Should you buy Search ads for your brand keywords?

August 24th, 2007


Originally published in Natural Search Blog

In this article written by Chris Smith, lead strategist for Netconcepts, he takes a hard look at spending your PPC budget on search ads that use your company’s brand name (and variations thereof) as keywords. Read more and find out why it’s important to promote your brand through paid search.

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Interview with Alan Rimm-Kaufman, Paid Search Expert

May 22nd, 2007


Stephan Spencer, President and Founder of Netconcepts, gets to the heart of PPC with Alan Rimm-Kaufman, leader of the Rimm-Kaufman Group, writer and distinguished speaker in this informative podcast.

From click fraud to paradigm shifts in PPC, this interview informs and teaches us how to be more “paid search”-savvy on a corporate level. Learn how to channel Alan’s passion for search, and find out how his tips can benefit you in this 55 minute podcast.

Interview with PPC expert Alan Rimm-Kaufman

October 31st, 2006


The biggest challenge (and opportunity) facing retailers in Paid Search is complexity and the speed of innovation. In an interview with Netconcepts founder and president Stephan Spencer, direct marketing guru Alan Rimm-Kaufman said every week brings new innovations, more options and more complexity, and retailers and agencies alike need to scramble every week to keep up. He doesn’t see this trend slowing â?? if anything, it may be accelerating. If youâ??re into thinking about future, he encourages you to check out …”

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A level of web dev and SEO experience that’s rare to find

House of Travel logo“We are very happy with the growth in sales online, and Netconcepts’ management of our online media campaigning and paid search program has been a key driver of that….Netconcepts have very strong core competencies around the technical aspects of web
development and search engine optimisation…”

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PPC: In or Out Part 2

August 2nd, 2006


Originally published in ClickZ

In part 2 of this article for ClickZ, Netconcepts’ lead search strategist Pat Fusco goes on to say that while PPC advertising and SEO strategies may have the common foundation of keyword research, that’s where the similarities end.

Should you hire an in-house SEM, external agency, or both? Pat says it primarily depends on your online marketing goals, marketing budget and risk management mindset.

What about buying your way into top rankings? There are seven fundamentals of any PPC campaign as Pat highlights…

Bid jamming and gap surfing

September 6th, 2005


Late last month I spoke at the “Successful Online Advertising conference in Auckland. One of the questions that came up during the session on paid search was around the tactics of gap surfing and bid jamming. A lot of people in the audience didn’t know the definitions of these terms; in fact, many had not even heard of them before. I’d guess that many of my readers are similarly unfamiliar with these two concepts. So I thought it might be useful to define them.

First off, bid jamming is something you can do in Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly known as Overture). Bid jamming is when you increasingly raise your bid amount to just a penny below the top bidder who has foolishly set their maximum bid amount way too high. This forces the top bidder to pay that max bid amount per click, whereas you only have to pay one penny more than the bidder underneath you. Of course, this can cost the competitor a lot of money quite quickly but, if you are not careful, you can get bid jammed yourself in the process.

Gap surfing is a tactic for ensuring your bid is no more than it needs to be to maintain your target rank. So if you are happy to be lower than #1 position and you don’t want to pay too much, you might want to use this tactic. In a nutshell, you scan through the top ranking ads and find the big gaps in bid prices and you bid at the bottom of one of those gaps — e.g. the biggest gap within the top five positions.

I would recommend staying clear of bid jamming, and I would employ gap surfing only if you have a bid management tool that supports this capability. I wouldn’t try and accomplish it manually. Particularly since Google AdWords doesn’t even show you everyone’s bid amounts, so you’d have to continually revise your own bid amounts and monitor your position until you figured out the gaps.

As you can see, there is a lot of complexity and subtleties in pay-per-click (PPC) search advertising, and we’re only scratching the surface here. It goes on to include sophisticated web analytics, and constant automated revisions of bid amounts based on the web analytics data (e.g. the technique of dayparting). Trying to manage pay per click campaigns without the proper tools is like showing up at a gunfight with a sword. 😉

To Buy or Not To Buy Text Link Ads

August 31st, 2005


A few weeks back I blogged some advice here for business bloggers who might want to consider text link advertising as part of their blog marketing mix.

Well, there’s been a lot of controversy as of late about buying text links. Blogger Phil Ringnalder published a scathing post accusing publishing house O’Reilly of being a search engine spammer. O’Reilly’s founder, Tim O’Reilly, responded to the accusations on his own blog. Google engineer Matt Cutts posted a comment to Tim’s post admitting that Google has decreased the voting power of sites like and and downgraded the reputation of some of their outbound links. Ouch!

Matt’s (and presumably Google’s) position was loud and clear:

If you don’t want your own site to suffer the same fate as O’Reilly, you better tag your link ads with a rel=nofollow attribute so that you don’t pass any PageRank score to your advertisers.

In my mind, that doesn’t seem quite fair. Website owners and bloggers work hard to build a content-rich site with good PageRank score. Google’s black-or-white stance on this equates to a diminished earning ability for these websites by insisting webmasters cut off the flow of PageRank to their advertisers. This of course decreases the value of the link ads to those advertisers, and consequently the revenue likely to be realized from them. Granted, no savvy advertiser is going to buy a text link ad solely based on PageRank score, but PageRank does factor into the equation.

This makes me wonder what Google’s position is on is, which is part banner ad, part text link ad. A good blog ad contains useful content. Why shouldn’t the blogger be allowed to “vouch for” (by not tagging the link with nofollow) the links contained within that ad if they so choose?

Most “white hat” SEOs such as Christine Churchill believe text link advertising is a legitimate practice. I agree with her.

I wonder what Google would do if all the websites across the Internet decided to take all their banner ad inventory they have and bypass the click-tracker redirect that counts all the clickthroughs. Suddenly all these new votes would start counting all over the Internet for commercial advertisers and sponsors. Wouldn’t that throw Google for a loop!

So what is the bottom line here for bloggers who are looking to advertise? It’s basically this: be discriminating in your link buying. Text link advertisements are not inherently evil. Just don’t buy ads on sites where any of the other advertisers on the site are misleading, deceptive or misrepresentative. By that, I mean things like the following:

  1. Setting the ad’s link text to some keyword-rich phrase that doesn’t accurately reflect the page that is linked to.
    e.g. An ad on proclaims “The North Face” but that isn’t The North Face!
  2. Linking the ad text to a landing page that is built for search engines and not for people.
    e.g. the “Discount Vacations” ad on points to one of Orbitz’s many “doorway pages”.
  3. Hiding or obscuring the link so human visitors can’t see it, only search engines.
    e.g. Doing a “View Source” on the home page of reveals these hidden links:

    <a href="">Search Engine Marketing</a>
    <a href="">Search Engine News Release Optimization</a>

And it goes without saying that you should refrain from such practices yourself when you advertise.

This post is based on material taken from on my own blog across three separate posts: Link buying – ethical or unethical?, Buying links – Google’s perspective, and Buying link ads – the ethical debate rages.

What Does Search Offer?

Successful Online Advertising — Auckland, NZ

August 23rd, 2005

Seminar by

  • Overview of SEO & SEM – what are they, how do they work? What are the relative strengths of each?
  • SEO – how to get started; SEM – how to get started
  • SEM – examples of successful paid search advertising