Posts filed under 'Google Adsense Tips'

My Recent Job Interview with Google at the ‘Plex’

Outside The GooglePlex

Well I kept it a big secret from you all because I didn’t want to jinx myself – but I was invited recently to an interview with Google (it was the ‘exciting little company‘ I spoke about a couple months back in a post about an upcoming interview).

The position was to be based at Mountain View, California, and as part of the great Webmaster support team – along with neat and very bright people like Adam Lasnik, Vanessa Fox, Aaron D’Souza and Matt Cutts.

The position was ‘Webmaster Trends Analyst’, something I felt uniquely attracted to – I’ve a strong background in stats (from my undergraduate degree and time running scientific trials with the Sugar industry), have run several ecommerce sites and have a Master’s Degree in Computer and Comms Engineering – as well as being a regular poster on the Google Webmaster Forums – so I love hearing about what other folks are up to.

It was an exciting opportunity – so accordingly I took some valuable time off my PhD to prepare – before hopping on the plane for the 13 hour flight to San Francisco.

It was a great experience, but unfortunately I didn’t get the position.

I was disappointed.

As I wrote to one of my contacts about it:-

“so, either I’ll start looking for work again or I’ll bite my bum, put the pedal to the metal and get back into the PhD.

G was going to be a great fit because working with people like yourself would have been a ‘learning’ experience rather than just a job – I hate the 9-5 ‘office worker’ style culture of uni, but love the learning side.

My main problem when it comes to being hired is that of previous job experience..

I start to look like a jack of all trades but an expert at none.

Imho I thought that would be what would get me the job with G, as I’ve been told it makes me a pretty powerful educator – and a great interface between nutty engineer / scientist types and the general public.”

But let me take a step back here for a moment – I need to emphasise that I found the whole experience incredibly rejuvenating and irregardless of the fact I wasn’t successful, I still feel honoured.

If Google were to turn around today and say they wanted to employ me, I’d say yes in an heartbeat.

Why? Because any company that actually recruits internationally for a position known as ‘Webmaster Trends Analyst’ is a company that has a conscience. I don’t see such a position advertised at Yahoo. I don’t see such a position advertised at MSN… actually, I don’t see such a position advertised ANYWHERE.

When I was going through the interviews, one of the interviewers (and I hope I’m not out of line here) actually spoke about the fact that Google pulls together information from heaps of different resources (blogs, forums etc) on a regular basis and tries to quantitatively (from qualitative signals) assess ‘webmaster sentiment’ – and use it as an early warning system to alert them if things (like an algorithm change for instance) have had any unforseen impact. That made me sit back and go ‘wow’.

I count myself very lucky to have been interviewed by a great company with a social conscience like Google and dearly hope an opportunity pops up soon and I get another crack at it (You can contact me if you know of one).

But enough of that – the whole experience was a complete blast – let me show you a few photos.

This first photo is the centre of the Googleplex – it’s a neat place. I like the fact that I seem to have captured a black crow in mid-flight right below the Google sign 🙂

The GooglePlex

Took this photo on a toilet break at the ‘plex’ – judging from the pace of the interview I figured that time is a commodity in short supply at the googleplex, but this pic (right above the urinal) really rammed it home “Testing on the Toilet” – an A4 page giving thought provoking code tips to the engineers. 🙂

“Testing on the Toilet” - Google takes their debugging seriously :)

I got the opportunity to do a fair bit of sight seeing while I was there…

Highway 101

The Golden Gate Bridge (with me in front of it).

You’ll notice in all of these photos that I’m wearing one of two shirts – bloody Qantas sent all my luggage to Helsinki on the way over, so I had only a pair of shorts, a pair of moleskins, the shirt I wore on the plane and one I bought for the interview (this one) for the whole trip – don’t get me started about QANTAS.

The Golden Gate

Across the Golden gate bridge from San Fran is a beaut spot called ‘Reyes Point’ – here’s a photo looking back towards San Fran from there (with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background).

A View From Reyes Point Across the Bay to Golden Gate Bridge

A pretty flower at Reyes point – I believe the plant is called Pigface – why, I don’t know 🙂

A Pretty Flower - Why do they call this plant ‘Pig Face’?

A ‘Hummer Limousine’ – Wow!

Hummer - Limousine

Another pretty flower in San Fran (are you a REAL Aussie! That’s so COOL! I want a photo with you!!) – the people were very friendly at “Kell’s Bar” – I love a good Irish Pub, and this one was a beauty – it’s just off Columbus.

Friendly People

The owner (right) and head barman of Kell’s Bar..

The Staff at Kell’s

They shouted me quite a few Guinness’s – here I think that magical brown ale is starting to have its curative effects 🙂 (I am not too sure whether the spooky red eyes were caused by the camera or the Gazillion pints of Guinness)

16 Gazillion Pints of Guiness Later..

The morning after – one of those famous cable trams in San Fran.

One of those Cable Car’s San Fran is famous for

My Hotel was right in the centre of SF (Sutter and Powell) – I got it for a nightly rate of like $69 – it was fantastic

My Hotel

Just a pretty picture of one of the brass fire hydrants they have all over the place in San Fran.

Just a Pretty Picture

Some San Fran street art- this was in Chinatown – San Fran has the best Chinatown I’ve seen in any international city – I felt like I was back in Beijing.

Some San Fran Street Art

On the way out of San Fran – you can see the city itself and the Bay Bridge top RHS.

I loved San Fran – it was such a vibrant colourful city – I hope to go back there someday soon.

San Fran From Above - on my way home

QANTAS strikes again – I had to wait 18 hours for my flight back – by the time I took this photo (the time on my watch is AM by the way) we’d been locked in LA airport with no food or refreshments all night waiting for our plane which was recursively only going to be ‘another twenty minutes’ all night.

Some rather unfortunate baggage handler had managed to run into the wing with the mobile stairs, causing severe damage to the port side aileron.

I felt sorry for the parents with little kids – the time on my watch is AM – roughly 20 hours after the plane was meant to leave.

Bloody Qantas.. 5am in the morning - still waiting

33 comments June 18th, 2007

Targeting your Buyers – Google Adsense Tips, Tricks and Latest Gossip Part 3

In part three of this series about some tips and tricks I learnt during my recent visits to the Google Adsense Conference in Brisbane, Australia, I’m going to write about ‘targeting’ your ads to your content.

People get grumpy about the relatively low income they receive from adsense ads on their blogs – essentially, they want to know how to make moneyfrom their blogs, and having heard of the rags to riches stories of bloggers making hundreds of thousands of dollars from advertising online, they want a slice of the action – and why the hell not?

So now I need you to take a deep breath whilst I take you through some of the latest guidelines for helping google to serve ads that are more likely to be of interest to your customers.

Basically, to have a site that makes money you need at least three things:-

  1. Website Traffic.
  2. Relevant Content.
  3. Relevant Ads, and a high click through rate from those ads.

Those are the three key ingredients for making money from Google Adsense, and lacking any 1 of them will be to the detriment of the others.

Assuming you have good traffic (and I’ll be writing tutorials on that in the near future) and compelling content, all that remains is to encourage a high ‘click thru rate’ on your site.

I have to admit, on this site, the content is generally great and informational, but I’ve previously simply relied on the google adsense code to serve ads that are likely to be clicked on. I’ve tried out image ads, I’ve tried out text ads, I’ve tried out different colours and positions for the ads – and I’ve seen minor changes from doing so.

Alot of the time, though, I think I go a bit too by being too solutions oriented – For instance, someone has a problem, I’ll try to solve it for them, they leave happy, I get good feedback from them and probably generate traffic through referrals – that’s all great, and it’s a part of my growth strategy at this early stage of my blog

So, having the content, I hope the ads will be clicked and everything will be fine from there – but I’ve been finding this isn’t the case – on my other comercial sites, I end up with click through ratios (CTR – the percentage of visitors that click on ads) of less than 1%, whereas on my product based sites I get closer to 10%.

I started to think for reasons this may be – perhaps my readers are ‘ad savvy’ and have a form of blindness to the ad content – perhaps I am providing what they need – information, and they have no need to follow my ads to get more of it.

Someone suggested to me that I should leave articles I write ‘hanging’ so that the reader feels compelled to look at the ads to find more information – not a bad idea, but it goes against the ethos of this blog to an extent. I think the real answer is to write my articles in such a way that they want to take the next step, and offer, in the advertisements, companies and individuals that may help them do so.

Enter stage right adsense section targeting– this was released last year, and is an incredibly simple way to ensure that your ads are ‘micro targetted’ to the niche group viewing your pages. So why haven’t we all heard about it? I think alot of website and SEO people have kept this one to their chests a bit, as it’s a fantastic tool that can really help dramatically increase your returns and make the SEO people look worth their weight in gold.

But you don’t need to be a big shot blogger to imlplement this code – all you need to do is place tags around the content you think is most appropriate to your audience.

the tags are <!– google_ad_section_start –> and <!– google_ad_section_end –>

When google adsense bot sees the <!– google_ad_section_start –> tag, it expects that any information appearing between that tag and the end tag should be used by it when it considers what sort of ads to serve.

So, for example, I have taken an abstract from a recent Wired Magazine Article about how Yahoo has missed the boat when it comes to website advertising.

I found a paragraph in their that speaks about Hollywood, TV Shoe, Theaters, TV Sets – all things that aren’t really spoken about much in the rest of the article, but that I think will bring commercial ads about technology – things that some of the geeks reading this blog might be interested in.

    The truth is that when Semel worked in Hollywood, he understood more about how movies and TV shows made it to theaters and TV sets than virtually anyone else on the planet. Early in his career, during stints in New York, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, all Semel did was sell movies to theater chain owners. He’d show up at each theater — there were only a handful of national chains then — with a list of the movies Warner was going to release over the next few months, and each owner would bid on the movies he wanted.The truth is that when Semel worked in Hollywood, he understood more about how movies and TV shows made it to theaters and TV sets than virtually anyone else on the planet. Early in his career, during stints in New York, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, all Semel did was sell movies to theater chain owners. He’d show up at each theater — there were only a handful of national chains then — with a list of the movies Warner was going to release over the next few months, and each owner would bid on the movies he wanted.

In the next paragraph, I’ve found interestig information about the infrastructure of Yahoo – keywords like servers, technlogy, redesigning a database, redesigning a user interface – all are rock solid keywords that should hopefully trigger ‘mediabot’ to deliver an interesting combnation of consumer products ads and advertising for high grade database and server technology.

    But now, despite Semel’s achievements in Hollywood and early success at Yahoo, Silicon Valley is buzzing with a familiar refrain: Wouldn’t an executive with a little more technology savvy be a better fit? Semel has been Yahoo’s CEO for nearly six years, yet he has never acquired an intuitive sense of the company’s plumbing. He understands how to do deals and partnerships, he gets how to market Yahoo’s brand, and he knows how to tap Yahoo’s giant user base to sell brand advertising to corporations. But the challenges of integrating two giant computer systems or redesigning a database or redoing a user interface? Many who have met with him at Yahoo say he still doesn’t know the right questions to ask about technology. “Terry could never pound the table and say, ‘This is where we need to go, guys,'”one former Yahoo executive says. “On those subjects, he always had to have someone next to him explaining why it was important.” One could have made a convincing argument two years ago that such deep technical knowledge didn’t matter much. But now we have empirical evidence: At Yahoo, the marketers rule, and at Google the engineers rule. And for that, Yahoo is finally paying the price

The Lesson endeth for today – tomorrow we will see the results and expand upon them to make some money 🙂 Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t look like it’s worked at first – it can take 24 to 48 hours.. patience 🙂

15 comments March 12th, 2007

Targeting Ads – Google Adsense Tips, Tricks n Latest Gossip Part 2

Adsense and Off-Topic Ads

So, you’ve got your blog / website, you’ve signed up for adsense, and you’re all ready to make money – but you keep getting weird, off-topic ads.

This is part two of my series about Tips and Tricks with Google Adsense (see part one here), and I’m going to use it to tell you about something called Adsense Section Targeting. First up, I’m going to give you a few insights I gathered from Michael Gutner (Partner Manager, Google) during my recent conversation with him.

How Google Adsense Works

When you place adsense ads on your site, an automated software robot (called ‘mediapartners’) usually comes to look at the content of your new page within a few minutes. This content is then run through a rather complex algorithm. The algorithm looks at things like:-

  • The textual content of your page.
  • Keyword Density (ie, what words and phrases appear regularly on your page)
  • What sites your page links to.
  • Your pages header, and keywords in the url.

Once that’s been done, adsense tries to work out what your page is about, and then, according to Michael, it aims to display the ads that will maximise your income by a combination of these two factors:-

  1. Presenting ads that are contextually relevant to the content of your page, and therefore likely to be clicked (called a high click through ratio, or CTR).
  2. Presenting ads with the highest possible return per click (called effective Cost Per 1000 impressions, or eCPM).

When Adsense Gets it Wrong

Sometimes, however, adsense seems to get the whole show wrong. As an example, I recently wrote a story about getting pages out of Google’s supplemental index, in which I talked about ‘infant pages’.

Next time I looked, I had ads on that page about colic and baby products.

Does this mean that Google thinks my page is about infants? NO – the adsense robot is a completely seperate entity to the google indexing robot – and I don’t think it works quite as hard at times to work out the real context of a page.

So, probably what has happened is that the adsense robot has checked my whole page and figured out that serving ads for the keyword ‘infant’ would be great, because it is a lucrative keyword.

What’s a lucrative keyword? Well it’s like this – advertisers compete for keywords – in a kind of automated auction – so if I’m wanting to sell acme widgets, and I know I make $1000 per widget, I’m likely to pay more for ads to appear on pages with the keyword ‘widget’ than someone who sells less profitable ajax brand widgets.

It seems that ‘infant’ is probably a lucrative keyword, and in a perfect world, I’d get really high earnings from having ads about infants on my page.

That’s really clever, in a way, but really, it’s quite obvious to me as a human being that the technical types on my site are probably quite unlikely to be looking for baby products, so my CTR (number of clicks per 100 ‘views’) is going to be quite poor.

Adsense is a computer algorithm, not a human, so it’s ocassionally going to make slip-ups – that’s a given.

So, to get more contextually relevant ads on that page, I can either remove the keyword that’s confusing adsense, or I can use a relatively new tool from Adsense – enter, stage right, a little thing called Adsense Section Targeting.

(stay tuned – more on this shortly)

4 comments March 7th, 2007

Google Adsense Tips, Tricks n Latest Gossip Part 1

Yesterday I was lucky Revenue Sharing and Your Blogenough to attend a conference here in Brisbane, Australia that was typically well attended by Googlers ready to give great tips and advice.

After the conference I managed to steal a few moments with a Googler from the US by the name of Michael Gutner and ask him a few questions. His answers were revealing and informative, and I thought I’d give you the inside track.

The advent of ‘Pay per Blog Sites’ is upon us – basically, under this revenue sharing model, website owners offer space on their blog for other contributors to write unique content, and pay a proportion of advertising income from that author’s content as a form of comission.

Some people are concerned this will create alot more ‘made for adsense blogs’ – blogs written purely to make money from adsense, rather than provide information to people. I personally think it will have a really great effect – At the end of the day, sites get popular because people are interested in the quality of the content – if no-one visits a site, no one clicks on the ads – simple.

I have other views – I reckon it’s a great isea because it will be a great enabler for those people with great ideas and insights to showcase them to a much wider audience, and get reimbursed, without the overhead of running their own site.

One of the problems of such revenue sharing schemes is the mechanics of splitting the revenue – basically there are two ways to do it –

  1. Use google channels to measure income from the contributors page and write them a check or money transfer on a monthly basis for their proportion.
  2. ‘Swap Out’ your Google adsense ID with your contributor’s id on their page part of the time (ie, if their commission is to be 80%, show ads using their adsense ID 80% of the time, and yours 20% of the time)

The first is probably the fairest, but also has a high administration cost for the website owner – making it probably only feasible for large, commercial blogs with heaps of traffic.

The second approach has less administration effort, but a few other negatives. Firstly, it takes a fair bit of coding to implement, and is imperfect as it relies on chance – you can never be absolutely certain that revenue is being evenly shared.

A potential problem with both approaches is that neither allows the author to be ‘absolutely sure’ that they are being paid their fair share of revenue.

I mentioned this conundrum to Michael, and said that I thought this presents a great business case for google. Why? –

  1. Google has the economies of scale to handle payments, and is considered a ‘trustworthy brand’ – this would be relatively easy for them to implement, and would be seen as a godsend by most webmasters… and..
  2. By encouraging ‘everyday people’ to join the blogging revolution and become adsense publishers, google both increases their brand awareness, and (here’s the cynic in me) the potential return on holding millions upon millions of small publisher’s income in escrow until the required minimum $100 for their adsense balance to be transferred to their chosen bank account is enormous.

Indeed, if I were Google, I’d have to have rocks in my head if I didn’t consider this idea as a top priority..

But it seems, as often happens with Google, they already thought of it 🙂

Michael gave me the scoop that in fact, Google is developing this functionality and it will become available in the near future as an addition to their existing adsense product range. As Michael said, Google has many, many new projects on-line at any given time, but he did say that he is certain that this feature is one that is in active development as we speak.

Anyway, that’s my small but signficant little tid-bit for tonight – But the fun will continue tomorrow – I have some more great tips from the conference which I’ll be writing about.. one particularly interesting one was how to ‘train’ google to serve ads that are more likely to get clicked.. it’s a good one.. 🙂 see the second part of my article here.

See you!

TheDuck

7 comments February 28th, 2007


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