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Invites Go Out For Microsoft adCenter

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Microsoft adCenter Invitations

Microsoft adCenter InvitationsThe speculation has come to an end as Microsoft today sent out invitations for the Microsoft adCenter, their version of Adsense. Microsoft adCenter have said that the adverts will at first be displayed "primarily" on Microsoft owned sites and that ContentAds will place advertisements using not just keywords but also demographic targeting, geo-targeting and incremental bidding tools.

it will be interesting to see how well adCenter distinguishes different demographics. So if anyone got an invitation we would love to hear what you think.

What with Google and Yahoo already in the CPC/PPC advertising industry it will be good to see how the industry and the prices change now that the third "big dog" has joined the game.

With higher competition we can only expect that things will improve for both publishers and advertisers, But we do run the risk of Microsoft adCenter just sitting happy doing nothing apart from the tried and tested methods used by google.

Was the announcement of Microsofts ad deal with facebook designed to coincide with the invitation rollout of adCenter?

Tips To Write Effective AdWords Ads

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
If you have something to sell Google Adwords can be a very effective way of finding customers interested in your product, If you do it correctly. In this blog post i will share a few tips and hints that will help you write effective google adwords ads.

Target your Customers

You need to make sure you target the correct audience with your adwords ads. If your product is only available in England then it's no good displaying the adverts to people in China. If your site is in English then it's no good displaying the advert to non-English speaking people. By thinking about who would want the product you can keep your costs down and conversions high simply by only showing the advert to the people most interested in it.


In your adwords ad you should include a price. This way people know that they aren't going to be getting anything for free. This means the only people who click the advert are people who know you want paying and are willing to pay. Remember, You don't want visitors, You want sales. Unless you are giving away something for free, In which case "FREE" is the most important word you could use.

Don't include common words

By not including common words (such as the, a, it) you can maximize the keywords in your advert. Get as much information in your adwords ad as possible. Ultimately you want the people viewing your advert to know exactly what they will see when they reach your product page.

Provoke Enthusiasm

Use phrases like "limited time offer" or "free shipping" to create a sense of urgency in the person viewing it. If they think they can only get your "special deal" if they act now, They will be more likely to act now rather than wait and risk losing out.

The Magic Of Square Brackets

By using square brackers around your [keywords] you can make sure your advert is shown only when that exact phrase is found. If you only have black ipods to sell you don't want people clicking your advert if they have searched for white ipods.
So by using [black ipods] your advert will only appear to people looking for and searching for black ipods.

Test Multiple Ads

By running miltiple adwords ads you can see which performs best and which is a waste of money. Over time, By running mulltiple adwords ads, you will be able to refine your campagn and maximise your sales and conversion through adwords.
You should send each advert to a different URL, This way you can track your numbers a lot easier. Google Adsense will be able to give you stats on how much an advert is clicked, But they can't tell if those clicks are resulting in sales. So it's important that you have a way of doing this yourself.

Getting Targeted Adsense Adverts

Monday, August 28, 2006
Getting Targeted Adsense Adverts - section targeting Google Adsense is pretty good at delivering targeted adverts to your website, It's the main reason it has become the most popular PPC provider. But from time to time adsense will misread your page and deliver you adverts that are not targeted to your content. An example of this is if you have an article about Microsoft paint you may get adverts about decorating, Or if you have an article about flower nurseries you may get adverts about child care.

In this article i will try to explain a little about Adsense section targeting.
section targeting is what adsense has implimented to help you tell the google adsense bot (media bot) what sections of the page you want to see adverts about, Or what section of the page you don't want to see adsense adverts about.

How to tell Adsense what content to ignore.

If you want to tell google adsense to completely ignore a section of your content you should use this comment tag.
<!-- google_ad_section_start(weight=ignore) -->
This is the section of text that will be ignored by adsense, Adsense will not use this section of text when deciding what adverts should be displayed in your adsense blocks
<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

How to tell adsense what adverts to display.

You can also tell the google adsense bot what section of text to concentrate on when deciding what adverts to display. When telling google adsense what content to use you should make sure you include as much text as possible. The more text you include the easier it will be for adsense to find adverts for you.
<!-- google_ad_section_start -->
Google adsense will give this section of text priority when deciding what adverts to give you. You should put as much text as possible between these tags to give google a good chance of finding you adverts.
<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

When using Adsense section targeting you should put as much text between the tags (comments) as possible as to give google a good chance of finding adverts for you.

Note that using adsense section targeting will not take effect straight away, It may take upto two weeks before you start seeing changes. But if you want targeted adsense ads then the wait should be worth it.

How To Build A Successful Forum

Saturday, August 12, 2006

How To Build A Successful Forum.

If you have ever tried adding a forum to your site you will know how difficult it is to build a successful forum. Getting people to post on your forum and attracting new members is probably the hardest thing a webmaster can do unless he already has a site that is pulling thousands of visitors a day.

What i will attempt to do in this post is give you some tips and advice about building a popular forum and how to get people to join and post in it. While following these tips will not ensure you end up with a popular forum it will help you along the way and make it that little bit easier for you.

Build your forum around a topic you know about.

The most important factor in building a successful forum is how much you know about the topic. In the first few weeks, Even months, Most of the questions asked will have to be answered by you. So if you don't have any answers people are unlikely to come back. you don't necessary have to be an expert on your forums topic, but you certainly have to know more than your visitors do.

Make your forum appear active.

It will do no harm at all to make yourself 40 accounts and sit down for a weekend having conversations with yourself, Posting threads and asking questions and answering them will make you forum appear active. The last thing people want to do is join an inactive boring empty forum, So if they think that there are people posting and chatting about a subject they are interested in they will be a lot more likely to participate.

Don't flood you forum with topics.

When your forum first starts create as few sections as you can. A common mistake people make is to create far too many sections which will remain empty for a long time. It is far better to have 4 sections that are active than 15 that look empty. Then if after a while you feel you can start slowly adding more sections you can them move relevant threads into the new forums and they will instantly appear acvtive.

Offer incentives.

By offering incentives you can entice people into joining or posting more. These incentives don't have to be monetary, Though money will work best, They can be anything from a change in rank, A change in the members name color or moderator status to the first 3 people to get to 250 quality posts, Or if it's a webmaster forum you can share ad revenue like WMT does, or you could offer a text links advert on the forum for anyone who reaches a certain amount of posts.

Affiliate program.

To increase your member base you could try having an affiliate program. If every members profile you could give them a link and when people join after following that link they are given a point, Then display their referral points under their post count when they post. I know it sounds silly, But people like collecting imaginary points that are not worth anything. And it will mean some of your members will be actively trying to get people to join your forum.

Get in with other forums.

If you know people who run a similar forum ask them if you can have a text link on their forum. Or even better, Participate in other related forums and put a link to your forum in your signature. If you become an active trusted member on another forum people will be likely to at least visit and have a look around your forum, And if it looks interesting and active they will join and contribute.

Have rules, But don't be a Nazi.

Rules are an important part of running a good forum. people need to know what is allowed and what isn't allowed. Your rules should be regarding what types of posts can be made, What language is acceptable and what is allowed in signatures. While these rules do need to be enforced you shouldn't rule with an iron fist, Nobody like elitism and nothing will make people leave quicker. If you see someone breaking a signature rule for example don't send them an agressive PM threatening to ban them, Simply bring it up as a by the way point when you reply to them in a thread. e.g "yeah, I see that movie too, it was great.. by the way bill, you are only supposed to have 3 links in your sig".

Adding mods hacks and features.

Most forum software have a number of hacks that can implemented onto your forum, Chances are if you can think of a feature someone has coded a hack for it. So have a look around and install a few of these. They can be anything from a custom theme to a quick reply box that appears in threads.

Free Web Statistics and Hit Counters

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Free Hit Counters And Website Stats

Keeping track of your visitors is an important part of SEO. You need to know where your visitors are coming from, What they are looking at and how long they are lookin at it for. You also need to know how many page views you get compared to how many visitors you get.

What we aim to do in this post is list some of the most popular free hit counters and free website statistics scripts you can use to track your website visitors. If you have hosting with cpanel (or something similar) you will probably already have a web stats script installed, I would advise you to use this. It will be more accurrate and provide a lot more information than free web stats providers. But if you want to track your blogger visitors you will have to use a third party script. The following web statistics scripts are ideal for tracking your blog visitors and getting stats on your blog.

  • Google Analytics - Google analytics is probably the most trusted web stats provider. They only offer invisible stats so you don't have to have the counter image displayed and they allow you too have multiple sites under one account.
  • eXTReMe - eXTReMe website statistics offers you a geographical view of where your visitors come from, But they don't offer an invisible option so you need to have a button displayed and they don't offer mutiple site tracking under one account
  • EvoStats - EvoStats Web stats allow private web stats and they also allow multiple websites under one account
  • WiseCounter - WiseCounter offer invisible stats and private web statistics, but do not provide geographic web statistics or multiple sites.
  • LastURL - LastURL web statistics offer invisible and private website stats, But offer no geographical stats and only allow one website per account.
  • Web Stat - Webstat do not allow invisible tracking, But do provide private statsistics. They also offer geographic tracking of visitors and muliple websites in one account.
  • SiteMeter - SiteMeter (which i use) doesn't allow invisible tracking for free accounts or multiple websites, But does have geographic statistics.
  • freecounterandstats - Freecounterandstats allows private statistics, Geographic tracking and multiple sites, But does not allow invisible tracking.
  • StatCounter - Stat counter offers everything. They allow invisible tracking, multiple accounts, private stats and geographic tracking.
  • W3counter - W3counter provide you with private statisctics and geographic tracking, But not invisible tracking and do not allow multiple sites.
These web statistics and hit counters are free to use so it will do no harm if you try them all and see which one best suites you. Different people and different sites need different types of web statistics.


Putting Images Near Adsense Ads

Monday, August 07, 2006
Putting Images Next To Adsense

Images Above Adsense Blocks

There is a growing trend with adsense publishers where images are being put above or along side their adsense adverts in order to increase their click through rate. But is this against the Google Adsense terms and conditions? I would have initially said it was because the google adsense terms state "Web pages may not include incentives of any kind for users to click on ads. This includes encouraging users to click on the ads or to visit the advertisers' sites as well as drawing any undue attention to the ads."

I decided that their terms were a little too vague and i was unable to tell if the method of putting images around your adverts to attract visitors attention to them was allowed or not, So i emailed them.. Their reply was as follows.
Hello Matt,

Thank you for your email and your interest in upholding AdSense programme policies.

In general, you are welcome to place images near the Google ads on your site. However, some implementations are not permitted by our programme policies, so we ask that you exercise some caution when choosing or placing the images.

To be specific, we ask that publishers do not place misleading images near Google ads or use images that appear to be directly associated with the advertisers and their offerings. Such images may draw undue attention to the ads and prompt unintentional user clicks, thereby artificially inflating advertiser costs. As you may know, drawing undue attention to ads is in violation of our programme policies, so we are unable to approve the placement of all images next to Google ads.

If you choose to experiment with placing images directly next to the ads, I would strongly encourage you to maintain a visible border around the ad units to reduce the possibility of confusing users.

While their answer does clarify it further, it doesn't clarify it fully.
Their reply says "we ask that publishers do not place misleading images near
Google ads or use images that appear to be directly associated with the
advertisers and their offerings
". From this sentence it doesn't seem we are allowed to use images that look related, Or images that are misleading (unrelated). So exactly what kind of images are we allowed to use?

Sadly i don't feel confident in being able to tell you if adding images around your adsense is really in compliance with adsense terms, But if you do decide to ad images around your adsense make sure you include a visible border in your ads so they definately look seperate to the images..

Two More Matt Cutts Google SEO Videos

Friday, August 04, 2006

Matt Cutts Google SEO Videos

Matt (not me, The other one) just keeps on giving. He has just put up two more Google videos discussing Google Datacenters and other issues regarding Google. He even gave us a glimpse of his werewolf v unicorn t-shirt.

Matt Cutts Video #1 | Matt Cutts Video #2 | Matt Cutts Video #3

Google Datacenters

Lightning Round

Top 6 SEO Tactics

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Top 6 SEO Tactics

1 - Link to sitemap from syndicated content

Syndicating your content, Either through RSS feeds or by submitting articles, Is a great way of getting backlinks. They are also great pieces of search engine bait as many high profile article directories are targeted heavily by search engines and some people will copy those articles and include them on thier own site.

While submiting articles is great there is another thing you can do to optimise the effect this will have on your site. When you include your "About the author" section at the bottom which links back to your site instead of linking to your homepage try linking to your sitemap. This way when search engines follow this link they will find a page full of links that they can eat up, This will mean more of your site will be found by search engines and more of your pages will be included in the index.

2 - Translating your website into other languages

If you are promoting your website to only English speaking web-surfers you are missing out on a potential 64.8% extra traffic. This is because 64.8% of people on the internet surf and search in a language other than English.
Google alone spiders and understands 35 different languages, and have plans to add more.

You will also be happy to hear that competition in other language is a lot lower than the same words in English. Now, Imagine ranking well for "web hosting" or "cheap flights" in turkish, polish, Dutch or japanese. Sounds good doesn't it?

3 - ROR Sitemaps

We all know about regular sitemaps, But how many of us know about ROR Sitemaps (Resources of a Resource)? Unlike regular sitemaps that are usually targeted to specific search engines ROR sitemaps are understood by all search engines.

ROR sitemaps are ideal if your website is selling products as you can offer up a lot more information about your products. A ROR file enables you to document your product names, descriptions, prices, images, availability and any other relevant information.

4 - Keywords and phrases that convert

I have covered this is another post but feel it's worth covering again. The biggest mistake any webmaster can make is targeting highly competitive keywords that they have no chance of ranking well for. Instead what should be done is target more specific key phrases instead of general keywords.
What this means is you shouldn't spend your time trying to rank well for "car hire" when you could be ranking well for "car hire in london", Or better still "cheap car hire in london".

By adding descriptive words to your targeted keyphrases you benefit in two ways. First you will be getting targeted traffic, what's the point of someone in india searching "car rental" and finding a site that rents cars in london? That will not end in a sale. Secondly it will mean you have a much higher chance of ranking well. Far fewer people will be trying to rank well for "car hire in london" than are trying to rank well for "car hire".

Think about it like this. Who is going to buy an ipod? The person searching "ipod"? Or the person searching "buy 4 gig black ipod nano"? And which term would be easier to rank well for?

5 - Internal linking structure

The way people navigate your site should be well thought out by you to ensure not only that people can find all of your content and products, But also so search engines can. This isn't limited to your side bars, you can also do this within your articles. If you write an article about dog food but mention cat food within this article use this opportunity to link to the article about cat food that you have previously written.
This will not only mean there is another link for search engines to follow and as a result index your site deepper but it will also mean you are encouraging your visitors to click around and will increase your page views.

6 - Secrets of site logs and stats

Your site logs will hold a lot of information that can help with your SEO efforts. Most hosts have a statistics script installed, It might be awstats. From these logs you will be able to find what countries are sending you visitors and more importantly how they are finiding you. You will be able to find out what sites are sending you visitors and more importantly what search terms they are finding you by.

If you find a page that is getting visitors from google when people search for a certain phrase you can do the same search and see where you appear. You may then want to optimnize that page further to increase your position for that term or retain your high ranking.

It's important to know where your visitors are coming from and what they are looking for.

More Matt Cutts Google Video SEO Tutorials

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
More Matt Cutts Google Video SEO TutorialsHere we have a few more of Matt Cutts video SEO tutorials where he answers questions sent in via his blog by webmasters.

In these videos we can hear Matt tackle issues such as How to structure a web page, Explaining suplimental results, Google Analytics and SERPS and Google Terminology.

Matt Cutts Video #1 | Matt Cutts Video #2 | Matt Cutts Video #3

How to structure a site

Supplemental Results

Does Webspam use Google Analytics?

Google Terminology