Searching Beyond the Paid

Monday, September 29, 2008 Now Charging for Podcasts?

For the past couple weeks, I've had trouble downloading my favorite SEM podcasts, including the Daily Searchcast and PPC Rockstars, into iTunes. Since I'm no iTunes pro, I figured I was doing something wrong. Finally yesterday I went to to try to re-subscribe, or at least download the mp3 files. But when I tried to access the most recent episodes of the shows, I was taken to a login page promoting registration for "less than $.99 a day."

Huh? Does this mean that I have to pay a couple hundred bucks a year just to access the podcasts I previously could download for free?!? I couldn't find another way to get at them, other than to listen live - not all that convenient for me, which is why I use iTunes.

If this is truly the only way to subscribe to these podcasts, it's a huge shame. Was the advertiser-supported model not working? Is there no other way to share this great industry resource without having to pony up?

I hope I'm wrong about this - if anybody has any more info, I'd love to hear it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Not an A-List Blogger? Some Options For You

We can't all be A-List bloggers. I know I'm not - I mostly do this for fun! But just because you're not on the A-List doesn't mean you can't get publicity across the web.

Over the past several weeks, I've found a couple good options for the rest of us. One is the Best of the Z List, where bloggers with fewer than 3,000 subscribers can submit articles for publication. This blog's gotten a lot of publicity on Sphinn and elsewhere, and while it's fairly new, I think it's going to be a great resource for finding new SEM blogs.

Another place for non-A-listers is SEO Scoop's List of Search Bloggers by Dazzlin Donna. This is a list of bloggers who regularly write about search, and includes everyone from A to Z. All you need to do is to write about search, and let Donna know about your blog. I've found a few new blogs to add to my feed list here.

I'm sure there are other resources, so if you run across any, post them in the comments.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

5 Feature Requests for MSN adCenter Desktop

Back at SMX Advanced in June, a pleasant conversation with the adCenter rep at their booth led to an invite for me to try the adCenter Desktop tool. This is a feature that SEMs have been requesting for a long time, and I was excited to try it out.

I've been using the tool for a couple of months now, and overall, it's a big timesaver. It helps me update campaigns quickly and easily, and actually has gotten me to include more clients in MSN. Yahoo is now the lone major PPC without a desktop editor.

That said, I have a couple of major feature requests:

1. Please, please, please get rid of the "save" requirement in the "manage" section where we make all our updates! I cannot count how many times I've made a bunch of changes, and forgotten to hit "save," only to lose all my work when I navigated away from that screen. UGH! I guess I'm just used to working in Adwords Editor, which doesn't require a Save, but it is cumbersome and unnecessary. adCenter Desktop already has the "revert changes" feature, so there is no need to make us save our work as we go along. Please!

2. Include a "help" section within the tool. We're all new to using this - don't make us guess what "deep copy" and other functions will do, please.

3. Warn users when accounts cannot be downloaded because the user is not logged in with the correct adCenter user name and password. We recently changed our password due to staff turnover, and it took me several tries to figure out why the Desktop tool stopped working. It just wouldn't download changes - there was no message telling me why.

4. Allow us to change ad group status from "draft" to "active" within the desktop tool. If this is possible, I can't figure out how to do it (see #2 above). I had to log in to adCenter to activate an ad group I set up in Desktop, which defeats the whole purpose of using a desktop editor.

5. Allow mass delete of {param1} keyword destination URLs. Again, if this is possible, I can't figure out how to do it. I needed to remove keyword destination URLs for a client's ad group yesterday, and it should have taken 5 minutes in Desktop. Alas, no such luck - I had to log in to adCenter, download the ad group to Excel, make the change, and re-upload the file - again, defeating the purpose of using a desktop editor.

I started a thread on Desktop at Search Engine Watch, but so far, I'm hearing crickets. Am I the only one out there who's using this? Am I the only one using adCenter?? If you've tried Desktop, post your feedback at SEW, or in the comments here!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The End Is Near for Inactive Keywords

As announced on August 21 on the Inside Adwords Blog, Google is rolling out some fairly major changes to their Quality Score. Much talk has focused on the new dynamic Quality Score, but I think this part of the announcement is just as big a deal:

"The new per-query evaluation of Quality Score affects you in that keywords will no longer appear as 'inactive for search' in your account. Instead, all keywords will have the chance to show ads on Google web search and the search network (unless you've paused or deleted them). Keep in mind, however, that keywords previously marked 'inactive for search' are not likely to accrue a great deal of traffic following this change. This is because their combined per-query Quality Score and bid probably isn't high enough to gain competitive placement."

Despite what Google says, I think this could be huge for some advertisers. While inactive keywords are often the result of poor keyword selection and lack of relevancy, sometimes very relevant keywords get marked inactive for other reasons. When I was at MagazineLine, we frequently had inactive keywords which were the name of the magazine we were selling - for instance, "cosmopolitan magazine." Click-through and conversion rates on these keywords were great - but sometimes we got slapped with trademark restrictions by the magazine publisher, and I believe that is why the keywords were marked Inactive.

I've seen similar things with some of our current clients. I'm anxious to see how this all plays out. Will these theoretically low-position keywords get any traffic? Will bids still need to be crazy-high in order to show up earlier than Page 10?

I haven't heard from anyone who's seeing the new "First Page Bid" info in their Adwords account yet - if you are seeing this, post a comment here, or at this thread over at Search Engine Watch.