Archive forDecember, 2006

PayPerPost Aquiring Performancing

Performancing, who runs an advertising network I personally use, and who I’ve mentioned before, is being aquired by PayPerPost, the blog advertising network who I have also mentioned. TechCrunch broke the news today.

Performancing has 28,000 users, most of who are bloggers. This fits in perfectly with PayPerPost’s business model. PayPerPost has been getting some competition from ReviewMe lately, and this should help give them a boost.

PayPerPost vs. ReviewMe

Comments off – A New SEO Social News Site

I have started a new SEO social news website – SEOyak. Users can submit and vote for stories that are of interest to the SEO community. This is in response to a few recent reports (from TopRankBlog and Search Engine Land) that Digg has been banning SEO websites.

This site is brand new and is a little rough around the edges, but have a look at it and contribute if you can. Feel free to email me at [tlainevool at seoyak dot com] with any comments.

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PayPerPost and LoudLaunch Require Full Disclosure

Two services which allow bloggers to be paid by advertisers for posting about products, PayPerPost and LoudLaunch, both announced recently that bloggers will be required to have full disclosure for paid posts. This follows an opinion issues by the FTC last week that they will look into deceptive word of mouth marketing campaigns on a case by case basis.

LoudLaunch also announced recently that they are beginning to accept applications from both bloggers and advertisers and the service will be launched on December 26.

A third get-paid-to-blog service, ReviewMe launched last month and has required full disclosure from the beginning.

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Google Claryfies Policy on Images and Ads

One source of constant confusion and debate in the AdSense community has been the placement of images next to ads. Many people discovered that putting images right next to ads caused an increase in the CTR of ads. Google, however has come back to publishers and told them that they are not allowed to do this, and ads that appear physically related to the ads are not allowed.

Google has now posted a blog entry that clarifies AdSense’s image policy.

Here is what I believe is the main thrust of the policy:

We ask that publishers not line up images and ads in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads. If your visitors believe that the images and the ads are directly associated, or that the advertiser is offering the exact item found in the neighboring image, they may click the ad expecting to find something that isn’t actually being offered. That’s not a good experience for users or advertisers.

Many publisher have tried to put a thin line between the images and the ads, but according to Google, that is not good enough:

If the ads and the images appear to be associated, inserting a small space or a line between the images and ads will not make the implementation compliant.

So, the basic rule is, don’t try to fool your visitors. This is still a subjective judgment, but try to view your site as if you were a Google engineer, and ask if it seems acceptable or not.

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Smart Pricing FAQ for AdSense Publishers

Smart pricing is a constant source of confusion and frustration for AdSense publishers. Although no one except Google know the details of smart pricing, this FAQ attempts to distill the AdSense community’s best guesses at what is going on. I’ll try to keep this post updated with the latest information.

What is Smart Pricing?

Smart pricing is an attempt by Google to ensure that AdWords advertisers are getting a good Return On Investment for their advertising. Usually when an advertiser places an add the y want whoever clicked that ad to take some action such as buy a product or sign up for a newsletter. Google tries to determine if a user from your site is likely to result in the desired action or not. If not, they lower the price of click from your site. Here is an explanation from Google (written from an advertisers point of view):

Google’s smart pricing feature automatically adjusts the cost of a keyword-targeted content click based on its effectiveness compared to a search click. So if our data shows that a click from a content page is less likely to turn into actionable business results — such as online sales, registrations, phone calls, or newsletter signups — we reduce the price you pay for that click

What Factors Effect Smart Pricing?

That’s difficult to say. Google gathers lots and lots of data, and they could be using any of it to determine how much smart pricing to apply. They did say this much: “We take into account many factors such as what keywords or concepts triggered the ad, as well as the type of site on which the ad was served.”

Does Smart Pricing Effect Just One Site or an Entire Account?

It appears that smart pricing effects the whole account. All of the sites on a single account are equally smartpriced. See One Poorly Converting Site Can “Smart Price” an Entire AdSense Account by JenSense for details.

How Do I Know if I Have Been Smart Priced?

There is no way to tell for sure. If you see a sudden drop in the CPC values you get over you entire account, this may indicate you were smart priced. However, a drop in earning doesn’t necessarily mean you been smart priced. Here are some other reasons why your earnings may vary.

Is Smart Pricing Permanent?

No, it’s not. Google readjusts the amount of smart pricing on an account once a week.

How Can I Get Rid of the Effects of Smart Pricing?

The type of traffic you get can effect smart pricing. Try to make sure the traffic on your site is in “buy” mode.

For example, take two different sites about digital cameras. If you have a site about photography tips, people are not really looking to buy cameras. They may be mildly interested in checking out new camera models, so they may click on ads, but they are really not ready to buy. However if you have a site about digital camera reviews, many of the people on the site will be actively looking to buy a camera. When they click an ad, there is a good chance they will be buying. The photography tip site may be smart priced because the traffic just doesn’t convert as well as the review site.

Also keep in mind that accidental clicks will never convert well. If a lot of your click come from visitors click on ads because of some “tricky” placement of ads on your site, you will likely be smart priced.

I Noticed a Drop in My Average CPC. Was I Smart Priced

Not necessarily. There are many reasons why average CPC can drop. Advertisers could be lowering their bids, a major advertiser in you niche may have dropped out of a bidding war, some CPCs vary seasonally, an ad might be displaying on your site that has great CTR but lower CPC than the average in the niche. With so many variances in CPC, it’s hard to tell what is really going on.

Please comment on this entry to let me know what is missing or incorrect.

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Web Widgets – A Great Way to Get Links

One of my favorite sessions at PubCon was Viral and WOMM Marketing Management. All the speakers were good, but I found Lawrence Coburn’s talk about web widgets particularly interesting. A widget is a small piece of code that can be placed onto a website that will provide some kind of functionality to the users of a site. Some example of popular widgets is the embedded YouTube player that you see on countless blogs, or StatCounter. For some more examples of widgets see Steve Rubel’s blog post.

One reason web widgets are good for publishers is because they are a great way to build links. The HTML for the widget almost always includes a link back to the site of the widget creator. This can be a very powerful source of links., for example, has over 50 million backlinks, according to Yahoo. This is because whenever someone uses a counter widget from, they get a backlink. is the number one result for “web tracker”, “hit counter” and “web stats” on Google.

One great piece of advice that Lawrence gave during his talk was rotating the text of the link back to your site. Having identical text in your links doesn’t look very natural to search engines, so rotating the text that is displayed can help with rankings. It also allows you to target different keyword phrases. Another good idea is to provide links to different pages of your site, not just the home page. Again this is something that looks more natural to the search engines.

Web Widget Resources

Lawrence has a blog about widgets called Sexy Widgets.

One interesting service is, MuseStorm, which provides tools for building widgets. However, as far as I can tell, a widget built with MuseStorm do not contain links back to your site. Update: It appears that publishers can have links back to their own sites using MuseStorm.

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FTC on Deceptive Word of Mouth Marketing

The FTC had been asked to look into the practice of “buzz marketing” by the anti-advertising group Commercial Alert. In response, the FTC issued a staff opinion (pdf) yesterday that could effect how business is done online. The practice in question is paying a consumer of a product to make claims about that product. While the FTC didn’t think there was any need to add any new guidelines, they feel that word of mouth marketing could not use deceptive practices and each complaint could be handled on a case-by-case basis. Basically, it boils down to people endorsing a product without consumers being told up front that they have been paid to promote the product.

This has some real consequences for doing business on line. Services like PayPerPost, which pay bloggers to write about products without requiring a disclosure, will need to change their practices. Even if an individual blogger writes about a service and includes an affiliate link, I could imagine this could be considered a “deceptive” practice. Jason Calacanis has also recently been looking into claims that some PR firms are paying top Diggers to vote stories up. I could see this falling under this general area as well.

It has always been my policy on this blog that if I have any type of paid review or affiliate link, I will clearly mark it as such. Obviously going forward, this will be a good practice for everyone. Full disclosure has always helped earned the trust of readers, and now it may also keep you out of trouble with the FTC.

I first read about this at CopyBlogger.
Read more: Washington Post Article, Word of Mouth Marketing Association press release

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YSM Continues Rollout of New Advertising Platform

Yahoo has announced that all new advertisers who sign up for a Yahoo Search Marketing account will get access to the new advertising platform, nicknamed Panama. I think this is a big step forward and shows they are pretty confident with their new platform.

On the other hand, I am an existing YSM advertiser, and I still don’t have the new platform. Why would Yahoo show preferential treatment to new advertisers and leave older advertisers out in the cold? Should I be offended?

Comments (1) Warning

You may have heard, which is set to launch tomorrow. If you haven’t heard, pixelotto is the next scheme from Alex Tew, who created the Million Dollar Homepage. This time he is doing something similar. He is auctioning off a million pixels worth of ads, this time at $2.00 a pixel. The difference this time is that there is a “lotto” attached to the page. Users who click on the ads have a chance of winning 1,000,000 dollars. That’s right, once the whole $2,000,000 worth of pixels is sold, some lucky user will get $1,000,000 of it. He is also giving $100,000 to charity. Leaving himself a tidy $900,000 minus expenses. Not bad, and I think it will work too.

The warning is for people who are considering buying advertising on your site. The traffic that you get from this is going to be pure garbage. People will be click the ads and not caring at all what is on the other side of the link. None of the traffic is going to convert. This will be the equivalent of the garbage traffic that pay-to-surf programs bring. If you are running an ad program like AdSense or YPN, there is a good chance you could get banned from attracting this type of traffic. So, if you do advertise with pixellotto, make sure not to put AdSense or YPN (or any other ad network that cares about quality of traffic) on your landing page.

Digg This!

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Can You Build Links Too Quickly?

In webmaster forums people often caution others not to build links too quickly. The search engines do not like unnatural linking patterns and quickly adding links to a site can be a sign of an unnatural pattern. If you go out one day and buy 100,000 links from every page two large websites, that is probably pretty unnatural and the search engines wouldn’t really like it very much. But is building links quickly always a bad thing?

There are ways to build links quickly without being penalized for them. A good example of the is the launch ofReviewMe. ReviewMe has built up a lot of links since their launch less than a month ago. Yahoo now shows 19,502 links to To show that ReviewMe is not in the Google sandbox, I did a search for ‘paid reviews’ on Google, and ReviewMe comes up as the fifth site in the SERPS. So it seems like they manages to build links quickly and properly. How did they manage to do this?

They managed to get very natural looking links by eating their own dog food and paying lots and lots of bloggers to write posts about them. This resulted in links from within the content of pages from a large variety of sites. The strategy seems to work. This is similar to what happens when stories go to the front page of Digg. Many people see the link and link to it from their own blogs and websites.

So, if you are getting links naturally, don’t worry about getting too many too quickly. Google realizes that links do spread quickly on the Internet.

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