PR Update Rumbles On (Still)

It has now been 3 whole weeks since Google began exporting its internal PageRank values to the Data Centers (and toolbar) for the whole world to admire. The past few days have been quiet and I thought that the export was complete - no more excitement for another three months or so. This morning I got a comment from fellow blogger Rob StGeorge (of Million Dollar Experiment fame) and he told me that his site, thus far unnoticed by Google, has started showing PR4 at a handful of DCs. I headed to my (now) regular haunt of the DigitalPoint forums and sure enough a lot of people, especially in the far far east, have just begun the receive their quarterly bonus from Google. If you fall into this category good luck.

AdSense Bush Telegraph Sending Out Wrong Signals

If you've heard the rumour that AdSense now allow their ads to be displayed on the same pages as the ads of competing contextual advertisers then you heard wrong.

Eagle-eyed spotters on the Digital Point webmaster forum spotted that the rule prohibiting AdSense ads alongside other contextual ads has been removed from the program policy page in the update. This is true - it has gone. However, the same spotters failed to realise that this rule is still included in the Google AdSense Online Standard Terms and Conditions. Consequently there is a potentially damaging INCORRECT rumour circulating that the rules have been changed when in fact they haven't. Paragraph 2 of Standard Terms and Conditions includes the following statement:

"General. You agree not to display on the same Web page in connection with which any Ad Unit, Ad, Link, Search Box, or Referral Button is displayed (a "Serviced Page") any advertisement(s) that an end user of Your Site(s) would reasonably confuse with a Google advertisement or otherwise associate with Google. If You have elected to receive content or Site-based Ads, You further agree not to display on any Serviced Page any non-Google content-targeted advertisement(s). If You have elected to receive Search Results on any Site(s), You agree that Google will be the exclusive provider of Internet search services on such Site(s). Certain Google services available as part of the Program may contain filtering capability, such as SafeSearch or AdSafe, that You may access through Your account. However, if You elect to enable any such filters, You acknowledge and agree that: (i) it is Your responsibility to enable such features in accordance with the specifications provided by Google, and (ii) Google does not and cannot commit that all results (including Ads, Links and Search Results) will be limited to results elected by enabling such filter(s). Google may also include in certain services features which are unsupported under Google's then current technical documentation. Such features are provided "as is" and Your use of them shall be undertaken solely at Your own risk."

The red highlighting is mine, but as you can clearly see AdSense is still incompatible with other contextual advertising services.

Reading around there is an indication that Google intend to remove this clause from the Standard Terms and Conditions, but until that happens I urge you not to run AdSense competitive ads. AdSense is notoriously fussy that their official written rules are complied with.

AdSense Program Policies Revised

A new year heralds a new draft of the AdSense Program Policies. A lot of the rules stay the same but the maximum number of AdSense elements you are allowed to display on each page has changed to the following:

1 Link Unit (unchanged)
3 Ad Units (unchanged)
2 Search Boxes (unchanged)
2 Referral Buttons for each product (new rule)

A quick bit of maths tells you that you can currently display up to 10 referral buttons per page (up to 2 of each AdSense, Firefox, AdWords, Google Pack and Picasa). The rule confirming this can be read here: Referrals Rule and the complete program policies can be seen here: AdSense Program Policies.

AdSense Image-Ad Association

Don't do it!

I've been flitting around a few different webmaster-type forums over recent days and one of the popular requests is 'please review my AdSense placement'. It's amazing how many people are still associating images with AdSense ad units - it's a definite no no.

The human eye has a natural preference for colourful image over boring text, so if you associate images with your ads you are drawing undue attention to them. In particular you must avoid any implication that the ad and image are one and the same thing! On pages with lots of small thumbnail images - a photo gallery for example - publishers should use borders around their ad units to physically seperate them from the images. Ideally, ad units should not be included in the same border as an image.

Guidance clarifying the situation was issued in the official AdSense blog not long ago.

If you think this indicates that Google are trying to meddle even more in how webmasters manage their sites you're probably right!

PayPal Key Fobs - Gone Phishing

I've just verified my Premier account with PayPal. I had all sorts of problems trying to confirm my location over the telephone, so eventually we reverted to confirming it by snail mail instead. I've always been very happy with the responsiveness and high level of service offered by PayPal.

Phishing, whereby fraudsters immitate a trustworthy business or individual in an attempt to acquire sensitive information online, is a huge problem for PayPal. Google estimate that 50% of all phishing sites target PayPal and eBay users. I have received several phishing emails apparently from PayPal but luckily I've been sharp enough to spot them and report them.

PayPal offer good advice on how to spot phishing emails. I'll summarise the key points here:
  • A genuine Paypal email will never ask you for your bank account details, identification documents, email addresses, passwords or name.
  • A genuine PayPal email will always start with your name (because they know what it is!)
  • A fake email normally has a generic greeting such as 'Dear PayPal User'.
  • A fake email may appear to come from a bone fide PayPal email address. Do not accept the 'From' email address as confirmation of the sender's identity.
  • A fake email sometimes has a false sense of urgency - for example, it may say 'if you don't provide these details within X hrs your account will be terminated'. This is a ploy to make you act in haste.
  • Watch for fake links. As with the 'From' email address the appearance of links can be very easily changed. Check the destination (right click > link properties) before clicking on the link.
  • If in any doubt report it to PayPal. Forward the entire suspect email to: You will get a reply within a few minutes confirming whether it is genuine or not.
The main purpose of this post was to tell you that PayPal have a new weapon in their arsenal against the phishers - an electronic key fob. The fob displays a six-figure security code, which is updated by radio signal every 30 seconds or so. The security code will have to be entered to successfully log in to your PayPal account. Two-factor authentication is useful because the PayPal account is still secure, even when one of the factors (eg. password) is compromised. Although the system wont stop every smooth talking scamster from hacking into PayPal, it certainly makes it more difficult. The system will be trialled by business customers in the US, Australia and Germany but should go global by mid 2007. The fob will be provided free of charge to business account holders and will cost USD $5 for everyone else.

It's reassuring to know that PayPal want their system to be as safe and secure as possible for their account holders.

Attention PageRank Spotters

This could just be a vicious rumour but several webmaster-type forums are reporting that the next export of PageRank data has started. I checked the PR of this site earlier this morning and some of the data centres (DCs) are showing fluctuation in the value. 'PageRank shuffle', whereby the recorded value varies between different DCs, is a good indicator that an update is underway. It may surprise you but even a techno big fish like Google has to export PageRank values to each individual DC - it isn't a case of just flicking a switch. The timings, nearly 3.5 months since the last update, tend to agree that it should be underway shortly. Watch this space.

More information on PageRank: The Quest for the Golden Google PageRank.

Text Link Ads and AdSense: A Match Made in Heaven

There has been a lot of coverage in the blogosphere recently about the news that Text Link Ads (TLA) are now accepting Blogger hosted blogs into their link-selling program. I wasn't too sure if there was any truth in this rumour when I first heard it a couple of weeks back, but now I've heard it first hand from Patrick Gavin, the TLA President. Until now the only option for Blogger hosted users was to sign up to the affiliate program and try and push new customers towards TLA.

The news that Text Link Ads is accepting Blogger users provides a useful complimentary avenue of monetisation to anyone wanting to cover the costs of their blogging. Importantly, from the view point of AdSense4Dummies, TLA can be incorporated into a site displaying AdSense. TLA works by delivering ads to websites of a similar theme. TLA ads are not contextual - they do not change to reflect the page content in the same way AdSense does, so are not directly in competition with AdSense. The ads attract a flat monthly fee which is dependent on your site traffic, PageRank, Alexa ranking and number of inbound links. They are not pay per click, so the publisher can be confident of receiving payment every month that a TLA ad appears on their site. The rate paid by TLA compares very favourably to most other advertising services. TLA pay by PayPal (or cheque) at the beginning of every month. There really is nothing to lose by signing up for TLA - all you have to do is insert a small piece of code on your site and if someone buys and ad it will be displayed, if they don't the ad space will remain blank.

Unfortunately, despite being winner of the coveted Top Blog award ribbon this week, we haven't got high enough traffic to enjoy Text Link Ads on this site just yet. They do seem to be very choosy about which sites they accept into the program, but that shows their advertisers are receiving a higher quality of exposure. If you've found this article useful and would like to join the TLA experience why not use our referral button and tell them AdSense4Dummies sent you?

Text Link Ads

The Blog's Bollocks

The nice people at Blogger Forum have chosen adsense4dummies as their blog of the week. As well as bestowing the privilege of being able to display the coveted Top Blog award ribbon (see under my orange RSS feed button, top right), it should also get me a few extra hits this week. Thanks guys, I am very humbled yet again.

It wasn't that long ago that my main blog, Tom Jackson Online, was chosen as the feed of the day by Feedster. Of all the millions of feeds in the world they happened to choose mine!

If you're here from Blogger Forum welcome aboard. Here's a few entries from my archives to keep you entertained for a while:
If you find any of these articles useful please feel free to borrow them and use them on your own site (see my copyright policy).

Thanks again to Blogger Forum for being so kind.