Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Zen Cart & Google Analytics

If you’re running an E-commerce website, and you are building it yourself, chances are you would be using one of the more popular open source shopping cart scripts; one of which is Zen Cart. Based on the osCommerce framework, it offers a LOT of functionality, as well as a vast selection of third party add ons to suit the needs of most small businesses.

Although to most Zen Cart powerusers, this topic is probably hardly a big deal, however, for all you newbies out there I would like to talk about an add on for Zen Cart that is very valuable indeed. The Google Analytics addon. We all know it is absolutely vital to know what is happening with our online businesses. We need to keep track of how profitable it is, and whether our (if any) advertising efforts are paying off. By signing up to Google Analytics, and linking your Google Adwords account with your Analytics account, you can trace what your paid traffic is doing. But in order to make the most of Analytics, you should implement Ecommerce tracking. Doing this is a pain, especially if you do not have much programming experience. Even more so if you’re using a shopping cart like Zen Cart.

But this Google Analytics add on, which is fairly straightforward to install, will do exactly what you want. Having just installed it on my two websites; and ; I managed to test it and must say it works brilliantly. It tracks transactions completed through your website; depending on what payment modules you are using, it will be fairly accurate. Obviously if you accept COD or any other form of offline payments, it will be impossible for Analytics to find out whether or not the transaction was actually completed – therefore I would suggest using this data only if your transactions are just online (such as through PayPal, Nochex or some other credit card processor).


Search Engine Woes

Has anyone else noticed how when you really need some information, and you turn to a search engine (in my case mainly Google) for help, you type whatever you figure are relevant keywords, and then when you press enter, expecting to find a wealth of answers…. and you find NOTHING. All the results on the front page are crap. It seems like half your keywords have been ignored!

That’s the situation I’m finding myself in these days. Desperate to build a database for our office admin tasks, making life a little easier for me at work. And whenever I cannot figure something out, Google gives me nothing, no cooperation whatsoever!

Try searching for any problem you may face, trying to use advanced functions of Access 2007. You type it in, all you get is basic tutorials. Gone are the good old days where you could type in a phrase that expresses exactly what you need, and the first results were forum posts etc. about exactly the same problem. And below some solutions to it. But no! It’s all just Microsoft tutorials and shit now.

God I’m frustrated! Why can’t a search engine just find me the information I want? It seems they have over-tweaked their algorithm so much over the years, it filters out anything of use….

Please, somebody save me, someone suggest a search engine that DOES work. Is anybody else having these issues???

Continuing beef with Google Adwords…. the saga continues

For anybody who missed my first post about my current issue with Google Adwords;

Read it now: My beef with Google Adwords

Summary of the problem: I started off with a voucher entitling me to £75 of Adwords balance. £5 of this was to be taken as an activation fee for the service to start. The rest was promised to me (by Google Adwords’ email which offered me the voucher) could be used up by running ads to test their service. Valid for new customers only. So After using around £20 of that balance, Google suspended my account claiming I did not have sufficient funds. I contacted their Support.. They first claimed that I had no money in my account and the balance I’m seeing (£49.80) is just an estimate which is updated every 24 hours and actually I had no balance at all. When I pointed out to them that my ad campaign in total cost only £21 and the activation fee was £5, therefore I should be left with approx. £49, I received the following reply:

Hello Hedonist666,

Thank you for your email. I understand that you do not not agree that your
funds have exhausted.

I apologise for the inconvenience caused.

I reviewed your account and noticed that your funds are showing as
exhausted because you have not made an initial payment towards activation
fee. Even though you are using a promotional coupon of GBP 75, you still
need to make an initial activation fee payment (GBP 5). Usually unless
this payment is made we do not let the ads to run in that account, however
due to technical issue your ads ran. This issue has now been fixed and so
unless you make an initial payment of GBP 5 towards activation fee, your
ads will not run and your account will show an alert saying ‘prepay funds

You can easily make a prepayment by following the steps below.

1. Sign in to your AdWords account at
2. Select the ‘My Account’ tab.
3. Click ‘Make Payments’.
4. Enter the amount that you’d like to pay in the ‘Payment amount’ field.
Before doing so, please find the activation fee applicable to your country
and currency at Your
prepayment amount must be at least twice your activation fee. In addition,
we strongly recommend choosing an amount that covers the cost of your
advertising for a week, so that your ads run consistently.
5. Once you have entered the amount, click ‘Go’ and then ‘OK’.

Now that you have successfully made your payment, your ads will start
running almost immediately and you can spend the remaining balance in your
account. You can see your payment record on your Billing Summary page
within 24 hours of the transaction.

I hope I have now clarified your concern.

If you have additional questions, please visit AdWords Support at, where you will find answers to many
frequently asked questions.

We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising


*Name Removed*
The Google AdWords UK and Ireland team

Well that is very odd indeed! After receiving an email which tells me I get £75 to spend on ads, all of a sudden it turns out either the email with the voucher code, or what this Customer Support person is telling me; one of them is wrong…..

My response:

Hello *Name removed*,

Although this is an explanation for what happened to my account, I would argue that it is false. And if it is not, then the initial email in which the voucher for £75 was offered to me was misleading. NOWHERE in the email does it state that I need to pay the activation fee (£5) separately. Instead it clearly states that the fee will be taken from the £75 that the voucher covers and that I can try it out and use the full £75 minus the activation fee for running ads.

Let me quote to you the terms and conditions in the email:
” Terms & Conditions: Use of AdWords and redemption of the promotional credit is subject to ad approval, valid registration and acceptance of the Google AdWords Terms and Conditions. The promotional credit will be automatically credited to your AdWords account once you have entered your unique code and billing preferences. If you choose pre-pay billing the account activation fee (currently £5) will be deducted from your promotional credit. You will be charged for any advertising charges that exceed the promotional credit, and you are solely responsible for the payment of any taxes incurred. If you do not wish to incur additional charges beyond the promotional credit then you should monitor your account and pause or delete your campaigns before or once this amount has been reached. From the date when you pause or delete all of your campaigns, your account will not accrue additional clicks or charges. The promotional credit is non-transferable and may not be sold or bartered. If you indicate that your AdWords account should be subject to a different currency to the one in which your promotional credit has been awarded, then the actual amount of the promotional credit may be subject to foreign currency fluctuations. Offer may be changed or revoked at any time for any reason by Google Ireland Limited and/or any affiliated company offering the AdWords service in your country. One promotional credit per customer. Offer expires and promotional credit will only be granted to accounts created on or before 31st October 2008. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Google and AdWords are trademarks of Google Inc. and are registered in the US and other countries. Google Ireland Limited, Gordon House, Barrow Street, Dublin 4, Ireland.”

Which one is correct then, what you’re telling me that I need to pay £5 separately in order to use up the voucher credit, or what was written in the email which offered me the voucher code to begin with?

If you like I can forward the entire email to you so you can see for yourself that it says absolutely nothing about having to pay £5 in addition to what the voucher gave me. There must be some misunderstanding between various departments in your organisation regarding this issue.

Kind regards,


Google’s response:

Hello Hedonist666,

Thank you for your email. I have forwarded this issue to our payments
team. They are currently investigating the situation and we will contact
you as soon as we have found a solution. We thank you for your patience
and apologise for any inconvenience.

If you have additional questions, please visit AdWords Support at, where you will find answers to many
frequently asked questions.

We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising


*Name removed*
The Google AdWords UK and Ireland team

Bloody hell, I hope something comes out of this soon… And although I realise the person I’m dealing with is just an employee doing their job, and I’m probably being quite annoying; I can’t help it, I’m damn pissed off about it all! Either don’t give me stuff for free, or clearly state when there’s a catch to it…

My beef with Google Adwords


I’m getting increasingly frustrated and angry at Google Adwords. Fine so it’s the only service of its kind worth using. People can get wonderful returns running Adwords Ads… BUT: (and this is a big but!) Their billing system is SHIT! I simply cannot put it into milder terms. When you sign up, and pay them X amount of money, use your account, keep a careful eye on your spending, one would expect that you will be able to actually USE UP the cash you put in. Logical thinking, right? Not so for Adwords. Below an outline of what I’m currently dealing with:

Mid September I signed up with Adwords. Put in £75 (OK I admit, it was a gift voucher I received, so I didn’t actually pay anything). Firstly Adwords tells you that a £5 admin fee will be deducted from your balance. Fine… Then you run some ads, get some clicks, set your budget perhaps at £2 per day. Towards the end of the month the ad charges of the whole month are taken from your balance. Fair enough. So basically at any given point, your account balance is NOT shown Realtime. For a company as big as Google, you would think that they would get the calculations right for determining how much money you still have to spend. Well I thought wrong….

I had £75, they took £5 admin fee, I spent around £21 on advertising during the months of September and October. And behold: There should be £49 left in my account… However, Google has suspended my ads claiming that I’m broke. Brilliant!

Dear Madam/Sir,

My ad campaign is suspended because supposedly my funds are exhausted. However, at the beginning of November I still have 49.80 left in my account, with no ads running, therefore no charges incurred in the meanwhile. I would like to spend this money before I add more to my account.

Thank you,


Google’s Response:

Hello Hedonist666,

Thank you for your email. I understand that you are concerned that though
you have £49.80 left in your account your ads have been suspended for
funds being exhausted.

I apologise for the inconvenience caused.

I reviewed your account and noticed that your balance is 0.00. For the
most updated balance please check out the yellow space above the billing
summary table. It says “Funds remaining in your account”. This shows the
correct balance.

The “Balance remaining as of today” section gets updated only once in 24
hrs and is not accurate. I have attached a screenshot of your billing
summary page for better understanding.

I hope I was able to clarify your concern. Please feel free to send a
direct reply to this email in case of further assistance.

If you have additional questions, please visit AdWords Support at, where you will find answers to many
frequently asked questions.

We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising


*Name removed for privacy reasons*
The Google AdWords UK and Ireland team

Brilliant! So the balance shown isn’t the balance you actually have. And the balance Google claims I actually have is nil. My reply:

Dear *name removed*,

I realize that it SAYS 0.00, which is False.

I have no charges for any ads unsettled because the last ads I ran were in October, and October’s charges have been deducted from my account already. Now at the moment, neither can I run any ads or do anything else to spend the remaining balance of my account.

Please check closely, you will be able to see that in the time I had my account I HAVE NOT SPENT a total of £75 (which was the starting balance of my account) and therefore my remaining balance CANNOT be 0.00. It would be interesting to find out how this figure is calculated to begin with. The logical way would be starting balance minus charges incurred for services used. Since I have not used £75 worth of services, the figure of 0.00 cannot be the outcome of any logical calculation. Even if we assume that nothing has been paid at all from the charges I incurred for running ads: The total of my campaign for ALL TIME is £20.21. This means I should have :
£75 – £5 (admin fee) – £20.21 (ad campaign total) = £49.79. Which is exactly what my Balance page says.

I would like someone to look into this closely because as it stands right now it means Adwords is just a moneypit that I have to keep topping up without actually spending what’s in it. This is not cost effective for me or anyone wanting to use this service.

I insist that I get my money’s worth and am able to spend the balance that remains in my account.

Kind regards,


I am hoping for a quick resolution, although this has been dragging on for a few days already. I’m practically fuming.. I cannot stand it when a supposedly tech-savvy company makes stuff that doesn’t work, and then refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem! Assuming I actually do top up my account, so Google’s system is happy that I have money again, will this go on endlessly and they keep telling me I’m broke when they actually have almost £50 of mine gathering interest in their bank account??

Anyway, rant over, is there anyone else facing this or a similar problem?

Google Base – The mystery is solved…

I have been complaining a lot about Google Base lately. Having twice submitted my entire product list from (2500+ products!) and not being able to see any of them even while searching for only my own products, I finally decided to contact the Help Desk. Now there’s good news and there’s bad news.

I finally know why I couldn’t see any of my products! When you go to the google homepage, and you select Shopping/Products; in Preferences there is a setting that filters out Adult content. When I turn it off, all my products show up.

So that’s it. The only reason my products seemed to disappear. And I’m not happy finding this out. Because: while my products were nowhere to be found, all my competitor’s products seemed to show up just fine. And we’re selling the same (adult!) products! So in effect, somehow Google thinks my site isn’t decent enough, and my competitors are. Just the fact that there was such a setting was news to me, and I’m sure many people who search on google for Adult products are not aware of it either. So basically I’m never going to get the same exposure as my competitors. Very irritating indeed!

Google’s advice is “remove inappropriate language from your items and try again”. I’ll try to censor my listings and see what happens, but I think I’m just doomed to fail at effectively making use of Google Base.

Google Base – Second Try!

Generally I am a fan of Google products. I can’t help it; until now I have found it to be the best search engine (although results are deteriorating, but perhaps that is a general trend, not just Google’s fault!), their Webmaster tools and Analytics are extremely helpful for anybody running a commercial website. A while back I was also using AdSense on one of my sites. I did earn some money with it but because I was forced to give up my site, I couldn’t keep earning from ads either.

One product I have not yet used is AdWords but I’m on it; once my site(s) are settled in a bit and optimised properly, I will try running and Ad Campaign with the voucher my hosting company so graciously provided me with (£50! and all I had to do was pay around £10 on hosting.. now that’s a bargain!) Oh and not to mention the kind people at Google gave me a voucher as well… £70 after all I did was use Analytics for a while.

Either way, that’s not what I wanted to discuss here… My point is: I generally am biased towards liking Google. So I wanted to try Google Base; a tool for submitting your products to the Google shopping search results. And I don’t know about anybody else, but I use it quite heavily, mainly for comparing prices of products on various websites.

So I happily and naively went into Google Base, opened an account, and read up on how to add products. Because my site has LOADS of them (and I do mean LOADS!), the datafeed option was my salvation. I created a tab delimited txt file in Excel, containing around 2500 products. And I submitted it. That was around a week ago. The first thing that happens is, Google base tells you the file is being processed, which could take up to an hour. After an hour it tells you how many errors there were, and how many products were submitted. And then you get a list of products and their status is “Published … searchable soon”. As long as this displays, you should sit patiently and wait for up to 48 hours until the products are in the search results. Then the status will say something like “Published and searchable”. Right on time, within a day or so the status changed to searchable and I got excited. Could not wait to find out how many people search for my products on google shopping. Guess what: none!

Not a single visitor… absolutely nothing. So I logged in, and tried searching for some of my own products. No result; all I get is competitors’ products. Then I went through the help files… They tell you a way to search for your own products using your user id. Nothing! Not a single product of mine was in the index.

Strange isn’t it? And if you search through help files and forum posts, all you get is pointers on what you could’ve done wrong; set the wrong country, item type, submitted items without prices etc. Well I did everything exactly as described, still nothing in the search results. So I’ve waited for a week, thought maybe I need to be more patient. But today I’ve had enough, deleted all my products, and my feed, and uploaded a new one. (exactly as the Google troubleshooting page told me to; resubmit and see what happens).

But as it stands now, I don’t like Google base as much as I thought I would. To me it seems like a buggy product. Good thing it’s free, because if I had wasted more than a bit of time, I would’ve been quite pissed off!