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John Lavin

Blog Posts by John




Google Adwords Phone Support – Not News Here

April 6th, 2011

Every now and then when Google makes a change in Adwords, some of us may actually notice the change a day or two before its announcement.  This was true for me and the recent addition of the Automate function.  Andy Groller noticed it the morning before the announcement. When this happens, it’s hard not feel like you’re doing a good job in knowing your industry and staying on top of things.  With that said, yesterday, April 4th, this announcement was made on The Official Google Blog: Read the rest of this entry »

3 Novice Mistakes of the PPC DIYer and How to Fix Them

April 4th, 2011
PPC is not a refrigerator

Image credit to flickr.com

Now and then, clients will come to us and ask us to fix their PPC campaigns.  (We simply assume that by “fix them” they mean they just want more conversions.)  They tried doing it themselves, but hadn’t seen any return.  It seems a lot of do-it-yourselfers think that PPC is simplistic and runs on its own, like a refrigerator, but it isn’t something that works well when quickly set up, plugged in, and forgotten about.  It’s not a fire-and-forget system.  After said client sees how their campaigns should have been set up and the difference in performance once it is set up properly, they begin to understand just how much time and thought can go into a successful campaign.  While it’s true that any business owner knows more about his industry than an average PPC specialist, PPC specialists know how to use Adwords to its fullest extent.  I think this is where most of the DIYers fail miserably; they don’t use all that Adwords has to offer.  So I give the three most common mistakes of underusing Adwords to all the DIYers out there and how to fix them. Read the rest of this entry »

Google Adwords, Numbers, and Stats

December 7th, 2010

In the PPC world, numbers are everything.  I use numbers and percentages in almost every optimizing decision.  Numbers help me to determine which ad is more successful, what to bid on certain keywords, and when to adjust bids, just to name a few ways numbers aid PPC specialists.  So when numbers contradict one another, it can really throw me for a loop.  I find myself asking the question, “Which stat do I believe?”  Below I cite two examples of Google statistical discrepancies. Read the rest of this entry »

Bids Below the First Page Bid

November 11th, 2010

Dear Google,

charity example

Image Credit to NorCalBlogs.com

I think it is quite generous of you to have a program, Google Grants that provides grants to non-for-profit organizations.  I truly do commend you for it.  Allowing non-for-profit agencies to run ads on your network for free is awesome, not only is it a nice gesture, it makes the world a better place for many.  It is so kind of you to bid $1.00 dollar on keywords in Google Grants accounts in the name of charity.  It is even bigger of you to set such a large limit of this cost to you at $10,000 per month.  Charities and Foundations are in your debt.

Why are Certain Keywords even Charged?

At the same time though, I wonder why certain keyword related terms are so expensive to bid on, and why you even deem it necessary to make money on certain keywords.  I understand that the current market sets the standards, and therefore the pricing, but why can’t certain terms’ cost be set at $1.00 so that all charities and foundations are all on equal footing and can have a fair shot at necessary keywords?  Is there no way to take certain keyword phrases off the auction block?

The $1.00  Keyword Bid

Here is what I am talking about; below is an example where the $1.00 bid that Google Grants automatically bids for the non-for-profit is too low to display the ad on the first page.  Everyone in the PPC world knows if an ad doesn’t display on the first page, it is virtually invisible to users and therefore irrelevant.  From an account manager’s perspective, the fact that certain keywords are too expensive to bid on means that many keywords found during the keyword research phase are irrelevant as well.  When I combine the two Google Grants accounts I help maintain, 398 keywords out of 2442 are over $1.00 making about 16% of the that work nothing but a waste of time.

below the first page bid

The terms above are somewhat generalized, so I can easily see many non-for-profits using them as keywords to trigger their ads.  Shouldn’t these keywords only be a dollar so charities and foundations that take part in your Google Grants Program can take advantage of them?  Why must you get $1.50 for an ad that displays when a user searches for “charity gifts?”  Isn’t that kind of a low-blow to society as a whole since you rake in billions and billions of dollars through this ad platform?  I’m just sayin…

More Below First Page Bids…

Some other examples are a little more egregious.  I have mentioned before in our DragonSearch blog that DragonSearch donates the time it takes to manage the ads for the Friends of the Cambodian Child’s Dream Organization and The Magic Foundation. The first is an organization that is dedicated to educating poor Cambodian children, improving their lifestyle, and providing clean water, (to name a few) while the second is a foundation that educates families affected by children’s growth disorders and diseases.  Both are good and worthy causes.  Why must the following keywords be off limits to these non-profits in your Google Grants Program?

Keywords that are too expensive to bid on if in google grants

Google Grants’ reach would be far greater if its participants could bid on all of the keywords they need to make a difference.  It doesn’t make sense or help Cambodians that this organization can’t bid on “help orphans in Cambodia.”  Further, I think that Google is in a far better position to lose $1.25/$1.75 than orphans in Cambodia.

The Keyword Lottery Concept

My suggestion is to make all keywords used in Google Grants accounts available to participants, and limit the bidding to $1.00.  Obviously there will be great demand for certain keywords as opposed to others.  For the more in-demand keywords I propose some sort of lottery where every charity has a chance to display, thereby spreading the wealth of first page ad displays.  I am no algorithm expert but including other factors may help in doling out the ad displays in cases where the keywords are too sought after like how long the charity has been in Google Grants, the quality of the site architecture, and/or the amount of keywords.  Either way, I hope something changes because Google Grants really does have the capability to make a difference, and during these tough times, charities and foundations need all the help they can get.  In the end, Google itself would even win with a bigger write off.

Facebook Ad Targeting

October 30th, 2010

Advertising termsI would like to expand upon the last blog post I wrote and continue my complaining about Facebook ads.  There was a recent news flare up about how Facebook could be accidentally outing gay users. With the national attention given to teen suicides caused by bullying and the recent suicide of Tyler Clementi, this can be taken as troubling news.  Unintentional outings should be, and are under rather intense scrutiny. Read the rest of this entry »

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

October 1st, 2010

As a PPC specialist here at DragonSearch, I know certain words and phrases wont be displayed (or tolerated?) by Google.  These are your typical R-rated words and phrases, but includes some other keywords as well.  The complete list of Google’s content guidelines for Adwords is here if you are curious.  I recently ran into a problem that highlighted this necessary policy.  The Magic Foundation is a not-for-profit client who specializes in helping people with disorders associated with the lack of human growth hormone (HGH).  Examples of such disorders are Russell-Silver Syndrome or Turner’s syndrome.  I maintain their account and many of their keywords include the phrase “human growth hormone” like “human growth hormone replacement therapy.”  The ads were instantly flagged due to their relation to steroids, which Google doesn’t allow to be advertised.  Every ad I had “HGH” or “human growth hormone” in was disapproved.  After I applied for an exception, Google gladly warranted the exception and my ads are now running. This got me thinking about the advertisements in general, so I thought I’d take a closer look at how both Google and Facebook manage their ad policies.

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Beware the Status Update

September 14th, 2010
gun collection

Image Courtesy of www.prbullet.com

As an online marketer and advertiser here at DragonSearch, my following opinion is a secret (maybe not so much anymore) and it’s rather sacrilege – I don’t fully trust the internet.  Just because I make a living off of the perception that I trust the internet, doesn’t mean I have to trust it.  I have a Facebook page, but its privacy settings are set to not allow anyone I don’t know to see anything on my page.  I don’t accept friend requests from people that I don’t know or from people who I am not a good friend of either.  Most importantly, I don’t use Facebook Places, Foursquare, or any other social media platform that allows people to know where I am.  I have always considered it beyond foolish to let strangers know that my home and my guns are unattended.

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Google Homepage Conducts Search as You Type

September 8th, 2010

Luck Of Google Beta Testing Automatic Search Results ****UPDATE: This was posted right before Google Instant was revealed.  Thoughts and commentary are likely to change significantly on my next blog.****

When Google picks certain users to do beta testing on, I wonder how they go about choosing them.  Do they rely on demographics?  What percentage of users do they test to satisfy their results?  Do the users that get chosen feel as lucky as I would?  I always hoped that some day I would get to be one of them.  I don’t know why; I just want to be a part of it.  To know that my search patterns will help dictate how Google thinks things should operate somehow feels comforting.  This is why I was pleasantly surprised when I did my first Google search today. Read the rest of this entry »

Google and Youtube Movies, Coming to a Monitor Near You

August 31st, 2010

Boring YouTube video image of a catIt is being reported that Google-owned YouTube is in discussions with major movie studios to obtain pay-per-view rights to movies.  The report claims that by the end of the year we could be watching full Hollywood movies on YouTube instead of clips of stupid animal tricks.  This is the next step in a natural progression that started with the launch of Google TV.  This is very exciting, as I have been waiting a long time to see YouTube start offering streaming movies. Read the rest of this entry »

Google’s Image Search Results

July 22nd, 2010

Like many people my age, I have a hard time keeping up with the “Who’s who” of today’s world.  Friends often mention people who I have heard of, but I do not know who they actually are.  When this happens, I often resort to a Google Images Search.  Over the years I have found out who people are by seeing what they look like.  Their image will then remind me of what movies I have seen them in or what context I have heard their name in before and I can immediately relate to who the person is.  Sometimes, I can even hold a conversation about the people I do searches on so I feel hip and young again!

Google's Old Image Search Results Page

Google's Old Image Search Results Page

Google’s New Image Search Results

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