Irrelevant Keywords Can Be Costly

How Effective is Google’s Session-Based Broad Match?

Some Google AdWords advertisers are not pleased with what they are finding in Google’s Search Query Performance reports for their campaigns. These reports show advertisers what keyword queries are surfacing their ads, and some are finding some of these keywords questionable.

Are you losing money on clicks from questionable keywords? Let WebProNews know.

You might think that an ad impression is an ad impression, but when you’re charged by the click, you want the clicks to come from people who are likely to buy what you’re selling, considering that you are paying Google for each click.

A Wall Street Journal piece has put the spotlight on some of these advertisers, including a New York dentist who claims irrelevant keywords have cost him nearly $3,000 over the last year or so. The problem allegedly stems from Google’s session-based broad match feature, which shows ads to users not only for a single query, but also for subsequent queries in the users same search session.

Google explains the feature in the AdWords Help Center:

“When determining which ads to show on a Google search result page, the AdWords system evaluates some of the user’s previous queries during their search session as well as the current search query. If the system detects a relationship, it will show ads related to these other queries, too.”

“The system considers the previous queries in order to better understand the intent of the user’s current query. The added information allows the system to deliver more relevant ads.”

“This feature is an enhancement of broad match. It works by generating similar terms for each search query based on the content of the current query and, if deemed relevant, the previous queries in a user’s search session. Your ad will potentially show if one of your broad-matched keywords matches any of these similar terms.”

Sounds good in theory, but the advertisers complaining appear to disagree with what Google is considering to be relevant. The dentist from the WSJ story cited ” ” and “[Chinese characters] in Chinatown” as examples – not exactly dentist-related. The story also cites a plastic surgeon, who counted “olivia newton john photos” among questionable keywords.

The WSJ spoke with Google’s Nick Fox:

Mr. Fox acknowledged there are “edge” cases in which search queries “does not appear to be relevant to the ads, but the context of previous queries indicated that the user would have a strong interest in that advertisers’ ad.” In addition, he said, “a user must be interested enough in an ad to want to click on it.” He said a very small percentage of ad clicks are session-based and that advertisers can limit the scope of their campaign to halt session-based clicks.


Google’s Mr. Fox said: “It has to be the case that the users, in the very recent history, searched for terms he’s advertising on.”

It’s worth noting that Google says that whenever an ad is served based on the associated keyword’s relevance to the previous search queries, the ad’s performance has no effect on that keyword’s Quality Score.

It’s also worth noting that not everyone is unhappy with the session-based clicks. Jordan McClements, commenting on a Clixmarketing post on session-based broad match says, “If you are in a niche where there is not much search traffic, and a new client/sale is worth a lot of money to you then it is probably a good idea to keep all your ‘broad’ options open.”

John Lee, who wrote that post, says, “I want advertisers to be aware that in the case of session-based broad match – you can’t turn it off. My recommendation is to remain vigilant in reporting, primarily with Search Query Reports to ensure that the session-based query matches that do come through are relevant. If they aren’t, roll that knowledge (and those queries) into your negative keyword lists.”

Probably good advice.

Perhaps the real question is how much of the problem is Google and how much is the advertiser?

Speaking of negative keywords, Google actually just released a new feature this week to manage negative keywords across multiple campaigns with negative keyword lists.

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The Benefits of Installing Internal Site Search

Today’s websites are more complex than ever before. Many contain a wealth of information visitors can use to answer their questions and learn what they need to know before contacting a company or making a purchase online.

But with all the information and features packed into many of today’s websites, it can also be more difficult for site visitors to first of all determine whether or not a website will contain the information they need and then find it on the website. Installing a site search box can provide several advantages to help your site visitors – and also benefit your marketing function in the process.

Site Search Satisfies the Customer’s “I Want It Now” Attitude

Installing an internal site search box can help visitors find what they need more quickly. With web users still looking to find what they need as fast as possible, confusing navigation and cluttered design are more likely than ever to prompt an “on-to-the-next-site” response.

Internal site search is undoubtedly the quickest way for someone to find what they’re looking for on a large and complex site. An internal site search helps visitors get around navigational structures that may be confusing to them. This is especially important for sites that are constantly adding new content. As the site continues to grow, many users will find the site search function to be a valuable tool in helping them find what they need.

Site Search Makes a Website More Customer Centric

Installing an internal site search also means you can transform your website from a static “one size fits all” style to a more “customer-centric” approach. More and more, websites need to simultaneously cater to different types of website users – knowledge seekers, prospects, buyers and long-term customers. Internal site search helps you do this, as it helps those seeking knowledge find and assess your resources more easily.

Site Search Appeals to the “Searcher” Type of Site Visitor

Different people prefer different types of navigation tools. For example, if someone uses a search engine like Google to arrive at your website, they are more likely to prefer the same search method for finding information within your website. It’s not uncommon for site visitors to look immediately for the site search box when they arrive at a website.

Site Search Arms Marketers With Data

Marketers can benefit tremendously from installing an internal site search function. With the right analytic tool, internal site search can provide a wealth of information about who visits your site and how they navigate around it.

Site search data can provide insight into customer desires, intent, and behavior. While a customer might tell a different story if asked for feedback in a focus group or online survey, for example, site search data can reveal exactly which pages they looked for and found, which searches intrigued them to continue reading as well as those that prompted them to leave the site. This will contribute to the conversation when analyzing conversion rate performance across content and site sections.

Site Search Provides Insight into Personas and Usability Issues

Site search can provide usability data without the expense of setting up testing facilities. When the usage data and click path from real users is saved and available for viewing and analysis anytime, a marketer can see where searchers encountered difficulty. Looking at this data across multiple users can give clues to areas of the site that require updating and expansion, for example.

Adding typical searched on phrases to flesh out descriptions of the various personas using your site can also help enrich the entire web team’s understanding of the types of people using the site. This information will be particularly helpful to any copywriters who are preparing content for selling pages and product descriptions, etc.

Site Search Brings Ideas for New Products

Users’ searches can even inspire new product offerings. If you see that many visitors are searching your site for a particular type of product or service that you don’t yet provide, it may be time to consider developing an offering to serve that underserved need. Especially if your site is already bringing traffic for those particular searches, your company may do well to act on this informal market research.

Site Search Reveals New Keywords

You may end up finding new keywords you weren’t aware of, allowing you the chance to tweak your content so more users will find the information they need on your site. Perhaps some of your pages that you feel are relevant to a specific topic are missing a few of the terms people are actually searching on. In that case, you’ll have the option to add them as appropriate and further refine your content, making it even more targeted to your users.

In addition, those keywords can be added to your search marketing campaigns, perhaps offering a chance to reach a wider audience on the Internet than originally anticipated. In order for your company to remain competitive online, you need to be open to the new ways people are finding and disseminating information. Site search is an exciting utility for websites looking to evolve their websites according to user demands.

Editor’s Note: So, if you want to add search to your website, what are your options? There are a number of free and commercial solutions available on the Web but below are several of the former:

Google Custom Search

Perlfect Search – Provides 2 pages of site search solutions.
Resource Index – Numerous Perl and PHP search scripts can be found here for DIY webmasters.

About The Author
SEO Advantage is a search engine optimization company that helps businesses harness the revenue generation potential of their websites. Find us referenced in books such as Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale and the BusinessWeek bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR. Visit today for more information.

|   Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Where Google Stands on the "Keywords" Meta Tag

To Sum it Up, They Ignore it

Google does not use the “keywords” meta tag in its web search ranking. Google’s Matt Cutts explains this in a Webmaster Central video. This is not breaking news, by any means, but there are a lot of people out there that still put a lot of stock into this.

In fact, Cutts mentions that people have sued each other for meta tag keyword theft, when really this is just a waste of everybody’s time, because they don’t even play a role in the ranking of sites on Google. Have you been under the impression that the keywords meta tag was important to ranking in Google? Comment here.

“About a decade ago, search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called “off-page” factors such as the links pointing to a web page,” says Cutts. “In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.”

Just because Google ignores the “keywords” meta tag, that doesn’t mean it ignores all meta tags. In fact, there are several that the search engine definitely uses. For one, Google sometimes uses the “description” meta tag as the text for search results snippets. But even in then, the “description” meta tag isn’t used to influence ranking.

Description Meta tag

Google also recognizes the “google,” “robots,” “verify-v1,” “content type,” and “refresh” meta tags. Information about how Google understands these can be found at this page in the Webmaster Tools help center.

“It’s possible that Google could use this information in the future, but it’s unlikely,” Cutts says of the “keywords” meta tag. “Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that policy.”

So the moral of the story is, if a competitor is jacking your keywords, and using them in their own “keywords” meta tag, this will have no effect whatsoever in how they rank in Google when compared to your site. Cutts says other search engines might use the information, but Google doesn’t.



Google does note that its enterprise Search Appliance has the ability to match meta tags, but this is of course separate from Google web search.

As I have said before, these videos and other tips Google frequently gives out are worth paying attention to for any webmaster looking to rank well. Whether they’re talking about duplicate content, meta tags, or paid links, they’re all aimed at telling webmasters how it is, and clarifying any misconceptions to the contrary. Whether you agree with Google’s methods in all cases or not, the tips are for your benefit.

Like it or not, Google controls what people find on the web when they search. The company’s huge market share is just something that is. There is always the possibility that could change in the future, but at this point, it looks like webmasters are not going to be able to ignore Google for a long time, if they hope to be found on the web by searchers.

We realize (and Google surely does too) that many well-seasoned marketers already know that Google ignores the “keywords” meta tag, but webmasters are born everyday, and not all of them have been so heavily seasoned to this point, and that’s why Google puts this information out there. There is always misinformation (particularly when it comes to search), and sometimes the record just has to be set straight. Who better to do that than Google itself?

Do you find Google’s Webmaster Central videos useful or do you think they’re mostly just retreads of things you already know? Share your thoughts with WebProNews.

About the author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Twitter: @CCrum237


|   Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists   |   Digg

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend