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New Video: See what people are searching for on your site and act on it!

Adding a search box to your site not only offers your visitors an important ease-of-use feature, but provides you, the site owner, with powerful insight into what your visitors really expect from your site. If you don’t have a search box on your site, you might consider using the Google Custom Search Engine (both free and paid versions are available). If you already have a search box, make sure that you’re tracking visitor search activity.

We want to show you the many ways to take immediate action on the data in this report, so we’ve added a video on tracking internal Site Search to our “Google Analytics in 60 Seconds” series. You can view the video below and learn more about how to make effective use of the internal Site Search information in this article, Five Questions to Ask of Your Site Search Data.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMjqn3Z8wp8

Posted by Melissa Hsieh, Google Analytics Team

Google Analytics and AdWords: Better Together

Regardless of the year or economic climate, it’s always been important to optimize the return on your advertising investment–but now it’s more important than ever. Google Analytics specializes in providing you with the metrics you need to make informed advertising decisions.
By linking your Google AdWords and Analytics accounts, you can optimize your AdWords investment even more effectively with increased trackability and customized reporting. Check out this short video and learn more about the benefits of linking your accounts.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fQCWoJ0fm8
To learn more about advertising more effectively with Analytics you can watch the “Google Analytics in 60 Seconds” videos – a series of videos that illustrate simple tips such as how to optimize keywords and how to use placement targeting.

Watch it on YouTube, then Click-to-Buy

We’re happy when we can help YouTube users enjoy the content they love, and we’re happy when we can help our partners build their businesses online – but we’re happiest when we can do both.

That’s why last year we launched our eCommerce platform for YouTube, which allows users to easily “click-to-buy” products — like songs and movies — related to the content they’re watching on the site. The past few months have demonstrated that great content on YouTube leads to increased sales. For example, when Monty Python launched their channelin November, not only did their YouTube videos shoot to the top of the most viewed lists, but their DVDs also quickly climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.

Today we’re expanding the program beyond the US and the UK. Links to songs from theiTunes Store will now appear in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, so users from those countries who are drawn to a particular song can easily purchase it. And it’s not limited to tracks on videos uploaded directly by our partners – partners can add these links to videos uploaded by users by using our our Content ID tools to claim videos that match their content. 

We’re also expanding and improving the ways in which these links are displayed. You may start to see click-to-buy links appearing as semi-transparent overlays that appear in the bottom of the video for a short period of time. This increased visibility should help even more people take advantage of this program. 

As we said when we first launched click-to-buy links, this is just the beginning – over time, we’re aiming to open up the program to cover many types of content beyond music. We’ve already experimented with links to purchase DVDs and video games, and we intend to experiment with links to additional types of products soon. 

Happy shopping, 
The YouTube Team

Live.com Optimizing your very large site for search — Part 1

 

At Live Search, one of the most common questions we receive from our peers at microsoft.com and msn.com is how to optimize their sites for search. But microsoft.com is unlike most other sites on the Internet. It is huge, containing millions of URLs, and is growing all the time. However, large content sites like microsoft.com and msn.com are not the only sites that can have an infinite number of URLs. There are also large ecommerce sites and government agency sites that produce very large numbers of URLs.

As with any site, our original recommendations on how to rank in Live Search are still important. But we’ve given it some thought and wanted to provide some recommendations oriented toward very large sites. Over the next several posts, we will be discussing topics that may help your site, especially if it is very large.

 

Less is more

By producing lots of content, a site exposes a huge surface area for the search engines to crawl. This can lead to sub-optimal results or underperforming pages. As a site grows, the number of URLs produced will also grow, requiring the search engine bot to dig deeper and work harder. One way to control the growth of URLs is to ensure that you are only exposing one URL per piece of content. This is the process of canonicalization, although it is sometimes referred to as normalization.

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Google Analytics, AdWords, and Big Spenders

 In the spirit of the holidays, we would like to offer tips on how to increase visibility into your e-commerce performance and your advertising spend using Google Analytics. For many, seasonality influences purchasing decisions and affects business revenues. Analytics can help keep a close eye on your advertising spend and e-commerce trends to run a cost conscious business.
We recommend 3 simple methods captured in the videos below.
You can find these videos and more on the new Google Analytics Youtube Channel.
Use Google Analytics to track your e-commerce activity. As an e-commerce site, you likely want to know who is visiting your site and the goods they are purchasing. By enabling E-commerce tracking on your site, Google Analytics will provide vital metrics including overall revenue, revenue per product, average transaction amount, and more.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lOlbtkTY2Y  
Coupled with our Motion Charts feature, you can easily see how the the products trend over time by various dimensions including: revenue, quantity, and average price.
2. Identify your high spenders to better target your website promotions and ad spend. With additional information on ROI for keywords and spending trends, you can focus your efforts on the traffic you care about the most.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM6EzwgSDMQ

3. Link your AdWords and Analytics accounts to track ROI, Revenue per Click, campaign and keywords performance. Added benefits include drilling down to the ad campaign, ad group, and keyword levels for goals conversions and e-commerce transactions.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fQCWoJ0fm8

And don’t forget, even a few minutes a day with Google Analytics can help your website.

Google Webmaster Sitemap Submission Made Simple

Submitting a Sitemap to Google just became even easier. No longer do you have to specify the Sitemap file type—we’ll determine the type of data you’re submitting automatically. Let’s take a quick look at the kinds of Sitemap files we support as well as the ways they can be submitted to us.

A sample Webmaster Tools account with Sitemaps

Sitemap file formats supported by Google

Part of what makes the web so interesting is that there are so many different kinds of content out there. Do you use videos on your website? If so, send us a Video Sitemap file so that we can send you visitors to those videos! Do you host source-code samples? Submit a Code Search Sitemap! Here are the various kinds of Sitemap files that Google supports at the moment:

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Google Analytics New and improved account management pages

By now, you’ve probably noticed the account management pages you see when you log into your Google Analytics account. The pages have been updated to provide you with easier access and monitoring capabilities to your accounts and profiles. Now it’s easier to manage and monitor your accounts and profiles, and also easier to see areas requiring attention because you can also glimpse at key performance metrics up front, right upon login. We’ve bubbled up snippets of meaningful data with clear visual cues and cool icons so you can quickly get an update if you don’t want to completely dive into reports.

(Click to enlarge)


With the new navigation scheme, we’ve added the ability for administrators to rename accounts and profiles directly on that page and have introduced a profile locator functionality to help increase efficiency and ease of account management.

You can also:

  • Easily navigate from account to profiles by just clicking on the account name (and back with Overview)
  • Better understand the hierarchy relationship between accounts and profiles and quickly find their webproperty ID
  • See key loyalty and success metrics for all your accounts and profiles, and sort by any of these metrics
  • Use the “Find Profiles” locator box or “starring” functionality to quickly find and navigate to a desired profiles and accounts, regardless of how many there are. No need to sift through pages of irrelevant content.

It’s all about ease of use. For example, now, with a glance, you can determine positive or negative changes in account performance and quickly pull up the reports for a specific account. Additionally, administrators can rename account and profiles directly in the account management interface, without a lot of drilling down.

We hope that the new interface will save you a lot of time. Enjoy!

Google Adsense – Spotlight on your content

It’s Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it readily available to all; as a web publisher, one of your goals may also be to make sure your content is readily available to all. We’ve recently taken steps to help you grow your site’s traffic: we updated our Submit Your Content site with more information about distributing your content through Google products such as Web Search, Maps, YouTube, and iGoogle. In addition, we launched ourContent Central blog, featuring tips and information from Googlers who work on different products. The goal of both of these resources is to help you grow your site’s visitors by taking advantage of promotion opportunities in new Google mediums.

If you’re just getting started with these resources, we recommend visiting the yellow getting started box in the upper right hand corner of the Submit Your Content homepage. Here, we’ve listed the three steps we recommend all content partners take to begin sharing their content. Alternatively, check out the industry categories where we’ll walk you through the types of content you may have, and show you where that content is visible across various Google services.


We’ve also enabled comments on the Content Central blog, so feel free to visit the blog to suggest topics for future posts or leave your feedback. If you’ve already visited the Submit Your Content site, you may know all about the wonders of RSS, so be sure to subscribe to theContent Central blog’s feed to receive the latest posts when they’re published. Or, enter your email address in the right-hand sidebar to subscribe by email.

@Twitter: Welcome to Google Friend Connect

We know many of you enjoy using Twitter to see what people are talking about and to let others know what you’ve been up to, whether it’s sharing a YouTube video or checking in on your friend’s tweets. To help you and your Twitter network stay connected no matter where you are on the web, we’re excited to announce that Google Friend Connect has integrated with Twitter. This means that when you join a friend connected site, you can choose to use your Twitter profile, discover people you follow on Twitter who are also members of the site, and quickly tweet that you have found a cool website.

To send a tweet about a site you have joined, click the invite link in the members gadget, then click the Twitter icon on the share tab. The next time your followers sign in to Twitter, they’ll see your tweet containing a link to the interesting site you’ve found.

This integration with Twitter is an example of how we want to continue improving Friend Connect, extending the open social web and bringing social features to more places on the web.

Google Analytics YouTube Channel

When we launched additional enterprise class features in October, we created a few short videos to help people get started using the features. Your feedback on these videos and their popularity (over 70,000 views so far) has inspired us to create more educational videos.

Today, we’re pleased to announce the Google Analytics Channel on YouTube, a one-stop source for the latest Google Analytics-related videos. If you’re looking for a beginner’s guide tointerpreting and acting on your data, an introduction to motion charts, or you want to learn how to perform placement targeting in 60 seconds, you can now find it at youtube.com/googleanalytics. And, just to prove that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we’ll add the occasional music video :)

We’ll continue to listen for what you want to learn about and work on adding useful videos to the channel. If you want to be sure that you always stay up to date, you can subscribe to the Google Analytics Channel or even add an iGoogle gadget to your homepage. 

delicious to go on your Mobile Phone

Delicious Mobile betaWe’ve just launched a mobile version of Delicious. You can find it athttp://m.delicious.com. This is a beta and represents our first real dabbling in mobile browsing, so we’ve started conservatively. The site is designed to work on as many devices as possible, although YMMV.

Delicious Mobile enables you to sign into your account and browse your bookmarks, tags, inbox, and other data. You can also browse popular and recent bookmarks and tags from the Delicious community. This means you can:

  • Ditch your phone’s bookmarks — they’re too hard to keep updated, organized, and synchronized. Just use your Delicious bookmarks instead!
  • Tag-stalk on the go — use your Network to follow what your friends are reading, no matter where you are.
  • Break the tedium — browse the tastiest bookmarks on the Web next time you’re standing in line to buy the new Guns N’ Roses (wait, people still buy CDs?).

Next up on our to-do list is to integrate our social search engine into the mobile site. We welcome your feedback on what you’d like to see in the future, so let us know what you think.

An update to the AdWords alcohol policy

As many of you know, we’re constantly evaluating our AdWords program policies to keep them current and effective. This means making changes from time to time by either adding new policies, such as the endangered species policy, or updating existing policies, such as the Display URL policy.

This fall, we changed our policy around beer, for the first time allowing advertisements of its sale in the U.S. via AdWords. And starting today, in response to advertiser feedback we’ve received over the years, we’ll permit the advertisement of hard alcohol and liqueurs that target the U.S.

To comply with the updated hard alcohol and liqueurs policy, advertisers must promote the information about hard alcohol and liqueurs that their websites contain, such as recipes and brand messages. Ads that directly promote the sale of hard alcohol and liqueurs are still not permissible through our program. In contrast, advertisements for beer may directly promote its sale.

For example, under the hard alcohol and liqueurs policy, you might market to individuals searching for helpful and relevant alcohol-related information by promoting holiday cocktail ideas or the caloric content of popular spiked beverages. Under the beer policy, you might state a specific sales promotion for a great winter ale.

Hard alcohol and beer manufacturers can now take advantage of online holiday traffic and initiate campaigns that appeal to their target audiences.

Plans to expand this updated alcohol policy to other countries in accordance with local regulations are expected in the coming weeks. For more information about the alcohol policy and other AdWords content policies, please visit our Advertising Policies page.

Google One place for changing your site’s settings

One of the many useful features of Webmaster Tools is the ability to adjust settings for your site, such as crawl rate or geographic target. We’ve been steadily adding settings over time and have now gotten to the point where they merit their own page. That’s right, Webmaster Tools now provides a single, dedicated page where you can see and adjust all the settings for your site.

The settings that have been moved to the new Settings page are:
1. Geographic Target 
2. Preferred domain control
3. Opting in to enhanced image search 
4. Crawl rate control 

Changing a Setting
Whenever you change a setting, you will be given an option to save or cancel the change.

Please note: The Save/Cancel option is provided on a per setting basis and hence if you change multiple settings, you’ll have to click the Save button associated with each setting.

Expiration of a setting
Some of the settings are time-bounded. That is, your setting will expire after a certain time period. For example, the crawl rate setting has an expiration period of 90 days. After this period, it’s automatically reset to the default setting. Whenever you visit the Settings page, you can view the date that your setting will expire underneath the setting name.

That’s all there is to it!

We always like adding features and making our interface clearer based on your suggestions, so keep them coming! Please share your feedback (or ask questions) in the Webmaster Help Forum.

Written by Jonathan Simon, Webmaster Trends Analyst and Nanda Kishore, Webmaster Tools Intern

More control of Googlebot’s crawl rate

We’ve upgraded the crawl rate setting in Webmaster Tools so that webmasters experiencing problems with Googlebot can now provide us more specific information. Crawl rate for your site determines the time used by Googlebot to crawl your site on each visit. Our goal is to thoroughly crawl your site (so your pages can be indexed and returned in search results!) without creating a noticeable impact on your server’s bandwidth. While most webmasters are fine using the default crawl setting (i.e. no changes needed, more on that below), some webmasters may have more specific needs.

Googlebot employs sophisticated algorithms that determine how much to crawl each site it visits. For a vast majority of sites, it’s probably best to choose the “Let Google determine my crawl rate” option, which is the default. However, if you’re an advanced user or if you’re facing bandwidth issues with your server, you can customize your crawl rate to the speed most optimal for your web server(s). The custom crawl rate option allows you to provide Googlebot insight to the maximum number of requests per second and the number of seconds between requests that you feel are best for your environment.
Googlebot determines the range of crawl rate values you’ll have available in Webmaster Tools. This is based on our understanding of your server’s capabilities. This range may vary from one site to another and across time based on several factors. Setting the crawl rate to a lower-than-default value may affect the coverage and freshness of your site in Google’s search results. However, setting it to higher value than the default won’t improve your coverage or ranking. If you do set a custom crawl rate, the new rate will be in effect for 90 days after which it resets to Google’s recommended value.
You may use this setting only for root level sites and sites not hosted on a large domain like blogspot.com (we have special settings assigned for them). To check the crawl rate setting, sign in to Webmaster Tools and visit the Settings tab. If you have additional questions, visit the Webmaster Help Center to learn more about how Google crawls your site or post your questions in theWebmaster Help Forum.

Written By Pooja Shah, Software Engineer, Webmaster Tools Team

Google Friend Connect: now available

We’re pleased to share that Google Friend Connect is now available in beta to any webmaster looking to add a “dash of social” to his or her site. This service lets webmasters add social features to their sites by simply copying and pasting a few snippets of code — no advanced coding or technical background required. 

We know that people want to be social on the web, and Friend Connect makes it easy for anyone to sign in to a website, share a little bit about themselves through a personal profile, discover other people with similar interests, invite their contacts, and interact with friends. Even better, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of creating yet another username and password — Friend Connect lets you log in using an existing account from Google, Yahoo, AOL, or OpenID. Similarly, you can choose to either establish a new profile or use profiles and friend sources from other social networks that have opened up their services, like Plaxo and orkut. To learn more, watch the video tour below:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N94s7ix0JPo

We launched Friend Connect as a preview release in May, and since then we have been working closely with a handful of website owners, social networks, and application developers to improve its speed and scalability, ease of use, and customization capabilities. We’ve also expanded the features available to users with richer, more integrated profiles and new ways to discuss and share content, like including YouTube videos in your comments.

Friend Connect’s goal is to facilitate an open social web. Using open standards like OpenID and OAuth, Friend Connect makes it simple for people to instantly interact with one another on the sites that they already love to visit. Additionally, websites that use Friend Connect become OpenSocial containers, capable of running applications created by the OpenSocial developer community.

In the coming months, we’re excited to see more webmasters add Friend Connect to their sites, helping their visitors engage with each other across the web.

To learn more, please visit www.google.com/friendconnect.

Posted by Mussie Shore, Product Manager

“Recent Activity” on Your YouTube Channel

We’re happy to announce a couple of new changes to your YouTube channels, based on the feedback and suggestions you’ve given to us. 

The first is the creation of a “Recent Activity” box on your YouTube channel. This box will provide your viewers with a snapshot of recent changes you’ve made to your public channel, making your channel more dynamic, fresh and timely. For example, if you recently added a new favorite to your channel, visitors can find this favorite in the new Recent Activity box (as well as in the usual “Favorites” box). The Recent Activity box will also consolidate the separate “My Recent Ratings” and “My Recent Comments” boxes into this single activity window. 

As always, we give you maximum control over how your channel is configured on the channel design page. And now, the Recent Activity privacy settings page (also available in the upper-right corner of the Recent Activity box) lets you choose what activity you want to appear in the Recent Activity box. It’s important to note that we’ve set your initial Recent Activity settings according to what you already publicly show on your channel today – so, for example, if you’re not already showing the Favorites box on your channel, then the Recent Activity box won’t suddenly start showing new favorites you make. 

Regarding bulletins, we’ve listened to you, and most of you didn’t see the value in bulletins as they are today. So, we’re taking a first step to make bulletins more useful. Although the bulletin box will be going away, now you can broadcast a bulletin directly to your channel visitors in your Recent Activity box. This not only provides a fun place to shout out personal updates and news, but also provides an additional way to communicate and engage with your channel’s fans. 

We hope you like these changes, and are always eager to hear your feedback – so please feel free to share your thoughts with us! 

The YouTube Team

Facebook Across the Web

Over the summer we announced an extension of Facebook Platform called Facebook Connect.Facebook Connect makes it easier for you to take your online identity with you all over the Web, share what you do online with your friends and stay updated on what they’re doing. You won’t have to create separate accounts for every website, just use your Facebook login wherever Connect is available.

Starting today, you’ll see prompts for Facebook Connect at websites across the Internet and have the opportunity to take your Facebook profile information, friends and privacy preferences to your favorite sites. 
If you’ve used the early versions of Connect on CitysearchCNN’s The Forum or CBS’ The Insider, this will already look pretty familiar.

For example, you can use Facebook Connect with the reviews website, Citysearch. You can easily log in using your Facebook account, and from there, you’ll be able to interact with all of your Facebook friends. They’ll be able to see some of the same profile information they can see on Facebook, which is fully controlled by your privacy settings. When you write a review for a restaurant, you’ll have the option to publish that story back to Facebook, where your friends can see it, too. This makes finding your friends’ reviews on Citysearch a snap. With Facebook Connect, it will be easier for you to share and connect with your friends across the Web.

We’ve worked hand in hand with our launch partners over the past several months to create great experiences for you to check out. Use your Facebook account to comment on blogs includingTechCrunch. Compare your political stance with friends at CNN’s The Forum and your voting record via Govit. Comment on the latest how-to videos on Howcast. Get your friends’ opinions regarding your new car search with vLane

Obviously our launch partners don’t cover all the websites you use on a daily basis, so if you want to see this list grow, get in touch with your favorite websites, developers, and services, and tell them you want to connect. With your help, we can all share more information across the web.

Display ad builder best practices

Last week, we posted about recent improvements we’ve made to the display ad builder. Now we’d like to share some best practices for using the tool. Hopefully these tips will help you get off to a running start with your new display campaigns:

Customize your ads to make them stand out. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Choose the color scheme of your ad, like the background and font color, to align it with your unique product and brand.
  • Ensure text and images are a proper fit. Review all available ad sizes for each template to ensure that the text displays properly and images fit the ad slot. Upload images and logos that fit the recommended specifications we display as you create your ad.
  • Try out different templates. You can see which one yields the best performance and optimize accordingly. 
  • Consider transparent PNG graphics. They can make your ads look more professional by matching the background of both the image and the ad.

Consider separating your display ads into their own ad group. This will allow you to:
  • Set unique bids for your display ads. For example, you may want to bid more competitively for you display ad, since it has to rank high enough to place above the other ads competing for the same spot.
  • Use unique keywords for your display ads, without impacting the performance of your text-only ad groups, especially those running on search as well as the Google content network

Double-check your ads to ensure they meet the following criteria:

  • Your display URL should be visible. If it’s the same color as the ad’s background color, it won’t be visible to the user.
  • Uploaded images should be less than 50KB. Otherwise your ad won’t be eligible to run.

Now that you’re armed with these tips on creating effective display ads, please try out the display ad builder and let us know how it’s working for you. If you want to learn more about the tool, please visit the display ad builder site.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew

Live Search Webmaster Center Fall Update

In August, we shipped the largest update to Live Search Webmaster Center tools since we launched the site over a year ago. In that update, we committed that we would continue to bring you important updates and resources designed to make your life as a site owner easier. Today, we are happy to announce that we have shipped several new features, which continue to build on the work we have done.

Fix issues on your site

In our August release, we shipped our Crawl Issues tool, which allows you to see any issues that Live Search found on your site. In this release, we have updated this tool to include any malware that we have found associated with your site.

Malware (short for malicious software) is those nasty bits of code downloaded to a computer without the consent of the user. Some malware is just intrusive, but most is very harmful. As Live Search crawls the Web, it finds many pages infected with malware. We flag all pages containing or linking to detected malware with a “Malware” warning message in the search engine results page and disable the link to the page to protect customers.

As a site owner, having malware on your site, or even just linking to other sites whose pages contain malware, can harm your customers. At a minimum, this may prevent your customers from being able to access the content on your site from search results pages.

With the updated Crawl Issues tool in Webmaster Center, you will be able to:

  • Determine whether any malware has been detected on any of your webpages.
  • Download offline-accessible reports detailing which webpages on your website are affected by the detected malware.

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SearchWiki: make search your own

Have you ever wanted to mark up Google search results? Maybe you’re an avid hiker and the trail map site you always go to is in the 4th or 5th position and you want to move it to the top. Or perhaps it’s not there at all and you’d like to add it. Or maybe you’d like to add some notes about what you found on that site and why you thought it was useful. Starting today you can do all this and tailor Google search results to best meet your needs.

Today we’re launching SearchWiki, a way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. With just a single click you can move the results you like to the top or add a new site. You can also write notes attached to a particular site and remove results that you don’t feel belong. These modifications will be shown to you every time you do the same search in the future. SearchWiki is available to signed-in Google users. We store your changes in your Google Account. If you are wondering if you are signed in, you can always check by noting if your username appears in the upper right-hand side of the page.

The changes you make only affect your own searches. But SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the “See all notes for this SearchWiki” link.

Watch our lead engineer, Amay, demonstrate a few ways to use SearchWiki in this short video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8Pl1H0dIXE

This new feature is an example of how search is becoming increasingly dynamic, giving people tools that make search even more useful to them in their daily lives. We have been testing bits and pieces of SearchWiki for some time through live experiments, and we incorporated much of our learnings into this release. We are constantly striving to improve our users’ search experience, and this is yet another step along the way.

Posted by Cedric Dupont, Product Manager, and Corin Anderson, Software Engineer

Display ad builder: Wider availability and improvements

We recently announced the launch of AdWords display ad builder, and now we’ve made it more widely available and easier to use. Display ad builder is a tool that lets you create and customize display ads, allowing you to easily expand your AdWords campaigns beyond text advertising. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from our advertisers so far, so we’re happy to announce that the tool is now available to advertisers in the UK, Ireland, and a number of other countries.

In addition, based on your feedback, we made improvements to the display ad builder to enable greater customization and make building display ads even easier:

Image picker: You can now choose from previously uploaded images when creating your ads.

Real-time editing: See what your text and other customization edits look like, automatically — without having to click the ‘update preview’ button.

Quicker way of seeing available ad sizes: You can see which sizes your ad can run in for each ad template without having to complete the ad creation process. You can also preview how your customization choices affect each size.

Additional templates: Choose from even more templates for customizing your ads.

We think these improvements will help you more easily and efficiently create engaging display ads. As always, we welcome your suggestions on how we can improve the display ad builder.

Next week, we’ll post best practices to help you build effective ads with the display ad builder. In the meantime, you can view our tutorial video or visit the display ad builder site to learn more.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew

Facebook, Connecting with the Community

Sharing on Facebook isn’t just about family news or vacation pictures; it’s also about your favorite stores and restaurants, helping you and your friends find great new choices and resources. It’s also an important part of how a young business gets established. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to talk directly with entrepreneurs and small business owners about how they’re using the Web at a conference on entrepreneurship hosted by Governor Schwarzenegger. I was impressed at how the emergence of the Web as a social hub is helping businesses connect with their customers more efficiently. People increasingly rely on Facebook to find and share their experiences with local stores and restaurants. Over 100,000 small businesses now have their own Pages on Facebook with which you can visit and interact. Among them is TCHO, a specialty chocolate company owned by one of the conference participants, Louis Rossetto. In addition to being a founder of Wired Magazine, Louis recently opened TCHO’s first store — in San Francisco. Within 24 hours of creating a Facebook Page, TCHO already had dozens of fans on the site. There are so many more examples of people engaging with their favorite stores and restaurants on the site, including my wife, who recently became a fan of Fraiche Yogurt, our local frozen yogurt shop in Palo Alto. Her action appeared in my News Feed, so I decided to become a fan, too. Word kept traveling to my friends, and Fraiche Yogurt now has more than 750 fans on Facebook, allowing fans, the store’s owner and its employees to share information such as customer reviews and special discounts. As this week’s conference with Governor Schwarzenegger reminded us, entrepreneurs and small business owners have contributed a lot to our economy. Local stores like Fraiche and TCHO are the cornerstones of our community; and our local communities reach far beyond our street corners. As the Web grows to reflect our everyday lives, we hope that this growth revives optimism in a time of economic difficulty. Dan Rose, Vice President of Business Development and Monetization, likes vanilla frozen yogurt with olallieberries.

Google Sync for BlackBerry: Now with contacts

You asked for it, so here it is. We’re happy to announce that in the latest update to Google Sync for BlackBerry, we’ve added two-way contacts synchronization. This new functionality will enable you to sync your handheld’s built-in address book with your Gmail contacts. This all happens in the background and over the air, so your information is always up to date, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Once you’ve installed Sync, all your information will be safe in your Google account. If you ever lose your phone or buy a new one, getting your address book and calendar to your new device is as easy as installing Sync. Current and new Google Sync users can try Google Sync today by visiting m.google.com/sync from their BlackBerry browser.

Posted by Marcus Foster, Product Manager, Google Mobile

How to Set up a Professional Twitter Profile in Minutes

If you are going to use Twitter, here is a great video to watch.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI2fPBkDMfs

The High Cost of Bad Ads: How Ad Quality Impacts Search Advertising

Want to improve the relevance of your landing page without changing so much as a period? Improve the quality of your paid search ad.

I’ll admit there doesn’t seem a direct causal connection between the perceived relevance of your landing page and the quality of your search ad. That’s why Microsoft hired Enquiro Research for a project earlier this year to better understand the impact of ad quality. Enquiro used eye tracking to directly measure user engagement. Turns out that the interaction between searcher, search ad and landing page is pretty complex.

In 8 seconds I’ll either be gone or give you
the opportunity to sell me on the next click.

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Optimisation Essentials (Part III)

This is the final video installment in our three-part series on Optimisation Essentials for AdSense for content. We’ve covered the best-performing ad unit sizes and taken a look at how to design your ad units for good-looking ads. However, even if you have large, well-designed ad units, they won’t perform for you unless your users can see them!

So what can you do to ensure your ad units get noticed? Place your ads where users are likely to look.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3SGp7-hQo4

We’ve also made a heatmap to show you where the best placements are on a typical page. Great positions include:

  • Above the fold of a page (the section of the page a user can see without scrolling)
  • At the end of an article
  • Aligned with content

But don’t just take our word for it – every website is different. Make sure you use your judgment of how visitors interact with your pages to determine good ad placements. Position your ads so that they’re visible, but be careful of intruding on the experience of your site’s visitors. Most of all, think like a user and you’ll be able to balance your website’s content with a successful ad strategy.

Posted by Mel Ann Chan – AdSense Australia Optimisation Team

Announcing the Search-based Keyword Tool

Keyword targeting can sometimes feel like a guessing game. Potential customers are performing hundreds of millions of searches on Google, most of which you don’t even know about. With so many searches, you have to guess which ones might be relevant for each of your landing pages, and hope you find the right audience for your AdWords campaigns. That’s where the Search-based Keyword Tool (beta) comes in. With this new tool you can get a better sense of what your potential customers are searching for and which keywords you should advertise on.
Here’s the scoop: you know that the Google search engine starts with searches conducted by users and helps them find relevant pages. But for keyword targeting, what you want is a tool that goes in the opposite direction by starting with your pages and identifying keywords that potential customers are searching on to find your products or services. The Search-based Keyword Tool does exactly this, leveraging search query data relevant to your website’s content. In other words, this new tool gives you keywords that are highly relevant to your site but are not part of your AdWords campaigns. This helps you take advantage of missed opportunities.
The tool is also useful if you don’t currently advertise on AdWords. For example, a shoe store could discover which footwear styles users are searching for, or a digital camera blog could decide which cameras to review by looking at which camera models attract the most queries.
The Search-based Keyword Tool is now available to all advertisers in the US and UK. We’ll be expanding to additional languages and more countries in the near future. We’ll also continue to develop the tool based on your feedback. Try it out at http://www.google.com/sktool, and let us know what you think.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Inside AdWords crew

A deeper look at Advanced Segmentation: filtering on the fly

Casually, you mentioned, over and over, again and again, at every conference and tradeshow where we met you, that advanced segmentation was a feature you’d love to see in Google Analytics. You shared your segmentation wishlist, and we found that after you showed us, we started dreaming about it too. You wanted to be able to:

  • Compare segments and key performance metrics side by side in reports
  • Save the segments you create and apply them whenever you wish to any report
  • Create new custom segments easily and say goodbye to RegEx

We heard you, and we built all of these features, and we expect that they will make your life a lot easier and more informed. In fact, advanced segmentation is the favorite new feature of Avinash, Analytics Evangelist at Google.

But we went a few steps further. You can also:

  • Select from predefined custom segments such as “Paid Traffic”, “Visits with Conversions”or “New Visits”
  • Use an autocomplete function and a drag and drop interface to easily create segments
  • Apply a segment to all historical traffic

And instead of making it just something that the top 5% of users can figure out how to use, we decided to try to make it something that even your boss can master without having to get his twelve year old daughter to teach him…or bother you for that matter. We think you’re going to love it. Segments allow you to look at the abundance of data in Google Analytics as it pertains to one or more segments of visitors who are important to you.

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Google Site Search gets more demanding

Customers today demand speed. Waiting around is so, well, yesterday — as so many of the things we used to have to wait for are now at our fingertips online. We can read up to the minute news, get directions, and find the answers to our most pressing questions simply by entering them into a search box.

For a business running their own website, this means that visitors who turn to search expect to have access to the newest products, pages and announcements a site has to offer.

That’s why today we’re excited to bring you On-Demand Indexing for Google Site Search. On-Demand Indexing is like a turbocharger for Google Site Search, ensuring that your newest pages appear in search results on your website fast. Whether you’re promoting a new line of products, sharing breaking news or reports, or updating your site in time for the holiday season, On-Demand Indexing puts businesses in control with an “Index Now” button, giving them the flexibility to quickly update search results whenever they have new content to update or add.

Google Site Search builds on the Google Custom Search Engine by adding business integration features, the option to turn off ads, a more customized look and feel, as well as email and phone support. Check out this video to learn more:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUB04YCUQ7k

On-Demand Sitemaps for Custom Search

Since we launched enhanced indexing with the Custom Search platform earlier this year, webmasters who submit Sitemaps to Webmaster Tools get special treatment: Custom Search recognizes the submitted Sitemaps and indexes URLs from these Sitemaps into a separate index for higher quality Custom Search results. We analyze your Custom Search Engines (CSEs), pick up the appropriate Sitemaps, and figure out which URLs are relevant for your engines for enhanced indexing. You get the dual benefit of better discovery for Google.com and more comprehensive coverage in your own CSEs.

Today, we’re taking another step towards improving your experience with Google webmaster services with the launch of On-Demand Indexing in Custom Search. With On-Demand Indexing, you can now tell us about the pages on your websites that are new, or that are important and have changed, and Custom Search will instantly schedule them for crawl, and index and serve them in your CSEs usually within 24 hours, often much faster.

How do you tell us about these URLs? You guessed it… provide a Sitemap to Webmaster Tools, like you always do, and tell Custom Search about it. Just go to the CSE control panel, click on the Indexing tab, select your On-Demand Sitemap, and hit the “Index Now” button. You can tell us which of these URLs are most important to you via the priority and lastmod attributes that you provide in your Sitemap. Each CSE has a number of pages allocated within the On-Demand Index, and with these attributes, you can us which are most important for indexing. If you need greater allocation in the On-Demand index, as well as more customization controls, Google Site Search provides a range of options.

Some important points to remember:

  1. You only need to submit your Sitemaps once in Webmaster Tools. Custom Search will automatically list the Sitemaps submitted via Webmaster Tools and you can decide which Sitemap to select for On-Demand Indexing.
  2. Your Sitemap needs to be for a website verified in Webmaster Tools, so that we can verify ownership of the right URLs.
  3. In order for us to index these additional pages, our crawlers must be able to crawl them. You can use “Webmaster Tools > Crawl Errors > URLs restricted by robots.txt” or check your robots.txt file to ensure that you’re not blocking us from crawling these pages.
  4. Submitting pages for On-Demand Indexing will not make them appear any faster in the main Google index, or impact ranking on Google.com.

We hope you’ll use this feature to inform us regularly of the most important changes on your sites, so we can respond quickly and get those pages indexed in your CSE. As always, we’re always listening for your feedback on Custom Search.

Written by Rajat Mukherjee, Group Product Manager, Search

Google’s SEO Starter Guide

Webmasters often ask us at conferences or in the Webmaster Help Group, “What are some simple ways that I can improve my website’s performance in Google?” There are lots of possible answers to this question, and a wealth of search engine optimization information on the web, so much that it can be intimidating for newer webmasters or those unfamiliar with the topic. We thought it’d be useful to create a compact guide that lists some best practices that teams within Google and external webmasters alike can follow that could improve their sites’ crawlability and indexing.

Our Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide covers around a dozen common areas that webmasters might consider optimizing. We felt that these areas (like improving title and description meta tags, URL structure, site navigation, content creation, anchor text, and more) would apply to webmasters of all experience levels and sites of all sizes and types. Throughout the guide, we also worked in many illustrations, pitfalls to avoid, and links to other resources that help expand our explanation of the topics. We plan on updating the guide at regular intervals with new optimization suggestions and to keep the technical advice current.

So, the next time we get the question, “I’m new to SEO, how do I improve my site?”, we can say, “Well, here’s a list of best practices that we use inside Google that you might want to check out.”

Written by Brandon Falls, Search Quality Team

Optimisation Essentials (Part II)

The video below is the second in our “Optimisation Essentials” series, demonstrating our top three tips for maximising your AdSense for Content performance. Last week, we reinforced the importance of bigger ad units. This week, we’re showcasing how a better ad unit design can result in improved AdSense performance.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SPctunvWhU

*Please note that no leopards were harmed in the making of this video!

Over the years, we’ve seen some colourful ad unit designs. Some publishers design ad units that contrast with their site so that they stand out. Although this can work in some cases, we’ve found that ad units that match your site’s design tend to perform better in terms of revenue and click-through-rate. Users are more likely to read ads when they’re well integrated into your site.

When you design your AdSense ads, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use colours that either blend with or complement your site’s colours. Make the ads a part of your site.
  • Use lighter colours for borders, or no border at all.
  • Try rotating colours or occasionally switching the location of your ads on the page.
  • Save sets of frequently-used colours as a palette.

So give your ad design and colours some thought, and you’ll notice the difference!

Posted by Mel Ann Chan – AdSense Australia Optimisation Team

Updates to Google Maps for mobile for enterprises

We recently released new installation packages for Google Maps for mobile in enterprises. These new packages allow IT managers to make Google Maps for mobile, with new features such as Street View and transit directions, available to corporate BlackBerry users.

While this blog tends to focus on consumer applications of Google Mobile products, many of our products are used by business people to find information essential to their jobs. Perhaps you use a BlackBerry issued by your company. If you do, hopefully you search the web with Google and get directions using Google Maps. Your BlackBerry is likely administered by IT managers who whitelist what software you can install on the device. In many cases, IT managers haven’t whitelisted Google Maps for mobile or other Google Mobile applications.

If you are an IT manager, visit http://mobile.google.com/enterprise to learn how to give your staff Google Mobile applications. The new installation packages allow you to place the Maps for mobile binaries on an internal server, or push the application to your employees via BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

If you don’t manage information technology at your company, consider asking your IT department to deploy Google Maps and Web Search on all the company phones.

Posted by Ryan Pollock, Product Marketing Manager, Google Mobile

Put Them to the Test

Ad testing lets you see which ads perform better

How do you know if your ads are working for you? It’s pretty simple — Sponsored Search’s ad testing feature compares the performance of two ads and tells you which one is doing better.

Many marketers know this function by its nickname, “A/B Testing,” since it compares “Ad A” to “Ad B.” Testing truly reveals the beauty of search marketing ads: You get real numbers on how many times the ad made an impression, resulted in a click, and led to a conversion. Try getting that from a TV or newspaper ad!

How it works
Ad testing happens automatically when you create more than one ad within an ad group. It’s true: You don’t have to do anything extra. The system smartly monitors the performance of your ads and displays the ones that achieve the highest click-through rate, helping to increase traffic to your web site. You can control this automatic display by adjusting the Optimize Ad Display setting in your account, as shown below:

Screen Shot

How to do It
As you know, an ad is comprised of a title, description, display URL and destination URL. For each ad group, you can create up to 20 ads. After making sure that ad optimization is enabled, the system will start to do its work, rotating your ads for the keywords within each ad group. The system then tracks the performance of each ad and starts only displaying the one with the best results.

Since we’re discussing ad creation, this is also a good time to remind you to use your account’s insert keyword feature, which dynamically inserts the relevant search term into your ad’s title and/or description.

Why to use ad testing
Ad testing saves you time by automatically displaying your best-performing ads, which allows you to handle your other business rather than experimenting and guessing at which of your ads should run. Ad testing can also save you some cold hard cash: Because it displays the ads with higher click-through rates, your ads may have better ad quality (as indicated by the quality index), potentially bringing you higher ranked ads at a lower cost.

Tips
Some things to keep in mind:

  • Set a performance goal. Try testing an ad that promotes free shipping against an ad that offers a 20% discount to see which draws more interest.
  • Remember the “watched pot” theory—give your ads enough time to go to work. If you keep watch from they minute they start to run, you’ll make yourself crazy trying to see which one is hot. Remember, ad testing does the work so you don’t have to!
  • The holidays are a perfect time to test your ads. Adjust your ads to promote seasonal items, such as home décor and gift ideas.
  • Spot check: The ad that receives the most impressions will appear in the Most Displayed Ad box. This performance is based on a selected date range. Also, within the Ads tab of the Ad Details page, you can view performance and display information for all of your ads.
  • Use what you learn. If you find certain offers really attract customers, start applying that strategy to the rest of your ads.

Ad testing puts the end to the old marketing adage, “I know half of our marketing budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” Now you’ll know!

— Kastle Waserman, Communications Manager

New Features for the YouTube Embeddable Video

You don’t have to be on the YouTube site to watch videos. The YouTube player can be added to virtually any website, giving website creators and web surfers infinite access to the YouTube library. With close to 44 percent of our users watching embedded videos, we’re committed to constantly refining the player. Today, we are pleased to announce four new features:

  • High-quality start images (thumbnails) – Before you press play on embedded YouTube videos, the thumbnails for the video will be presented in high-quality. We’re pleased with the results – let us know if you agree.
  • Search in embeddable player – At the close of an embedded video, along with the usual recommended videos and URLs, a search box will appear. Not only will you be able search from within the embedded player, you will be able to watch videos through the same window. That’s right, you can search all of YouTube from the comfort of your favorite blog, news, or humor page.
  • Integrated video annotations – Annotations enable video producers to incorporate text information into their videos, create choose your own adventure-style stories or add links to any YouTube video. People watching videos through the embedded player can now join the fun.
  • Integrated closed captions – Back in August we started allowing video creators to add captions to their videos. Closed Captions are now available in embedded videos like this one:

Our open APIs and embeddable players allow more and more people to transform the way they distribute and enjoy videos while avoiding the traditional cost and hassle of hosting videos. We look forward to seeing the fun and creative ways you will use these new features.

Have fun,
The YouTube Team

Optimisation Essentials (Part I)

AdSense for content is the bread and butter of many of our publishers, and we often receive requests to recommend strategies to improve AdSense performance on publisher sites. While we refer to this as ‘optimisation’, we understand that this term can make the process sound more difficult than it really is. In response, we’re releasing a three-part video series that demonstrates, in plain English, our top tips for increasing your AdSense earnings.

This week, we’re recommending you think big – big ad units, that is:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrKGucKThNs

Publishers often ask us what the best ad sizes are to include in their site’s design, and we always point them to these three:

  • 300×250 medium rectangle
  • 728×90 leaderboard
  • 160×600 skyscraper

These ad units have proven in the past to deliver better results for both publishers and advertisers. Advertisers favour these formats, and if you’ve receiving all ad types, you’ll find that advertisers will specifically target your sites more often. If you position your ad units well, users will be more likely to see these ad formats and find an ad that they’re interested in.

When you’re considering how to design your site, our testing has shown that displaying at least one of these ad formats on your page can increase your AdSense earnings potential. So remember, sometimes bigger is better!

Posted by Mel Ann Chan – AdSense Australia Optimisation Team

Get customized suggestions for improving your product listings

We’ve always emphasized the importance of submitting high-quality product feeds to Google Product Search. This means submitting accurate, up-to-date product information in the form of attributes, as well as abiding by best practices for formatting these attributes. Doing so goes a long way toward helping shoppers find your items more easily.

Today, we’re pleased to announce the addition of a new “Data Quality” tab in your Google Base account. On this tab, you’ll find a host of suggestions for improving the quality of the item listings in your product feed. For example, you can find recommendations on the length of your title and description fields, or get a snapshot of the number of items in your feed that are missing key attributes. By addressing these issues, you’ll be able to improve the quality of your feeds and help more shoppers find your products.

We hope you’re as excited about this new tab as we are, and that you’ll find the recommendations helpful.

Posted by: Jessica Ng, Product Marketing Manager

You’re invited to the new AdSense Help Forum

The AdSensePro team would like to cordially invite you to the opening of our new English AdSense Help Forum.


We hope that by now you’ve found the AdSense Help Forum to be the best place to ask questions and share tips with other AdSense publishers. We’ve been listening to your feedback about forum features you’d like to see, and we’re excited to announce that we’re moving the English Forum from Google Groups to a brand new platform. (For those who participate in the Forum in another language: rest assured that our engineers are working on making this new platform available in additional languages, although we don’t have a set date at this time.)

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Improvements to Ads Quality

We’re always working on improvements that will help us show the most relevant ads to our searchers, and we’re excited to tell you that we’ll soon introduce two changes designed to enhance how we calculate Quality Score and rank ads. The first change helps better evaluate the precise quality of your ad – regardless of its position on the page. The second change improves how we promote ads to positions above the search results. Let’s take a look at both of these changes in more detail.

More precise Quality Score calculation
Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the most significant component of Quality Score because it directly indicates which ads are most relevant to our searchers. As you probably have observed, ads in high positions typically earn better CTR than those in low positions, because ads in high positions are more visible to searchers. To calculate the most accurate Quality Scores, it’s important that the influence of ad position on CTR be taken into account and removed from the Quality Score.

In the coming days, we’ll update the portion of the Quality Score algorithm that accounts for ad position. This will result in more accurate Quality Scores, ensure that ads compete fairly for position based on their quality and bid, and enable Google to show the most relevant ads to searchers by rewarding high-quality advertisers with better ad positions.

Higher quality ads above the search results
We’re also improving the way we determine which ads show in the yellow region above the search results. These positions are particularly valuable to advertisers because they are prominently positioned on the page. Given their prominence, it’s especially important that these ads be high quality; we therefore place extra emphasis on quality when determining which ads to show in this location.

To appear above the search results, ads must meet a certain quality threshold. In the past, if the ad with the highest Ad Rank did not meet the quality threshold, we may not have shown any ads above the search results. With this update, we’ll allow an ad that meets the quality threshold to appear above the search results even if it has to jump over other ads to do so. For instance, suppose the ad in position 1 on the right side of the page doesn’t have a high enough Quality Score to appear above the search results, but the ad in position 2 does. It’s now possible for the number 2 ad to jump over the number 1 ad and appear above the search results. This change ensures that quality plays an even more important role in determining the ads that show in those prominent positions.

Keep in mind that these enhancements may cause changes to your ad position, spend, and performance. We’re launching these updates soon so that you’ll have enough time to review your accounts and prepare for your holiday season advertising. While we don’t believe that any immediate changes are needed on your part, we encourage you, as always, to watch your key metrics and to make adjustments as appropriate.

We’ll post again once these changes are live.

Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew

Clicks, conversions, and Christmas 2008

One of our favorite and most useful posts from last year was an in-depth look at cost-per-click behavior during the 2006 holiday season by none other than Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian. In the post Hal explained how CPC’s and CPA’s (cost-per-actions) vary over time to affect advertisers’ ROI.

This year we have two new posts about CPC’s and holiday trends over at the newly launched Google Retail Advertising Blog, a great source of information tailored to the needs of retail advertisers. The first post is Hal’s updated look at the new data from the 2007 holiday season. The second has some tips regarding scheduling and consumer behavior specifically for your campaigns this winter. Remember, it’s never too early to start your holiday planning.

Posted by Christian Yee, Inside AdWords crew

Podcast: Choosing Specific Keyword Phrases

Yahoo! shares tips on keyword management

Do you like to listen to good advice, instead of just reading it? Whether you’re a seasoned search marketing expert or just starting out with your Sponsored Search campaign, a new free podcast provides useful info that can help you reach your business goals.

Our own Patrizio Spagnoletto, Senior Director of Marketing here at Yahoo!, recently talked with Lon Safko, one of the authors of the “The Social Media Bible,” to discuss some helpful tactics when you’re selecting and managing keywords.

In the podcast, Patrizio talks about the basics of search marketing.  He discusses how to create multiple keyword campaigns, and says that more specific phrases, with two or three keywords, can help you reach a more specific customer.

You can find the podcast with Patrizio and Lon here.
– The Team

New taxonomy to describe the product type of your items

We’ve received some feedback from Google Product Search merchants asking for more direction on which values to include for the product_type attribute. We listened to your feedback, and today we’re unveiling our new categorization system that you can use for describing the product type of your items. Product_type is an optional attribute that you can use to indicate the category (or categories) of the product being sold. We recommend that you use the category paths and values from our new product taxonomy.

The Google product taxonomy is a tree of categories that describe product families, with verticals (Electronics, Home & Garden, etc.) at the highest level, followed by more specific product families or products within these broad categories (such as Electronics > Audio > Audio Players & Recorders > MP3 Players).

If you already have a system of categorization of your own, you may also use that. Just include the full category path as the value for the product_type attribute (e.g., Books > Non-Fiction > Sports > Baseball).

We hope that this new taxonomy provides you with more suggestions on how to accurately describe your items, so that you can help even more shoppers find your products! For more information on our taxonomy and instructions on how to format the product_type attribute, please read this Help Center article.

Posted by: Weiying Li, Google Base Support

Make a date with data in Google Analytics

Here in AdSense, we’re big on data. From spreadsheets and graphs to weekly reports and metrics, we constantly turn to numbers when running our business. In a similar vein, we’ve heard your requests for more data to help you run your AdSense websites, which is why we’re excited to announce the integration of one of our personal favorite reporting tools, Google Analytics, with AdSense. We’re gradually rolling out this functionality to publishers, and you’ll see an invitation link at the top of your ‘Overview’ and ‘Advanced Reports’ pages when it’s been enabled for your account.


By integrating your AdSense account with a new or existing Analytics account, you’ll have access to in-depth reports about user activity on your site. In addition to the wealth of metrics already available in Analytics such as unique visitors and visitor language, you’ll now have access to granular reports that break down AdSense performance both by page and by referring site. Armed with this new data about user behavior, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on how to improve the user experience on your site and optimize your AdSense units to increase your revenue potential.

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More Enterprise-Class Features Added To Google Analytics

Over the past year, our team has been gathering a feature wish list from you, our customers. We also asked experts in the web analytics industry and listened to customers of other analytics tools to find out what additional functionality they would like to see added to Google Analytics to make it as powerful, flexible, and useful as a web analytics tool can be.

Today at the eMetrics Summit in Washington, D.C., after months of development and testing, Avinash Kaushik, our Analytics Evangelist, unveiled the new functionalities that represent a major upgrade to Google Analytics. With these features, gradually being released in beta in all accounts, you’ll gain much richer insights into your website traffic, and it’ll be even easier to discover, create, and access the metrics important to you.

They are (with more details below): Advanced Segmentation, Custom Reports, a data export API (private beta), integrated reporting for AdSense publishers (private beta), multi-dimensional data visualizations called “Motion Charts,” and an updated user and administrative interface.

These are features that experts and enterprise-level customers demand, and they will be available and easy to use in your Google Analytics reports. Please see below for details on each new feature and the release schedule letting you know when you can expect to have access to them. Here is a screenshot showing you where in your reports you can find a few of the new features, with more screenshots, help center links, and video demos (also at this YouTube playlist) below.

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Introducing tax and shipping

Tax and shipping estimation is one of the features most commonly asked for by shoppers on Google Product Search. Today, I’m happy to announce that you can now submit tax and shipping information for your products via your Google Base account. We’ll soon be displaying this information on Google Product Search to provide buyers with more accurate price information, so we strongly encourage all merchants to start submitting it.

You’ll be able to submit your tax and shipping data in two ways. You can:

1. Set default values directly in your Google Base account. The rates and values you set will serve as the default values for all your items. You can input these values on the new “Tax and Shipping settings” tab under “Settings” in your account.



2. Include values for the new tax and shipping attributes in your data feeds. These values will override any account-level default values that you have set for that item.

Please visit our Help Center article for step-by-step instructions and more information on formatting the new tax and shipping attributes.

Posted by: Jessica Ng, Product Marketing Manager

Quick tip: Increase traffic with the Impression Share report

Recently, the AdWords Help Forum started posting weekly tips to help advertisers improve their campaigns. This got us thinking… why not share the love with our blog readers? In this spirit, we’ll periodically share some of these tips and tricks with you, covering everything from new tools to optimization strategies.
Today, we’ll start with unlocking the mystery behind why certain campaigns have low search traffic. First, it’s helpful to understand the impression share of your ads. Impression share is a metric that represents the percentage of impressions your ad received out of the total available impressions in the market you’re targeting. The Impression Share report, available through the Report Center, gives you insight into how you stack up against others in your industry, helping you make more effective changes to your campaigns and boost traffic.
With insight into potential traffic, you can make more informed decisions and get answers to question like:
  • Do I have room to expand in my targeted market?
  • Am I losing impressions due to low ad rank?
  • Am I losing impressions due to a low budget?
  • What’s my impression share for the specific keywords I’m using?
Once you have an understanding of where you’re missing out on potential traffic, the next step is improving your ads’ impression share. So, before you start restructuring your whole account to increase traffic, get clued in by running an Impression Share report.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew

Where’s my data?

Today we’re going back to basics. We’ll be answering the question: What is a website?

…Okay, not exactly. But we will be looking into what a “website” means in the context of Webmaster Tools, what kind of sites you can add to your Webmaster Tools account, and what data you can get from different types of sites.

Why should you care? Well, the following are all questions that we’ve gotten from webmasters recently:

  • “I know my site has lots of incoming links; why don’t I see any in my Webmaster Tools account?”
  • “I see sitelinks for my site in Google’s search results, but when I look in Webmaster Tools it says ‘No sitelinks have been generated for your site.'”
  • “Why does my Top search queries report still say ‘Data is not available at this time’? My site has been verified for months.”

In each of these cases, the answer was the same: the data was there, but the webmaster was looking at the wrong “version” of their domain in Webmaster Tools.

A little background

The majority of tools and settings in Webmaster Tools operate on a per-site basis. This means that when you’re looking at, say, the Top search queries report, you’re only seeing the top search queries for a particular site. Looking at the top queries for www.example.com will show you different data than looking at the top queries for www.example.org. Makes sense, right?

Not all websites have URLs in the form www.example.com, though. Your root URL may not include the www subdomain (example.com); it may include a custom subdomain (rollergirl.example.com); or your site may live in a subfolder, for example if it’s hosted on a free hosting site (www.example.com/rollergirl/). Since we want webmasters to be able to access our tools regardless of how their site is hosted, you can add any combination of domain, subdomain(s), and/or subfolder(s) as a “site” on your Webmaster Tools dashboard. Once you’ve verified your ownership of that site, we’ll show you the information we have for that particular piece of the web, however big or small it may be. If you’ve verified your domain at the root level, we’ll show you data for that whole domain; if you’ve only verified a particular subfolder or subdomain, we’ll only show you data for that subfolder or subdomain. Take Blogger as an example—someone who blogs with Blogger should only be able to have access to the data for their own subdomain (googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com), not the entire blogspot.com domain.

What some people overlook is the fact that www is actually a subdomain. It’s a very, very common subdomain, and many sites serve the same content whether you access them with or without the www; but the fact remains that example.com and www.example.com are two different URLs and have the potential to serve different content. For this reason, they’re considered different sites in Webmaster Tools. Since they’re different sites—just like www.example.com andwww.example.orgthey can have different data. When you’re looking at the data forwww.example.com (with the www subdomain) you’re not seeing the data for example.com (without the subdomain), and vice versa.

What can I do to make sure I’m seeing all my data?

  • If you feel like you’re missing some data, add both the www and the non-www version of your domain to your Webmaster Tools account. Take a look at the data for both sites.
  • Do a site: search for your domain without the www (e.g. [site:example.com]). This should return pages from your domain and any of your indexed subdomains (www.example.com,rollergirl.example.com, etc.). You should be able to tell from the results whether your site is mainly indexed with or without the www subdomain. The version that’s indexed is likely to be the version that shows the most data in your Webmaster Tools account.
  • Tell us whether you prefer for your site to be indexed with or without the www by setting your preferred domain.
  • Let everyone else know which version you prefer by doing a site-wide 301 redirect.

Even though example.com and www.example.com may look like identical twins, any twins will be quick to tell you that they’re not actually the same person. :-) Now that you know, we urge you to give both your www and non-www sites some love in Webmaster Tools, and—as usual—to post any follow-up questions in our Webmaster Help Group.

Posted by Susan Moskwa, Webmaster Trends Analyst

You Can See Them From Here

Now you can geo-target users at country, city or ZIP code level

Where are your people? And more importantly, are they finding you?  Knowing your ads show up for the right people in the right places is crucial, especially when your business only caters to a specific area. You may already be familiar with geo-targeting, but now there are new ways to customize your targeting, whether you’re reaching  for the whole country or want to pinpoint a city or ZIP code.

Geo-targeting is a clever little feature that can analyze a user’s search query, their Internet Protocol (IP) address and other user information to determine where they are and what ads to serve to them. For example, if you select Portland as a geo-targeted region for the sale of your product, searchers with an IP address in Portland will be served your ad. If you’re a Portland business, you’re likely to get more relevant clicks that can lead to more sales. Our new updates give you the chance for even more relevant clicks.

Coast to coast
While geo-targeting is usually seen as limiting your area to fewer clicks, one new geo-targeting feature can actually bring you more traffic. If you were trying to reach United States customers before, your choices were either to select the entire market — both the U.S. and Canada — or individually select each of the 50 states. (Oh, and the District of Columbia. How could I forget you, D.C.?)

Not only is that a pain, but selecting individual states can leave traffic out. There is a good number of Internet users whose IP addresses suggest they are located within the U.S., but are not easy to pinpoint to individual states you’ve selected. Since geo-targeting is designed to show your ads to users our system recognizes as located within your geo-targeted areas, in the old system those users might not have seen your ad.

Getting local
Up until recently, the geo-targeting functionality was built around Designated Marketing Area (DMA), regions determined by Nielson Media Research, Inc. (yes, the Nielson group who conducts the TV ratings surveys). However, some advertisers need even more focus, especially in more populous regions. Yahoo! now lets you zoom in on targeted  cities and, in a beta feature, ZIP codes as well.

You will find geo-targeting when you sign up for your account online, but you may go back in and change your scope at any time. To do this, select “Geo-Targeting” under your Campaigns tab in your account.:

– Click the “Campaigns” tab.
– Choose a campaign.
– Click the “Campaign Settings” drop-down located in the upper right-hand corner (above the graph).
– Select “Geo-Targeting.”

From there you can use the pulldown to select your target area by Entire Market, Country, State/Province, DMA , City or ZIP code. A map will provide a visual of the areas you are selecting.

To narrow your scope further, try our ZIP code feature, currently in beta. First, select ZIP/Postal Code from the pulldown. From here you may type in the ZIP codes of the areas you want to serve, and use the Search button to confirm where the ZIP codes you’ve selected are located. You can also use the dynamic map to zoom in and out and find more ZIP codes within your area if you don’t know them all offhand.

How tight is too tight?
Keep in mind the more you target, the fewer users your ads may reach. Generally, you’re trading relevancy for volume, narrowing your target to a specific audience rather than every potential eyeball in the overall market. For example, if you service a small area and only choose five ZIP codes, you are likely to receive a limited number of clicks from people in those targeted areas who are searching for your products. We recommend choosing a minimum of 10 ZIP codes to broaden your scope.

You can also opt not to use geo-targeting by de-selecting all geo-targeting settings within your account, and your ads will be eligible for display to the entire U.S./Canada market. This may work for those who will ship products anywhere or who want to utilize the ability to get their brand name in front of as many users as possible.

Our new geo-targeting system is designed to help you hit the bullseye with your ads every time!

—Kastle Waserman, Communications Manager

Increase CTR Using Keyword Insertion with Default Text

 

Last month my colleague Libby Thomas wrote an introduction to Dynamic Text Insertion. You may remember she mentioned that a study has shown that inserting the exact keyword into a paid listing improves CTR by 38% on average.

Keyword Insertion

With adCenter, the easiest way to include the search term is through {keyword} insertion. This function allows you to drop the term from the search box straight into your ad. But what if inserting the keyword would take you over the 25 character limit for titles or the 70 character limit for descriptions?

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Tips and tools for maximizing holiday sales

For many of you the fourth quarter is the busiest and biggest season, and in this economy analytics are more important than ever. With holiday traffic starting in November and peaking in early-December, now is the time to make sure your site is in the best shape to maximize holiday traffic and revenue.

To help you better analyze your campaign performance, optimize your web pages, and drive even more traffic to your e-commerce site during this crucial time, we’d like to share some tip and tools you can use in Analytics and other Google products.

Use the Analytics Funnel Visualization report to improve conversions

  • Learn how many shoppers drop out during each step of your shopping cart conversion process.
  • Then, work on the steps that lose the most customers.
  • Website Optimizer, our free testing tool, is a great way to improve those key pages.



Geo-target your AdWords campaigns through Analytics

  • Find out where your most profitable customers are coming from, and direct your advertising dollars to target customers in those areas.
  • Get data for region-specific keyword performance in your Analytics account.
  • Create more targeted AdWords campaigns by region. Watch this video for a step-by-step demo.

Submit your products to Google Product Search

  • Google Product Search enables shoppers to search for and find products to buy online, and enables you to submit your products for free and target users shopping on Google. Google Product Search is currently available to merchants in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.
  • If you’ve never used Google Product Search, you can start submitting your products using feeds you’ve already prepared for other shopping engines.

Visit our Google page on holiday success to see a full list of tips. We hope these tips and tools help you make the most of your holiday season!

– Dai Pham, Google Analytics Team

Introduction to Language and Market Distribution and Geo-Targeting in adCenter

Have you ever wondered how to target by country and city (geo-targeting) or even by anotherlanguage and market (language and market distribution)? Do you feel confused about geo-targeting or language and market distribution choices? If any of these questions resonate with you, read on.

Distribution by language and market and geographic targeting work jointly to offer users the most relevant ads based on their location. First, you have to use the correct distribution site when you create a new campaign. Note: Once it’s set, it can’t be changed without having to recreate the campaign. Second, you may add targeting (optional) which is another layer of filtering where and to whom ads will be displayed.

Selecting Language and Market Distribution
The language and market setting indicates the language you will use to write your ads and the websites that your ads will be distributed through: live.com, live.co.uk, live.fr, msn.fr, etc. This setting also determines the regional Editorial Guidelines that your ads and keywords must meet.

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Get Local with SearchMonkey

 

Today, we’re happy to announce that we’re turning on Citysearch and Zagat SearchMonkeyapplications for all users. Together with the Yelp and Yahoo! Local Enhanced Results, as well as theYahoo! Shortcut at the top of the search page, finding local businesses on Yahoo! Search is faster and more intuitive than ever before.

For example, Citysearch’s app provides ratings, hours of operation, addresses and phone numbers for millions of restaurants directly on the search results page. It also includes deep links to each restaurant’s profile, user-generated reviews and a map, so users can get directly to the answer they’re seeking. To see the app in action, try a search for slanted door san francisco or cones new york.
Slanted Door - SF

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Message Center warnings for hackable sites

Recently we’ve seen more websites get hacked because of various security holes. In order to help webmasters with this issue, we plan to run a test that will alert some webmasters if their content management system (CMS) or publishing platform looks like it might have a security hole or be hackable. This is a test, so we’re starting out by alerting five to six thousand webmasters. We will be leaving messages for owners of potentially vulnerable sites in the Google Message Center that we provide as a free service as part of Webmaster Tools. If you manage a website but haven’t signed up for Webmaster Tools, don’t worry. The messages will be saved and if you sign up later on, you’ll still be able to access any messages that Google has left for your site.

One of the most popular pieces of software on the web is WordPress, so we’re starting our test with a specific version (2.1.1) that is known to be vulnerable to exploits. If the test goes well, we may expand these messages to include other types of software on the web. The message that a webmaster will see in their Message Center if they run WordPress 2.1.1 will look like this:

Quick note from Matt: In general, it’s a good idea to make sure that your webserver’s software is up-to-date. For example, the current version of WordPress is 2.6.2; not only is that version more secure than previous versions, but it will also alert you when a new version of WordPress is available for downloading. If you run an older version of WordPress, I highly encourage you to upgrade to the latest version.

Separate metrics for Google and search partners are now available

We’re happy to let you know that we’ve changed the way your Campaign Summary and Ad Group Summary pages present statistics in order to give you additional level of detail into your campaign performance. Previously, these pages divided statistics into two categories: search, which included Google and search partners, and the content network.

Now, we show one set of statistics for Google and another set aggregating search partner performance. Search partners include AOL, Ask.com, and many other search sites around the web. You can view ad group or campaign performance at a summary level, or broken down by different combinations of Google, our search partners, and our content network. Additionally, separate Google and aggregate search partner statistics will soon be available in the Report Center.

(Click the image for a full-size version)
We hope that this additional level of detail will help you better achieve your advertising goals.
For more information, please visit this entry in the AdWords Help Center.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew

Video Tutorial: Google for Webmasters

We’re always looking for new ways to help educate our fellow webmasters. While you may already be familiar with Webmaster ToolsWebmaster Help Discussion Groups, this blog, and our Help Center, we’ve added another tutorial to help you understand how Google works. Hence we’ve made this video of a soon-to-come presentation titled “Google for Webmasters.” This video will introduce how Google discovers, crawls, indexes your site’s pages, and how Google displays them in search results. It also touches lightly upon challenges webmasters and search engines face, such as duplicate content, and the effective indexing of Flash andAJAX content. Lastly, it also talks about the benefits of offerings Webmaster Central and other useful Google products.

Take a look for yourself.

Discoverability:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl3fyqJ6whY

Accessibility – Crawling and Indexing:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEbS0a2JcAo

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The codes are a-changin’!

 

Hi all –

Later today Digg will be undergoing some significant updates, but upon first glance, it may seem that nothing has changed. That’s because the changes included in the coming release are 100% under the hood. For the last few months, Digg’s developers have been heads down scrubbing, cleaning, porting and improving the core code of Digg. Before I get into the details, I want to give a big thanks to everyone on Digg’s development team. They’ve done a great job with what, technically, is one of the largest pushes Digg’s released.

Digg’s development team has grown tremendously over the last few years to over twenty developers (we’re hiring!). At the same time, Digg’s code has been maturing from a monolithic ad-hoc approach to a set of consistent frameworks. Our goal was to standardize the way applications at Digg are written, managed, and deployed. Sounds fun, but how did we do it?

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Build your own display ads in minutes

Today we released the AdWords display ad builder, which lets you create professional-looking display ads in AdWords without needing to hire a designer or start from scratch. If you’ve wanted to expand beyond your text ad campaigns, or if you’ve been looking for an easier way to build display ads, this tool can help.

This new tool lets you create customized display ads with your own text, images, and logo. You can also change colors and backgrounds. The tool can create ads to fit all possible placements across the Google content network, including video and game placements. The display ad builder is available now to all advertisers in the U.S. and Canada.
We’ve also put together a short video demonstrating how to create your first ad:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcMPRU0b24E
And for a more detailed look you can watch a longer tutorial.
To start creating your ads, click Display Ad Builder on the Create an ad page within a new or existing campaign in your AdWords account. If you want to learn more about creating and running display ads, visit the new Display Ads 101 tutorial. As we continue adding new templates and features to the tool, we’re want your feedback. Please let us know what would make the display ad builder better for you.
Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Inside AdWords crew

How do I actually use Analytics to optimize AdWords?

Google Analytics is full of insights that can benefit your AdWords account, and your business. To help you make the most of this information, we’ve started an introductory video series called“Google Analytics in 60 Seconds.” The first two videos explain two easy ways to refine your targeting. You can find them below and as part of the Google Analytics Conversion Universityplaylist.

Location, Location, Location
Now, you no longer are flying blind when you target your campaign by location in AdWords. Use the Map Overlay report and location data within Analytics to see, geographically, where your visitors are coming from – or where they aren’t coming from. You can then use this information to refine your AdWords marketing with location-targeted campaigns to build your business.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGBdMrwXxWo

Note: You can also use the recently launched Geographic Performance report within AdWords to see similar information, but it currently does not have a visual component nor includes some of the metrics available in Analytics, such as time on site and bounce rate.


Improve Your Placement Targeting
The Google content network is the largest contextual advertising network in the world, comprised of high-quality websites, news pages, and blogs that partner with Google to display targeted AdWords ads. And within AdWords, you can hand-pick which sites you’d like your ads to run on by creating aplacement-targeted campaign. But how do you know which sites to pick? If you knew which sites were already sending you high value traffic, why not run your ads on these sites? This video will show you how to use Google Analytics to identify the best sites by using the Referring Sites report.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdfgmqbEN5w

More to come!
There are a number of easy and effective ways to use Google Analytics with AdWords – whether you want to identify the best keywords, save money on bidding, expand your business or refine your campaigns – and we’ll post more of these videos soon!

Posted by Stephanie Hsu, Google Analytics Team

The case of the delayed data

Do you frequently log in to your account to check your stats? We’ve heard from some publishers that they check their accounts every hour, or even multiple times an hour, and we’re definitely happy to see your enthusiasm for the program! (For all of our blog veterans reading this post, you might recognize these as the symptoms of G.A.S.S..)

On that note, many publishers have asked us why they don’t see any changes in their stats each time they log in, or why they sometimes see a ‘No data available’ message in their reports. This is because your reports are generally updated every 15 to 30 minutes, but there can sometimes be a delay of up to 24 hours. In addition, it can take up to 24 hours to fully verify our internal logs and finalize your reports — as a result, you may sometimes see changes in your earnings during the course of the day. Please also keep in mind that your reports won’t show data for impressions onpublic service announcements (PSAs)

How often do you check your account? Let us know in our comments field below :) 

Posted by Arlene Lee – AdSense Publisher Support

Helping you break the language barrier

When webmasters put content out on the web it’s there for the world to see. Unfortunately, most content on the web is only published in a single language, understandable by only a fraction of the world’s population. 

In a continued effort to make the world’s information universally accessible, Google Translate has a number of tools for you to automatically translate your content into the languages of the world. 

Users may already be translating your webpage using Google Translate, but you can make it even easier by including our “Translate My Page” gadget, available athttp://translate.google.com/translate_tools

The gadget will be rendered in the user’s language, so if they come to your page and can’t understand anything else, they’ll be able to read the gadget, and translate your page into their language. 

Sometimes there may be some content on your page that you don’t want us to translate. You can now add class=notranslate to any HTML element to prevent that element from being translated. For example, you may want to do something like: 

Email us at <span class=”notranslate”>sales at mydomain dot com</span>

And if you have an entire page that should not be translated, you can add: 

<meta name=”google” value=”notranslate”>

to the <head> of your page and we won’t translate any of the content on that page. 

Lastly, if you want to do some fancier automatic translation integrated directly into your page, check out the AJAX Language API we launched last March. 

With these tools we hope you can more easily make your content available in all the languages we support, including ArabicBulgarianCatalanChineseCroatianCzechDanishDutchEnglish,FilipinoFinnishFrenchGermanGreekHebrewHindiIndonesianItalianJapaneseKorean,LatvianLithuanianNorwegianPolishPortugueseRomanianRussianSerbianSlovakSlovenian,SpanishSwedishUkrainian, and Vietnamese

Written by Josh Estelle, Google Translate

AdWords Conversion Optimizer Expands Eligibility

We’re excited to announce that the Conversion Optimizer is now available to many more campaigns. Any campaign using AdWords Conversion Tracking with at least 50 conversions in the last 30 days is now eligible to use the Conversion Optimizer. Additionally, thanks to improved technology, the Conversion Optimizer now delivers better performance overall.

 

 

The Conversion Optimizer uses your conversion tracking data to get you more conversions at a lower cost. It achieves this by optimizing your placement in each ad auction to avoid unprofitable clicks and get you as many profitable clicks as possible.

 

You might already follow a similar strategy by bidding higher for keywords that convert more often and lower for keywords that convert less often. But the Conversion Optimizer can adjust your ad’s placement based on many other factors, including the keyword’s broad match query, the user’s location, and the conversion rates of Google’s search and content partner sites.

 

These extra adjustments enable many advertisers to achieve double-digit percentage increases in conversions, while paying the same price or less for each conversion.

 

Check out the AdWords Conversion Optimizer page to get started or to learn more about the Conversion Optimizer.
Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew

Webmaster Tools API updated with Site Settings

The Webmaster Tools GData API has been updated to allow you to get even more out of Webmaster Tools, such as setting a geographic location or your preferred domain. For those of you that aren’t familiar with GData, it’s a protocol for reading and writing data on the web. GData makes it very easy to communicate with many Google services, like Webmaster Tools. The Webmaster Tools GData API already allows you to add and verify sites for your account and to submit Sitemaps programmatically. Now you can also access and update site-specific information. This is especially useful if you have a large number of sites. With the Webmaster Tools API, you can perform hundreds of operations in the time that it would take to add and verify a single site through the web interface.

What can I do?

We’ve included four new features in the API. You can see and update these settings for each site that you have verified. The features are:

  • Crawl Rate: You can request that Googlebot crawl your site slower or faster than it normally would (the details can be found in our Help Center article about crawl rate control). If many of your sites are hosted on the same server and you know your server’s capacity, you may want to update all sites at the same time. This now a trivial task using the Webmaster Tools GData API.
  • Geographic Location: If your site is targeted towards a particular geographic location but your domain doesn’t reflect that (for example with a .com domain), you can provide information to help us determine where your target users are located.
  • Preferred Domain: You can select which is the canonical domain to use to index your pages. For example, if you have a site like www.example.com, you can set either example.com or www.example.com as the preferred domain to use. This avoids the risk of treating both sites differently.
  • Enhanced Image Search: Tools like the Google Image Labeler allow users to tag images in order to improve Image Search results. Now you can opt in or out for all your sites in a breeze using the Webmaster Tools API.

 

How do I do it?

We provide you with Java code samples for all the current Webmaster Tools API functionality. Here’s a sample snippet of code that takes a list of sites and updates the geographic location of all of them:
  // Authenticate against the Webmaster Tools service
  WebmasterToolsService service;
  try {
    service = new WebmasterToolsService(“exampleCo-exampleApp-1″);
    service.setUserCredentials(USERNAMEPASSWORD);
  } catch (AuthenticationException e) {
    System.out.println(“Error while authenticating.”);
    return;
  }

  // Read sites and geolocations from your database
  readSitesAndGeolocations(sitesList, geolocationsList);

  // Update all sites
  Iterator sites = sitesList.iterator();
  Iterator
 geolocations = geolocationsList.iterator();
  while (sites.hasNext() && geolocations.hasNext()) {
    // Create a blank entry and add the updated information
    SitesEntry updateEntry = new SitesEntry();
    updateEntry.setGeolocation(geolocations.next());

    // Get the URL to update the site
    String encodedSiteId = URLEncoder.encode(sites.next(),
        “UTF-8″);
    URL siteUrl = new URL(
        “http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/feeds/sites/”
        + encodedSiteId);

    // Update the site
    service.update(siteUrl, updateEntry);
  }
Where do I get it?

The main page for the Webmaster Tools GData API explains all the details of the API. It has a detailed reference guide and also many code snippets that explain how to use the Java client library, which is available for download. You can find more details about GData and all the different Google APIs in the Google Data API homepage.
Written by Javier Tordable, Software Engineer

Replies On Mobile Site

 

Folks who use m.twitter.com to access Twitter on a mobile browser have long lamented the lack of replies. Today we’re happy to say that @replies can be accessed via the mobile site. There’s a link at the bottom of your timeline and here’s a hint: you can just hit the number 1 on your keypad while browsing Twitter on your mobile and you’ll go directly to the page

Search & Display – Research That Proves Multi-Format Campaigns Add Value

dvertising formats, rather than marketers concentrating on just one channel.

It’s certainly not a new idea – after all, as consumers we’re exposed to many different media every day and, more pertinently, when making decisions on what to buy; so it makes sense that the best advertising campaigns are those that present us with a relevant message at each stage of that decision-making process.

This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more on each campaign, but rather thinking carefully about which online elements – search, display, social media etc – to include.

What is relatively new is being able to prove the value of combining search and display in an online campaign, particularly in Europe (much of the existing research covering this area has been conducted in the US).

Here at Microsoft we’ve conducted 3 case studies in particular around campaigns in Europe, and the results are compelling. The campaigns are from the UK and France, one each from the finance, travel and technology sectors.

While the exact numbers differ between the campaigns, the results consistently show that the effect of the display advertising is magnified by supporting it with a complementary search campaign; likewise, the impact of the search advertising is greatly increased when consumers are ‘primed’ with a well-planned display schedule.

This increased impact is visible through the key measures of response (how many people visited the advertiser’s website), engagement (page views and time spent on-site), and perhaps most importantly, conversions.

In fact, the combination of search and display in an online schedule was up to 15 times more effective than the display or search elements in isolation.

Our most recent case study takes this analysis a step further, and shows that after seeing the display advertising, consumers are 50% more likely to search on a brand’s key branded keywords (those based on the brand name and any messages used in the display formats).

And, of course, once they’re searching on your brand’s keywords, consumers are one step closer to clicking through to your website..

n short, to get the most out of your search campaign, you should consider running a complementary display campaign to drive consumers to your search keywords. And every display campaign should have a well-executed search element to convert consumers’ interest to action!

If you would like more information about the research, the UK case studies are explained in more detail on the Microsoft Advertising site: click here for the travel study and here for the finance study.

The French case study is so new we haven’t been able to post it yet, but will be on the Microsoft Advertising site shortly!

If you have any questions or comments please visit the adCenter Forum.

by 

Behind the Scenes

These subtle changes are designed to lead to better Content Match performance

Sometimes a product launch is big, like our recent launch of APT from Yahoo!. And sometimes it’s understated, like the improved version of our contextual advertising product, Content Match, which we’re announcing this week. It’s not a new brand, and it looks virtually the same in the user interface. It just works better—at matching your ads with interested customers and helping you achieve better return on your ad dollars.

Better Matching for Higher Click-Through Rates
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.

Improved? Ask these Advertisers
Results matter for Bankrate.com, which provides financial services to consumers. A long-time customer of Yahoo! Search Marketing, Bankrate takes a very performance-driven approach to search engine marketing. The company tested Yahoo!’s improved Content Match services this past August and September, and experienced significantly increased conversions during that period. “Yahoo!’s Content Match Network refocus on quality and relevancy has improved the delivery of the right message to the right person at the right time,” says Rafael Zorrilla, Bankrate.com’s Director of Interactive Marketing.

Lulu.com, a marketplace for digital content from authors, artists and musicians, has used Yahoo! Search Marketing for more than four years to point users to its services, which include free web storefronts and social networking offerings. Lulu’s Director of Search Engine Marketing, Dan London, has used Content Match on and off for the past two years. Recently, he noticed significant improvements to the service, including appreciably lower costs of conversion.

“In the last couple of months, I noticed that targeting our users through contextual ads was improving and that we were seeing more clicks at lower costs,” he says. “Although we had spent time improving the keywords in our campaigns, we knew that there had to be something more to it. After learning that Yahoo! had made improvements to its matching technology, it’s clear that it’s been part of what has driven this overall effectiveness.”

Why Content Match?
Content Match can help you reach a wider range of traffic than you could previously reach with search alone, and can help raise your brand awareness. You can:

  • Tap into the customers who visit Yahoo! and its content network for activities beside search, such as email or news.
  • Gain impressions at a relatively low cost and grow your brand.
  • Complement your offline and search campaigns.

Content Match has been a great service for Lulu, according to London. “Yahoo!’s Content Match has allowed us the opportunity to reach potential customers who do not turn to search engines to find what they need,” he says.

What Do I Need to Do?
The new matching technology is already running, so all you need to do is start a Content Match campaign. Because Content Match isn’t necessarily meant to target users when they are actively searching for your business, it may convert at a different rate than Sponsored Search. Keep in mind these basic guidelines when you set up your campaign:

  • Create Content Match-only campaigns to manage bids and budgets separately from Sponsored Search.
  • See how much you can afford, and adjust your bids as you learn the value of this traffic for you. If you add a Content Match campaign, you may need to adjust your budget accordingly.
  • Write specific ads and select targeted keywords for those ads, so that the ads are more likely to appear in the type of content where you want them.

If you’ve been using Content Match, you may already be noticing a bump. If you’re not using it yet and it fits your business, it may be worth a try.

— Jeff Sweat

Stories by Googlers

I recently had the chance to interview several long-time Googlers about the early days. To commemorate our 10th birthday, we’ve been revisiting our memories by digging into company lore. As fun as it has been to look back, of course we’ve also got our sights firmly set on what lies ahead.

Vint Cerf has some predictions about the interplanetary Internet, while Kai-Fu Lee talks about the growing ubiquity of cloud computing. Also featured are stories from early Googlers, likeCraig Silverstein‘s memories of a certain famous garage, and Marissa Mayer‘s reflections on the spirit that has carried over from our formative years.

So take a few minutes to watch this blended tale of startup quirkiness and big dreams. And if you like, feel free to comment on YouTube.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9upG-Oxmqw

Posted by Joscelin Cooper, Google Blog Team

adCenter Ads on Facebook

Friday, October 10, 2008 by: Carolyn Miller – MSFT

Earlier this week, the Live Search Blog posted about a new deal with Facebook in the U.S.:

Now Facebook users in the U.S. have the option to “Search Facebook” or “Search the Web.” In addition, adCenter is delivering search ads alongside those results. For me that means getting great search results while receiving highly relevant ads that are personalized by either my Facebook profile or search query. Find out more about the Facebook team’s first implementation of Live Search in their blog.

Searching for Cheap Gas?

owadays it’s becoming a lot more rational. With gas prices up 71% compared to last year and no relief in sight, we thought a Yahoo! Search shortcut to help users find the cheapest gas in their area was in order.

Starting today, if you search for [gas prices + city name/zip code] or [cheap gas + city name/zip code], you’ll get a shortcut that gives you comprehensive information such as gas prices, locations and even maps without having to leave the search results page. And, if you don’t happen to include a city name or zip code, don’t fret. We’ll do our best to determine the stations closest to you.
Gas Price DD
Gas prices can vary drastically in any given city – take Chicago for example, with a low of $3.54 and a high of $4.33 per gallon – so, do a quick search before you head out on the road.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Yuko Kamae
Yahoo! Search

Moving Podcasts to Video & Retiring Digg Spy

In the next week or so, we’ll be closing down the podcasts section and folding it into the video section of Digg. We’ll also be retiring the old Digg Spy. Both of these features have become outmoded as Digg has grown and as a result they have a very small number of users (under 1,000) each. Podcasts will be rolled into the videos section – a better home for longer form videos. Digg Spy will be retired as we look to implement more exciting new Digg Labs projects in the future.

Recently I’ve been speaking at several design conferences about the necessity for iterative development. One of the key points I’ve been making is that subtraction is an oft-overlooked type of improvement. The retirement of these two features on the Digg site is an example of this principle in practice.

DIGG PODCASTS

The podcasts section experiment started almost two years ago. At the time, podcasts were relatively new and we saw them as a unique medium – different enough from audio or video to warrant a separate and custom-designed section of the site. That section was developed to differentiate between each ‘episode’ and the parent ‘show’, which could be ranked over a long period of time. Unfortunately, as we all learned, the podcasts section stagnated because the top shows dominated and there was little activity. This shortcoming is one reason that the podcasts section is used by less than a thousand people on a regular basis.

Over the past couple of years, we also saw a rise in the submission of episodic videos in the main sections of Digg under the ‘video’ media type. Television shows, individual podcast episodes, and clips from shows were frequently intermixed in the main Digg river. This type of natural activity, which can compared to the idea of desire paths, is a pretty strong indication that ‘videos’ is a better home for podcast-type material. By eliminating the awkward differentiation of podcasts, we’ll be greatly simplifying Digg from a user standpoint.

DIGG SPY

The original Digg Spy is being retired for different reasons. We built Digg Spy in the very early days of Digg, when the activity level was less frenetic than it is today and we could show a lot of the action through a live activity stream. It was great. You could discover new content and new people in a visual way that AJAX was just then letting us do.

As Digg grew, Digg Spy became less and less representative of the breadth of activity on the site. We began showing ever-smaller percentages of the activity on the site in order to keep the stream from becoming a blur. Thus, Digg Spy became less informative. When we added the Big Spy feature to the Digg Labs, a better and more entertaining version, the value and distinction of the original Spy became even less clear. We therefore elected to remove it as a feature that’s outlived its purpose. Digg Spy is dead, long live Big Spy.

One issue I suspect may be brought up is that Digg Spy is one place on the site that surfaces some burying activity. People have tried using Digg Spy to track burying activity and I won’t be surprised if conspiracy theorists accuse us of burying (pun intended) the feature to hide this. In fact, only a very small subset of buries on the site actually appeared on Digg Spy due to the small window of activity that was actually visible through the feature and any ‘patterns’ that people perceived by watching the buries have always been grossly inaccurate.

SUMMING UP

Occasionally pruning is the prudent thing to do – in these two cases, I’m confident that it’s the right course of action for the longer term vision of Digg. Thanks so much if you’re one of the people who regularly visited the podcasts section or if you enjoyed watching the Digg Spy stream past – we really appreciate your participation.

Cheers, Daniel

Have Some Email with Your Search

3 ways to use email and search together to reach your customers

You should know this from your own Web usage, but a study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project says that the most popular Web activity for Americans is email, followed closely by searching. The two lessons you should take from these findings are:

1. It makes sense to do email marketing, and
2. It makes sense to do search marketing.

After all, both online channels are perfect ways to meet customers in their natural online habitats.

But there’s a way to make your search and your email work even better. How? Use them together. Here are three suggestions as to how to do it.

1. Use Search to Make Your Email Smarter
To get a strong response to your email blasts, you need to use just the right words and just the right message. This will make your customers want to read your email and respond to it. A good place to start looking for the right kind of language is in your Sponsored Search campaigns:

• Use your best-performing search keywords within your email subject line and body copy.
• Use your best-performing search creatives as the core of your email subject lines.
• Use your best-converting search landing pages as the model for your email body and your email landing pages.

Think about it: If certain words, messages and concepts drive searchers to convert via search, then those same words, messages and concepts should resonate with similarly minded shoppers within email. So it follows that if you want to learn how to sell to your email customers, you should ask your search customers.

2. Use Email to Make Your Search Work Better
People who have signed up to your email lists are, without a doubt, great examples of who your target customers are. After all, they’ve explicitly asked you to keep in touch with them. So if you understand your email subscribers’ online behaviors, you can read the mind of your target market.

Think about the types of wording, messages, email body and landing pages those target customers respond to best, and you can get clues as to what types of keywords, ad copy and landing pages will best capture the attention (and conversions) of people like them as they use search.

And, of course, look at the keywords, ad copy and landing pages that drove those email sign-ups to begin with: They’ve clearly worked!

3. Bringing it Together
For this last point, allow me to provide a simple example:

Consider a shopper who’s bought a specific brand of pants (let’s say, Acme Pants). She’s very happy with that brand, and the next time she wants to buy a new pair of pants, she searches for “Acme Pants,” clicks on a Sponsored Search ad, and buys the item.

That’s a Sponsored Search click that’s led to a sale—and so, arguably, that’s search spend well spent.

But here’s an even better scenario: The same shopper signs up to an Acme Pants email list. The next time she needs a pair of pants, she doesn’t search at all—and so she doesn’t create any search click costs for Acme. Instead, she arrives at the Acme Pants site via the Acme email, and buys a new pair of pants directly from the manufacturer.

The moral of this tale? Use Sponsored Search to acquire new customers. Then once you have those customers in your database, help them bypass the search engines by putting them on your email lists. Offer a clear “email signup” link throughout your site, and suggest that shoppers sign up to your email list as part of the checkout process.

You can invest the money you’ll save into getting even more customers via Sponsored Search.

Looking for more ideas on combining email with search? I’d suggest searching for them—and then emailing a friend about what you find.

— Abe Mezrich, Communications Manager, Didit

Good times with inbound links

Inbound links are links from pages on external sites linking back to your site. Inbound links can bring new users to your site, and when the links are merit-based and freely-volunteered as an editorial choice, they’re also one of the positive signals to Google about your site’s importance. Other signals include things like our analysis of your site’s content, its relevance to a geographic location, etc. As many of you know, relevant, quality inbound links can affect your PageRank (one of many factors in our ranking algorithm). And quality links often come naturally to sites with compelling content or offering a unique service.

How do these signals factor into ranking?

Let’s say I have a site, example.com, that offers users a variety of unique website templates and design tips. One of the strongest ranking factors is my site’s content. Additionally, perhaps my site is also linked from three sources — however, one inbound link is from a spammy site. As far as Google is concerned, we want only the two quality inbound links to contribute to the PageRank signal in our ranking.

(more…)

Retailer tips and tools for maximizing holiday sales

Many of our retail advertisers are busy preparing their stores for the busiest shopping season of the year, so we’ve compiled some tips and tools that can help you optimize your ad campaigns, marketing channels, and website.

Here’s an example tip you’ll find: specifically mentioning any special holiday promotions you are running in your ad text drives additional interest from consumers. Clear and compelling ads with season-specific text is a good way to generate more clicks.

As for tools, Google has several offerings that retailers can use to help drive additional traffic and sales this holiday season such as Google Product Search, which allows shoppers to search for and find things they want to buy online. You can use Product Search to promote your goods and drive holiday traffic to your store for free.

With the holidays just around the corner, now is a good time to make sure that your site is in the best shape for maximizing your traffic and revenue. Please visit the Holiday tips page for more information, and remember – it’s never too early to start preparing for the season.

Update: Corrected tips page link. As a reminder, Google Checkout is currently available only to merchants in the US and UK, and Google Product Search is currently available only to merchants in the US, UK, and Germany.

Getting around your neighborhood with Google Maps

When I moved to the Bay Area last year, everything was new to me. I didn’t know Los Altos from Los Gatos, good eateries in my neighborhood, or how to get to where I wanted to go. Whether you’re moving to a new area, traveling to a new place, or simply exploring a new part of town, this may sound familiar to a lot of people.

There’s a simple solution: turn to Google Maps to find local information. We’ve gathered a lot of useful info about local businesses so you can find everything you need in one place. You can find neighborhoods and see if they’re close to downtown, parks or other places of interest. If you’re moving into a new home, you can look for nearby supermarkets, hardware stores, restaurants and other places that will help you settle in. Almost every business listing includes the phone number, website, store hours, price and more. Most also have user reviews and photos.

And it turns out I wasn’t the only one who turned to Google Maps to learn more about my town. Watch this video to see how Google Maps helped Ryan, a fellow newcomer to the Bay Area

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg-Inf3xvio

Even if you know your hometown like the back of your hand, odds are you’ll want to go somewhere new at some point. Not only can you find out the address of a specific location and get directions to it before even heading out the door, but you can virtually explore the neighborhood with Street View (available in many cities in the U.S., Japan, and Australia), or check out live traffic conditions. You can also use the “Send” feature of Google Maps to text the address to your phone or email directions to friends.

Watch this video to see all the things you can do:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOTO1eia7DY

And don’t forget, with Google Maps for mobile, you can access all of this great information on the go.

Posted by Cathy Tang, Google Maps and Earth

Search and the Art of Fly Fishing: Optimizing for Your Customers’ Buying Cycle

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 by: Charles Thrasher 0 Comments

Search engine advertising is about moving your customer from search page to landing page. It’s about selling the click but selling it to the right person, the person likely to buy your product, service, subscription, or information. It’s about the customer, a fact that some advertisers seem to overlook.

I’m a fan of fly fishing; I’m just not any good at it. I once took a class and was unable to catch anything in a pond stocked with hungry trout! Still, I appreciate the artistry required, the intimate familiarity with the trout’s lifecycle and environment. Trout rise to different insects as they hatch at different times of the year, even different hours of the day. A fly offered at the wrong time or with the wrong presentation is likely to be ignored. There’s a lot of similarity between fly fishing and search engine advertising.

Present me with an ad that doesn’t acknowledge 
where I’m at in my buying cycle and 
I’m likely to ignore it. I’m a trout!

Your customers have a buying cycle. It begins with recognition of a need. It may be a vague, undefined need but it’s a need. Take my experience on Cougar Mountain.

Cougar Mountain has been described as Seattle’s backyard wilderness; 3,000 acres of wetlands, meadows and forest on a very old mountain. After walking a trail on Cougar Mountain, my ankles ache and I realize that my Converse tennis shoes, although fashionably retro, are probably not the best footwear for a mountain. I need something better.

Researching a solution to my need is the next step in the cycle. It’s likely an iterative step as I become more informed about alternatives. Maybe I begin searching on general keywords like “hiking boots,” then recognize what I really want are “hiking shoes,” and finally “light weight hiking shoes” as I define the features important to me. I begin comparing specific brands of hiking shoes. And finally, I begin shopping prices for specific models. Each iterative step has its own set of keywords different than the one before. Each step requires different ad copy to remain relevant.

Early in my buying cycle, an ad that prominently features “Hiking Boot Reviews” would likely appeal to my ignorance. I don’t yet know what I don’t know. When I realize there is something called a hiking shoe, an ad that includes “Hiking Shoes” and “Buyer’s Guide” might attract my attention. Once I’ve determined my short list of hiking shoes, then an ad that includes brand, model and a special offer might get me to rise to the fly. Present me with an ad that doesn’t acknowledge where I’m at in my buying cycle and I’m likely to ignore it. I’m a trout!

Your Customer As Organizing Principle

It’s common practice in search advertising to create large ad groups of loosely related keywords, write a few static ads, and finish with an ad that dynamically inserts the keyword phrase into the title or body copy. It’s easy. When your campaigns include thousands or hundreds of thousands or even millions of keywords, easy becomes very attractive. It’s the equivalent of fishing with dynamite.

“…speak to the dog, 
in the language of the dog, 
about what’s in the heart of the dog.” 
Persuasive Online Copywriting 
Bryan, Jeffrey Eisenberg

Dynamic keyword insertion increases click through rate, no question. The searcher sees their keywords reflected in the ad and perceives greater relevance. Searching is a goal-oriented activity driven by relevance. So dynamic keyword insertion increases click through but compared to what? Loosely organized ad groups with irrelevant ad copy? Not surprising.

Instead, organize your campaigns into smaller ad groups of closely related keywords focused upon your customers’ progression through the buying cycle. Pitch your ad copy to the questions and concerns of your customers as they move from acknowledgement of a need through fulfillment of that need. Quoting Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg’sPersuasive Online Copywriting, “…speak to the dog, in the language of the dog, about what’s in the heart of the dog.” (Somehow, paraphrasing with “speak to the fish, in the language of the fish” doesn’t seem as impactful.)

And yes, it’s more work than fishing with dynamite. It requires finesse, timing, a deep understanding of your customers, and probably far fewer keywords. Think there’s no cost to those millions of long tail keywords if no one clicks them? Think again.

Linking out: Often it’s just applying common sense

Creating outbound links on your site, or “linking out”, is our topic for Day 3 of Links Week. Linking out happens naturally, and for most webmasters, it’s not something you have to worry about. Nonetheless, in case you’re interested about an otherwise simple topic that’s fundamental to the web, here’s the good, the bad, and answers to more advanced questions asked by our fellow webmasters. First, let’s start with the good…

Relevant outbound links can help your visitors.

  • Provide your readers in-depth information about similar topics
  • Offer readers your unique commentary on existing resources

Thoughtful outbound links can help your credibility.

  • Show that you’ve done your research and have expertise in the subject manner
  • Make visitors want to come back for more analysis on future topics
  • Build relationships with other domain experts (e.g. sending visitors can get you on the radar of other successful bloggers and begin a business relationship)

When it comes to the less-than-ideal practices of linking out, there shouldn’t be too many surprises, but we’ll go on record to avoid any confusion…

The bad: Unmonitored (especially user-generated) links and undisclosed paid advertising outbound links can reduce your site’s credibility.

  • Including too many links on one page confuses visitors (we usually encourage webmasters to not have much more than 100 links per page)
  • Hurts your credibility—turns off savvy visitors and reduces your authority with search engines. If you accept payment for outbound links, it’s best to rel=”nofollow” them or otherwise ensure that they don’t pass PageRank for search engines. (As a user, I prefer to see disclosure to maintain my loyalty as well.)
  • Allows comment spam, which provides little benefit for users. Also, from a search engine perspective, comment spam can connect your site with bad neighborhoods instead of legitimate resources. Webmasters often add the nofollow attribute (<rel=”nofollow”>) to links that are user generated, such as spammable blog comments, unless the comments are responsibly reviewed and thus vouched for.

    See Jason Morrison’s recent blog post about keeping comment spam off your site to prevent spam in the first place.

Answers to advanced questions about outbound links

When linking out, am I sending visitors away forever?!

Hmmm… visitors may initially leave your site to check out relevant information. But can you recall your behavior on sites that link to good articles outside their domain? Personally, I always come back to sites I feel provide commentary and additional resources. Sometimes I stay on the original site and just open up the interesting link in a different tab. It’s likely that with relevant outbound links you’ll gain repeat visitors, and you won’t lose them forever.

Yesterday’s post mentioned that descriptive anchor text is helpful in internal links. Is it still important for outbound links?

Descriptive anchor text (the visible text in a hyperlink) helps accurately inter-connect the web. It allows both users and Googlebot to better understand what they’re likely to find when following a link to another page. So if it’s not too much trouble, try making anchor text descriptive.

Should I worry about the sites I choose to link to? What if their PageRank may be lower than mine?

If you’re linking to content you believe your users will enjoy, then please don’t worry about the site’s perceived PageRank. As a webmaster, the things to be wary of regarding outbound links are listed above, such as losing credibility by linking to spammy sites. Otherwise, consider outbound links as a common sense way to provide more value to your users, not a complicated formula.

AdWords Editor 6.5 for Windows and Mac

On Tuesday, we released version 6.5 of AdWords Editor. This release 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. You can learn more about these and other new features in the release notes.
If you’re already using AdWords Editor, you’ll be prompted to upgrade automatically. This update won’t require you to re-download your account, and it won’t affect your comments and unposted changes. When prompted simply choose the ‘Update without Backup’ option. Then, after you upgrade, your account will already be in the new version of AdWords Editor.
If you’re not already using AdWords Editor, you can visit our website and click ‘Download AdWords Editor.’ To learn more about the benefits of using AdWords Editor to manage your ad campaigns offline, please refer to these frequently asked questions. Also, comprehensive instructions and tips are available in our Help Center.

Google on Android: Maps

On September 23, T-Mobile announced the world’s first Android-powered phone, the G1. The phone comes preloaded with Search, Maps, Gmail with Contacts, Calendar, Google Talk, and YouTube. The applications are easy to use, fully synchronized with the web, and work together in new and innovative ways, as explained in our first post in the blog series: ‘Google on Android’. Over the next couple of weeks, we will put the spotlight on each one of the Google applications for Android. Today: Maps. — Marc Vanlerberghe, Product Marketing Director.

When we designed Google Maps for the T-Mobile G1, we set out to create a great mapping application that took full advantage of the G1’s hardware, like the touch screen, accelerometer, and GPS, as well as the deep system integration made possible by the Android platform.

One of my favorite things to do with Google Maps on Android is to explore new and favorite places. You can pan around and zoom in and out easily using just your thumb on the touchscreen — a big plus for all those times when that other hand is unavailable. And if I want to see a restaurant or building up close, I can switch to Street View and view a panorama from street level. I can even turn on Compass mode to let me look around the panorama by moving my phone up, down, and to the side. It’s like popping up a virtual periscope anywhere you want to check out what’s there with your own eyes. Check out the video below for a quick demo. Note that Street View on Android is only available in the US at this time.

When I’m in a new city or just a new part of town, I like to turn on My Location. It can use GPS or just the nearest cell tower to tell me where I am and re-center my position in the middle of my screen when I approach the edge. When I’m walking or in a taxi in a dense city, like New York, I zoom in to street level and turn on GPS for the highest accuracy.

And as I wander the city, I can search for nearby businesses (like restaurants), and use Android’s integrated Map features to save search results to my contacts. For instance, if I find a restaurant that I like, I can save it to my contacts and then later on call it or Map it with one touch. In the future, when I do another search with Maps, I might even see this contact again as a suggested search result along side past queries.

Maps is also integrated with email, IM, and the web on Android. For instance, street addresses that appear as plain text in these apps become touchable zones that you can click on to take you straight to Maps. Something similar happens when a Google Maps link is pasted into an email, IM or placed on a web page. When I touch it, I can choose whether to view the map in the browser, in Google Maps, or in any other application that’s built to handle what’s known to Android developers as an “intent.” Or, I can make the choice once and save it as my default map-viewing application (Google Maps, in my case).

Perhaps best of all is that most of the resources, flexibility, and functionality in Google Maps are available to any application written for Android. Cab4me and Locale are both Android Developer Challenge winners that used the Android platform to build compelling applications with maps and location at their core. Any developer can use Android’s MapView and location APIs to build location-aware mobile applications like these. While the team is proud of Google Maps on Android and other cool applications we’ve seen to date, we’re equally excited to see what new kinds of maps and location-enabled applications developers create in the coming months.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YFw9p0TjT8

Like What You See? Then Click-to-Buy on YouTube

When you view a YouTube video with a great soundtrack, you often see comments from YouTube users asking about the name of the song and where they can download it. Or when users watch the trailer for an upcoming video game, they want to know when it will be released and where they can buy it. 

Today, we’re taking our first steps to providing YouTube users with this kind of instant gratification, by adding “click-to-buy” links to the watch pages of thousands of YouTube partner videos. Click-to-buy links are non-obtrusive retail links, placed on the watch page beneath the video with the other community features. Just as YouTube users can share, favorite, comment on, and respond to videos quickly and easily, now users can click-to-buy products — like songs, books, and movies — related to the content they’re watching on the site. We’re getting started by embedding iTunes and Amazon.com links on videos from companies like EMI Music, and providing Amazon.com product links to the newly released video game Spore(TM) on videos from Electronic Arts

This is just the beginning of building a broad, viable eCommerce platform for users and partners on YouTube. Our vision is to help partners across all industries — from music, to film, to print, to TV — offer useful and relevant products to a large, yet targeted audience, and generate additional revenue from their content on YouTube beyond the advertising we serve against their videos. And those partners who use our content identification and management system can also enable these links on user-generated content, by using Content ID to claim videos and choose to leave them up on the site. 

These retail links are being gradually added to our library of music videos and are currently only available to users in the United States, but our goal is to slowly but surely expand the program to additional content and product partners, as well as our international users. We’ll be experimenting with the UI over time to make sure this works for our community, and we’ll continue to innovate based on your feedback. We’re just getting started, so stay tuned for other innovative new features and product options soon. 

Have fun,
The YouTube Team

Get in the game with AdSense for Games

Do you develop or publish web-based games? If so, you’re contributing to a growing trend – according to comScore, over 25% of Internet users play online games every week, which is over 200 million users worldwide. As a beta user of AdSense for Games, you can display video ads, image ads, or text ads within your online games to earn revenue. You’ll be able to show these ads in placements you define, such as interstitial frames before a game, after a level change, or when a game is over. Members of our AdWords team will sell your in-game ad placements directly to top brand advertisers, and you’ll also see contextually targeted text and image ads based on content and demographic information. In addition, you’ll be able to control the ads you see on your pages using our filtering options.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71UyCTS1uGE

Here’s a quick video to give you a better idea of what games are part of our network and how advertisers can use this medium to reach their target audience:

And here’s another, less flashy video, to show actual game play and how an ad could appear within the game:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPAslXR6xCc

We’ve built ad technology for games played within a user’s browser, and now we’re looking to expand our publisher network. At this time, eligible publishers must have a minimum of 500,000 game plays per day and have 80% of their traffic from the U.S. or the U.K. If you’re interested in becoming a AdSense for games beta publisher, feel free to review our complete list of requirements and submit an application. You can also find more information on our games site.

Updated post with game play requirements

UK Search Spend Up 28% – How Does This Affect You?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008 by: Mel Carson – MSFT 0 Comments

The IAB has announced today that UK internet advertising spend in the first half of 2008 grew by 21% compared with the same period the year before.image

Online advertising now has a healthy 19% share of the UK’s total advertising budget with marketers allocating £1.7B of their budgets to online channels.

PPC lead the way as advertisers showed a great deal of confidence in the medium:

“Paid-for search continues to lead the way, growing by 28% year-on-year and was worth £981 million in the first half of 2008, with its market share marginally up to 58.3% of total online advertising (57.8% in first half of 2007). Search has become a staple on the media schedule and is increasingly integrated into traditional and online advertising campaigns.”

In these lean economic times this is great news for advertisers as it proves search engine marketing is still providing cost-effective ways to connect with consumers as shoppers turn to search engines for great deals on a raft of products and services.

The IMRG here in the UK published some research last month about consumers attitudes during the run up to Christmas:

“Highlighting the current economic slowdown as the key influencing factor, 68% of shoppers said that they are more likely to shop online for Christmas presents this year, with 77% of shoppers planning to carry out about half or more of their Christmas shopping online (in 2007 it was 56%). This is influenced by the belief in the competitive prices available online, with 79% of respondents satisfied with the competitive pricing available from e-retailers.”

So what does that mean for you?

Well the growth of digital drivers such as increased broadband adoption, social networking and the credit crunch means search ad marketers are well placed to capitalise on consumers spending increasing amounts of time and money online over the next few months.

Some tips specific to adCenter and paid search:

– Make sure that you are using Exact Match in your campaign. This way you can insure that you are both targeting customers that are interested in your exact product as well as increasing your potential for a higher CTR

– Use targeted ad copy that includes your unique offerings, discounts, price points, branding and calls-to-action to distinguish your ad from competitors as well as qualify your traffic before you receive a click

– Make sure that your account is receiving the maximum about of traffic; our support teams can help provide you with a targeted and bespoke list of keywords tailored to your account

– Demographic/Geographic targeting and Day Parting can be used, in association with your reporting and conversion data to help maximise the potential of your impressions and clicks

 

We’ve posted some advice on a number occasions over the last few weeks:

The Magic of Brand and Generic Keywords

Understanding How Match Types Affect Your PPC Campaigns in adCenter

Dynamic Text Insertion – Introducing adCenter’s Superhero

Tips on Preparing Your SEM Campaigns for the Online Holiday Shopping Season

adCenter Keyword Expansion PPC Best Practices Checklist

How to Seduce the Cash-Strapped Shopper

Top 5 Tips for Winning in Retail Over and Beyond the Festive Period

Check them out and feel free to ask us & fellow advertisers for some additional insight in the adCenter Forum

Cheers

Mel

The Magic of Brand and Generic Keywords

Monday, October 06, 2008 by: Libby Thomas – MSFT 1 Comments

As a pay-per-click wizard, you’re probably aware that the perfect paid search account should contain a magical combination of both generic and branded terms. Omitting either of those could leave your campaign seriously lacking in sparkle and wonder. Not to mention conversions.

Enchanting Evidence

Just in case you’re not convinced; let me try to charm you with some interesting evidence. A recent study by Atlas – Engagement Mapping – Atlas 2008 Thought Paper – monitored searchers’ behaviour towards brand and non-brand terms.

First Clicks

It discovered that 29% of the very first clicks on sponsored links came from generic terms (e.g. ‘halloween outfits’) whereas only 22.7% came from brand terms (e.g. ‘libby’s fancy dress’). This indicates that the slight majority of first searches are from window-shoppers – clickers having a browse around the search pages for ideas and suggestions.

It’s crucial to have a good selection of generic terms in your account to capture this audience and remind them of, or introduce them to, your brand.

Repeat Clicks

In addition, the study found that repeated clicks on the ads generated by the very same search terms were more likely to come from brand terms – 36.9% of repeat clicks on sponsored links came from brand terms (e.g. ‘libby’s cauldrons’) compared to only 11.4% from generic terms (e.g. ‘cheap cauldrons’). This indicates that after a bit of searching around, clickers are more likely to return to make their purchase by using a brand term. For this reason, it’s crucial that you’re bidding on your brand name and all its variants.

Conversion Rates

Another study by 360i/SearchIgnite – Giving Clicks Credit Where They’re Due: What You Need to Know When Allocating Your Search Budget – 360i/SearchIgnite 2006 Whitepaper - confirms this and adds, “the highest conversion rate (9.30%) came from when the user’s first click and last click on a marketer’s paid search ads were both brand terms. Yet, when the first click is on a non-brand term and the last click is on a brand term, the conversion rate is almost as high (8.73%).”

So, although a searcher is more likely to click at any point in the search process if they’re continually searching for your brand, they’re also very likely to click if they discover your brand after initially typing in a generic term. Capitalise on this (and stop your competitors from stealing your loyal fans) by ensuring your ads and brand are present for all of the relevant generic terms.

To conclude, these studies prove that it’s crucial to have a wide variety of strong, relevant generic and brand terms in your account live at all times.

Thanks a lot and please come back soon for more magical insights,

Libby

It’s Here! The New Ask.com!

Homepage

After months of hard work, late nights and truckloads of energy drinks, we launched the new Ask.com today and we’re really excited about it. This launch continues our leadership in search innovation by delivering on our users’ core needs of relevance, streamlined user experience, and fast page loads.

Our goal is to deliver the best answer to you, the first time, every time. We know that is a difficult goal and no search engine can always deliver with that precision 100% of the time, but we think we’re getting closer and closer to the ‘bullseye’. We also believe you will agree once you’ve tried out our new version.

Presenting direct answers to your searches, front and center, has always been at the heart of the Ask.com experience, and we push further down that path today with the introduction of three new answer technologies:  DADS, DAFS, and AnswerFarm. These technologies take both structured and unstructured data, and – instead of delivering a title and description for each document – they deliver answers.  Here’s an example.

Let’s say you just got a new pet snake and you were wondering how often it will shed its skin.  Here is how other search engines would present a result to your search “how often do snakes shed their skin?”:

Snake_other_2

Not too informative — and how can you be sure the page really answers your question? Well, here is how the new Ask.com will present this result to you:

Snake_ask_3

There you go — your answer, front and center.

We have answers for all kinds of searches. Want to know what a good credit score is?  Try it out: What is a good credit score?

Credit_score_serp_6

Or maybe you need to learn a new bike trick: How do you do a wheelie?

Wheelie_serp_3

Or you need to find out what it will cost you to send all those Miley Cyrus fan letters you’ve written: Postage stamp price

Postage_stamp_serp_3

I could go on and on, but instead of reading more – how about just giving the new Ask a test drive? We’ll post more about all the new and exciting additions to Ask.com over the next week.

Thanks for giving us a try.

Google Analytics Seminars for Success is coming to a city near you

Take your pick from New York, Phoenix, Columbus, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas and San Jose! These are full day seminars chock full of information on “how it works” and “how to make it work” for your website. This course is ideal for marketers, web designers, web analysts and anyone who wants to improve their business online.

Analytics Seminars for Success are brought to you by Google authorized Seminar Leaders. These guys eat, live & breath Google Analytics! Hundreds of satisfied people have attended so far. You can attend the Intro day or theAdvanced day… or both!

Course materials will be provided to all that attend and you even get a $50 AdWords credit for each session.

So, if you want to improve how you are using Google Analytics, come to one of the upcoming trainings:

  • New York City – Oct 9, 10 – Register
  • Phoenix, Arizona – Oct 13, 14 – Register
  • Columbus, Ohio – Oct 22, 23 – Register
  • Los Angeles, CA – Nov 5, 6 – Register
  • Seattle, WA – Dec 8, 9 – Register
  • Las Vegas, NV – Jan 21, 22 – Register
  • San Jose, CA – Feb 9, 10 – Register

Learn more about the topics covered and a full calendar of our sessions at the Analytics and AdWords Seminars for Success page.

Links information straight from the source

We hope that you’re able to focus on helping users (and improving the web) by creating great content or providing a great service on your site. In between creating content and working on your site, you may have read some of the (often conflicting) link discussions circling the web. If you’re asking, “What’s going on — what do I need to know about links?” then welcome to the first day of links week!

Day 2: Internal links (links within your site)

Internal linking is your homepage linking to your “Contact us” page, or your “Contact us” page linking to your “About me” page. Internal linking (also known as link architecture) is important because it’s a major factor in how easily visitors can navigate your site. Additionally, internal linking contributes to your site’s “crawlability” — how easily a spider can reach your pages. More in Day 2 of links week.

(more…)

Importance of link architecture

In Day 2 of links week, we’d like to discuss the importance of link architecture and answer more advanced questions on the topic. Link architecture—the method of internal linking on your site—is a crucial step in site design if you want your site indexed by search engines. It plays a critical role in Googlebot’s ability to find your site’s pages and ensures that your visitors can navigate and enjoy your site.

Keep important pages within several clicks from the homepage

Although you may believe that users prefer a search box on your site rather than category navigation, it’s uncommon for search engine crawlers to type into search boxes or navigate via pulldown menus. So make sure your important pages are clickable from the homepage and for easy for Googlebot to find throughout your site. It’s best to create a link architecture that’s intuitive for users and crawlable for search engines. Here are more ideas to get started:

(more…)

Sneak peek into the adCenter Fall Upgrade

Friday, October 03, 2008 by: Carolyn Miller – MSFT 0 Comments

The holiday season is almost here, and soon we’ll be releasing the adCenter Fall Upgrade with new features that you’ve been asking for.

We’ve been listening to your feedback, requests, and great ideas for new features in adCenter, and throughout this year we’ve made significant progress in several key areas. For example, we’ve expanded your billing and payment options, simplified your campaign management experience, improved the way you create and analyze reports, and updated your keyword research capabilities.

All of these improvements have been made with you in mind, and now, with the Fall Upgrade, we are happy to give you more. Here’s a sneak peek into some of the improvements we are making this fall to…

  • Give you more control and flexibility to manage the delivery of your ads and keywords
  • Provide you with clearer, more accessible editorial information to help improve your productivity
  • Help you boost the performance of your Content Ads (note: U.S. customers only)


Coming soon!
 More details about the rest of the features in the adCenter Fall Upgrade, and when they will be available!

We are continually developing new adCenter technologies and solutions. If you are interested in learning more about our beta product releases and pilot programs, please fill out and submit this interest form.

And remember, you can provide your adCenter feedback and feature ideas to us by participating in our Feedback Forum.

Maximizing revenue by exposing your channels to the right advertisers

As you may know, you can set up your custom channels so that they’re targetable by advertisers – these targetable custom channels are known as ad placements. By selecting the ‘Allow advertisers to target this channel’ checkbox on the channel creation page, you can enable brand advertisers to target their content to your audience directly on a CPM or CPC basis.

Creating ad placements allows them to show up in AdWords, so that advertisers who create placement-targeted campaigns can include your content directly. What many publishers don’t know is that this also makes your content available to Google’s internal sales teams, who work closely with many advertisers looking to target a certain audience or type of content. With this in mind, we thought it would be important to mention a few best practices which will help advertisers and our internal sales teams target your content to help you maximize revenue:

First, take time to make sure your channel names and descriptions accurately describe your content and audience. By including descriptions that closely reflect your content, you’ll also attract advertisers from those areas. Naming and descriptions are important.


On that note, our second tip: be very careful about changing the name of an ad placement. If an advertiser has already targeted one of your specific channels, the channel will become unavailable to the advertiser once you change its name. If you wish to rename a channel, we recommend creating a second channel with the new name, and then attaching both channels to your ad unit. Remember, you can attach up to five custom channels to an ad unit.

Third, use the 300×250 medium rectangle, opted in to both text and image ads. This is one type of targetable ad unit that’s in high demand by Google’s CPM advertisers. We recommend placing these units in line with your content, and describing them as they relate to the content. This combination of format and placement enables advertisers to use image, text, or rich media (including gadget ads) effectively. In feeds, we recommend opting in to both image and text in all ad units, as many of these advertisers only target with image ads into feeds.

Finally, as always, the most important tip for maximizing revenue from your ad placements is to create quality content that is visually appealing and attracts a quality audience. Many brand advertisers look at all placements before placing an advertising order to make sure the destination sites are in line with their brand and attract the type of audience they wish to target for a particular campaign.

Track the Election With the AOL Elections Toolbar


Election season is in full swing with debates, polls, speeches and, of course, mudslinging. We know you don’t want to miss a minute of the campaign action, so stay in the know with the AOL Elections Toolbar.

Now you can take all the latest breaking election news with you wherever you travel on the web. The Elections Toolbar has a live ticker that scrolls through today’s important headlines. It stays right at the top of your browser, which means you don’t have to go searching anywhere else for news.

Both Internet Explorer and Firefox users can download the toolbar and customize it with widgets, feeds and buttons to their favorite sites. The toolbar also features direct access to information about both presidential candidates. Wondering what John McCain said last night on the campaign trail or what the latest action is at theDemocratic Party camp? On the Elections Toolbar, those answers are just a click of the button away .

Also, let your voice be heard with links to daily straw polls. Its the best place to practice your vote before the presidential election this November.

Download the Elections Toolbar now and then let us know what you think!

Browse what the world is saying on Blog Search

Did you know that millions of bloggers around the world write new posts each week? If you’re like me, you probably read only a tiny fraction of these in Google Reader. What’s everybody else writing about? Our Blog Search team thought this was an interesting enough question to look into. What we found was a massive mix: entertaining items about celebrities, personal perspectives on political figures, cutting-edge (and sometimes unverified) news stories, and a range of niche topics often ignored by the mainstream media.

Today, we’re pleased to launch a new homepage for Google Blog Search so that you too can browse and discover the most interesting stories in the blogosphere. Adapting some of the technology pioneered by Google News, we’re now showing categories on the left side of the website and organizing the blog posts within those categories into clusters, which are groupings of posts about the same story or event. Grouping them in clusters lets you see the best posts on a story or get a variety of perspectives. When you look within a cluster, you’ll find a collection of the most interesting and recent posts on the topic, along with a timeline graph that shows you how the story is gaining momentum in the blogosphere.

In this example, the green “64 blogs” link takes you inside the cluster and shows you all the blog posts for a story.


We’ve had a great time building the new homepage and we hope you enjoy using it. Please give it a try and let us know if you have comments or suggestions. We’re launching in English only today, but plan to add new features and support for more languages in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Trending: “iDon’t Think So”

This morning’s tour of Twitter trends.

  • Apple has captured the top trend today as people react to the company’s bold threat to close the world’s biggest music store if American music publishers raise royalties 66%.
  • NDA and iPhone are also trending because Apple has announced it will no longer require app developers to keep their projects under wraps.
  • Halloween is trending this morning as lots of folks note that October has arrived and Twitter excitedly—about a month, of all things.
  • Phish has reunited and it’s generating a mix of twitter updates ranging from “who cares” to “break out the hacky sack.”
  • #mimasum08 is happening right now and people are twittering about Ze Frank’s presentation at the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association Summit.
  • FOWA Miami has made it to the trends even though the event hasn’t even happened yet—folks are just excited about going.

Sarah PalinSenate, and #bailout continue to trend.

Straight From the Source

New site gives you information on the Yahoo!-Google deal

It’s a pretty good guess you’ve heard opinions on the Yahoo!-Google marketing agreement from just about everybody: your coworkers, your competitors, your daily blog, and — who knows? — maybe even your taxi driver. Which is why we thought we could help you sift through the clutter to the facts.

This week we launched the Yahoo! Search Agreement site, which will help you find out what you need to know about the commercial arrangement announced by Yahoo! and Google in June. We hope the information archived on this site will help visitors understand why the agreement with Google will make Yahoo! a stronger competitor in online advertising and will benefit advertisers, publishers and end users.

Among the items you’ll find there is a blog post from our President, Sue Decker, that busts some myths about the agreement. For example, Sue writes,

[The agreement is] simply a contract that gives Yahoo! the right, but no obligation, to show Google AdSense ads on Yahoo!’s own network. It’s important to note that the agreement is non-exclusive and gives us the option to “backfill” with Google ads if and when we see fit.

You can also view more details of the deal on the site, as well as frequently asked questions and press coverage. With the facts in hand — unfiltered by your workout buddies — we hope you’ll discover how the arrangement might benefit you.

– The Team

Search for a Cause

As part of Yahoo!’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month initiativeYahoo! Search is announcing a new Infobar built on the SearchMonkey platform that will help Search users make donations to help find a cure for breast cancer without spending an extra dime. We teamed up with the non-profit organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure to build a SearchMonkey app that is displayed under Yahoo! Search results for dozens of popular shopping sites like Amazon, HP and REI.com. If users click “Shop” and complete a purchase, the affiliate commission will go directly to Susan G. Komen for the Cure — 7.5% of the purchase price, on average. And to encourage folks to use the enhancement, called Search for a Cause, Yahoo! will donate a dollar for every user that adds the application up to $25,000.
SGK image
The country’s challenging economic situation is making the already difficult task of fundraising even tougher for non-profits. We’re hoping Search for a Cause will provide a way for concerned people to donate to a great cause by simply adding the SearchMonkey app and using it when you shop online. And if you want to donate directly to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, here’s the link.

We’re also hoping people will tell their friends and family about Search for a Cause. You can tell them to search for terms like “breast cancer,” “Susan G. Komen” or “pink ribbon” at Yahoo!. Come tomorrow, they’ll see a pinkified results page and a pink ribbon to click on and add the app.
BCA
Working with a number of teams here at Yahoo!, including SearchMonkeyYahoo! for GoodYahoo! Health, andfront page, it’s been a group effort to build awareness around breast cancer and we’re happy to be a part of it. A special thanks goes out to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Graham Mudd & Hilda Chan
Yahoo! Search

(Ad)Word of the Day: Landing Page

Today on (Ad)Word of the Day, we’ll be covering landing page from the AdWords Glossary:

An active webpage where customers will ‘land’ when they click your ad. The web address for this page is often called a ‘destination URL’ or ‘clickthrough URL.’

Your landing pages are most effective when they are consistent with your ads. For example, if your ad is for a specific product at a certain price, both the product and the pricing should be featured prominently on your landing page.

If you’re not sure what landing page design works best with your customers, you can use Google Website Optimizer to try different pages to find the most effective one.

2001: A search odyssey

Now that we’re a decade old, we figured we’re long overdue for some spring cleaning. We started digging around our basement and found all kinds of junk: old Swedish fishpigeon poopKlingon translation books. Amazingly enough, hidden in a corner beneath Larry’s and Sergey’s original lab coats, we found a vintage search index in mint condition. We dusted it off and took it for a spin, gobsmacked to see how different the web was in early 2001. “iPod” did not refer to a music player, “youtube” was nonsense, and if you were looking for “Michael Phelps,” chances are you meant the scientist, not the swimmer. “Wikipedia” was brand new. Remember “hanging chads“? (And speaking of that election-specific reference — if you’re a U.S. citizen, it’s not too late: please register to vote.)

We had so much fun searching that we wanted to put this old index online for everyone to play with. We thought it’d be even cooler if we could actually see the full versions of the old web pages, so we worked with the Internet Archive to link to their cache of these pages from 2001. Step into the time machine and try a 2001 Google search.

For more information on this search, please read our FAQ.

Trending: Repentance

A quick look at the newest trends on Twitter this morning.

  • Rosh Hashanah is trending on Twitter as folks reflect back on the year in 140 characters or less—shofar sho good?
  • Iron Man was released today on DVD and Blu Ray and Twitter is teeming with plans to watch it at home tonight.
  • #atlgas is still trending as people in Atlanta work together on Twitter to find gas during the shortage affecting the area.

ObamaSarah PalinBailoutCongress, and Wall Street remain top of mind as Twitter-ers share opinions and ideas about this election and the crazy roller coaster ride that is our economy.

fully armed and operational

It has been a few weeks now since we launched the new Delicious, and we wanted to take a moment to update you on how things are going so far.

Infrastructure
The most important news is that our new platform has been stable and is meeting our performance goals. In the days of the old Delicious, we had to put a lot of effort into just keeping the lights on and struggling to keep up with growth. With our new infrastructure, these problems are largely gone and our pagers have never been so quiet. But more importantly the Delicious service is now faster and more reliable, which was a key goal of this project. In fact, I’m very happy to say that Delicious has experienced zero downtime since the day after launch. (Hopefully now that I’ve said that we won’t discover an unshielded thermal exhaust port somewhere…)

Some of you have reported seeing error messages indicating you’ve been “blocked” from accessing Delicious or that the service is unavailable. This is not due to Delicious being down (it isn’t); rather it appears the primary cause is a bug in older versions of our Delicious Bookmarks add-on for Firefox. If you use our Firefox add-on please make sure you have the very latest version from here. You can also make sure you’re up-to-date by clicking “Find Updates” under “Tools” → “Add-ons” in Firefox.

Browser add-ons
Speaking of add-ons, we recently launched our Internet Explorer add-on. It includes most of the features offered by our popular Firefox version and works with IE 6 and 7 (IE 8 beta 2 generally works as well, although it won’t be official until IE 8 is). The response has been great so far; thanks to all of you who have tried it out. Your comments on the forum have helped us track down a number of bugs that we addressed in a major update last week. There were also some issues with our Firefox add-on immediately following the launch of the new Delicious, and we recently released an update for that as well. So please make sure you’re running our latest versions for Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Design
We had two major goals for the new design. The first was to address the user feedback we’ve received over the last few years regarding usability problems, consistency issues, and interface bugs. Our second goal was to make Delicious even easier to understand and thus to bring new users into the community. So far it seems to be working on both counts. The majority of the feedback has been positive (thanks!), and we’re also seeing a notable increase in new users and general traffic across Delicious.

That said, we know that not all of you are fans of the new design. There has been plenty of vocal and well-reasoned feedback on the discussion forum, and we’ve been reading every post and email and responding as much as possible. We’ve also been taking action. Since the initial launch we’ve made more than 30 changes to the new interface, nearly all of them in direct response to user feedback. We’ve also fixed a number of bugs you pointed out. You can read more about these changes here.

Moving forward we will continue listening to and taking action based on your comments, questions, bug reports, and suggestions. We want to ensure that Delicious remains the greatest social bookmarking tool, both for new users and for the people who already know and love it. We’re also working on new functionality that you’ve been asking for, and we look forward to sharing more about that soon.

If you haven’t already, please join the conversation on our forum and let us know what you think. Thanks for using Delicious!

Advanced Website Diagnostics with Google Webmaster Tools

Running a website can be complicated—so we’ve provided Google Webmaster Tools to help webmasters to recognize potential issues before they become real problems. Some of the issues that you can spot there are relatively small (such as having duplicate titles and descriptions), other issues can be bigger (such as your website not being reachable). While Google Webmaster Tools can’t tell you exactly what you need to change, it can help you to recognize that there could be a problem that needs to be addressed.

Let’s take a look at a few examples that we ran across in the Google Webmaster Help Groups:

Is your server treating Googlebot like a normal visitor?

While Googlebot tries to act like a normal user, some servers may get confused and react in strange ways. For example, although your server may work flawlessly most of the time, some servers running IIS may react with a server error (or some other action that is tied to a server error occurring) when visited by a user with Googlebot’s user-agent. In the Webmaster Help Group, we’ve seen IIS servers return result code 500 (Server error) and result code 404 (File not found) in the “Web crawl” diagnostics section, as well as result code 302 when submitting Sitemap files. If your server is redirecting to an error page, you should make sure that we can crawl the error page and that it returns the proper result code. Once you’ve done that, we’ll be able to show you these errors in Webmaster Tools as well. For more information about this issue and possible resolutions, please see http://todotnet.com/archive/0001/01/01/7472.aspxand http://www.kowitz.net/archive/2006/12/11/asp.net-2.0-mozilla-browser-detection-hole.aspx.

If your website is hosted on a Microsoft IIS server, also keep in mind that URLs are case-sensitive by definition (and that’s how we treat them). This includes URLs in the robots.txt file, which is something that you should be careful with if your server is using URLs in a non-case-sensitive way. For example, “disallow: /paris” will block /paris but not /Paris.

Does your website have systematically broken links somewhere?

Modern content management systems (CMS) can make it easy to create issues that affect a large number of pages. Sometimes these issues are straightforward and visible when you view the pages; sometimes they’re a bit harder to spot on your own. If an issue like this creates a large number of broken links, they will generally show up in the “Web crawl” diagnostics section in your Webmaster Tools account (provided those broken URLs return a proper 404 result code). In one recent case, a site had a small encoding issue in its RSS feed, resulting in over 60,000 bad URLs being found and listed in their Webmaster Tools account. As you can imagine, we would have preferred to spend time crawling content instead of these 404 errors :).

Is your website redirecting some users elsewhere?

For some websites, it can make sense to concentrate on a group of users in a certain geographic location. One method of doing that can be to redirect users located elsewhere to a different page. However, keep in mind that Googlebot might not be crawling from within your target area, so it might be redirected as well. This could mean that Googlebot will not be able to access your home page. If that happens, it’s likely that Webmaster Tools will run into problems when it tries to confirm the verification code on your site, resulting in your site becoming unverified. This is not the only reason for a site becoming unverified, but if you notice this on a regular basis, it would be a good idea to investigate. On this subject, always make sure that Googlebot is treated the same way as other users from that location, otherwise that might be seen as cloaking.

Is your server unreachable when we try to crawl?

It can happen to the best of sites—servers can go down and firewalls can be overly protective. If that happens when Googlebot tries to access your site, we won’t be able crawl the website and you might not even know that we tried. Luckily, we keep track of these issues and you can spot “Network unreachable” and “robots.txt unreachable” errors in your Webmaster Tools account when we can’t reach your site.

Has your website been hacked?

Hackers sometimes add strange, off-topic hidden content and links to questionable pages. If it’s hidden, you might not even notice it right away; but nonetheless, it can be a big problem. While the Message Center may be able to give you a warning about some kinds of hidden text, it’s best if you also keep an eye out yourself. Google Webmaster Tools can show you keywords from your pages in the “What Googlebot sees” section, so you can often spot a hack there. If you see totally irrelevant keywords, it would be a good idea to investigate what’s going on. You might also try setting up Google Alerts or doing queries such as [site:example.com spammy words], where “spammy words” might be words like porn, viagra, tramadol, sex or other words that your site wouldn’t normally show. If you find that your site actually was hacked, I’d recommend going through our blog post about things to do after being hacked.

There are a lot of issues that can be recognized with Webmaster Tools; these are just some of the more common ones that we’ve seen lately. Because it can be really difficult to recognize some of these problems, it’s a great idea to check your Webmaster Tools account to make sure that you catch any issues before they become real problems. If you spot something that you absolutely can’t pin down, why not post in the discussion group and ask the experts there for help?

Have you checked your site lately?

Blog post categories on adcentercommunity.com

Monday, September 29, 2008 by: Carolyn Miller – MSFT 0 Comments

I wanted to draw your attention to a feature we launched here on www.adcentercommunity.com in August, which is the categories feature. Every time we publish a blog post, we categorize it so that you can easily find all blog posts related to a certain topic. You can see a list of the categories at the bottom of the adcentercommunity.com home page as well as an expanded list on each blog home page (for example, the adCenter Blog for Advertisers home page — see screenshot below).

You can bookmark these category pages if you wish – whenever a new post is added to that category, it will appear at the top of the list on the category page.

Some examples of popular categories:

If you’re a registered user, you can also tag content you find useful and help contribute to our tag cloud. This tagging mechanism also helps our community members find what they need quickly. 

We hope you find these features helpful – please let us know what you think in the forums.

Google Affiliate Network Help Center Launched

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Help Center for both advertisers andpublishers. Content includes basic information on account settings, running reports and performing common tasks. In addition, you will be able to submit questions directly to our support team via the Help Center in the event that you are unable to find the information you need. Please be sure to check the Help Center for all your support questions on current and new features.

Sheila Parker
Product Manager

Submitting your content to Google

We’ve talked a lot about our mission to organize the world’s information and make it readily available to all, but we haven’t spent as much time as we could helping others understand how they can participate in this endeavor. Last week we took two steps to address this: we updated the Submit Your Content site and we launched our Content Central blog. The goal of both of these resources is to inform and help the many organizations that distribute various types of content via Google Web Search, Maps, Product Search, Book Search, YouTube, iGoogle and more.

So whether you’re a plumber, a map data provider, a local government, a major media company or a museum, we have a wealth of information available to help you reach your audience through Google. Comments are open on the blog — we look forward to hearing from you.