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High Rankings Advisor: Overture vs. Google AdWords plus The Secret Powers Of Search - Issue No. 104

July 7, 2004

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Overture vs. Google AdWords

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   IBP Award-winning SEO Software
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
---->   The Secret Powers of Search

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Running AdWords Campaigns for Customers

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Never Neglect Your Meta Description Tags

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Free SES San Jose Pass

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  Summer has made me lazy...I've taken the easy road
today.  The search engine marketing question was one that I really
couldn't answer, so I have my friend Ed Kohler answering it, plus I
have a guest article.  So not much Jill today, which I'm sure you're
all broken up over!

The feedback from last week's issue regarding search engine spam
company Traffic Power was overwhelming.  Thanks for all your support
on that one.  I wasn't sure how it would go over, but it seems that
nobody likes companies that are pretty much complete scammers, which
is great to hear.

Anyway, let's get on to the good stuff.  - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Overture vs. Google AdWords++

Dear Jill,

I manage Overture and Google AdWords campaigns for a college. I spend
$6,000/mo in Google AdWords and $4,000/mo in Overture, and I am
perplexed as to why the Overture campaign is working better. We track
the campaigns on the basis of online forms from their respective
landing pages, and Overture brings in twice as many form inquiries.

I've managed Google AdWords campaigns successfully before for other
companies and I thought that since Google has a larger share of the
search engine market, they should be bringing in better response. Is
Google slipping in their performance and ability to deliver?  (Both
campaigns are extremely similar as to keywords and match choices.)



++Jill's Response++

Since I'm not really a PPC kinda person, I decided to enlist the help
of my friend and High Rankings PPC forum moderator, Ed Kohler
(Haystack), to answer Karen's question.  Ed is the president of
Haystack In A Needle <>, a Web
marketing company based in Minneapolis, MN offering pay-per-click
campaign management and search engine optimization services.

Take it away, Ed! - Jill

++Ed Kohler's Response++

Interesting issue, Karen. Since your Overture campaign is generating
twice as many leads as your AdWords campaign, and is doing so at only
2/3 of the cost, it sounds like your Overture campaign is actually
working three times better than AdWords. In my experience, the results
from Overture campaigns vs. AdWords will vary from one campaign to the
next, but not enough to justify the disparity you're experiencing.
This leads me to believe that your situation is more likely due to the
campaign settings within your AdWords account. I'll break down some of
the major differences below, and hope this helps identify the lurking

I'll work from the assumption that you're pleased with the results
generated by your Overture campaign and would like to figure out how
to configure your AdWords campaign to match Overture's. I'm also going
to assume that a visitor to your site from an AdWords-powered
pay-per-click result is likely just as qualified as one from an
Overture result. This may not be entirely the case, but I don't think
it accounts for the variance in ad performance you are experiencing.

Differences Between Google Adwords and Overture

1. Geotargeting: If your AdWords campaign's location targeting is set
wide open, you may be paying for traffic with a very low chance of
converting to leads. Double-check this in your campaign settings.
Overture's ads will appear almost entirely to a US and Canadian
audience. If your AdWords account is set to a wider audience than
that, consider tightening it up. You may also want to consider
creating an additional campaign targeting just your home state. While
the traffic will be significantly lower for this campaign, the
conversions should be considerably higher.

2. Language Targeting: Your Overture campaign will display ads almost
entirely to an English-speaking audience. If your AdWords account is
set to display ads to a broader audience, consider tightening the
focus in your campaign settings.

3. Ad Syndication: What percentage of your traffic is coming through
content targeting compared to search engines on AdWords? While clicks
from content-targeted ads can and do convert to leads or sales for
businesses, a person clicking through from an ad on a web site is not
as qualified as a person who is actively searching for the services or
products your business offers. I've found that this varies
considerably from one industry to another. For example, if ads for an
online hardware store are syndicated onto a do-it-yourself web site,
the ads are likely targeting motivated customers. However, since you
represent a college, your ads may be running alongside newspaper
articles regarding education funding or other educational topics that
are only loosely related to your marketing goals. Consider turning off
content targeting for a test period or comparing your conversions
rates from search- vs. content-targeted ads. You may not miss that

4. Matching Variance: It sounds like you have a feel for the various
matching options used by Google and Overture. While they are quite
similar in name, they will provide somewhat different results. This is
most prominent with exact and broad matching, where AdWords' broad
matching is a bit broader and exact matching is more exact.

- Exact Matching: Google's and Overture's matching options vary
considerably, especially when it comes to term-stemming. For example,
if you exact-match a phrase on Google (put the phrases in [brackets]),
your ad will only show to searchers typing that exact phrase into a
search engine. However, Overture's version of exact matching (their
default style of matching) will also match your term to phrases beyond
the exact match using their Match Driver feature. This includes
matching your ad to common misspellings, plural and singular versions
of the term, and the use of the term in conjunction with common words
like "the" and "of." Also, Overture's "enhanced matching" feature will
match your ads to terms where the searcher's words appear in your
title and description but weren't necessarily bid on by you.

If you take a closer look at your converting search phrases, it's
possible that you'll find your best converting terms to be the plural
version of your terms. Assuming you did your keyword research using
Overture's Search Term Suggestion Tool (which rolls up the plural and
singular terms into the singular version), then used that set of
phrases to set up your Google Adwords account, you may have
inadvertently skipped some of the better converting versions of your
important search phrases.

- Broad Match Variance: Overture's definition of broad matching is
matching the individual words in a search phrase to searches
containing all of the words in any order and anywhere within the
searcher's given search phrase. For example, a broad-matched ad on the
term "LED lighting" could appear when someone searches for "lighting
for my home LED lights." (For more info:

AdWords will provide the same match as Overture does in the above
example, but will go a step further with their expanded matching
feature. Expanded matching will cause your ad to also display on terms
Google considers to be synonyms, related phrases, and plurals. (For
more info:

It's certainly possible that Google doesn't know your business and
your prospective customers as well as you do, so consider tightening
up your campaign by using phrase and exact matches. If you'd like to
keep some terms wide open, consider only doing so with search phrases
containing at least three words to prevent your ads from being overly

Additionally, with Overture and Google, if you're using anything other
than exact matching, it's important to include negative keywords
(Google's term; Overture calls them Excluded Words) to prevent your
ads from matching on irrelevant or poorly converting terms.

5. Competitive Bid Influence: Google's choice to use broad matching as
the default matching option (listing your search phrases without
"quotes" or [brackets]) has caused frustration for newbies, but has
also had a painful effect on experienced pay-per-click advertisers.
While you may have worked hard to research hundreds or even thousands
of redundant search phrases relevant to your web site, newbies may be
setting up new campaigns where they've inadvertently broad-matched
themselves into competition with your ads. This can drive up your
per-click cost on some terms where you may have little to no
competition on Overture.  Not much can be done about this, but it's
something worth noting.

6. Landing Page Choices. Overture's system forces you to create a
specific ad for each search phrase you place in their system. By
default, this often leads to higher ad quality because advertisers are
more likely to write unique ads for each search term. It also
increases the odds of advertisers to send visitors to the most
appropriate landing page on their site for specific keywords. For
example, your college offers a variety of different programs for
students. When someone searches for a specific program you offer,
you'll generally see higher conversions if you send that visitor to
the appropriate program page rather than the homepage, forcing them to
dig for the same content. There are two ways to address this in
AdWords. Create additional Ad Groups with a tighter grouping of search
phrases, or assign unique URLs at the search-phrase level. (For more
info: <>.) A
combination of both strategies will provide the highest performance
along with the most detailed tracking data for stats analysis.

Working through each of the above variables should help uncover
opportunities for improving the conversion rates of your AdWords

Good luck!

Ed Kohler
Haystack In A Needle

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~~~Guest Article~~~

++The Secret Powers Of Search++

Today's guest article comes to us from Eric Martin, director of Futura
Studios, which is a full-service Website development company based in
Montreal, Canada.  They specialize in Website design/redesign, search
engine optimization and content development & writing.

Let's give a warm Advisor welcome to Eric! - Jill

The Secret Powers of Search
By Eric Martin

Many people who are working on search engine optimization complain
that it is difficult to acquire links from other websites. One
solution is to add a search box on your site, as this can help
generate links and increase targeted traffic to your site.

Once a website is search-enabled it is common to discover that people
are searching for existing content that they are unable to locate,
which means it's time to re-evaluate your website navigation. A quick
redesign is often all that is needed. You'll know you've done it right
when the terms no longer appear in your search reports, and your
visitors stay on the site longer and view more pages per visit.

But the biggest benefit of search-enabled websites is the ability to
pinpoint content that may be missing from the website. When you rank
well for a very generic keyword -- like "clothes" -- you'll attract a
lot of untargeted traffic with a wide spectrum of interests and goals.
With a search-enabled website you'll be able to discover precisely
what these visitors were hoping to find on your pages by reviewing the
search terms they used on your site.

These site search reports were particularly helpful for a resource
site for sushi lovers ( where we discovered that many
visitors were looking for information about sushi and pregnancy.
Because of this we created a page with links to online articles on the
subject. Within a few weeks it was one of the most popular pages on
the site, and traffic started appearing from people who were linking
on their own.

Asking for links is very time-consuming, has a low success rate, and
often lands you on a page crammed with links to websites that will be
very similar to your own. Unsolicited links always carry more weight,
and building resource pages is the easiest and most efficient way to
generate them.

The site search reports also revealed that many people visiting
SushiLinks were looking for "sushi posters" which were not being
offered. We suggested to the client that sushi posters be made
available through the website to meet this demand. The client agreed,
and once the page was ready a Wordtracker report on the term indicated
that an even higher number of people on the Web were searching for the
phrases "sushi pictures" and "pictures of sushi." We took this into
consideration and named the page "Sushi Poster - Pictures with Sushi
Fish." Soon we started showing up for both targeted phrases, and when
someone clicked they would land on the poster page. The conversion
rate on the page has been high. Again, this started with reading the
website search reports carefully.

Finding new phrases is a continual process. On a resource site it is
important to offer new and updated material, and to pay attention to
your site search reports. Just keep adding new pages and content to
provide the material for which people are looking and a much wider net
will be cast - increasing the number of keywords used to find your
website. Currently the traffic from the major search engines to the
sushi site includes over 3,000 different sushi-related phrases.

On another project, a resource site for Photoshop users
(, we studied the site search terms to see what
the website might be "missing." One thing we discovered was that many
visitors were looking for "free video tutorials." We contacted a
company that sold video tutorials for Photoshop and they agreed to
work with us on a page that would offer sample videos of their
products. Now we had a page with free video tutorials, and as soon as
it went online it became one of the most visited pages on the site.
Once again we started getting traffic from search engines for a whole
new group of keywords, but even better was that other sites soon
started linking.

All in all this is a relatively easy way to increase the traffic of
targeted visitors to your site. Continue to keep mining the data and
building relevant pages, and others will see that you are a growing
resource site and link to you.

There are many scripts available on the Internet that will allow you
to incorporate search capability on a website. My favorite is a free
service (for websites of 500 or fewer pages) by Atomz
<>. It is easy to install and there is a template
editor - which makes it a snap to create a results page that looks
exactly like the rest of your site. And Atomz offers reports that let
you view the top searched words and terms for the day, week, and

Use this incredibly powerful tool - this crystal ball that reveals
your visitors' innermost goals - and you'll reap the rewards almost

Eric Martin
Futura Studios Digital Design Center

_________Powerful SEO Copywriting Combo______________adv.

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If your site is poorly written, your sales will be slow.  You *must*
speak to your target audience with each and every word you write.
At the same time, keeping your keywords featured prominently is
a bit of a juggling act.

Save $10 on the most powerful copywriting combo available today!

Karon Thackston's Step-By-Step Copywriting Course & Jill Whalen's
Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines.  Click the "Buy Both"
button on this page:  </combo104>.

~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~

++Running AdWords Campaigns for Customers++

Forum member "TheGreatDane" asks how others handle invoicing for their
AdWords customers.  Read and post your thoughts here:

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Never Neglect Your Meta Description Tags++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

If anyone is interested in attending the Search Engine Strategies
conference at the beginning of August in San Jose, I have a free pass
to give away to one lucky subscriber.  It's only a pass to the
conference, so you'll need to pay for your own transportation and
lodging.  If you can definitely attend, please email me at with the reason why you should get to go for
free and I'll put you in the running.

Oh, and even if you don't get the pass, I hope you will still come!
I'll be there doing the usual "Writing for the Search Engines" session
on the first day, plus a site clinic session the last day.  Should be

Got my daughter Jamie safely off to Hawaii yesterday.  She'll be
alternating between my sister's and my parents' houses for about a
month.  I'll see her again when she meets me in San Jose at the
conference!  Hope you all had some time off to enjoy the holiday this
past weekend.  Was hard to get back into working this week.  Always
tricky in the summer it seems.

That's all for now.  Catch you next week! - Jill
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