site and the bot exchange a series of letters discussing the best ways to deal with different types of redirects plus a good tip about flagging unmodified content. Date with Googlebot, Part II: HTTP status codes and If-Modified-Since

How The AdWords Auction Actually Works

Even if you’ve used AdWords for a while, and even if you’ve studied for, and/or taken the Advertising Professional exam, the ranking system AdWords uses to determine your ads’ position remains a bit of mystery. The team at Google found that to be the case often enough that they created a video to explain.

“When we go to conferences or read posts in forums, we find that advertisers sometimes know more about advanced features than about the basics of how AdWords works. So, we’ve decided to take some time to get back to basics and talk about how the AdWords auction actually works. To help you, we’ve brought along our Chief Economist, Hal Varian, to walk you through the auction and explain how your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid and Quality Score determine how much you actually pay for an ad click on Google’s search results pages.” http://adwords.blogspot.com/introduction-to-ad-auction.html

I’m not the only one who’s excited to learn about the basics of the system behind the ranking and placement of my PPC ads. Take a look at this two part tutorial by ROI Revolution.

“In this two part blog series, I will explain what Quality Score actually is, how the ad auction works, and how Quality Score determines your ads’ positioning and costs per click.”

“Towards the end of 2008 and even more in Q1 of this year, Google has been slowly revealing what is included in Quality Score. The video explains that Quality Score consists of clickthrough rate (CTR), relevancy, and landing page quality.” read this article…

“Some of this post may make you feel like you’re back in high school math class, but bear with me. These formulas really do reveal Quality Score’s crucial role in the AdWords system and how you can spend less to get more.” read this article…

The Bad, Good And Ugly Advice Given To Journalists On SEO

Well written and researched article about the challenges facing journalists in the online world.

“Journalists around the world will have rubbed up against the term SEO and been force-fed the importance of keywords and optimization, and how writing for the web is the Second Coming for this dying industry. The need to be read online and generate high levels of traffic and ad revenue are all important because that’s what will save journalism. Most of us understand the necessity of learning this new craft but feel bedazzled by words like content management system, Google algorithms, anchor text and outbound links. Journalists may be masters of communication but they will always glaze over when geek-speak is being uttered in their presence. Many will go online to get a clearer understanding of what SEO is and what it means to them, and therein, lies the problem.”

http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/the-bad-good-and-ugly-advice-given-to-journalists-on-seo

What's the Difference Between SEO and SEM?

To the unitiated the difference between Search Engine Optimisation [SEO] and Search Engine Marketing [SEM] must seem invisible or confusing. Not to mention the alphabet soup of other terms and acronymns such as PPC, CTR, etc. I’ll quote and link to a couple of fairly simple explanations.

“Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are Two different things altogether. The two things go hand in hand but are often thought of as one thing. Search Engine Optimization is what is done to your site to ensure that the end users have a friendly easy to use web site with SEF Menus and SEF URLS that Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com crawl through and find your content. Search Engine Marketing is doing the advertising and marketing of your site. Ironical this is all done “offsite” whereas SEO is mostly done “onsite”.
http://thedudeoforkut.blogspot.com/2007/07/difference-between-seo-and-sem.html

“Many people misunderstand the goal of search engine optimization as distinct from search engine marketing. Applying SEM expectations to SEO can lead to significant frustration and disappointment.”
http://www.newfangled.com/difference_between_sem_and_seo

So What is this "Search Engine Marketing" Thing Anyway?

A definition of search engine marketing would be useful, the following from Wikipedia:

“Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs). According to the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, SEM methods include: search engine optimization (or SEO), paid placement, and paid inclusion.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_marketing

An Exercise in Search Optimisation for a Blog

I’ve always thought that an “out of the box”, CMS type blog such as WordPress would be hard to optimise for search. The default link and code structure is not at all search engine friendly and since I usually build my sites to be accessible to search bots couldn’t accept a CMS as a solution.

However I recently purchased “Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP: A Developer’s Guide to SEO” by by Jaimie Sirovich and Cristian Darie, [Wrox, April 2007] and after reading Chapter 16, [WordPress: Creating a SE-Friendly Blog], decided to install and configure WordPress to as the framework behind SearchMarketingTips.com

So not only does this site offer information about Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing but is itself an experiment in organic SEO, an exercise in Search Optimisation for a Blog.