Even Google Pays Attention to Their Word Count

Marissa Mayer made some nice commentary on the history – and importance of – the word count of the Google home page and the weight given to the words on a page in her Google Blog post yesterday:

“What Comes Next in This Series?”

A snippet:

“How does privacy relate to homepage word count? Larry and Sergey told me we could only add this to the homepage if we took a word away – keeping the “weight” of the homepage unchanged at 28. Given that the new Privacy link fit best with legal disclaimers on the page, I looked to the copyright line. There, we dropped the word “Google” (realizing it was implied, obviously) and added the new privacy link alongside it.”

Old School SEO: Whatever Happened to Proximity?

While having a conversation today with a dear first gen SEO friend, the discussion made its way to the topic of SEO today vs. the SEO of years ago. Specifically – we discussed how it seems much of the focus has drifted away from some truly fundamental aspects of optimization, particularly with regard to on-page characteristics.

For example, while links are, without a doubt, essential to the success of any SEO efforts at this point, the on-page content has become way too devalued in some circles. As a very specific example, the concept of “proximity” – the closeness, or “lack of distance” on a given web page between the words that comprise a keyword phrase of two words or more – has all but vanished from the discussion of SEO. It’s not too tough to see what’s getting a page ranked for “cheap tickets” when it appears in the top 10 in Google, but the words “cheap” and “tickets” can’t be found anywhere near each other on the page. Call the bomb squad!

While keyword-rich anchor text in external links is obviously an effective standalone short-term SEO tactic (and a lot of fun for “miserable failure” and “greatest living american”), it certainly does not build the foundation for solid, long-lasting results when the on-page content doesn’t take proximity – and a myriad of other factors – into account.

We rock Connies.


Information About the Class Settlement in the MIVA (FindWhat) & Lycos Click Fraud Case

Many of you have received the email below if you advertised with MIVA and/or Lycos in the past. In order to receive advertiser credits for any click fraud you my have paid for during your campaign, you must visit www.PayPerClickSettlement.com and submit your claim by April 11, 2008 to be eligible. Please note that if you do not actively opt out of the class (whether or not you submit a claim to receive advertiser credits), you will not be eligible to pursue future litigation against MIVA or Lycos for click fraud-related activity.

-Jessie

Re: advertiser account(s): ******

Notice of Pendency and Settlement of Class Action, Settlement Hearing and Claims Procedure
This court-ordered notice may affect your legal rights. Please read it carefully.
If you purchased online advertising from MIVA, Inc., formerly known as FindWhat.com, Inc., or any of its subsidiaries, including B&B Advertising, Inc. (also known as “SearchFeed.com”), between January 1, 2000 and September 30, 2007, or if you purchased online advertising from Lycos, Inc. between September 23, 2002 and March 30, 2006, you are a class member in a class-action lawsuit, Lane’s Gifts and Collectibles et al. v. MIVA, Inc. et al., Case No. CV-2005-52-1, in the Circuit Court of Miller County, Arkansas. This notice is to inform you of the Court’s certification of a class; the nature of the claims alleged; your right to participate in, or exclude yourself from, the class; a proposed settlement; and how you can claim an award of advertising credits under the settlement. For ease of reference, MIVA and its subsidiaries are referred to collectively hereinafter as “MIVA;” however, the provisions of this notice apply to all of these companies.
· The settlement will provide advertising credits to class members who certify that they were the victims of “click fraud” or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements purchased from MIVA on or after January 1, 2000 and on or before September 30, 2007, or from Lycos on or after September 23, 2002 and on or before March 30, 2006.
· The settlement will resolve claims that MIVA and Lycos allegedly breached contracts with advertisers and violated other laws by failing to adequately detect and stop “click fraud” or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements.
· If you are a member of the class, your legal rights are affected by whether you act or do not act.
YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS
Do Nothing
You will automatically be eligible to submit a claim form for MIVA advertising credits and will give up your ability to sue MIVA and/or Lycos over the subject matter of this case.
Exclude Yourself
You will not be able to submit a claim form for MIVA advertising credits. This is the only option that allows you to bring or participate in another lawsuit against MIVA and/or Lycos about the subject matter of this case.
Object
Write to the Court and parties about why you don’t like the settlement.

· These rights and options—and the deadlines to exercise them—are explained in this notice.
· The Court in charge of this case still has to decide whether to approve the settlement. Awards of advertising credits will be made only if the Court approves the settlement. If someone appeals from the Court’s approval of the settlement, awards of credits will not occur until the appeal is resolved.
WHAT IS THIS CASE ABOUT?
Plaintiffs Lane’s Gifts and Collectibles, Max Caulfield d/b/a Caulfield Investigations, Federal Tax Resolution, LLC, Toni Riss d/b/a Death Becomes You (a/k/a Blue Lips), and Payday Advance Plus, Inc. allege that MIVA and Lycos breached their contracts with class members, unjustly enriched themselves, and engaged in a civil conspiracy by failing to adequately detect and stop “click fraud” or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements. MIVA and Lycos deny Plaintiffs’ allegations and contend that all payments they have received from class members for online advertising were legally and properly charged, and that they have neither breached their contracts with class members nor violated any other law through the actions alleged in the case. The Court has not made a determination regarding which of the parties’ contentions are correct.
WHY IS THERE A SETTLEMENT?
The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiffs or MIVA and Lycos. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. That way, both sides avoid the cost and uncertainty of further litigation.
AM I AFFECTED BY THE SETTLEMENT?
If you fit within the definition of the class that the Court has certified, then you are a member of the class and you will be affected by the settlement. The class that the court has certified is defined as:
All persons, together with any officer, employee or agent of the same that have purchased advertising on the Internet from: (a) MIVA, FindWhat.com, and/or any subsidiary of MIVA, on or after January 1, 2000 and on or before September 30, 2007; and/or (b) Lycos on or after September 23, 2002 and on or before March 30, 2006, regardless of where any of the foregoing ads were displayed.
WHAT WILL I GET FROM THE SETTLEMENT?
Under the settlement, MIVA will establish a settlement fund of $3,936,812.00 on behalf of MIVA and Lycos, of which a portion will be used to pay class counsel’s fees and costs, and the remainder will be available to class members in the form of advertising credits that may be applied to up to 50% of the cost of future online advertising purchased from MIVA. To receive credits, you must submit a valid and timely claim form. Credits will be awarded on a pro rata basis, taking into account the amount that you paid to MIVA and/or Lycos for ads that you believe in good faith to have been result of click fraud and the total amount of credits available. For example, if the amounts that you paid to MIVA for the affected ads were 1% of the combined online advertising revenues of MIVA between January 1, 2000 and September 30, 2007 and Lycos between September 23, 2002 and March 30, 2006, you would be eligible to receive 1% of the total available credits. You must certify in your claim form the percentage of your ads you believe were the result of “click fraud.” Credits must be used within one year of issuance and may be used only for advertising on the MIVA Media US Network.
HOW DO I SUBMIT A CLAIM FORM?
You can submit a claim form online by visiting the following website betweenthe date of this Notice and April 11, 2008 and entering the requested information.
www.PayPerClickSettlement.com
If you do not submit your Claim Form by April 11, 2008, your claim will be deemed late and will be rejected.
WHAT ARE THE ATTORNEYS GOING TO BE PAID?
The Court will decide the amount of fees to be paid to class counsel and the extent to which the expenses that they incurred in working on the case should be reimbursed. Class counsel intend to seek a maximum of $1,287,270.00 in attorneys’ fees and expenses in this case. Under the settlement, MIVA and Lycos have agreed that they will not oppose an award of up to this amount to class counsel.
Class counsel also shall petition the Court to determine the amount of an Incentive Award to the class representatives in an amount not to exceed $25,000 (or $5,000 for each named class representative). Under the settlement, MIVA and Lycos have agreed that they will not oppose an award of up to $25,000 to the named class representatives.
WHEN WILL THE COURT DECIDE WHETHER TO APPROVE THE SETTLEMENT?
The Court has scheduled a hearing on April 30, 2008 at 9:00 CST to consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and to determine the amount of the fees and expenses to be awarded to class counsel. The hearing will be held in the Miller County Courthouse at 400 Laurel Street, Texarkana, AR 71854. It is possible that the hearing may be postponed.
HOW DO I REMAIN A CLASS MEMBER?
You do not need to do anything to remain a class member. You will be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court, whether favorable or not. You will be represented by class counsel. You do not have to pay class counsel.
If you remain in the class, you will be eligible to submit a claim form for MIVA advertising credits online between the date of this notice and April 11, 2008. In return you will be giving up any claim for damages against MIVA and Lycos relating to the subject matter of this case.
WHAT AM I GIVING UP TO RECEIVE ADVERTISING CREDITS OR STAY IN THE CLASS?
Unless you exclude yourself (opt out), you are staying in the class, and that means you can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against MIVA or Lycos relating to the subject matter of this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. The legal issues in this case involve allegations that MIVA and Lycos breached their contracts with advertisers and violated other laws by failing to adequately detect and stop “click fraud” or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements.
Any member of the class who does not opt out fully and finally releases and waives all claims, demands, rights, liabilities, and causes of action of any nature that were asserted or might have been asserted, known or unknown, concealed or hidden, anticipated or unanticipated, under any law whatsoever, that arise out of, relate to, or are in connection with the legal claims against MIVA and Lycos in this case, or any facts, transactions, events, policies, occurrences, acts, disclosures, statements, omissions or failures to act, known or unknown, which are or could be the basis of claims that the monies MIVA received for online advertising on or after January 1, 2007 and on or before September 30, 2007 should not have been charged, received or held by MIVA and claims that the monies that Lycos received for online advertising on or after September 23, 2002 and on or before March 30, 2006 should not have been charged, received or held by Lycos.
HOW DO I EXCLUDE MYSELF (OPT OUT) FROM THE CLASS?
You may exclude yourself (opt out) from the class if you mail a signed letter asking to be excluded from the Class to Global Director of Advertiser Support, MIVA, Inc., 5220 Summerlin Commons Blvd., Suite 500, Fort Myers, FL 33907. The letter asking to be excluded must be postmarked no later than thirty (30) days after the date this Notice was sent. If you are excluding yourself, the letter must contain your name and address and say that you want to be excluded from the settlement. If you are excluding your company, your letter must contain your company’s name and address, your position in the company, and a statement that you are authorized to act on behalf of the company. If you exclude yourself (opt out), you will not participate in the settlement or receive any of the benefits of the settlement. If you wish to remain a class member, DO NOT send a letter asking to be excluded.
HOW DO I OBJECT TO THE SETTLEMENT?
If you don’t like the settlement and wish to object, you must say so in writing. Mail a letter saying what you do not like about the settlement to all of these addresses:
Matt Keil
Keil & Goodson
406 Walnut St.
Texarkana, Arkansas 71854

David J. Stewart
Alston & Bird LLP
One Atlantic Center
1201 West Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

The deadline for objection is thirty (30) days after the date this Notice was sent. If you want to object, you must mail your letter early enough so that it is received by the deadline.
If you make an objection by the deadline, and you also want to speak at the hearing, you must ask the Court for permission to do so. You may choose to be represented by counsel, but you will have to pay that counsel.

Matt Cutts On The Hot Seat

About Matt Cutts

A personal interview of Google’s Matt Cutts from PubCon 2007 in Las Vegas. Instead of the usual shadow boxing — asking tricky SEO questions hoping Matt will slip up and offer some clues about the Google Secret Sauce — we decide to ask question he never hears and learn about Matt Cutts as a human being.

How does he feel about the annual NCAA conflict: Red State v. Blue State?

What it’s like to be the official taste tester for Ham versus Spam in the Google index?

Hanging with the enemy, does Spam become personal?

Wonder what life’s like after the Google IPO?

What motivates him to get out of bed every day?

Take 11 minutes and get personal with your favorite Google Spokes Model.

Republican Party For Sale At Yahoo

Wonder why Yahoo is having so much trouble monetizing their inventory?

I was reading a political blog when I noticed this Yahoo’s publisher network advertising the republican party of america at low prices on Yahoo store!

We all assume politician’s are corrupt and that votes are for sale, but this perhaps Yahoo has gone to far by suggesting RETAIL corruption!

Even more upsetting than the hilarious content was the ridiculous capitalization. The only words NOT capitalized in the sentence were the ones that should have been.

Republic Party for Sale at Yahoo

Google Gives Valentine’s Day Love to Spammers

Google, please stop giving Valentine’s Day love to parasitic marketers!

Here are some examples of people who are ranking their SPAM by posting it on crowd sourcing sites like NowPublic.com or free classifieds in Topix. Try a search for Valentine Lingerie and you will find the #4 position taken by A Splog Post on NowPublic.com and the #8 and #9 spots taken by two free classified listings from 2 different domains with essentially identical content on Topix.

It is really hard to make a coherent argument why these pages deserve to rank for Valentine Lingerie more than another costume & lingerie site. Topix and NowPublic have no incentive to fight this garbage unless the engines make them suffer for all of their content, because they get paid on the impressions.

For the “marketer” whose Splog post is on NowPublic, the 699 visits on the page to date might be worth the effort, but it definitely doesn’t mean they deserve the eye balls. NowPublic also doesn’t NoFollow links, even ones that seem to clearly be less than editorially controlled, so there may be (NOT) some PR flowing to the Spammer as well.

I am not sure if MSNBC and Foxnews deserve the love their getting from Valentine’s Lingerie more than NowPublic, but at least these articles aren’t spam, they are “news stories about fashion”.

Google, please stop ranking the SPAM. It encourages blackhats and causes blight in the index!

Parasitic Marketers dominate SERP

Search Spend Laps Display Advertising

Two studies tracking this race conclude that search marketing is lapping the alternatives.

Despite all the hype about display advertising and the block buster ad network deals of 2007, search continues to be the high performance engine that is driving online marketing spend. According to GroupM, search will make up 65-70% of the measured online advertising in 2008, up from 50% in 2005. For the mathematically challenged, that means search has gone from about even to 2 times the display spend. It also means most of the revenue growth has been from search. Nothing But Net, a new study by JPMorgan, meanwhile, puts the global search spend in 2008 at $30.5 billion.*

GroupM goes on to note that online advertising in Sweden is expected to exceed spending on any other channel, with the UK and Denmark likely to follow suit by 2009. Given that search is only getting about 10% of the dollars going to television in the U.S., we have a long way to go to catch up with our friends in Europe (and perhaps European companies need to wake up to the superior ROI of investing in SEO instead of relying on paid search)

Another interesting note from the study is that the 2008 U.S. election cycle is expected to contribute $2 Billion in local and national television advertising. No data is available at the moment, but it seems unlikely that search is getting 10% of that pie and it is clear at the moment that few of the campaigns are spending anything for SEO.

*We rarely call out a company’s SEO issues by name, but JPMorgan needs a lot of help. We wanted to link directly to the report, since we believe in citing source material whenever possible. Despite the fact that this study has been widely quoted, it is impossible to find any links to the study on JPMorgan.com. In fact, searching for study by name, JPMorgan + Nothing But Net, “JPMorgan “Nothing But Net” failed to find a press release, abstract or the study in the top 10. We went on to search for “site:jpmorgan.com nothing but net” and still couldn’t find the source.

JPMorgan Executives, if you’re listening, call us. :-)

Kick Down Doors With Google Alerts

I used to spend more time than I care to think about getting through people whose job it was to make influential people people hard to reach. An amazing tool was introduced a few years ago that makes it easy to get around these roadblocks and get invited in the back door.

That amazing tool is Google Alerts, which allows each of us to get our own private alert whenever Google discovers a new page that contains a keyword or phrase we find of interest. It turns out that there is nothing I find more interesting than reading about me. It happens that many busy and accomplished people share this weakness.

Instead of beating your head against the corporate firewall, do a little social engineering. Post a blog (or even a blog comment) with someone’s name and people will read what you say about them. Does it work? Let me show you with a shout out to some of our friends. I won’t email/text/poke any of them, just to make this a valid demonstration.

Matt Cutts, Danny Sullivan, Kevin Ryan, Aaron Wall, Rand Fishkin, Gord Hotchkiss, Jeremy ShoeMoney, Doug Klein, Bill Gates and Stephen Colbert, let me start by saying hello.

I really appreciate you stopping by and I hope you are doing well. I know you are all really busy and I am really sorry that I called you under what you might consider false pretenses. Since you are here and you have responded to my honey trap…please take a minute and say hello to some of our other friends.

Thanks… and I guess I owe you a beer or something.

Google Reveals Adsense Click Fraud Rate is Above 20%

Forbes reported a couple of weeks ago about the latest skirmish over numbers between Google’s Shuman Ghosemajumder and Tom Cutler of Click Forensics. Reporter Andy Greenberg went right to the heart of the discussion by asking Google to address the July 2007 report by Click Forensics.

Within online content networks, Click Forensics estimated that more than 25% of all clicks were fraudulent, up from about 22% in the previous quarter.

Instead of answering a direct question and helping find common ground, Shuman responds with characteristic misdirection. First he attacks the methodology of other third party auditors with a critique that doesn’t apply to Click Forensics, then uses another third party study to claim that Google is actually charging for fewer clicks than they should.

That’s just one particular set of numbers. The auditing firm, Fair Isaac, for example, estimated in May that on Google’s content network, 10 to 15% of clicks are fraudulent. On ads placed next to search results, they said that there was a negligible rate of click fraud, less than 1%. That implies an overall click-fraud rate of around five to 7%. The number of clicks that we proactively throw out is less than 10%. So then the question is really: How much are advertisers getting for free thanks to our detection methods?

Shuman is a politician or a magician and perhaps a little of both. Instead of watching his lips, think about what he actually said and take time to do some math. The information Schuman provided proves that 22-28% of the clicks on the content network are invalid clicks.

Schuman tells us that the clicks on Google.com are only 1% invalid. Accepting that number (which seems entirely reasonable) and his implicit assertion that this represents 50% of all PPC clicks, along with the estimate that Google doesn’t bill for 10% of all PPC clicks, we can conclude that the invalid click rate for the clicks that are not on Google.com is around 19%. (1% Invalid for 50% of all clicks with 10% invalid for all clicks means 50% of the clicks have a 19% invalid rate).

Take that 50% of PPC clicks that we can infer from Shuman are not taking place on Google.com and break it down a bit more, and you wind up with some of these clicks on the Google Search Network (of which AOL and MySpace are the largest members). Google doesn’t share any data about the percentages of clicks from these partners, but if we assume that 25% of the remaining 50% of PPC clicks – or 12.5% of the overall PPC clicks -come through the Google Search Network, we wind up with 37.5% of PPC clicks coming through Google Content Network. If we assume that invalid clicks from the Search Network is half as much of a problem as on the content network, we can say that:

  • 100% of the PPC clicks have 10% invalid (Google Provided Data).
  • 50% of the PPC clicks have 1% invalid (Google Search, Schuman’s Data) .
  • 12.5% of the PPC clicks have 10% invalid (estimates for search partnership).
  • 37.5% of the PPC clicks have 22% invalid (our estimate based content/adsense advertising).

Still using Google’s 10% of all clicks are invalid, let’s go a little further and suppose that the overall share of clicks from Google.com aren’t 50%. Let’s say they are 60%, which is what we have observed with our campaigns. (again, Google won’t share these figures at the moment)

  • 60% of PPC clicks have 1% invalid (Google Search)
  • 10% of PPC clicks have (search network) have 10% invalid
  • 30% of PPC clicks have (adsense/content distribution) have 28% invalid clicks.

Clearly, this analysis is riddled with assumptions, but it is time for Google to stop responding to Click Forensics with intentionally confusing data. Come forward with a breakdown of invalid click by channel and let’s have an honest and open discussion about the remaining difference. Google might just find out that a little transparency goes a long way.

From SEO Consulting company Alchemist Media, Inc.