Greg Hoffman



Protecting the Brand - Cleaning up Search Results

For the last year and a half, I've taken it upon myself to clean up the paid and organic search results for Thompson Cigar, Linensource, Casual Living and Cafe Belmondo. You should have seen what they looked like then!!!

The problem with paid results in both Google and Yahoo were the mass amounts of competitors bidding on our trademarked keywords and/or using the keywords in the title and content. We filled out the proper paperworkd and after several months of waiting, we finally received word from Google and Yahoo that they would protect our trademarks, but it would be incumbent upon us to report violators. This is still going on today. Take the SmartBargains War of 2006 for example. They were bidding on our trademark and using "Linen Source Discount" as the title of their ad. The attorneys did their squabling but it was Google that stepped in to slap Smart Bargains for us. Later that day, they changed their title to read "Your Source for Linens", which was genious by the way.

Look at our paid search results now. Linen source
You should see Linensource and our two affiliate sites - bed-linen-deals and highthreadsheets in the premium listings, followed by Smart Bargains and Discountbedlinens. If you see anyone else, I have some work to do. No one else has permission to use "Linen Source" in their title or content and I typically report someone about once a month.

Same trademark rules apply to Thompson Cigar. Right now there is a competitor bidding on the trademark and is listed in the premium spot, but they aren't using "Thompson Cigar", so there isn't anything I can do except try to boost my affiliate listing into that position. Both Thompsonhumidors and cigarsbynet are my affiliates, since Google won't allow to have any ads.

As for organic listings, I had to clean up old affiliates with broken links and error pages for all the companies and competitors with our keywords stuffed in their metatags. If someone looks at my organic listings, I want the top ten to be filled with links to my pages or my partners pages (preferably affiliates since I pay them less than shopping engines).

I don't want pages like this to show up - Eco Shopping. That Linen Source link is broken and I don't know why it was there in the first place. I'll have to see if they can sign up as an affiliate or send them a cease and desist letter to remove the text link.

Check out the Thompson Cigar organic links - perfect. Five of the organic links are directly to our pages and sites, the other five are trusted partners. That one has taken some time to fix.

It's not an easy process, but if you track sales from paid or natural listings, it's worth the time.

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Google and the Cigar Debate

Google warned me but I didn't believe them. Now I do.

For the last six months, I've been managing the SEM tasks for Cafe Belmondo. We took the middle man agency out so we could maximize profits and really get aggressive. It was working great until I got greedy.

Around November, I started tinkering with ads through the same account to drive traffic to CigarBlog101 and instantly we saw an increase in sales through non-trademark cigar and humidor terms. Every once in a while an ad would be disapproved so I would tweak it and go on with business. However, in January, the disapprovals started more frequently. About two weeks ago, I received a nasty letter from Google adsense to stop placing ads for cigars. On the same day, they granted me permission to buy trademark ads for Thompson Cigar so I tried my luck one more time.

Last Wednesday I signed in to my Adsense accout to see the dreadful words...
This account has been cancelled. This account was cancelled on Feb 12, 2007. It will not be possible for you to reactivate your account.

Oops. There goes my Cafe Belmondo ads. I had a new account open within the hour and rebuilt all of my coffee ads but now I'm stuck on probation and they only gave me a daily budget of $10. Hopefully, by Monday the accounts will be back to normal.

What is the Google/Cigar debate?
Only sites that sell less than 30% tobacco products can advertise. That's why my affiliates can sell humidors and accessories. But my CigarBlog101 was too much for the Google gods.
Here's an explanation of what happened.

Thank you for your email regarding your request for clarification of our policy. Google believes strongly in freedom of expression and therefore offers broad access to content across the web without censoring search results. At the same time, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we
accept on our site, as noted in our advertising terms and conditions.

Google AdWords reserves the right to refuse to run certain ads or categories of ads on a case-by-case basis. We do not permit ads for cigars, or tobacco products. However, we understand that you offer other products. We are able to run your ad on Google as long as you are not directly advertising cigars, or tobacco products.

Was I wrong? Absolutely!
Is Google wrong? Absolutely!

Will I ever disobey Google again? NEVER....

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Guerrilla Marketing Causes Boston Bomb Scare

Marketing Vox echoes the headlines and story rolling across the Internet today about the boneheads that planted the circuit boards all over Boston promoting a cartoon. The story also questions the intelligence of Boston officials for not researching these little buggers online before creating a public panic.

Do you really think terrorists will have a sense of humor the next time they strike? Do roadside bombs have smiley faces painted on them or insulting remarks carved on them? How could anyone seriously take these things as a public threat. The Boston bomb squad even blew one up!

I'm not defending the guerilla marketers, they should have put an end to the news event as soon as they heard about it. But it seems as though Boston needs to calm down a bit.

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