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What Exactly Is the Keyword They Bid On?
After all this time, I still haven't figured it out.
Lapizuli




msg:4185811
 6:32 am on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I feel stupid. I've been trying to get this concept since I began.

What exactly is the keyword the AdWords advertisers are paying for on any given article?

Is it the keyword the visitor types in to the search engine? Of course not, since referral and direct traffic have no associated keywords, and since the keywords they type in aren't limited to the known ones advertisers bid on. Yet that keyword's important when it's there, right? Because it determines the relevance of the search - and ads - to the visitor. So is it used?

Or is it a keyword appearing in the article? There are lots of keywords in the article. How are they chosen? Do all the advertisers bidding on every keyword appearing in the article compete with each other, even if the niches are different? It doesn't really seem so, because if I mention red gadgets and pink whoppets in a blue widget article, and red gadgets are fairly related to blue widgets, I might get the odd ad for red gadgets, but never the unrelated pink whoppets. But wouldn't I occasionally, if pink whoppets commanded more money?

Or maybe I have seen this happen, but didn't recognize it as such. But still...it doesn't seem to make sense that advertisers bidding on "blue" and "widgets," both very general, could shoulder aside more relevant advertisers bidding on "blue widgets." But do they?

Is the AdSense bot picking keywords to use? And if so, are they keywords that are definitely on the page? Or ones that are relevant, but not necessarily there?

Does the bot look at the past performance and change keywords if visitors never click the ads, trying to get ones of better relevance?

Ad values seem to change drastically over time. When an article's young and naive, click values seem to have no relationship to CPC - they're sometimes highish, sometimes lowish. But after a while, click values go up closer to where the CPC suggests they would. Is that at least partly because the keywords bid on have changed?

And how many keywords are advertisers bidding on per page? One? Or more?

Much of this has got to be obvious, especially to folks who've used AdWords, but after two years, I'm still at sea.

And maybe I should have posted this in the AdWords forum.

 

HuskyPup




msg:4185934
 12:55 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Are you asking from the perspective of SEO and about generalised widgets rather than trade-specific widgets?

Lapizuli




msg:4185944
 1:26 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

HuskyPup,

Thanks for replying. I'm not sure I understand your question. Trade-specific, generalized - it doesn't matter. I'm not sure what SEO has to do with it, either. I'm talking about the keywords that AdWords advertisers place bids on, from the perspective of an AdSense publisher, in relation to the content network.

(And I've also got a cold, so if I'm not comprehending or expressing myself as I should, chalk it up to a slight temp...)

I'm just trying to understand what the keywords being bid on ARE. Where they are. Which they are.

Google AdSense and AdWords help pages and the keyword tool and everything use vague terms, as if it's obvious. "You bid on keywords..." "The keywords are used to target your ads..." "The CPC of the keywords..." But I can't seem to find any place where it says which keywords they're talking about in the real world - the keywords in the article, the keywords used by searchers, the keywords dreamt up by relevance algorithms, etc.

In AdWords help it says:
[adwords.google.com...]

For example, if you deliver fresh flowers, you can use 'fresh flower delivery' as a keyword in your AdWords campaign. When a Google user enters 'fresh flower delivery' in a Google search, your ad could appear next to the search results. In addition, your ad can appear on sites and products in the Google Network that relate to your keyword.


So this seems to say that for ads appearing in the search network, the user's search terms SOMETIMES decide it. But always? And in the content network?

I know there's broad match and exact match. But, well, who's calling it, ultimately? The bots? The text on our page?

Will I ever get a click based on a bid on a keyword that's not on my page verbatim? When I hear people complaining that their CPC values are far lower than expected, and AdSense must be a scam, might it be because their article isn't getting "credit" for the keywords in question for some reason, even though they might be on the page? What's going on behind the scenes? Those sorts of questions.

I'm sorry again if the answer's obvious. I just can't seem to find anything that explains this in basic terms.

HuskyPup




msg:4185964
 1:48 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure what SEO has to do with it, either.


Hmmm...I'm slightly puzzled what you're looking for.

Let's use the fresh flowers example and I build a site about flowers, say 100 pages all about flowers, some generic pages about flowers, some very in-depth pages about specific flowers with images and full description about those flowers.

I would expect an advertiser to target those flower keywords so that they could appear on my site, not necessarily my specific keywords since there may be different English ways of describing a specific flower however there would be enough of those specific and generalised keywords, plus synonyms, about flowers for Google to know my site is about flowers and for AdWords to target those pages that specifically matched the users enquiry and my keyword SEO.

But, well, who's calling it, ultimately? The bots? The text on our page?


I've never queried that since I have always automatically assumed that since my site is about flowers and everything to do with flowers that Google knows I want flower and flower related ads and that has been driven by my text, after all, if I wrote about trees I would expect tree ads and if I wrote about grass I would expect grass ads. The bots only take the text information on the page and match it up with the advertiser who is looking for buyers of flowers, trees or grass.

Or am I completely misunderstanding you?

Lapizuli




msg:4185983
 2:09 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's kind of what I'm asking, except at a more detailed level.

So if my text is about flowers, but I have no text anywhere on the page that says "southern dogwood blossoms," but an advertiser bids on "southern dogwood blossoms," might they be put on my page? And what's determining it, if so? Contextual relevance? Could it be only the user's search...?

Or if my text is all about "southern dogwood blossoms," and that phrase has a high CPC, but I'm always getting low-value clicks, could it be because I'm never getting ads targeting "southern dogwood blossoms," but other flower keywords instead? And why would that be?

And if a user typed in "annual date southern pink dogwood blossoms bloom" in the search engine, would they turn up ads, either on the search or content network, for "southern dogwood blossom?" And why? Just because they chose broad instead of exact match? What exactlywas used to create that match - what was typed in, or context, or keywords existing on the page? (And of course if the answer's context, it would mean that what was typed in and keywords on the page would contribute, too.)

HuskyPup




msg:4185989
 2:41 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

So if my text is about flowers, but I have no text anywhere on the page that says "southern dogwood blossoms," but an advertiser bids on "southern dogwood blossoms," might they be put on my page?


In my experience with my flowers I would say yes IF that site or the section of that site was about flowers in general. You may not be mentioning the keywords however the advertiser most probably is and since my flower site, or this specific section about flowers, matches up with the overall advertser keywords and flower theme sites it is quite possible for a specific enquiry to show up on a generic flower page and vice versa.

Or if my text is all about "southern dogwood blossoms," and that phrase has a high CPC, but I'm always getting low-value clicks, could it be because I'm never getting ads targeting "southern dogwood blossoms," but other flower keywords instead?


Again, in my experience, you may be getting the other flower keywords however, and this is where Smart Pricing comes in to play, Google has deemed that your site/text is not relevant enough to warrant those higher paying clicks and therefore discounts them to what they consider their worth to the advertiser and it does not matter how much we complain about the relevancy of any specific page or site, Stupid Pricing (TM) is just what it appears to be at times, completely random.

For instance on my flower site my highest paying clicks are on an image gallery with no text other than the flower image name. I have pages and pages of focussed flower details yet they never pay anywhere near the average of that gallery.

What exactlywas used to create that match - what was typed in, or context, or keywords existing on the page?


I create and SEO all my pages using my flower keywords, on the keyword flower specific pages everything is focussed on that flower, that's all the way from the top of the page, the titlebar, meta keywords, meta description, h1, h2, h3, image alt and title plus, of course, text and synonyms and any other specific flower relevant details.

FWIW all my sites have beautifully targetted ads and always have had and for that G does deserve a pat on the back.

netmeg




msg:4185995
 3:04 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok, this is a very basic summary of how AdWords works for the Content Network (yea now it's the Display Network but I'm not used to that yet)

For search, advertising is pretty straightforward. You bid on a keyword or search term (blue widgets) and if someone types in blue widgets into Google's search page, if your ad qualifies by reason of bid and quality score, it shows up on the page. Depending on match type, there's a pretty clear correlation between the keyword that the user types in and the keyword that triggers the ad (at least there's supposed to be)

Now, for the Content Network (which is made up of our sites as publishers) it works totally differently. There really is no keyword matching, because most people don't go to an AdSense site and type in keywords. So Google tries to match you up by theme.

As an advertiser, if I'm trying to target some Content Network sites, I set up my campaigns slightly differently. I will name my ad groups the overall theme that I'm trying to target (blue widget sales, blue widget repair, blue widget parts) and Google will try to match it to the proper sites. If I'm a smart advertiser, I'll go looking for sites in my niche that I particularly want to target, and for those I actually don't even NEED to specify keywords, but I usually will for better targeting, particularly on large sites (like CNN or the NYT) where my ads might apply to a portion, but not the entire site.

One of the reasons why Google is pushing publishers to register and describe their sites in the Ad Planner is to make it easier for advertisers (and Google) to find the right matchups between ads and users.

But keywords, when it comes to the Content Network, are only used as a kind of general guide as to the theme. There's not necessarily a one-to-one relation, and the keyword in the Advertiser's campaign will not necessarily show up on the Publisher's site, if Google determines the theme is the same.

And as HuskyPup says, it's kind of amazing how often they get it right, considering it's all automated. Of course there are great honking mismatches sometimes, but overall - it seems to work pretty well.

If you want an exact laundry list of what Google uses to determine the theme of either the Publisher site or the Advertiser's campaign, nobody will be able to give you that, because Google doesn't release it. But common sense should tell you that if both are obvious to the average six year old, you'll probably get the best ads available.

Lapizuli




msg:4186057
 5:01 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thank you, netmeg and HuskyPup. That helps a lot.

Now, for the Content Network (which is made up of our sites as publishers) it works totally differently. There really is no keyword matching, because most people don't go to an AdSense site and type in keywords. So Google tries to match you up by theme.

Then Google pretty well ignores the search term the user typed into the search engine to get to your page, if there is one?

Knowing keywords on page don't play a part in content network matching, other than insofar as they help Google identify their general theme, will change the way I look at my content a lot.

I wonder how Google labels and defines the parameters of a theme when niches are closely related, if keywords aren't used. That really is extraordinarily AI. (I have a rather frustrating habit of trying to understand the way search engines think, without understanding coding at all.) It's hard to wrap my head around the idea that they know themes are related if they don't base it on keywords.

So, anyway, if people aren't getting the click values they expect from the CPC of the keyword they targeted, and yes, of course it might be smart pricing, but these are often new writers with newish articles, and so it might be because Google didn't think their page covered the theme of the keyword.

coachm




msg:4186118
 6:35 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

What the user types in in a google search is already factored in through the pages it displays as results.

A lot of what you are asking occurs in the black box of google which we cannot see. On top of everything the personalized ads crap will display ads that have nothing to do with the page but related the the visitor's history.

It's really a complex thing, but words on your page make a difference, what users type in when they search makes a difference in whether they actually get to your site.

As for getting your head around it, assume that the algortihtms that make the decisions are quite a bit smarter than you'd imagine and know pretty well what your pages are about. That, in fact, was why google did so well with contextual text advertising. It doesn't just process keyword frequency, but it does semantic parsing (that means it understands the "meaning" of what's on your pages, sorta)

nomis5




msg:4186140
 8:13 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sorry I can't add to this thread but it's very educational. Thanks Lapuzali and Husky Pup very much. Very common sense and down to earth.

netmeg




msg:4186151
 8:39 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Then Google pretty well ignores the search term the user typed into the search engine to get to your page, if there is one?


As coachm mentions, that search term was used to determined which sites to display, but I don't think it necessarily determines which ads are shown - unless it's determined to be relevant.

As an example, many people know I have various types of events sites. A user types in "michigan keyword" and my site comes up. Now, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for Google to show ads for the keyword to the user, because those ads tend to be targeted to the people who put on those events - supplies and whatnot. And that's not who comes to my site. It took Google a little while to figure it out, but eventually they started showing ads for local goods and services. I still get the keyword ads occasionally, but I think Google figures out what types of ads actually get clicked on, and maybe "learns" from it. At least I hope so. All that technology gotta be good for something.

coachm




msg:4188010
 11:49 pm on Aug 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agree, Netmeg. I actually can't figure out how any of us could possibly make money on adsense anymore, since I almost NEVER see ads that I am interested in when I browse around, but there you are. We do ok.

HuskyPup




msg:4188064
 2:17 am on Aug 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

coachm - That's an interesting statement...I really thought observation however I thought you may smack me with that:-)

I do see good GoogleAds everywhere that do interest me BUT I do not allow "tracking stuffy" etc...sites that try to compel me to...die a death!

BTW...nice to see you back here:-)

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