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Climbing the Beanstalk
December 27, 2005

Welcome to the December 27, 2005 edition of "Climbing The Beanstalk", the monthly newsletter on search engines and search engine positioning from Beanstalk. With the fallout of some major update still being felt and some odd behavior on Google there's a lot to report on this month so let's get to it shall we? ...

Jack's House

2005 was a very exciting year for the SEO community and Beanstalk was no exception. With the launches of some great products from the major search engines and some major upheavals in the way the rankings are calculated the landscape for SEO's and webmasters is a very different one from that on January 1, 2005.

Through this year the engines have gotten better at detecting black-hat tactics but at the same time have made it more difficult for new sites to attain rankings for competitive phrases. The advantage to this is that the results are better for the searcher, the downside is that it is more difficult for the small business person to find their site on the first page without a higher degree of effort and attention to detail. Of course, the engines make their money off the searchers so one can assume that through 2006 this trend will continue.

We at Beanstalk are predicting an increase in MSN's marketshare due to various anticipated launches by Microsoft including a new OS that is rumored to integrate MSN search more deeply into it. The stable and relatively solid results on the MSN search engine may well swing users of Google and Yahoo! if they find MSN easier to use (which the integration into the OS should certainly secure). Google will undoubtedly remain the king of search however MSN will likely become a much stronger force to be reckoned with in this arena.

Before moving on to covering the news of the big three from December we at Beanstalk would like to thank all our clients, website visitors, and business associates for helping make 2005 an extraordinary year for us. We look forward to helping you make the most of your website, either through our SEO services or through the free information we provide on our blog.

The Giants :

The Top Three ...

Google News - Google has (and is) causing quite the bit of confusion with what appears to be the longest running update ever. Since early November they have been showing different backlink counts on various datacenters. Recently the search results accross different datacenters are different with people in Boston viewing different results than those in Seattle.

Were I to place a bet as to what is at the root of it all (though admittedly - I would not place a large bet on this) I would say that Google, rather than simply updating their algorithm and then testing it by simply putting it live are now updating their algorithms on different datacenters, viewing which results are more successful (i.e. which results require the user to go back to Google and search again and which indicate that the user is finding what they want the first time) and will go live with the final version once the best permutation has been established.

So when will they update? Likely the next update that will run accross all the datacenters will occur sometime early in January. That said, the folks at Google have a funny sense of humor and I wouldn't find it odd to see the update take hold on January 1st - you know, when all the SEO's are at home NOT watching the results (tip to SEO's - you probably want to at least take a quick peek at the results on the morning of the 1st :)

In other Google news, on December 15th Google handed us an early present by launching two new extensions for the Firefox browser. Handly little extensions you can read more about them on our blog post from the day at /blog/2005/12/google-extends-firefox.html.

Yahoo! - Admittedly not much happened with Yahoo! this past month. They kept fairly quite and rightfully so, they probably learned from the infamous Florida Update on Google back in 2003 that right before the holidays is NOT the time to update everything. Yahoo! appears, if anything, to be applying quiet tweaks that may rock the boat a bit but they certainly don't sink it. The weight of link anchor text appears to have slipped a bit on Yahoo! with an increase in the wieght the various onsite factors hold.

MSN News - MSN had a fairly significant update that started on December 6th. The update brought MSN a little closer to Google and Yahoo! in that the value of links increased however MSN still credits a site with links and onsite changes far faster that either of the other two.

Useful Tools

We highly recommend checking our these great SEO tools. If you're a do-it-yourselfer they will save you countless hours and headaches:

  1. Google Datacenter Watch - This handy little tool allows the visitor to search multiple datacenters and see the results in either rows or columns. A great tool that should be added to your favorites for future use when you want to check your rankings during an update you find out about on Beanstalk's SEO blog. ;)
  2. Who Powers Whom - As we head into 2006 I wonder at what this chart will look like on January 1, 2007. Showing you which engines draw their paid and natural listings from which, this chart is a very good resource.
  3. PR Prowler - As I got a rave review about this product from a new client of ours who used it a while back I decided that it was definitely worth mentioning again. PR Prowler finds and creates lists of relevant, high PageRank sites for you to exchange links with. It then creates an HTML page so you need simply to click on the links, visit the pages, and submit your link (it will also produce email lists if desired).

Resources Of Interest

We're always surfing and always on the lookout for useful information on top of the testing and analyzing we do on our own. Below you will find links to some of the more useful information we have found recently.

SEO For The Big Three - The most recent article by Beanstalk staff, it covers the mystery of how to rank your website highly on all three major search engines.

Search Engine Ranking Factors - While there are countless lists out there covering the various factors search engines use in their ranking algorithms I've yet to see a list so well composed and by such knowledgeable people as this one. Developed by such SEO-notables as Danny Sullivan, Dan Thies, Jill Whalen and many more this list has been carefully developed and includes an importance rating for each of the factors.

Matt Cutts' Blog - We've mentioned this one before but it's a key resource and thus, it's here again and if you keep reading our newsletter and/or blog you'll probably see it in the future as well. Why? For those of you not aware, Matt Cutts is a software engineer for Google who has his own blog. While he's not one to give away secrets, you'll definitely find some good tips, advanced notice, and great insight. If you're interested in ranking your site on Google (and who isn't) this is definitely one for your "Favorites" folder (might I suggest placing it right below the "Beanstalk's SEO News Blog" link. ;)

Thank You

Thank you very much for subscribing to "Climbing The Beanstalk", the monthly search engine positioning newsletter. If you have any questions about the areas covered or if there are any areas of search engine positioning that you would like to see covered in future articles/newsletter please don't hesitate to contact us. We want to write what you want to know.

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