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Google Quality Score: It’s Also a Lot about Money!


As you know, we manage a lot of campaigns in many different languages. Therefore, we wanted to conduct a study of quality scores to determine how to decrease the cost of acquisitions for our clients. We already knew that price is part of the adwords algorithm. However, what we didn’t know was that it had such a huge impact on the quality score.

Rlevancy to the users?

What is the relevancy of this to the users? Well, it matters, but not as much as you might think. What matters more is . . . the number of people searching for the keywords. The more the query is searched for, the more chances your quality score will be low!

Why is it that way? Simply put, the lower the quality score, the more you, as advertisers, have to pay to be there.

Example of how it works

Let’s use an example to see how this works. Say you sell a product “productname”  that is searched for a lot online. You can clean your landing page and make your product super relevant (you have to do that), but still your quality score will rarely hit 10. Because then you could attract a lot of traffic (remember it’s searched for a lot) for only the minimum amount of money.

Besides, other websites may be willing to pay that price for the same query, which would allow Google to make a lot more money.

Let’s assume that “productname” is searched for 100,000 times a day. If you score a 10, you could pay as little as $0.06 a click. If you have a CTR of 5%, you would pay Google 100,000 x 5% x $0.06 = $300 daily. This means $9,000 per month.
If they give you a quality score of 5, you would have to pay, for example $0.5 on the same query. You would give Google 100,000 x 5% x $0.5 = $2,500 daily. This comes out to $75,000 per month.

So, for very obvious reasons ($), Google makes it harder to get a good quality score for the most popular queries on their search.


Of course, it also depends on the competition, how much the others pay and so on and so forth. But one thing is sure, the more popular the query is, the harder it is for you to get a good quality score, regardless of the competition (and you ad and page quality).

Relevancy is at the heart of the Google search. Money seems to run deep in the heart of the adwords system. Now you know.

Google Unveils New Ad Placements


Google introduces new ad placements on Google search allowing ads to appear below search results.

The search company previously enabled advertisers to promote their ads to the top or side of the search results. Now their ads may appear below them. According to Google, this change will offer users a better experience.

For example, if you search "Kittens", below is how you will see the ads displayed by Google AdWords.

Google Side Ads

Ads appearing to the side of search results

Google Bottom Ads

Ads appearing below search results

As users usually scan the search engine results pages (SERPs) from top to bottom, displaying ads in their visualization flow should perform better. The tests that Google ran were actually successful since ads showing below the search results had a higher click-through rate (CTR) than side ads.

Google provides you with a Search Engine Marketing tool to check the performance of your ads, and notably the ones on top positions vs. other positions (side, bottom, etc.).

Having better CTRs is good for advertisers AND Google. As more people click the ads, it means more revenue for the search company. Google's advertising revenue account for more than 95% of the firm's overall revenue.

This announcement comes after Google revealed a new feature allowing users to understand why they see these ads, as well as after Google recently announced a major update in its search algorithm giving fresher results

When to choose SEM over SEO

sem and seo

People often ask me this question – and often when they don’t, they should. When do I advise my clients to use SEM given that ours is obviously an SEO company, specializing in bringing cheaper and thus more profitable traffic to our customers’ websites?

I have tried to include all the cases in which SEM is a better choice than SEO below. Please feel free to add any points I may have missed.

1-    Short-term event:

a.    You have an event next weekbut you don’t yet have enough visitors/clients. In this case you would surelyconsider using online advertising because SEO is a long-term strategy, not an on/off system you can implement within a few days. In this case, create a landing page and promote it using Google adwords for example.

b.    You’ll often use SEM with games too. If you want people to subscribe to your newsletter and organize a game to let them win an iPad or some such gift, you can create an online advertising campaign to promote the game for a few days/weeks

2-    Launching e-commerce or awebsite:

a.    You have just launched e-commerce, but 24hours later no one has bought anything…Well that’s normal, because no one is visiting your website. It might even not be indexed in search engines yet. Use SEMto bring in your first clients while you beginyourSEO strategy. Use this time to make sure all your processes are working while delivering service tothe first clients.

b.    You want to generate leads through your recently launched corporate website? The same strategy applies – use advertising because it’s going to take a little while before your website actually generates natural/organic leads.

3-    Extending SEO:

a.    You CAN’T target all the keywords with your SEO campaign. So why not target the main queries through SEO while also attracting more traffic through those keywords that you do not necessarily wish to rank for in order not to lose your strength on your main ones. Thus, go for natural optimization for your core keywords and advertising for the others.

4-    Increasing traffic beyond what SEO can deliver:

a.    You want to double your traffic, triple it or even multiply itby 30. Well, that can be achieved in a few days through SEM – and SEM only. You CAN’T do it magically through SEO (and if you can, don’t tell anyone else how because that little secret is worth a lot of money;).

b.    Keep in mind that SEO traffic has a cap (the number of people searching for your website/services/products) while advertising does not – apart from the amount of money you can/are willing to invest in it.

5-    Drive traffic to non-optimizable content (Facebook fan page):

a.    You want to drive traffic to a page that is not optimized– it might not even be your website. For example, say you want to build a fan page in order to show the world that people trust you. Create a SEM campaign to drive traffic directly to your Facebook, Twitter, Renren or Douban pages.

6-    Test keywords’ ROI before targeting them:

a.    As you know, SEO is a long-term strategy to increase natural traffic to your website.But which keywords should you focus on? You have carried out proper keyword research but you are not sure which keywords will bring your website the best conversion rates. No problem– test it live with ads and then you will know which keywords you should focus on. It’s a risk-free solution to make sure you choose the right path from the beginning.

7-    Target local clients that don’t use local keywords:

a.    I see this all the time. Peoplein the US, China, Japan or wherever – they all type “web design company” to search for a firm IN THEIR CITY. They have forgotten that they are not the only people on earth using Google. Google can adapt the search engine response pages to your IP location but this won’t change much. These people are actually looking for your services, so target them through advertising because ads give you the opportunity to choose the location.

b.    Example: you sell chocolate in Chengdu. People in Chengdu might type “chocolate shop”. But people in Beijing might also type this too. With advertising you can put your ads in front of people who are actually in Chengdu while avoiding those in Beijing (because you cannot convert them into clients, so why would you spend money onadvertising for them).

8-    Balance traffic:

a.    This is another approach. You cannot control the number of people who come to your website and actually make a purchase. So if you have a problem, for example if three of your staff membersare absent, you cannot reduce traffic to your website and thusreduce your sales or the demand for support etc. If 30% of your traffic is acquired through online advertising campaigns, you can just turn the advertisingoff to decrease your traffic, reduce the overload and thus also reducethe possibility that your clients will become unhappy because they did not receive good service.


When do you think it’s suitable to buy advertising? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Google Instant: Impact on SEO and SEM


As you could have read in our previous post, Google recently launched Instant, a feature that displays search results as you type. Let’s see how Google Instant can impact SEO and SEM.

SEO isn’t dead with Google Instant

Contrary to what some people may say, Google Instant isn’t going to kill SEO. What is important to understand is that the feature doesn't impact the ranking of search results.

As you know, Google Instant displays search results as users type their query. Indeed, it guesses what you type in and shows the results for the entire keyword it believes you’re eventually going to enter.

No need to optimize for letter combinations, but...

It basically means that websites don’t need to optimize for letter combinations, because Google Instant isn’t providing search results for letter combinations. 

However, if one spams the search suggestions and then optimizes for a keyword, then one can optimize to the first few letters and work to influence the suggester... But this is black hat SEO... 

The ones who actually benefit the most of Google Instant feature for the moment are the companies that appear as “default” results. For example, when you type “A”, AOL, Amazon, AIM, and Apple are the runaway leaders in rankings in the US (results vary regionally).

Google Instant to change the way we search

Even though the search results remain the same for a query, there are great chances that users will learn to search differently over time. Indeed, with Google Instant, users can easily find out new areas to explore just by pressing the up/down arrow key. This will inevitably lead to changes for SEO.

For example, an important element that catches their attention is the search result snippet. The more relevant it is, the more likely visitors will click on the site. Therefore, it makes titles even more important from a SEO point of view.

With Instant, users will see more search results, and more ads...

From a SEM point of view, it’s clear that with Google Instant, users will now see many more search results than before. Instead of seeing like 10 results (most people never click through the second page of results), they can now see dozens of results, depending on how many letters they type and how far they get through their query.

At the same time, they will see more ads since those change with the results. However, since most Adwords campaigns are based on cost per click, an increase in impressions doesn’t mean an in increase in costs for advertisers.

Moreover, as Google Instant may make users use more specific  keywords for their search queriers instead of general ones, there could be therefore a reduction in clicks towards ads displayed by generic keywords.

Google wants to get more revenue from AdWords

With InstantGoogle clearly wants to make search more relevant for users and improve user experience for search and user willingness to click on ads. Why ? To get more revenue of course.

The company hopes that Instant will improve AdWords campaigns performance. And since Google’s revenue model is largely based on AdWords (Google’s main source of revenue), I can bet that Instant will inevitably make Google's revenue go up.

MSN Launches Advertising Platform in China


The Microsoft Network (MSN) has launched its advertising platform adCenter in China.

Microsoft adCenter targets Chinese exporters

The US Internet giant says it wants to target Chinese exporters willing to advertise overseas. Microsoft adCenter helps businesses advertise online such as on Microsoft's Bing search engine.

The service will earn profits via selling English key words to Chinese companies. These key words, once purchased, appear on search results of Bing, MSN's portal websites, Wall Street Journal, and some famous social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook.

Currently, Microsoft adCenter operates in the US, Canada, UK, France, and Singapore. Microsoft hopes revenue from the pay-per-click ads will account for half of MSN China's business in the future.

Google vs. Microsoft, battle of China

By launching adCenter in ChinaMicrosoft clearly wants to grab market share from rival Google.

In January, Google said it would not filter its content according to Chinese regulation, and threatened to pull out of the country. It later shut down its Chinese site, redirecting  mainland users to its unfiltered site in Hong Kong.

In July, following its standoff with Beijing over filtering search results, Google cut ties with two major Chinese advertising agencies, namely Universal Internet Media and Xi'an Weihua Network.

Google's advertising platform AdWords accounts for about 20% of China's online market. Contrary to Baidu which dominates the market, Bing has a tiny market share, that is why Microsoft looks for a search engine partner in China.

Google is Using You to Promote Your Competitors!


Do you know that Gmail uses your information to display ads promoting your competitors? I know that can sound weird but let me explain about what I discovered.

Gmail displays ads relevant to your interests

A prospect used his personal email address to send me a message. He was asking me for more information about our web design and SEO services. Nothing amazing here. Yet, when I read his message in my Gmail inbox, I saw ads related to LED companies.

OK, I know that the ads that appear next to my Gmail messages are related to my interests. Google uses a contextual advertising technology, so that these ads can be be relevant to my interests. The technology isn't only based on the information contained in the displayed message but also on any recent messages in my inbox. 
However, what is amazing here is that there wasn't any word about LED in the message, neither in any of my previous messages. So, why did Google show me ads about LEDs?
Gmail inbox screenshot

But Gmail promotes your competitors behind your back too

I actually figured out that my potential customer's company operates in the LED sector. Gmail knew his interests in LEDs and thought that I could be interested in LEDs too. In the end, Gmail was promoting LED companies which were actually his company's competitors!

Ok, now what if he was writing one of his prospects?

Well, his prospect would have the email, and next to it the competitors' ads! Isn't that crazy?! Google puts it that way : if you're interested in LED, and you write to someone, this someone could be interested in LED's too! yeah, sure that someone could click and give money to google adwords... But google use me to target my prospects and show them my competitors to increase his revenues !!

Does that mean that when I write people using my gmail to their gmail... google displays web design and seo ads? that could seriously piss me off... what about you?

What if I am using a Hotmail / Yahoo, or any other Email client?

Well, then Google cannot track me easily, and gmail will probably not show relevant ads when I write anyone. Which means that they cannot use me to take my prospects away anymore...

Google is in fact encouraging us to use their competitors' emails services ...


Why does Google do that?

For obvious reasons, to increase the number of clicks on the ads displayed within gmail and thus earn more money. Usually, when Google has to chose between increasing money AND user privacy/scandal, they chose the latter. May I remind you that they don't display ads on their homepage (well, actually they do for their own services and Chrome, but that's fine). I think it's a very stupid move from them... and I wouldn't be surprised to see them change their policy if there was a scandal. The thing is, very few people know about it, so there is no scandal... for now.

My advice would be then to not use your Gmail account for professional purposes, otherwise google could use you to promote your competitors behind your back!
Oh ! wait... do they do the same with Google APPS, that target mainly companies... maybe it's time to avoid Gmail...

Baidu phoenix nest, what is changing for your Chinese seo?


What is baidu Phoenix nest?
Baidu phoenix nest is the new baidu search engine reponse page presentation, but not only, it also affects the ads management too. Before, baidu was putting the pay-per-click ads directly above the natural organic responses. So you could “buy “ your rankings for any query. With phoenix nest, baidu seperates natural and paid listings.
If I launched a website the 1 of January, and wanted to rank first the 2nd of January, that was possible. So, money was leading the rankings, not quality.
Besides, even if  my online ecommerce would sell only “red cars”,  I still could buy the 1st ranking for “black car” or even “yellow carpet”. Basically, I could buy any keyword for any website… So you can imagine how the search quality was affected.
Why baidu is changing?
Baidu is improving its system. Now you can NOT buy your 1st position anymore, you can work to reach it, and that of course improves search quality. Baidu suffered from many scandals, and that’s probably why they decided to change. Besides, google had better quality search results, and baidu had to improve theirs to keep their huge market share (more than 60% for baidu in china vs google only 20%).
Baidu new Search Engine Optimization Rules?
Well, of course, from the 1st December on, the only way to rank first in the natural / organic results of baidu  is to work on your search engine optimization. That means, more seo business for us, yes :o)
Having great content, good html, social media optimization to leverage backlinks, we go back to the standard search engine optimization rules. That’s why you should read or read again this post we wrote about baidu seo, and about backlink strategies.

Many people will suffer a sudden increase or decrease of their website traffic because of this change. For example, when you look for the query “Beijing web design” in Chinese in baidu, the first natural response was ranking at the 11th position! This means, from the 1st December on, they will go from the 11th to the 1st, something tells me they will know a sudden increase of business ;o)

How this is going to affect user behavior?
The Chinese internet users usually click from the 1st to the 10th link, and even sometimes go to the second page of search engine (as you can see on the heat map below). That is said to be due to two main reasons : curiosity of the Chinese! And the fact that they are used to have first ads, and then the natural responses (I tend to believe more this second reason).
So if baidu is getting more accurate, if they separate the ads from natural responses, chances are this will affect users behavior, and Chinese users like the western users will click on the first 3 responses mainly… so, it’s even more important to be among the firsts.

Google Vs Baidu?
It was hard for google to beat baidu in china, it’s becoming even harder. Baidu is getting rid of its main drawback. In the search engine world, Improving search quality equals retaining users… and that’s the core of google and baidu’s business. Baidu is taking the right direction to protect its domination.
Baidu Stock Share Plunges!
Because of this change, baidu stock share plunged! Yes, baidu will make less money now. When you have search and ads mixed, users click more on ads than when you don’t mix them. So baidu is about to have a decrease in turn over. But seriously, isn’t that a very good move for the long run benefits and development?! Sometimes, I don’t understand analysts… or they don’t understand the business they bid on.
Baidu going International?
There is a big fear for baidu to go abroad. I was attending a conference two months ago where a knowledgeable speaker was talking about how some big Chinese companies feared trying to enter the European or US market. Baidu is no exception. Yes, its search quality is lower than google’s, but baidu could work on that by taking into account not only the number of backlinks but also their quality. Come on baidu “jia you”.
Ps:baidu jia you” in Chinese, means “go go baidu”, but I tried it just for fun in google translate, which of course gave me the literal translation, “Refueling”… so, I wanna say, “refill baidu refill”.

How to lose money on PPC

pay per click

You want an example of how to lose money with ppc (pay per click) program, I am going to give you one. I have just seen this today, and yes, there are thousands of websites who lose money this way, check the image below.

bad pay per click example

Whenever somebody types “Beijing”, their ad for a massage appears on google paid placements! And thus, whatever the second and the third word is!
So if I type “Beijing magazine”, I am probably not looking for them right? Still, their ad appears, not targeted, and there are big chances if I click on it that actually, I am not going to be interested by their  “massage” services…

It’s easy to earn money online… as easy as it is to lose some.

So, when you chose your keywords for your ppc program, with adwords for example, and if you don’t want to ask professionals to do it (like THEM), then please, use an exclusion list too, so that you don’t waste your money.


Google Adwords with Pictures


Adwords uses pictures now. you can add a text and a picture to your ads. no doubt this will increase the CTR (Click through rate), because pictures are often more appealing than just a text based ad


it also mean that companies will have to produce appropriate images and pictures for such ads. I know most of the companies do, but also many small and medium sized companies don't, and they will have to do it... for economic reasons


Remember that the less people click on your ads, the more they are expensive for you, because google considers they are not relevant enough. if users click more on your competitors ads because they are more appealing, because they have pictures, it means your PPC (pay per click) will increase. if you want to keep it low, you'll have to use images

i know google doesn't mix these picture ads with the text ads for now. but i am sure they'll end up doing it. so, prepare...

designers, you should have more work in the next couple of months ;o)