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Beanstalk Wins

Well it’s always nice to be recognized and so winning two awards in the same month for different categories of SEO is a pretty good feeling. The awards came out and we get two of them, one of the top SEO training companies and one of the top organic optimization companies. Since we don’t do PPC – we’re pretty happy with those results. :)

View The Results:

Best in Organic Optimization
Beanstalk ranked #7 in Canada for best organic optimization. I have a hunch that the fact that we don’t list off our clients (never have, never will) played against us there but it’s nice to be recognized without having to. Perhaps it’s our own rankings that tipped us over the top. ;)

Best In SEO Training
In the SEO training category we ranked #5. Not too shabby for our first pop onto the radar in the awards.

All-in-all we’d like to extend a big thanks to for appreciating the effort we put into our campaigns and our training. Of course, we won’t let it go to our heads – we still need to produce the results to insure we get higher in the award results and of course, to insure we don’t ahve to pay back our guaranteed clients. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 4:16 pm on September 3, 2008



Net Neutrality article

Today on Webcology (a show hosted by Jim Hedger and myself on every Thursday at 2PM EST) Jim and I discussed the issue of net neutrality legislation with SaveTheInternet’s Timothy Carr.

Jim and I had the pleasure of having Timothy on our show previously and it was great to have him on again. When we first had hom on the show both Jim and I were solidly in the net neutrality camp. When I was invited to speak at SES San Jose last week Jim and I took opposing sides in what turned into a debate on the issue. After doing a ton of research into it I found my leaning towards the anti-net neutrality side and so it was a great show with some tough questions and some enlightening info from Tim.

Of course, a lot of you reading this are wondering what a ton of people at the conference were wondering … What In The World Is Net Neutrality ?!!?

To answer this questions I spent a few days and wrote an article answering just that.

The article, titled “What In The World Is Net Neutrality?” is (in my opinion at least) a good read to understand the core of the issue but I would highly recommend to educate yourself further. There are links in the article to some great resources and of course, you can listen to the Webmaster Radio podcast here.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:46 am on August 29, 2008



SEO Survey

I got an email a few days ago from Salman over at Lancaster University asking if I’d be interested in doing a survey on SEO and SEO tactics. There was nothing in it that crossed the line over into confidential information and thus, I was happy to do it. In return he’ll be providing me with the generic results the survey gathers.

When I emailed him to let him know that I’d completed the survey he emailed me back noting that not many of the people he’d contacted had completed it. Sad sad sad.

So my call out here is for all you SEO’s reading this – do a student a favor and spend a whopping 5 minutes answering some questions so his project can be a success. It’ll be good for all of us as we’ll all get a better sampling of the info. :)

You can fill out the survey here.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:57 am on August 15, 2008



Ryanair’s Howard Millar on How To Not Succeed Online

Where it comes to succeeding on the web SEO is only part of the picture, and not always the most important thing depending on your industry. Running a successful online business requires good client relations, good vendor relations, and possibly finding as many income funnels as possible. Unless your Ryanair, or your CEOs name is Howard Millar.

Recently Ryanairs website started to suffer some performance issues because aggregation websites (ie airline fare comparison sites) were hammering their website scraping (aggregating) their content to generate their own websites with cheap flight comparisons. Now 99 out of 100 business owners would be pleased that these websites helped them increase their internet branding, corporate presence, and increasing their sales (100 websites offering the same product will generate more business then just a corporate website).

However Howard Millar is that one in a hundred who thinks not, so he started out with a lawsuit against one such aggregator, and then he came up with a brilliant idea (well it must have been brilliant to Howard Millar just not to the rest of the world) to cancel every Ryanair ticket that had been booked through one of these websites. Now although this may have seemed wise to Howard Millar, it does not with me. Can you imagine having booked a family trip through one of these websites, received your confirmation, only to have to cancel your trip as your ticket you thought you had purchased won’t be honored.

Essentially what Howard has done is 1) Generate bad press for Ryanair 2) Pissed off a lot of potential clients 3) Lost a lot of potential revenue 4) Loss of recurring revenue from clients that may have flown with Ryanair through these websites then came back for repeat business (it is not like Airlines are declaring bankruptcy on a daily basis and require frequently fliers…) and 5) Increased the revenue of their competitors that do allow the aggregators to pillage their websites.

Now what would have been a better approach to dealing with this without losing revenue? The first would have been to put together RSS flight feed information to help aggregators build their sites without having to download as much information thus bogging down the server less (or even having a seperate server to host these RSS feeds to reduce load even more). The second is definitely less technical and that would be to upgrade their web servers, hardware is relatively cheap if you’re generating additional revenue from it (let alone from 100s of websites).

Then with all the additional revenue Howard Millar could have invested it in SEO to pull visitors away from these sites by targeting the terms there ranking well for :)

SEO news blog post by @ 4:41 pm on August 13, 2008



“Stuck” In Whistler

Not entirely SEO-related (forgive me – I’m on vacation) but I’ve been looking out my window onto some of the main pubs and through-fares around Whistler and it’s been pretty quiet. Now, I expected it to be a little calmer than normal with the end to the Pemberton Music Festival the day I was arriving but I figured it would pick up as the week went on.

Rock slide en route to Whistler, BC.Separating myself from pretty much all things news-related that aren’t mission critical client issues I didn’t even realize the major events that were happening around me. In chatting with a few “locals” (is anyone actually FROM Whistler) I discovered that there was a massive rock slide and people can’t get in or out. :)

And so I sit here, “stuck” in Whistler, BC. Stuck in the awesome lodgings provided me by my friend Bryan from Whistler Retreats. Of course, I wasn’t planning on leaving until Sunday however it appears that we may be delayed by a day or two there. I’ll keep you posted (and more to the point – our clients) as to whether my return will be delayed.

Meanwhile – back to relaxing, mountain biking and strolling through the village. :)

The picture copyright of the CBC and full story can be viewed on their website (link removed – resource no longer exists.)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:32 pm on July 30, 2008



Cuil New Look For Beanstalk Staff

As a lot of people have heard the ex-Googlers at Cuil have launch their “Efficient Google Killer”, which seems to have become the laughing stock of the SEO Community for terrible results and matching up images with search results that don’t belong to the same website. Today out of curiosity I thought I would “Cuil” my own name and see what kind of results came up, and apparently I resemble a younger Ben Stiller from the 70s with a perm like mullet.
And if you haven’t guessed Dave is the taller less intimidating one. Here is a close up showing my better side and the Beanstalk URL, if you visit this page there aren’t any actual images in the content.
On a side note Cuil however does return 1,898 results vs Google’s 923 results for the term “Daryl Quenet”.

One of our Older Readers has told me that this is Hall and Oats, and after Googling for them I found the image is actually the CD Cover from their “The Very Best Of Hall & Oates

SEO news blog post by @ 1:55 pm on



The Search Landscape Reflected In Paid Results

It’s important to note that the writing of this article occurred on July 17, 2008. I mention this only to insure that you can put it into context and also so that those who read this article in a day or week or month from now aren’t confused by my noting of Q2 reports and references to “today”.

Any of you who have read some of my past articles or who have visited Beanstalk’s services pages will know – I’m not a PPC guy. Quite honestly, it’s not in my primary skill set and it’s something I would definitely prefer to leave to the experts. Now that said, following Google and it’s health (which is tied directly to AdWords and AdSense) is something I’m keenly interested in. To this end, recent changes in Google’s paid search display and ranking systems will have huge impacts on advertisers and, more important for the purpose of this article, on Google itself.

A couple weeks ago a friend of mine, Richard Stokes from AdGooroo sent me a PDF titled, “Search Engine Advertiser Update – Q208”. With this document they outline the changing trends in the paid search marketplace and many of the stats are surprising. If you’re a PPC manager they’re obviously directly important. For those of us in the organic optimization world they are still both interesting and important They’re interesting for reasons which will become clear further below and they’re important because anything that affects the economic health of the search engines affects the search landscape both inside and outside of the paid search realm.

Paid Search Market Share

What could be more important to the engines than their percentage of the paid search arena. Does Google really care about being the dominant search engine as far as organic search goes? Let me put this a different way, if Google was standing in front of their shareholders – would they prefer to announce that they held 80% of all worldwide searches and reported revenues of $7.8 billion dollars for the quarter OR would the rather stand up and say they hold 20% of all worldwide searches and reported revenues of $8.7 billion dollars? Organic results drive traffic which is turn results in clicks on paid ads. From a business standpoint that’s the only reason that organic search even matters.

So which engine has the healthiest paid search environment? According to AdGooroo, Q2 results show a different world that one might guess (which is why I noted that it is interesting).

Over the past twelve months advertiser growth (or lack thereof) breaks down as follows:

  • Google – -8.5%
  • Yahoo! – +9.8%
  • MSN – -6.7%

Advertiser counts have also changed (i.e. the number of advertisers on the engine). Yahoo! leads in this area as well with a growth of 0.03%, Google dropped by 6.4% and MSN dropped by almost 20% (good thing they have their OS revenue to fall back on).

And A Drop In Ads

To go even further, Google has increased the importance of quality which has resulted in a reduction of nearly 40% in the number of ads that appear on a results page. 6 months ago ~6.5 ads appear per page whereas now that number is closer to 4. This has the potential to significantly help or significantly hinder Google’s revenue.

As Richard Stokes points out and I completely concur, this places Google in an environment where one of two things will happen:

  1. Advertisers will realize that their clicks are converting much higher, search marketers will spend more time and resources creating more and more relevant ads and landing pages and advertisers will be willing to bid more as the conversions increase, or
  2. The competition for the top spots will be reduced and so too will the average bid prices.

Google’s Q2 Report

And what inspired the writing of this article was actually the release of Google’s Q2 report earlier today. After reading it I immediately had to contact Richard and let him know that the results confirmed some of the predictions noted in his work. He writes:

“… the auction-based bidding system makes this a double-edged sword. As the number of advertisers declines, so does the competitive pressure for higher bid prices. If advertisers don’t step up to the plate and bid more aggressively for placement, then it’s possible that search revenues could stagnate.”

Google revenues were up only 3% over Q1 of this year and revenue from paid click was down by 1%. This is the first time in Google’s history post-IPO that I can remember them showing reductions in revenue in one quarter over the previous. It appears that this new paid search model in not quite as effective at pulling in money as the old.

Now, to be fair, the new system of requiring higher quality scores and better ads and landing pages is new – only a few months old at this point and so there are likely still bugs to be worked out but Wall Street did not react favorably to the announcements today and I suspect that the situation isn’t going to look better for Google at the close of day tomorrow (though what do I know about stocks).

What Does This Mean?

So what does this mean? This means that Google has a lot of work to do and those in the paid search space need to pay close attention (even closer than normal) as shareholders don’t like to see losses and Google is going to need to make moves to recover and show significant gains by the time their Q3 reports come out.

One might guess that this also means that Yahoo! Is gaining ground (which is true) but it’s definitely a case of too little too late. Also earlier today (it was a busy day in search) Yahoo! released a letter to its shareholders that on one hand referred to the alliance between Microsoft and Carl Icahn as a destroyer of shareholder value for Yahoo! and then went on to say that they would be willing to sell the company to Microsoft at $33/share (which is what Microsoft has offered previously and which is more than $10 above their current market value).

It seems that the one can’t look at the stronger relative results in the paid search area that Yahoo! has achieved as a win when they seem to be backsliding on their initial position regarding the sale to Microsoft.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

For one thing, watch closely. Monitor resources such as AdGooroo’s research library, and the Clix Marketing blog. Pay close attention as we’re going to see a lot of changes to what’s going on and these changes are likely going to have effects on both the paid and the organic results as Google strives to provide the better results they’re targeting through paid search now but at the same time increase their revenue.

This may involve adjustments to the quality scoring (I can pretty much guarantee that one) and may involve adjusting how the paid ads appear on the page with the organic results. All we can really do is watch, wait and adapt.

Note: a big thanks goes out to Richard Stokes and the AdGooroo team for providing the research and stats behind this article. Your keyword research tool and compatition analysis capabilities are awesome !!!

SEO news blog post by @ 11:10 am on

Categories:Search Engine News


Off To SES San Jose

Once again I’ve been given the great opportunity to speak at SES San Jose. This SES is by far my favorite. New York is great, don’t get me wrong but there’s something about being a geek in Silicon Valley that’s just awesome.

This year I’ll be speaking on an extremely important topic and that’s Net Neutrality. And best of all, I’ll be on stage with my co-host Jim Hedger from Metamend and being moderated by the lovely Cindy Krum from Blue Moon Works. You can read more about the session here (Note: link removed as the page no longer exists).

On top of that I’ll be meeting up with two very interesting clients and having a meeting with Richard Stokes from AdGooroo. Hopefully I can sneak an interview with him in there.

I hope to see many of you there. If you are – feel free to say hi. if I’m at the Google Dance – you might have to say “hi” again the next day. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 8:56 pm on July 25, 2008



Rand Explains PageRank

Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz takes some time to explain PageRank as it was when it first came about vs how it is today. Admittedly, it’s greatly simplified in this video BUT it’s probably the most easy-to-understand explanation I’ve heard to date and covers the changes in the system well. For those of us watch the PageRank on our homepage and internal pages it we’ve likely witnessed a lot of what he’s taking about.

To candy-coat it even more, Rand covered the explanation as part of his Whiteboard Friday series so you don’t even have to read. :) Here’s the video:
SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday-Has Pagerank Changed? (visit for the comments) from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:31 pm on July 18, 2008



>1 Is The Loneliest Number

A lot of my recent speaking engagements at both Search Engine Strategies and SMX have been geared towards running an SEO company, dealing with a changing economic landscape and similar issues. It is with this in mind that I got thinking about what separates one company from another. There are many great SEO and SEM firms out there, I like to think that Beanstalk is among them but there are also a number of poor ones. What separates the two and why will some succeed and others fail?

In thinking this over I considered skills first. Is it that the companies that weather the years, ride out the ups-and-downs in the fiscal year and the trends in the economy have the highest skills? Not entirely. At first this seemed like a logical, “survival of the fittest”-type scenario but I have seen skilled people (in this industry and others) going down while those who have very little in the way of skill succeed. So it’s not entirely about the ability to get the job done. Or is it …

One defining trend that I have noticed (though I would be very interested to hear about any exceptions to this you might have) is that the companies that specialize tend to be more successful than those who try to do many things. Companies that start by doing, say, web design and get lured into SEO (“Why give away the client to someone else – it’s just a matter of packing in some meta tags and buying some software to submit the sites to a billion search engines every month right?”) or try to host their own client’s sites (“My reseller package gives me unlimited domains and unlimited traffic.”) or offer other services that get into trouble.

So my advice has to be (and I’m not the first to say it) – do one thing, be excellent, and leave the rest to the experts in other fields.

Honestly, I’ve been tempted over the years to try to delve into other areas. I’m a half-decent designer and I know my code well enough (or what kind of SEO would I be?) so when a client comes with no site but a great idea it’s always tempting to take the whole contract, but then reason sinks in (even when I have staff who can do the parts that I can’t). Even the Beanstalk site was designed by a professional web designer (and many thanks to Frederick from W3 EDGE Web Design for a solid site that converts well). The key then is to find experts in other areas that you can trust with your clients. To that end I personally look for other, similarly-minded companies that specialize in what they do best and leave the rest to others.

The Exception

Before I get an onslaught of comments and emails blasting me for saying such a “crazy” thing as noone can be an expert at everything I should note some exceptions to this rule. There are firms out there that consist of multiple divisions, each of those divisions dedicated to an individual task. Let’s take for example a firm such as WeDo Hosting Canada (I used to work there more moons ago than I’d like to count so they make a great example). Robert Gagnon (owner) built an excellent hosting facility but it was to support his software development projects. Instead of trying to do it all he created a hosting company and a software company, hired great hosting experts to manage and support the one company and developers for the other.

If you are yourself trying to be a designer, SEO and host (why not add in a little social media marketing and PPC management just for fun) you’ve basically created a recipe for disaster and if I keep my eye on my watch I should be able to figure out pretty closely the exact moment that it all tumbles into decline. It will be the moment an issue arises in an area that you are not an expert. If your host goes down and you’re on a standard reseller package and not able to directly fix your situation, you become reliant on others. What if they didn’t make a backup of the product and/or sales database? And now your client blames you and will pull the entire set of services you provide them on the shelf – someone else’s shelf.

But I digress …

Who Are The Experts?

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, an expert is defined as, “one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.” This seems like a pretty fair analysis of the word. Now, there are certainly the Leonardo Da Vinci’s out there who can unquestionably prove themselves to be experts and masters in a variety of fields however I am not on that plane thus – I am limited to focusing all of my time and attention to a single endeavor. In my case I chose organic optimization and let me tell you (if you don’t already know) there’s enough going on there to keep one’s attention fully occupied and if I had two brains instead of one – both could be kept busy.

The same can be said for all of the other areas that are commonly grouped by individuals. Developers are generally logic-based thinkers, designers are generally creative, good PPC managers have a knack and skill for weeding out specific trends and stats to maximize revenue while minimizing undesirable clicks (those would be the clicks from people unlikely to convert). Social media experts focus primarily on the here-and-now (i.e. what’s working right now to drive massive traffic through social media sites) and so on.

Because I like to avoid speaking ill of others, especial those in the SEO-realm I’ll focus on my limitations as I’m always welcome to pick on myself. My personal strengths and interests lie in evaluating and understanding trends in ranking fluctuations, analyzing competitors and applying the finding across multiple sites as appropriate. Ask me to design a site … goodness no – please don’t, for your own sake. I can’t create pretty things in my head (or on paper) and I certainly can’t move that image onto the web. When client’s need design or development I send them to designers like Moonrise Design from San Francisco who we’ve worked well with on a number of projects or Atomic Crayon from Victoria.

Ask me to manage a large-scale PPC campaign – not if you want it to be successful. I can hold my own on small campaigns or campaigns just for testing keywords but when I think of titles and descriptions I’m thinking of the organic results – write them to get the click as it’s free and we can work on converting them when we get them to our site. This doesn’t apply well to PPC. I’d rather refer a client to David Szetela and crew over at Clix Marketing who have the same feeling we do – their monthly fees are based on your profit not your spend so they’re focused on making the most of each dollar in your budget – not just getting rid of it all.

How about hosting? – I’m not even going to go there. I’ll leave hosting to the likes of Lunarpages Web Hosting or Superb Hosting. Is there anything more critical to the success of an online business than hosting? No matter what was spent on SEO or PPC or your design, if a site isn’t up – what does it matter?

And So My Advice Is …

If you’re a provider of services, be excellent. Pick the one thing you do best and hopefully most enjoy and be the best provider of that service your client could have. Find reliable and trustworthy partners to offer the services you do not and refer your clients to them. You can likely take a commission. At Beanstalk we’ve opted not to take commissions on referrals just to make sure we’re always give what’s actually the advice in the best interest of the client, however there’s nothing wrong with doing so if you know you’re giving great advice.

If you’re on the hunt for an SEO or other Internet marketing service – select a company that either does one thing extremely well and can help you find suitable providers of the other services or which has dedicated staff for specific tasks, thus enabling them to learn and focus on the skills best suited to the task they are performing on your site.

But What Does This Have To Do With The Lonliest Number?

Everything. Through this piece I’ve discussed essentially what will be the downfall of many Internet Marketing firms. The economy is changing. The fat is being trimmed and the most skilled may not be the ones who survive – if they extend themselves into areas where they’re not the best.

As a web services provider or as the client of one I’d want to know that I’ve got the best doing what they do best. Until Leonardo comes back and takes up Internet marketing, design and hosting – that’s going to need a team or set of teams – not an individual. If you don’t take this advice, well – it’s very lonely when you have a poorly designed site hosted on a slow server that doesn’t rank very well – or if you’re the company who’s client had that site.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us for additional information or sign up for our free search engine optimization review.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:11 am on

Categories:SEO Articles


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