Issue 4

Oct 2006

(C) Copyright Athol M. Foden


In this issue:

  • Google Adwords
  • Brand Touch Points
  • Search Engine Whitepaper


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In future issues we will talk about generating a content rich site to score better with Google as well as how to chase the "long tail" of searches.


The Magic of Google Adwords

It has been quite a while since this newsletter last came out, because I have been busier than a one-handed wallpaper hanger. And all because I got so involved with search engine optimization and redoing my Brighter Naming website... and it still wasn't working well enough to make a good living.

So I did some more research, all the time wondering how those folks down the street at Google were making so much money. Someone must believe in them to keep sending them ever more dollars. So I too signed up for Google Adwords, especially when I found out how low the entry fee is, which was very important as I was definitely still experimenting. And along the way I accidentally learned some very interesting things, some of which I never would have known if I had been blessed with a large budget.

For years, advertising and marketing professionals have struggled to know where and when they get the best return on their spend dollars. And given all the other elements of a good marketing mix, it was seldom possible to pinpoint exactly which part of the campaign was providing which payoff. Now that is all different. You can put some money on a keyword or phrase, with a matching small ad, and a few days later exactly pinpoint who saw and responded to it. Then you can also see what position your little bid put you in, and up the bid or try a different keyword. And since this is pay-per-click advertising, you don't pay a penny unless someone actually clicks on the little Google Ad and visits your site.

Better still, I had our 800# in all the ads of course.. so I didn't even have to monitor clicks and email. I just waited for the phone to ring. And it did start to ring more often. Then I went back and checked where all my money was going, and found out which words worked and which ones didn't. Why some and not others? No idea, but who cares as long as it works. But you are working with real data, not warm guesses. And you can switch words or campaigns on or off at will to try things out. And I pretty soon figured out that it was better to spend more on a few words and get better positioning, than it was to spread the same money over a broad swath of keywords.

But two or three months later the same campaign did not work quite as well. That is when you discover what a dynamic environment you are working in, and some competitors have bigger budgets than you. Often much bigger in fact! And they will bid any amount to get certain keywords. After the panic recedes, you dust yourself off and go find some other keywords and tricks. As a small business you always need a unique niche or value proposition, so this isn't that hard.

While doing some searches on various engines, I found that other search engines were sometimes finding Yahoo pay-per-click ads themselves. So I put some money into Yahoo keywords and discovered my Google Ads work better if I also have a little money on Yahoo ads too. This is not scientifically proven but it works for me. Plus I always get 6% of my traffic from MSN, which I really love as I never pay them a penny.

Well this was getting very interesting, so I took about 3 days off and tweaked ads and keywords and watched results practically all day every day. Then I discovered that sometimes my meager budget was running out before I woke up in the morning. So many people were clicking on my ads from Europe or the east coast, Google had spent all my money for the day before I had my second cup of coffee! That is when things got really interesting, as I would manually switch my ads on and off each day. This cut out all the bad clicks from Timbuktu and other places I didn't care about, but it meant I had to get up early each a.m. to start the ads running before I missed a large part of the day on the East Coast.

Since then, Google has added a feature so you can set the time of day and week your ads run, so now I only have to worry about Yahoo. Plus they have added Google Analytics, and I can see exactly where my leads came from, what were the major referral sources, where in the world they came from (plotted on a map), etc. Some days are just slower than others, regardless of what I do, but overall there is a very big audience out there. And as a major extra win, Google Analytics shows you how people entered and navigated your site. I was about to move some big buttons on my naming homepage, because I was bored with them and not sure they were working, when I stopped and looked at the actual usage. Suffice to say those buttons are now here to stay!

Some of you might ask about click-fraud, especially when you get lots of clicks but your phone doesn't ring proportionately. Be aware that most of the major cases covered in the media have been to do with advertising on content sites. I quickly learned not to allow Google or Yahoo to put any of my ads on content sites, as they generated millions of impressions with absolutely no productive results.

Both Yahoo and Google have tools to help you pick keywords. Neither of them are perfect, but they do help. In particular, if you visit it will give you the exact words and phrases, in rank order, that people used last month to search on any specific topic on Yahoo. Doesn't mean these words will work for you, but it is a start. Some of their recommendations never worked for me, others were great finds.

Finally, there is a great old tool to use in conjunction with all your search engine optimization and marketing, and that is your website statistics. My ISP makes it particularly easy to see all my site statistics, but almost all offer this feature in some form or another. And when I drill down I can see when and where all the hits came in, and where they came from, and which page they exited from, and even the search terms used to find our site.

Now after many years in marketing, I can actually say I often love to spend my own money on advertising. Sometimes we have too much work, then I switch it off, because somehow a strong short campaign works better than the same budget applied to a longer, milder campaign. I don't know why and I don't care!



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Brand Touch Points

I have recently posted an article on that explains how to find, measure and rank your brand touch points. It points out how this simple procedure can really help you plan where to put your time, money and attention as you start a new marketing or branding campaign. What it doesn't mention is that this is a great exercise to do as you start to improve your SEO/SEM rankings as well.

Search Engine Whitepaper

In the last issue of this newsletter, we talked somewhat at length about organic search (aka SEO). It continues to amaze me how few people take care of the basics on their websites. Earlier this week a major prospect called me from the Midwest simply because he said he had done a particularly detailed search for a naming agency, and mine was the one that came up with the right criterion. For a small business, this is a major win, especially since we had our Google Ads turned off this week!

Here is the link to the whitepaper (no registration required):






This newsletter sponsored in part by:

company product names

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How to do it. By people who have done it.

Brighter Names: Naming for the Average Propeller Head
Brighter Branding: Branding for the Average Propeller Head
Spreadsheet Marketing: Planning for Success