....Lance Dutson, October, 2005
Here is Lance Dutson's phony press release, which showed up on the Chamber of Commerce's hijacked website:
Lance Dutson is implying that Google Adwords bid policies work much like those at the Saturday night auction at the local Grange.
A few years ago, Google changed its system to a "Quality based" CPC (Cost per click) - meaning that the highest bidder did not necessarily end up on top of a search page.
"The minimum bid, also known as the minimum CPC, is the least that one can pay to have an ad appear for a particular keyword in a particular account. It is very important to know, however, that one’s minimum bid is entirely unrelated to how many other advertisers are using the same keyword. Instead, since August of 2005, the minimum bid has been quality based. To put it simply, the higher the Quality Score of a keyword, the lower one’s minimum bid will be for that keyword.”
There are even Google customers who pay a lower CPC for terms that give them a higher Google rating than folks who pay more. This is usually because their ads are so well written.
Lance Dutson was demonstrably wrong on this count.
But he also made repeated complaints about the MOT's use of "Broad Match". (Verses "Phrase Match")
In a "Phrase Match" a searcher would type in a phrase, and Google would show him sites containing the phrase that you type in. An online query for "Camden, Me skiing" (without quotes) might for instance bring up the Camden Snow Bowl, or a Camden ski shop. The MOT of course makes use of the phrase match feature.
But the MOT also occasionally uses "Broad Match" techniques which are more powerful, and have the potential to expose the MOT's site more often. In Broad Match, terms like Camden, ME "skiing" or "bakery "or "plumber" might bring up Visitmaine.com on the first page, ... unless the search specifically includes the limited number of "Negative Keyword" filters (another Google Adword feature) that Maine has applied.
The MOT's negative keywords, such as: "Police", "Movies", "Weather" "Jobs", and "Real Estate" are filtered out, so that Vistimaine.com would not be displayed to a web searcher looking for these things. "Plumber" is not on the negative keyword list, so a search for a Camden plumber (or "Icthyology") might actually elicit the MOT's site (Visitmaine.com) on the top of the page.
This is why Dutson cried foul for the MOT's "broadmatch" strategies, complaining that people will waste our tax money (from 50 cents down to ...later... about 20 cents per click) by clicking on VisitMaine.com when their pipes get clogged.
But both the MOT and I would like to think that most people will look at the URL before they click - especially since so many people in Maine have dial-up, with which wrong clicks can waste so much time.
Now - The danger of NOT using this broad match technique is that so many competitors DO. They purchase state names as broad match keywords themselves, so a search for "Camden ME...anything" can just as easily bring up a travel agent in Texas, or an airline in Sri Lanka.
Sometimes Maine has to use broad match, in order to stay competitive. (They don't want their snowmobilers going to Sri Lanka, or New York.)
Dutson was completely wrong about this. Did he know that he was wrong?
He also complained that the MOT was wasting click money by not filtering out its own state. (Adwords has a very simple user interface that allows you to exclude any geographical region from pulling up your site with your paid Adwords.)
He even complained that the MOT was breaking the law by spending money on interior marketing. He cried "Misappropriation of funds!"
This is fantasy. There is no such law. In fact, about 1/3 of Maine's tourists come from within Maine.
Dutson finally admitted that he was wrong about this...but he never removed the many itereations of that "Misapporpriation of funds" accusation from his blog, and subsequently from Google..
The Maine experts claimed that, since it was all so new to everyone, they had been “experimenting” with different formulae for several months, and although they might have panicked and removed a term for a single day in response to Dutson's accusations, they still claim that most of the coincidence with Dutson’s claims was just that - coincidence.
And they must have been doing something right, since they have gotten the ppc cost down by over 50%.
At one point Dutson even claimed that the MOT site was actually down, and that they took it down because he had scared them into doing so.
But this is untrue ....the site never went down.
He might have had a bad connection, or his proxy (which he used to test the MOT's local filters) might have been slow that day, but the MOT' s site was up and running during the entire time frame that he cited.
And by now Mr. Dutson was in an investigative ecstasy. At one point he actually discovered certain keywords not working, so he assumed (and crowed) that the MOT had finally seen the light, taken his ill advice, and removed those keywords from their list:
(Lance: "Unless I missed something, it looks like we’ve won a huge victory here.")
As a matter of fact, Lance Dutson missed everything.
The simple truth here is only that the MOT has a fairly limited Adword budget. Sometimes, after a particularly busy period on the site, the money budgeted with Google will just run out for those keywords. When this happens, Google pulls the plug.
A searcher can type keywords 'til the cows come home, but they probably won't pull up the MOT's site anywhere near page one. Dutson completely ignored this fact, even though he professes to be an expert at Search Engine Marketing .
In spite of all these industry-accepted truths, Dutson still called the MOT a "Gang of hacks" who were "pissing away tax money".
Also as a matter of fact, Lance Dutson's endless, absurd, and redundant FOIA requests cost us taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. So the only one pissing away tax money at that point was Lance Dutson himself.
He is therefore either incompetent at his craft, or he had other reasons for stirring up this bee's nest.
Perhaps Susan Collins knows some of these reasons....?