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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Life Is Good

How are things? Trick question: it's a matter of perspective. It's a matter of how you frame things.

Hardly anyone searches for "february blahs" (you can look it up on Google Insights for Search), so full steam ahead? Not so fast. The number of people searching for "winter blahs" eclipses that by what looks to be a hundredfold.

And that's nothing. Queries for Seasonal Affective Disorder outstrip searches for winter blahs, a hundredfold, a thousandfold, who knows. :(

But then again, if you compare *that* to fun, active queries like "super bowl 2010" or "vancouver olympics," SAD isn't even on the radar.

Go team! Enjoy the rest of your week, either dreaming of spring, or making the most of winter -- whichever it is you do.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Sunday, September 07, 2008

Insider Thinking Still Grips Promotional Products Industry

Companies in all industries are still not getting the point about full coverage of the "keyword torso," preferring to wallow in high bids on core terms, rounded out by improbably long lists of tail phrases. Some companies are doing pretty well, but their economics could be improved significantly by just doing the basics -- nothing fancy.

Check out the other ways of saying "promotional products" (the term those in the industry itself seem to use most often): logowear, logo items, schwag, swag, and so forth, and the number of Google advertisers drops precipitously. In Canada, the use of alternate terms drops to near zero - leading the all too familiar "unmonetized SERP". Yet there are scores of leading logowear companies vying for those leads... aren't there? You wouldn't know it by doing a search -- especially north of the border.

In their defense, maybe some advertisers in the B2B arena find that pop terms like schwag are generating too many consumer-based queries looking for free stuff, leading to untargeted clicks or low CTR's. I just use this as an example. Surely the masses aren't searching for "logowear."

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Google's Keyword Tool With Volume Numbers: Useful or Ho-Hum?

The sequence of events unfolded approximately as follows: Google upgraded their AdWords keyword research tool to show search volumes.

I was already a big fan of Google's keyword tool. I had traveled the globe trying to dispel the myth that there really wasn't much to see there. I'd open up the tool and prove to people that you could do a bunch more with it than the touters of third-party solutions let on. And then I'd watch incredulous seminar attendees mentally downgrade my speaker grade because after all, what the heck is this lunatic going on about? It definitely conflicts with the sales pitch they just got down at the Trellian booth. Everyone knows you can't do anything with a free tool! Sigh.

The tool has taken many steps forward over the years, though some backpedals too (the dedicated "suggested negative keywords" function would be nice to bring back, but I have a handle on why Google may prefer not to show this).

When the raw volume numbers were added, that sealed the deal for me. No longer would I have to apologize for my love of Google's keyword tool! The world would finally see it my way.

Oops. Nope. I forgot. Some SEO person was going to have to come along and claim that "the Google keyword tool is useless for SEO, even with exact numbers." I had considerable trouble following the tortured logic, but in any case, the point wasn't lost on me that Google didn't design the tool so SEO's could do keyword research! They designed it so we could build good-quality paid search campaigns! Like any tool... it's how you use it.

I considered a rebuttal, but figured trying to Outspinn an SEO with 69 Sphinns would be like beating my head against the wall. And besides, the very first comment summed up my sentiments anyway: "I don't think that KD, WT or WordZe are anywhere near as accurate or up-to-date as the Google tool or the MSN Ad Intelligence for Excel Beta. Nice affiliate link drops, though."

A completely opposite viewpoint to the skeptical SEO just crossed my desk. Perry Marshall walks us through some examples to show just how useful Google's keyword tool is. OK, I can stop questioning my sanity again. Perry falls into the category of someone that actually uses keyword research tools for paid search and teaches thousands of others how to improve their keyword marketing (rather than talking smack, writing lists, etc.)... so I'll go with his take.

What's really interesting, if you look at Perry's walk-through, is that you can comb through the list with match type set to "negative." That's not really a "suggested negative keyword list," in my view, but it does facilitate adding negatives to a campaign.

Verdict: Google's tool provides insightful keyword information, no matter how you Sphinn it!!

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Thursday, June 12, 2008

Small Google Trends Improvements

Andy Beal tells it exactly how it is: Google trends just "took a small baby step towards being something of value."

Actually, if you're doing broad keyword brainstorming and seasonality research and you don't want absolute counts, Google Trends is the best available tool. It gives you real Google data (though not absolute), is very handy in terms of presentation of historical data, and will also give you regional breakdowns (which seem less reliable -- did Canadians just discover cashews in 2007?).

I do find seasonality research fascinating. It forces you to rethink consumer behavior and to understand that conventional wisdom is always going to evolve online. "Holiday seasonality thinking" will give away to more granular seasonality thinking, IMHO. For example, if you search for "figs," the spikes are in October - not November or December. Well duh! This is when figs are harvested so you can get them fresh. I suppose for those of us who assume figs are some dried thing, we wouldn't give that a thought. There is so much we don't know (or research)... and the tools are out there to find out.

FWIW: search-wise, North Vancouver seems to be the fig capital of Canada. Take note!

On the other hand, if you really are looking for absolute numbers, Google Trends still falls short.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Monday, September 10, 2007

Frivolous Aussie Keyword Lawsuit: An Abuse of the Human Faculty of Speech?

Litigants in anti-Google keyword cases such as this latest in Australia speak in one-sided "baby talk," acting for all the world like Google has set out to deceive and wrong them personally. I'd call it "food fight tactics," if I'd ever witnessed a food fight mostly involving applesauce, but I haven't.

This complainant blithely accuses Google of sneakily "selling off top spot" in spite of its reputation for ranking results based on relevance, not money. The sponsored results supposedly appear "in the same format" as search results. Car dealership Kloster Ford was "outraged" by its competitor's conduct... and hence, the ensuing lawsuit and brouhaha. Too bad for the complainants, but the outrage was not backed by, at least, brussels sprouts, or other food you can whip at someone, because applesauce thrown in anger is still applesauce. It was also not backed by facts or sound argumentation.

The overinflated sense of outrage and weak argumentation reminded me of my penchant for the helpful if opaque works of Jurgen Habermas, particularly his late work Between Facts and Norms. If the ideal for better understanding and progress in any problem-solving exercise is what Habermas might have called a "discursive situation," Habermas can argue that "communicative power" is merely pushy coercive power based on bluster and sometimes backed by money or illegitimate influence. "Real" power as embodied in the law (as it should be) would emanate from a discursive situation. Winning in a legitimate court case based on a proper weighing of facts and ethics as generally agreed in legal codes would be "legitimate power."

Luckily, Google wins most of these cases. Apparently, in many jurisdictions, "I was outraged" and blatantly manipulative descriptions of how Google "sells off top spot," are trumped by the more accurate argument that accurately describes the real workings of Google's advertising program, and the legitimate right of advertisers to buy space online.

At the entirely opposite end of the spectrum, I then read a nice piece by Mike Grehan in Larry Chase's WDFM newsletter that focuses heavily on trends in search and how Google Universal Search presents results to users based on search history or apparent intent. There is far from a single "list" of "most relevant" results in a given format. So kudos, Mike, for presenting deep-seated facts which lead us towards a "discursive situation" about search and ads, thus staying on Professor Habermas' good side. In an ideal society, the legal system would take account of such facts. Most modern legal systems attempt to do so, fortunately.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Friday, August 17, 2007

Yet Another Keyword Lawsuit

(via SEL, via Eric Goldman) American Airlines brings a suit against Google for allowing competitors to use terms like "American Airlines" to trigger their own ads. The question is: will the existing law and precedent suddenly change because this time, it's American Airlines? Doubtful if you ask me.

The upcoming SES panel (next Tuesday) on copyrights and trademarks should be a good one, as always.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




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