Google AdWords: 11 herbs and spices revealed

Google likes its secrets. But there's one secret it likes more than any other. We don't mean Goobuntu. Or the GDrive. Or those Juniper-killing GRouters. We mean the secret that makes the millions, the secret at the heart of the Mountain View money machine.

It's not much of a secret, really. It's right there for all to see. But it's something Google refuses to admit - whether the question comes from from a nagging reporter or a loyal customer. If Google keeps its loyal customers ignorant, Google makes more money. Much more.


Even among seasoned AdWords advertisers, the assumption is that you're bidding for the right to post an ad every time someone searches on your keyword. Or at least most of the time. The wisest advertisers are well aware that Google may tweak ad placements based on the surfer's location. And many speculate that Google is targeting ads based on the surfer's surfing habits. But almost no one - including some of the cleverest search engine marketers we've spoken to - realizes the truth. And that's because Google won't acknowledge it.

The truth is that Mountain View carefully controls the number of impressions each ad receives - presumably as a means of maximizing its own revenue. To wit, if you bid on the keywords "pork dumplings," your ad will likely appear on only a small fraction of "pork dumpling" searches. And you have no way of knowing how small that fraction is.

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