Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is click fraud still a problem? Google Adwords users be advised

I found this article very interesting since I have a number of law firms who continue to use Pay Per Click in addition to their optimized organic website rankings and optimized Google Local (Maps) results.

Although nobody can seem to agree how much click fraud exists today, one point is still clear: it still exists....

By Marc Poirier, SEW, Sep 18, 2009
I've been concerned with click fraud since the beginning of PPC times. That is probably because I was one of the early victims of click fraud -- once with Overture, and again with the early Google AdWords. This was back in 2002 and 2003.

Since then, I haven't witnessed any serious instance of suspicious traffic coming from Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft. Obviously, that doesn't mean there's no problem, far from it. But I honestly thought click fraud was mostly a thing of the past.

Until one morning this summer, when I choked on my toast and nearly died after reading the headline "Click Fraud Rise Or Fall? Click Fraud 22.9% Or 12.7%?"

How could such high percentages of paid clicks possibly be fraudulent? Shouldn't the FTC be all over this? Well, the FTC doesn't appear to be involved, and these are the published Q2 2009 results from two competing companies that monitor click fraud activity for a living.

Click Forensics, the more established of the two, says click fraud reached 12.7 percent in Q2 2009. That's down from 13.8 percent for Q1 2009 and from the 16.2 percent rate reported for Q2 2008. These numbers are high and could be scary to some, but they're more or less in line with Google's 10 percent overall invalid click rate.

Yahoo has also said their numbers are in line with Click Forensics. The difference may be explained by the fact that Click Forensics monitors traffic on Google and all other networks, which may not be as "safe" as Google for advertisers.

However, competing firm Anchor Intelligence, says the click fraud rate was actually a whopping 22.9 percent in Q2 2009, up from 21.7 percent in Q1 2009. That's just really hard to take seriously.

Facebook Accused of Click Fraud

Some advertisers even claim that PPC networks are encouraging, or even creating click fraud to inflate their revenue. For example, in July, Facebook was hit with two lawsuits claiming click fraud on their behalf (i.e., the plaintiffs are accusing Facebook of charging for clicks that never even occurred).

TechCrunch recently published a story on this topic that generated more than 230 comments, many from other advertisers crying foul.

What Google Does to Protect Their Advertisers from Click Fraud

Google is fighting click fraud attempts with technology and brains. All paid clicks go through a three-step system designed to filter out click fraud attempts.

Proactive Filtering:

1. All clicks are sent through algorithmic filters that detect the vast majority of click fraud attempts. Invalid clicks will still be sent to the advertiser's Web site, but the advertiser won't see any invalid clicks in their report, and they obviously won't be asked to pay for them. These aren't necessarily fraudulent in intent. Most of the time, they're quite innocent. For example, many visitors double click on links, or click back and trigger the AdWords tracking script a second time.

2. Offline Analysis focuses specifically on clicks that come from the AdSense program. This is done after the fact, and invalid clicks are credited. Google doesn't specify which clicks were credited, but they provide some information in the Click Quality Adjustments section of your billing summary.

Reactive Filtering

3. Investigations are conducted when advertisers complain that they think they were victims of fraud. This is quite rare, according to Google. They state that less than 0.02 percent of clicks are reactively identified as invalid. In other words, Google claims that only two out of every 10,000 clicks are known to be invalid. And even these are credited back to the advertiser.
According to Google, this filtering process is quite efficient at identifying invalid clicks. While Google doesn't specify the exact percentage of all invalid clicks, they do say that it fluctuates from month to month, that it's always less than 10 percent, and that it has been more or less stable since 2002.

Does This Mean Click Fraud on Google AdWords is Only 0.2%?

Not even close. It's impossible to know what that number is at this time.
Obviously, Google does a lot to counter click fraud. But even so, their process leaves out one important possibility: invalid clicks that aren't detected proactively by Google's algorithms, and which aren't detected by the advertiser. This is obviously impossible to quantify, and arguably could be quite a large percentage of clicks.

On the other hand, third party firms such as Click Forensics and Anchor Intelligence often forget to include the word "attempted" when they speak of click fraud, as in "attempted click fraud." The word "click fraud" clearly implies that somebody's getting ripped off.

However, because they aren't tied in directly with the search engines' internal systems, they aren't in a position to know whether the advertiser is being charged for suspicious clicks. Clearly, AdWords advertisers aren't getting ripped off by 12.7 percent -- and definitely not by 22.9 percent.

This all points to the need for further and deeper collaboration between the search engines and third-party firms like Click Forensics to reassure advertisers that their money isn't spent after bad clicks. You can see your own invalid click report by building a report with AdWords.

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/3635015

Visit our website to learn more about optimized versus pay per click advertising results for law firms

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How To Monitor Your Website’s Inbound Deep Links

Next to optimized content, nothing is more important to search engine visibility than a website’s inbound links. But when it comes to measuring links, each link is not the same. A number of factors go into the power of links beyond simple quantity. These include: relevance, textual anchors, Page Rank value, bleeding links, and much more.

What is commonly overlooked however is the power of the “deep link.” A deep link is nothing more than a link that goes directly to a sub-page (not your home page) of your website. This is commonly done to elevate the visibility of a specific page in the search engines when competition for similar content pages is high.

When formulating an inbound link strategy, a goal of at least 10-25% of your links should be targeted as deep links. Once your link strategy is underway, there are ways in which you can check your progress to make sure you are getting to these goals.

The first way is to determine how many of your total inbound links are to your home page as opposed to having deep links. You can check this through the following steps:

1.) Create a Yahoo account and go to: https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/
2.) Enter the URL address of the website you want to check and click the “Add My Site” button to the right
3.) With your website now listed below, click the “Explore” button to the right
4.) On the results page, click the “Inlinks” button just below the results text and select the “Except from this domain” from the “Show Inlinks:” drop down box to the right and then select the “Entire site” selection from the “To:” drop-down just to the right of that.
5.) The number now displayed in the “Links” button above will now show you the total number of links coming into the entire website (home page and deep links combined)
6.) Next, you will want to see how many links are only coming into the home page by choosing the “Only this URL” drop down selection from the “To:” dropdown list.
7.) Once you have determined both numbers following the steps above, simply minus the “Entire Site” number by the “Only this URL” number and divide the total by the “Entire Site” number to get your percentage of deep links.

If you have a smaller website and/or if you want to see details of each deep link, you can also perform this same task by entering the URL address of each webpage into http://www.backlinkwatch.com/ and doing the same calculations for your sub-pages and the home page of your website. This same process can also be done in Yahoo site explorer but backlinkwatch will commonly include anchor text and no follow attributes that are also useful in your analysis.

Visit our website for more details on inbound link building and analysis

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Law Firm Videos Making Strides in Search Engine Results

For anybody doing searches for lawyers in New York City, universal search is starting to create more questions. Not only are Google Local (maps) now being displayed prominently, but so are video results.

So what does all this mean? Quite simply, being number #1 in Google isn't the only thing grabbing people's attention anymore. The fact of the matter is that different people prefer to communicate in different ways...some like to read results while others prefer to view them. This is why YouTube is now the second largest search engine behind Google (both of which are conveniently owned by Google).

Videos that show up in search engine results tend to be highly optimized and syndicated - they didn't end up there by accident. The results are even more impressive - customer attraction and conversions are significantly increased when video results are present as well.

If you are an attorney and would like to learn more about how video can help attract more clients to your website, please contact the SEO Consultant Firm to learn more.