Google Domain Parking Arbitrage

Richard Ball has a great write up concerning Google’s Adsense for Domains program and potential abuses. He is concerned that certain keywords being bid on through Adwords are producing garbage traffic.

A whopping 72% of clicks for a single exact match keyword originated from the searchportal.information.com domain. Investigating this domain, it turns out to be owned by a company called Oversee.net that owns DomainSponsor, a parked domain operation.

What Richard seems to miss is why the traffic is garbage. It’s because Information.com is one of the largest arbitrage 1.0 operations around. The reason it doesn’t convert is because Information.com bids on long tail search words for cheap and then send the clicks to ads targeted at the high paying general search terms. Terms which may be related, but are not actually what the user was searching for.

Maturation of Paid Search Means the End of the Free Lunch

There’s certainly been a lot of noise being generated by medium-sized companies, complaining they’re no longer getting the same ROI from paid search – especially from Google AdWords.

I’ve been taking a look at the trends and believe this is simply the continuing maturation of the paid search channel. Here’s how it’s developed thus far.

  • Stage 1 – Medium and Large companies spend huge amounts of money on banner ads. Small companies can’t compete, so they start experimenting with paid search and get great ROI with little effort.
  • Stage 2 – Medium companies start experimenting with paid search. Their campaigns are not very targeted but they’re able to get great ROI with little effort, so they start pumping in more money. Meanwhile, the small guys find that they can no longer compete for generic keywords, so start targeting the “long tail” and find there are great returns to be had from more targeted keywords.

Channel Sponsors

Exclusive – Yahoo Using Dirty Tactics to Switch Google & Firefox Users?

UPDATE: Here’s the official word from Yahoo spokesperson Terrell Karlsten. They’re claiming they don’t upgrade users to IE7 and their reasons for switching your settings? Everyone else does it.

Yahoo! Messenger’s update process does not download IE7 to a user’s computer. As part of the Yahoo! Messenger update process, people have the choice to download Yahoo! Toolbar, set Yahoo.com as their homepage and set Yahoo! Search as their search engine. This is an industry-wide practice….IE7 is not bundled into the Yahoo! Messenger update process.

UPDATE 2: Jarrod’s added a comment that suggests that IE7 was not added as part of the download, as he first described to us. All other aspects described below are known to be accurate, including changing the default browser to IE, changing the default homepage to Yahoo and changing the default search engine to Yahoo. The post has been updated.

Offertrax Allows Online Merchants to Use RSS to Connect With Customers

According to Springwise, a new company called Offertrax is launching a service that will help online merchants implement RSS feeds in an attempt to better connect with customers.

By letting merchants use RSS to distribute updates on products, Offertrax aims to bring visitors back for future conversions. How it works? The web-based application creates RSS feeds for entire online catalogues. Retailers just add a ‘track this’ button to each product page….Consumers can then subscribe to a product’s feed. As soon as a product’s price changes or a retailer announces a special offer, trackers are notified. Merchants can also send notes and deal alerts directly to trackers.

Net Neutrality Bill in US Senate

In the wake of AT&T’s big merger, Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced a Net Neutrality bill into the Senate. Called the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act,” the bill is designed to prevent service providers from creating a two-tiered Internet or forcing subscribers to bundle broadband with other services.

What does this really mean for Net Neutrality? Not much—yet. On the one hand, it’s a positive since it’s clearly on the minds of senators (or they think it’s on our minds).

However, there’s a lot to go through before this can really make any headway.

Crash course in US federal lawmaking for those of us who can’t remember the School House Rock song:

  • The bill is introduced. This one was read twice on the Senate floor and then:

TechCrunch Makes Mistake With Banner Ads?

Have you visited TechCrunch today? Did you notice that really annoying 125×125 animated ad that just went up? What the…?

I’m not sure why Michael Arrington would think this is a good thing to allow on his site. Having six 125×125 ads on your blog is fine – we all need to make money – but they are only tolerated because they don’t annoy, i.e. they’re not animated.

Now that TechCrunch has allowed one animated ad, will it allow the other 5 to use animation? Can you imagine the user-experience at TechCrunch if you have 6 animated banner ads waiving at you from above the fold?

I think animated ads can work in moderation on a blog, but I’m never going to allow an animated 125×125 on this site, as I respect my readers too much – that is, I want y’all to come back!

Building Blog Traffic By Commenting

Douglas A Karr provides two great examples of how to build traffic to your blog.

In this post, he explains how he was able to generate a lot of traffic to his blog by simply engaging other bloggers in conversation. I’ve said before that commenting on other blogs is a great way to build awareness and traffic, now Douglas offers hard proof of that.

26.13% of visits to my site are through connections I’ve made through other sites! In addition, the number of page views of those visits is 1.86 pages versus 1.61 page views of those that find my site through search and other means. Wow! I hate to throw out the term flippantly, but this is the “Long Tail” of commenting, isn’t it?