Choosing a Domain Name

Below are some general rules you should follow when creating a domain name. These aren’t hard-and-fast and this list is certainly not exhaustive, but rather some things to keep in mind when you’re registering a domain name.

Try to get a .com.

    The public has been conditioned to think of websites as being .com’s.  If you don’t get a .com you will probably lose some traffic to the person that owns the same domain you have but has the .com.

Keep the length of your domain down.

    The longer your domain is the harder it is for people to remember. Try to keep it under 3 words and 15 characters. If you use 3 words make sure one of the words is very short. The reason for this is that people are lazy and will just go type in something shorter in Google. Also don’t forget you’re probably going to be using this domain in print on cards and promotional material, so the shorter it is, the less room it will take up on your printed materials. Before you buy a domain type it out and print it and see what it looks like in print. Another big reason for shorter domains is that if you plan to do pay per click advertising a shorter domain name will give you more text on your display url. You only have space for 35 characters in PPC and it is a very common practice to add extra text after your display URL to get more text in to your ad. I like to put stuff like /Free_Shipping after the domain or /Brand on ads that I create.  If you have a really long domain name you’re not going to have this option even if you remove the www from the front of the display URL.

Keep your domain name Phonetic.

    This means that when it is spoken out loud the spelling should be obvious. No silent V’s or weird foreign spellings unless you are targeting a foreign market where that is common. This is especially important if you plan on doing any radio or TV ads. Even if you don’t plan on doing any radio or TV ads your going to be telling people about your website and more than likely you will be using it as your email address.

Google One Box Searches

You may have noticed in the last few years Google has added extra results like map, news, products and others. This is what is called a one box search. Meaning you don’t have to go to google maps or google news to do a search. You just go to and do a search and Google will decided to give you relavant results from these other services. When marketing a website online you want to make sure you show up on search engines when people type in relavant keywords. It is important to know how to be listed as many times on the page as you can.

When a search is made on google most people only think about SEO and PPC. Don’t forget about Google’s other services:

  • Google News – You can get in here by issuing a press release. You can distribute them through sites like and donate at least $200.
  • Google Local – Sign up with Google local. This will show up when people type in local searches that include your zip code or city name. It helps to have an address that is closest to the center of the city.
  • Google Books – If you have published a book or paper you can submit it to Google books. Searches that include the term “book” now show results from Google books.
  • Google Images – some searches return pictures. Be descriptive with your picture names. Use alt text. Link to your pictures with anchor text.
  • Google Products – formally known as froogle. You can upload products, real estate, and all kinds of things to Google products. Sometimes Google will show Products from this database.

This is all very new and you should keep an eye on the different Google verticals, trying to use them all.

Any time a search is made, any one of these services can be served up on the search engine result page (SERP).  Sign up for each one and optimize your content so it appears on all results pages.

Using Google Trends to improve sales

Google Trends is a tool many people don’t know about and those who do don’t understand how powerful it is.  Google Trends will show you the traffic on search terms.  It allows you to show the data by month or by years or by multiple years.  It also shows you traffic by country and states.

The first thing that I do when I go to Google Trends is type in a term and select the last year.  This shows me a complete year from Jan to Dec.  Next I look at the last 12 months to see how things are going right now.  Both times I look down at the bottom and see where people are typing in my terms.

The next thing you can do is start comparing terms.  You can use a comma between terms to compare terms together.    Here is a search for “hunting, fishing, skiing, sailing” for 2008.  This shows you the comparison of the different types of outdoor sports.

Google stops Print Ads product, traditional media cries a single tear

Google recently announced that in February they will be cutting corners and chopping off their Google Print Ads product. While this may not affect some advertisers and companies, it shines light on the fact that traditional advertisement may be heading to an early, although perhaps foreseen demise.

The search engine king better known as Google gives us an ominous sign that traditional print ads aren’t as effective as other new forms of advertising by shutting down their ambitious print product.

The idea of their product was to create better “calls to action” on newspaper ads by making customer response tags that point to various mediums of communication such as their website, a text messaging system or a toll-free number. These communication mediums were wired with Google Analytics in order to better track the effectiveness of these ads.

After a little over a year in business and a sluggish economy began to muzzle its way in, they decided to take the reins off of print ads because of the lack of impact it has created (Read more here). Google’s attempt at trying to apply what works for online search advertising to traditional, decades old advertising was a valiant attempt, but it shows a glimpse of what the ever-changing advertising landscape will look like.

Search engine marketing has the ability to be reviewed, scaled and modified in order to create the highest return on investment by using tools such as Google Analytics. Periodically your search engine marketing specialist can go into this tool and eliminate the poorly-performing ads and test new ones, thus maximizing ad revenue. With traditional newspaper ads, tracking ad dollars is nearly impossible. Ever ask anyone if they’ve used Google search? We’ll bet our left shoe they’ll say yes. Ever ask anyone if they open up a newspaper to only look at advertisements? We won’t bet our shoes on this one, but chances are more people have used Google. The point is not that we need new shoes, but rather a Google ad can far outreach a newspaper ad in terms of impressions on qualified traffic. And this rings true for all of the other search engines as well.

Because of said advantages of search engine marketing and our choking economy, there is currently a gradual shift into more trackable ad spending. The age of the one-stop-print advertisements is sadly dwindling away into the past, and we must embrace what’s new and working. Calling to mind that our economy is currently turning blue in the face, companies are trying to streamline their operations to get the most out of their money, which is exactly what Google did. We wish traditional advertisements good luck, and make way. – AL

Google’s Chief Economist On the Recession

The verdict is still out on whether or not we are in a recession, but according to Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, “A recession will prompt consumers to use search even more frequently to find deals”.  He went on to say that “advertisers are willing to take all the clicks we can give them” at current prices. Not very surprising given the fact that Google’s bottom line did very well in the last quarter despite numerous less than favorable expectations for the company.

What this means for online advertisers – it’s still a bit early to tell. But, it’s obviously a good time to market your business online. One of two things will happen:

  1. You will pick up market share from your competitors leaving the market.
  2. Your business will keep its place in the market beside your competition and you won’t find yourself lagging behind once this ‘recession’ is over.

Businesses large and small are likely to feel the effects of this likely recession. As your marketing plan adjusts to the changing economic climate, be sure to keep your team updated at Leverage Marketing.

At Risk of Being Redundant; Google On Duplicate Content

Part of the job for the PPC or SEO analyst, consists of debunking… a large part of our job revolves around explaining rumors and misreads. For years, we’ve had to explain a particular twist of semantics that somehow has convinced people that if you have duplicate content on a web site, Google takes out a pen and puts a black mark by your name.

No, Virginia, there is no duplicate content penalty – at least not the way people think.

When faced with multiple pages that look too much alike, Google has to decide what’s what – why it’s seeing double, or whether there’s any malicious intent with what it’s finding. For the most part, the average website doesn’t practice malicious copying, nor do they usually scrape content from other sites. What happens is they end up with catalogs and parts listings that contain 80% plus duplicate wording, or end up with 16 different possible ways to land on the “same page” because there are that many different search options in their web catalog that will land you on the same exact item. This can cause confusion.

Google’s basic, and hopefully final, word on the subject is simple – when we find a bunch of pages that look really similar, we group them into a “cluster,” then we pick a single URL to represent all pages in that cluster. But then they do something else that the average webmaster probably never even notices.

“We then consolidate properties of the URLs in the cluster, such as link popularity, to the representative URL.”

Notice the absence of any pens, or black marks, or slaps, or shackles or any other form of “punishment.” They just group all “duplicated” pages and consolidate the info under one indexed URL. For the average e-commerce site, this is not a problem.

But let’s say you are one of these folks who has 854,000 items in a dynamic, database-driven catalog and all items are shown on a “shell” page that gets populated by the shopper’s query when they’re looking for their item, but because of the way your catalog is built, the ONLY thing that changes on the pages is the image file name, the price, the part number, and the name of the item. Sounds like you probably have 845,000 duplicate pages that will not be indexed individually. If you’re looking for some massive number of “pages indexed” (for whatever reason), you are quite liable to be disappointed. Until there is enough variance between items, like a longer description, or some individualized stats which also populate those pages, you stand very little chance of seeing more pages indexed – you are more than likely seeing fewer pages indexed as Google compiles it’s clusters.

In fact, catalogs that work this way violate Google’s best practices as outlined in their Webmaster Guidelines. Google doesn’t publish all this info for fun – they are trying to help us help ourselves. They say very plainly:

“Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.”

If you feel like your site is suffering from this “clustering” of pages that seem to be duplicated, work with your webmaster to rectify the situation and then use Google’s Webmaster Central tools to request a re-evaluation of your domain.

If you just have 16 different search options that all lead back to the same item, don’t worry about it – one of those URLs will be indexed, and that’s all you need. You’ll want to monitor your SERPs so you can see which pages make the cut so you know how Google “sees you, and keep your site map up to date, but other than that, most of us have very little to fear from the Duplicate Content Penalty…

The Smart Way To See Your Own Ads In Google AdWords

Users of AdWords almost all universally suffer from the drive to see their own ads – just to make sure they’re there. However, “googling” yourself can actually damage the performance of your account over time because it gives Google the wrong idea about your ads. Imagine if everyone in a small company with 15 employees looked their own company up in Google three times daily as a part of their discussions with their customers. They never click on those ads but they have caused 45 impressions a day, plus any impressions the customers themselves might have caused (which also did not get clicked on). At the end of a month, this number becomes large enough to cause problems.


This decreases your CTR – click through rate – which is a major component used by Google in determining your quality score. What this looks like to Google is that a lot of people are looking up the terms you use but not clicking your ads, so your ads must not be as good in quality as other ads which are getting clicked on. {editor’s note: this is also a very good reason not to “google” your own keywords and then click on your competitors ads. This makes Google think their ads look better than yours. – michelle} Once you start suffering poor quality scores, you end up with higher costs per click and you’ve made it harder on yourself to raise the quality score back up to an acceptable level.


Fortunately, Google understands that sometimes you need to see how your ads look and to make sure they’re showing. There are two tools that assist with this – the Ad Diagnostic Tool and the Ad Preview Tool.

They’re both accessible from the Tools tab in the Google Interface. If you have regionally targeted your ads, you must select the correct region – and be sure to also select a specific city if you’re using City, Metro or Map Area targeting – and then type in the keyword to see your ads. The Ad Preview tools will show you an actual Google page layout with your ads in their proper position, as long as they’re showing on page one. The Ad Diagnostic tool will give you more detailed information about how many possible ads that term might have triggered and which ones may not be showing, along with the possible reasons (like budget restraints or ad schedule limits).

Some points to keep in mind when using these tools:

  • you need to be aware of the regional targeting settings, if there are any, as any sort of city, metro or map area form of targeting will require that you enter in the target country, the target state, and the target city. If your ads are only nationally or state-level targeted, you can get away without entering a city for testing.
  • you need to be aware of ad scheduling, and make sure you’re testing your ad appearance during times when your ads are supposed to be running.
  • you need to be aware of your budget – your ads may not show if you’ve hit your budget for the day.
  • you need to be aware that these tools only pertain to ads that are on page one SERPs – if your ad position fluctuates at some point to position 11 or 12, you won’t be able to see your ad consistently in these tools until your CPC allows it.

Remember, Google has one of the most sophisticated algorithms in the world, and it’s all based on statistics – anything you do to cause a metric to be inconsistent or even wrong will adversely affect your PPC accounts in the long run. The best practice is to fight the urge to “google” yourself, and train yourself and your staff to use the tools provided to check on your ads.

Upcoming Google AdWords Feature Changes

Two features that you may have used in Google AdWords are being phased out this summer. Google has been running a pay-per-action (PPA) feature as a beta test for several months now, but Google announced that it’s being phased out. Since Google acquired DoubleClick, the PPA feature was deemed redundant. It also lacked certain features that could be more effectively presented in robust affiliate program. The Google Affiliate Network (which used to be DoubleClick Performics Affiliate) is the designated replacement for the pay-per-action campaigns.

Google is also doing away with its Cross-Channel Tracking feature, which gave you a means to track ad campaigns from other engines. This function can be handled more smoothly using Google Analytics. Most used found the cross-channel tracking too cumbersome to use correctly. With the recent beef-up of Google Analytics, Google’s giving away a lot of very stout features for free in this package, which now includes the ability to separate out and track all your paid ad traffic.