Mar 23, 2011

The Secret Checklist you must follow to Claim & Merge Google Places Pages

Consistency of contact information (local phone number, business address & email address) is the key to claiming and merging separate Google Places Pages. Ensure that you have this contact information included somewhere on your site as well, and check to make sure that it appears as crawlable text.

If you are trying to claim a very content rich Places page, Google ads in an additional identity confirmation hoop for you to jump through: the phone number listed on your sites WHOIS  page.
In short, the equation for claiming Places pages is:

Website address +  crawlable phone number on contact us page = mailing address submitted to places page  +  phone number you submit to places = your actual phone number & mailing address at the business = the phone number that appears in your WHOIS website profile. Mind the email you use as well.

Dec 1, 2010

It's in Google's best interest to charge bad site's more for PPC

A brief history of adwords pricing

In the old days, Google use to price your ads based on how much money your ads made for them. This meant that ads which were clicked on the most, were the cheapest. It was basically CTR X CPC = ad ranking (click through rate multiplied by cost per click in case you are new to ppc jargon). That’s not the exact formula; but it started off very similar to that. Then as Google evolved, the algorithm they used to determine ad rankings evolved as well.

But the biggest change happened a year ago, when Google introduced their landing page quality score algorithm. Google showed no mercy to websites that didn’t provide relevant landing pages to the users querry. Many people logged onto their adword accounts one morning to discover that their average CPC increased 500%. In extreme cases with sites practicing arbitrage; there were instances of the average CPC going from $0.25 to $5.44. It was a bad time for many – lots of people went out of businesses never having fully understood why.

This marked an important moment in the history of internet advertising. Before, the trick to increasing sales was by driving more traffic to your site. Now, internet marketers are more interested in increasing sales to their existing traffic.

Google is smarter than you or me First, you must understand that there is no fooling Google. You can’t fool Google with SEO like you could in the old days, it is just to smart for that.

No one understands the components of a profitable website like the programmers at Google. For one, they are really really smart people. But also, they cheat. They have inexhaustible data to look at from Google analytics and other programs. Marketing is science, not art. And the landing page algorithm is programmed to recognize the best marketed ‘landing pages’

How Google currently determines CPC (no math, just theory)

Google is all about the user. Therefore, if someone clicks on a PPC ad because they are interested in buying something; Google is going to damn well make sure that the website they land on sells what they want. More than that, Google wants to deliver the internet browser to the most relevant e-commerce site that has the best chance of selling you something.

People click on PPC ads because they are interested in making a purchase ( I’m keeping this discussion to products for simplicity sake). So the most relevant matches, the ones Google strives to deliver first to browsers, are the websites that are marketed the best and generally have the highest conversion rates.

How does Google make sure that the best marketed, highest conversion rate, websites always appear first? They give them a crazy discount! This is capitalism at its finest folks. The wealthiest internet companies pay the lowest price for ppc ads (lowest CPC) and the poorest internet companies pay the most for advertising (highest CPC).

You either make no money or become rich with adwords

If you don’t know how to sell your products well, if you suck at online marketing: Google will squeeze you like a tube of toothpaste and brush its teeth with your love. You will be paying 10 times more for an advertisement that works a tenth as well as your competitor. You are exponentially screwed! Your return on investment will 1/100 as sharp as the industry leader.

What does that mean for the industry leader? If you make $100 a month net from adwords – the industry leader is making over $10,000 a month. Sorry man.

Can you get cheap PPC ads anymore? Certainly. The internet is a backwards place; and most online niches really don’t have an ‘industry leader’. Just get a high quality score :-"

Nov 20, 2010

Making it easier for senior citizen's to christmas shop online

I had a good idea how to handle the color selection attribute when selling products. It doesn’t work with products where there are multiple options (i.e. sizes and colors), it is really just limited to products with only a few options.

A more ergonomic design for color selection

This type of color selection attribute is superior as far as usability design goes. You have two options for changing the product color: 1. press the arrows below the ‘enlarge image’ link or 2. click a check box below the ‘add to cart’ button. Note: if you change the product color by pressing the arrow buttons, the check boxes will change accordingly. This type of redundant selection system is intuitive and obvious to even the most computer illiterate customer – also, it should be easy to run for older browsers.

Its easy to take your computer skills for granted; but many potential customers – particularly elderly ones with lots of disposable income – have to struggle to understand basic computer applications. Seriously, you would be surprised how many people have to write down, on a piece of paper, how to do simple things like log into their email (with step 1 being turn on the computer). Respect this affluent demographic! There are millionaires that call tech support because they can’t figure out how to attach a file to their email and I have heard stories about people using their cdrom drives as cup holders. – These people do exist and they aren’t stupid, just computer illiterate (with lots of disposable income).

The main problem with most attribute systems is their dependence on drop-down menus. Drop-down menu’s are a lot harder to use than you think. A 2003 research study conducted at the University of Maryland by Ben Shneiderman, Ph.D. observes that some elderly users don’t know how to use drop-downs – making your site a struggle. Apparently even savvy users encounter usability problems, as a drop down menu requires an extra click and thus slows down persuasive momentum. Here is the usability guidelines report [PDF].

Drop-downs also will make your user pissed off. For one, they reduce the transparency of your product options, making learning about a product a chore - this will turn into an alienating and frustrating experience for disabled customers lacking fine mouse coordination. Think about it, have you ever had a drop down close on you before being able to select an option? Well multiply that frustration by a 1,000 if you want to imagine what it must be like for someone who has trouble aiming the mouse. If another usability problem immediately manifests – such as your customer accidentally changing the drop-down selection with the mouse scroll wheel - their frustration will be multiplied even more. Even if your customer doesn’t bail on your site at this point – their trust and confidence in your business will be burst. And lack of trust is a notorious killer of online sales, especially with computer illiterate demographics.

Do you sell a product that could benefit from this attribute system?