Yearly Archives: 2010

A Sad Day For Blogger Users But Good For Beanstalk

I love Google. Before I head into my latest rant I wanted to get that out of the way as this is two posts in a row that involve me complaining about something Google is doing. Perhaps the flaw is in the way I viewed Google – as more than just a marketing company. I suppose that this means I wasn’t really paying attention when the quarterly reports came out. :)

First, let’s setup the situation …

The year is 2004 and I’ve just registered the domain beanstalk-inc.com. I like sharing information and I like adding content to our site and so as soon as the site was fully operational and our core 100-or-so pages of content ere built I worked to get a blog started with the first post appearing on March 24 of 2005 (about the AskJeeves purchase). :) When I was choosing the blog system to use the choice was pretty obvious to me. The logic went something like,

  • I want Google to crawl my blog
  • Google owns Blogger
  • Google creates the Blogger code
  • Google will thus always be able to crawl Blogger blogs
  • I think I’ll go with Blogger

I wanted to content on our site so I chose Blogger and went with their FTP option. I chose Blogger because of the FTP option. I have setup clients in Blogger because it’s run by Google and has an FTP options. Google has just announced that they will be discontinuing their FTP option. Insert expletive here.

Now, I can see their reasoning. By their count, only 0.5% of the Blogger blogs are uploaded via FTP and are responsible for a disproportionate amount of support resources HOWEVER I would counter with two point.

About 75% of all the blogs are spam and I’d bet that the ones hosted on actual domains are more likely to be legit. I may be wrong but I’d bet not. But still – if we assume that we are still left with only 2% of legit Blogger sites being uploaded via FTP. So what does that mean in numbers? I don’t have access to the most current data but let’s say – thousand upon thousands of users will feel the inconvenience and now I have to go back and appolgoize for recommending to my clients that they use Blogger and further – find a solution.

Now – I do like their sub-domain solution (they’ll host blog.beanstalk-inc.com but let’s be honest – it’s still going to cost me to go this route via lost links to existing posts and the lost weight that seems to affect 301′d links (though I’m not sure why but it does appear to happen).

At any rate – that’s my rant and stay tuned, once I figure out what we’re going to do and test it – I’ll blog about the results so if you too are caught in this mess – hopefully we’ll be able to give you a solid solution. :)

And good luck. :)

And now on to the good news …

Beanstalk has once again made the grade to be included in TopSEO’s best of the best winning awards in the following areas:

  • Optimization
  • Content Creation
  • Link Building
  • Training
  • PPC Management

A big thanks for TopSEOs and to our clients. :)

Google’s Keywords Tool & Personalization

I’ve got two topics to cover today – Google’s keyword tool and Google’s personalized results. Let’s start with their keyword tool …

Google’s Keyword Tool (and my problems with it)

Today I’m not going to focus on the common question, “Is the data accurate?” It’s a good question but one which is likely, “Yes if you know how to read it.” It includes the search network so i you read it as “number of searches on Google.com” you’re wrong but if you read it as “accessing Google’s search results” you’re right. Nonetheless, that isn’t what I’m going to cover today – my issue today is what they’re displaying and what they’re not.

When one uses Google’s keyword tool one expects that the resulting data shouldn’t be tainted by Google’s personal bias towards products and/or services. But alas – it appears that either the results are biased or people’s search patterns are very different than what I would expect them to be and given that I’ve been working as an SEO for ten years – it’s doubtful that the search patterns are THAT different. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to so you can run your searches on this tool understanding that you might not see an accurate view of the world around you.

Top 20 results reported for “iphone developer” (I’ve trimmed some of the columns to make it fit this page):

Keywords related to term(s) entered
Keywords – Monthly
iphone developer – 74,000

Additional keywords to consider
Keywords – Monthly
developer – 3,350,000
resume developer – 40,500
programmer developer – 33,100
j2ee developer – 14,800
cv developer – 14,800
resumes developer – 4,400
technical developer – 4,400
developer engineer – 3,600
consultant developer – 2,900
unix developer – 2,400
developer experience – 1,600
ipone developer – 73
aple developer – 46
aplle developer – 36

Really? One of their top phrases is ipone developer and the are no additional searches at all that include the keywords iphone and developer? Oh wait – if I search “iphone app developer” it shows 3,600 estimated monthly searches so why didn’t it appear in the above search?

Now let’s look at the results for “android developer”. In this case we don’t even have to look at the “Additional keywords to consider” – there are plenty of results. They are:

android developer – 12,100
android development – 12,100
android developers – 3,600
android application development – 2,400
android developer challenge – 2,400
guide to android development – 1,900
android developer phone – 1,600
the busy coder’s guide to android development – 1,600
professional android application development – 1,300
google android development – 480
android developer g1 – 390
android development phone – 390
android software development – 390
android game development – 320
android development download – 260
development for android – 260
android developer challenge ii – 210
android developer forum – 210
android developer forum – 210
android mobile development – 210

And the list goes on from there. Wow – the android sure is popular compared to the iPhone. ;)

Another “curiosity” here is that the numbers noted above are broad match. If we go to Exact for “iphone developer” the number drops from 74,000 to 14,800. So there definitely are other searches in there – they’re just not being displayed. Hmmmmmmm.

I’ll leave the reasoning there for others to work out.

Now onto Personalization …

As many of you have noticed, Google is tracking you with cookies and providing personalized results – even when you’re not logged in. I’ve got to commend Google on this one. From a user standpoint it’s another slam dunk in that they’re providing a better search experience however from and SEO’s standpoint – it’s a nightmare as we’re always searching and augmenting our results and so we often don’t see what other do. To avoid this you can block cookies from Google but you’ll have issues with Google services such as Blogger and every their keywords tool.

I got an interesting email from the developers of a Firefox extension called Google Camo that stops personalized results but seems to allow other cookies so Google’s various services work. I’m using it right now and the machine is working great so thanks to the developers. You can read more about it and download the add on at http://www.iexposure.com/googlecamo.

Happy searching. :)

Google’s Keywords Tool & Personalization

I’ve got two topics to cover today – Google’s keyword tool and Google’s personalized results. Let’s start with their keyword tool …

Google’s Keyword Tool (and my problems with it)

Today I’m not going to focus on the common question, “Is the data accurate?” It’s a good question but one which is likely, “Yes if you know how to read it.” It includes the search network so i you read it as “number of searches on Google.com” you’re wrong but if you read it as “accessing Google’s search results” you’re right. Nonetheless, that isn’t what I’m going to cover today – my issue today is what they’re displaying and what they’re not.

When one uses Google’s keyword tool one expects that the resulting data shouldn’t be tainted by Google’s personal bias towards products and/or services. But alas – it appears that either the results are biased or people’s search patterns are very different than what I would expect them to be and given that I’ve been working as an SEO for ten years – it’s doubtful that the search patterns are THAT different. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to so you can run your searches on this tool understanding that you might not see an accurate view of the world around you.

Top 20 results reported for “iphone developer” (I’ve trimmed some of the columns to make it fit this page):

Keywords related to term(s) entered
Keywords – Monthly
iphone developer – 74,000

Additional keywords to consider
Keywords – Monthly
developer – 3,350,000
resume developer – 40,500
programmer developer – 33,100
j2ee developer – 14,800
cv developer – 14,800
resumes developer – 4,400
technical developer – 4,400
developer engineer – 3,600
consultant developer – 2,900
unix developer – 2,400
developer experience – 1,600
ipone developer – 73
aple developer – 46
aplle developer – 36

Really? One of their top phrases is ipone developer and the are no additional searches at all that include the keywords iphone and developer? Oh wait – if I search “iphone app developer” it shows 3,600 estimated monthly searches so why didn’t it appear in the above search?

Now let’s look at the results for “android developer”. In this case we don’t even have to look at the “Additional keywords to consider” – there are plenty of results. They are:

android developer – 12,100
android development – 12,100
android developers – 3,600
android application development – 2,400
android developer challenge – 2,400
guide to android development – 1,900
android developer phone – 1,600
the busy coder’s guide to android development – 1,600
professional android application development – 1,300
google android development – 480
android developer g1 – 390
android development phone – 390
android software development – 390
android game development – 320
android development download – 260
development for android – 260
android developer challenge ii – 210
android developer forum – 210
android developer forum – 210
android mobile development – 210

And the list goes on from there. Wow – the android sure is popular compared to the iPhone. ;)

Another “curiosity” here is that the numbers noted above are broad match. If we go to Exact for “iphone developer” the number drops from 74,000 to 14,800. So there definitely are other searches in there – they’re just not being displayed. Hmmmmmmm.

I’ll leave the reasoning there for others to work out.

Now onto Personalization …

As many of you have noticed, Google is tracking you with cookies and providing personalized results – even when you’re not logged in. I’ve got to commend Google on this one. From a user standpoint it’s another slam dunk in that they’re providing a better search experience however from and SEO’s standpoint – it’s a nightmare as we’re always searching and augmenting our results and so we often don’t see what other do. To avoid this you can block cookies from Google but you’ll have issues with Google services such as Blogger and every their keywords tool.

I got an interesting email from the developers of a Firefox extension called Google Camo that stops personalized results but seems to allow other cookies so Google’s various services work. I’m using it right now and the machine is working great so thanks to the developers. You can read more about it and download the add on at http://www.iexposure.com/googlecamo.

Happy searching. :)

The “Truth” About Twitter

Back in my younger years (we’ll call them … about 365 days ago) I spoke out against Twitter. On my weekly radio show, in this blog, really anywhere there were Twits, I would go off on the same rant: I have enough things sucking my time away … why would I possibly use Twitter?

And then age set in and I succumbed to the pressures of the online marketing world, created a Twitter account, installed the app on my iPhone (watch for another interesting blog coming soon related to the iPhone) and was happy when more people followed me. Alas, I too was flushing more time down the proverbial toilet that could likely have been better spent on forums or (wait for this great revelation) … working or spending time with my family. Here’s where it gets truly sad – I know this and I still do it. I read stats that only 27% of tweets are useful and find that to be generous and yet still I tweet and read the tweets of other twits. You can read them at @beanstalkseo and even as I type this, I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter. That’s right – I have a problem.

It was one of my co-workers that brought to my attention a video that gives me hope. There are others like me out there and perhaps, just perhaps, we can all join a 12-step program and find help. If you hear of one – be sure to tweet it to me. Here’s the video (enjoy – it’s very funny):

http://current.com/e/89891774/en_US

How to Write Engaging Blogs People Want to Read 

Thomas Edison famously remarked that genius was “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” For bloggers this means that if you put your effort into it, you can create a blog that gathers a following. If you look at a group of bloggers, one with a worldwide following and the rest with small audiences, the former will not necessarily be the best writer, the funniest, the smartest or even the one with the most inside info or useful tips. The great bloggers you follow yourself could have varying amounts of these characteristics.

So what separates the good bloggers from the ones with larger followings? Many call it the “x factor.” Since this is a bit amorphous we’ll touch on it later. You can take your first steps toward creating an engaging blog that builds a loyal following by following some simple guidelines. There are definitely tips, techniques and tools that will get you there and equip you to compete in the blogging big leagues. We’ll return to the “x factor” after getting you to that starting line.

Audience as foundation

Know your audience. Marshall McLuhan observed almost 50 years ago that the world was transforming into a “global village” through mass communication. The global village is here. People don’t log on to the Internet to be lectured. They log on for information, but also for intelligent dialogue – for exchange, for discussion, for sharing – with people like themselves. Know your audience and the information and conversation they are looking for. You need to engage your readers and speak directly to them with a personal touch, a sense of inclusion, and even a hint of intimacy. Blogs are about relationships, and relationships are about discussions and dialogues of all kinds. The “Monologue Era” is over. Your blog will succeed to the extent that you connect with your audience.

In our Dialogue Era, if you offer people something useful you can become a resource. People bookmark resources and return to them repeatedly, expecting more of the same. Once you have defined your audience you must set about adding value to their visits. Provide information helpful to your audience. Write clearly and don’t try too hard – be natural but concise, instructive but conversational. Produce useful, supportive and brief pieces that people can apply – today, tomorrow, whenever. That will show they can return for more information without wasting their time. Blogs are not articles, so keep them to the point, but do not enforce an arbitrary word limit. Your length will depend on your topic and your audience – make every word count.

Draw them in, move them along

To engage an audience in the first place, craft interesting headlines that invite readers in and use subheads to move them along and allow them to scan for the specific information they are looking for. The flow is enhanced if you keep sentences shorter rather than longer, and active rather than passive. Don’t posture, pretend, boast or brag, and always maintain a healthy skepticism and sense of humor. You are not writing great literature, your helping your neighbor. Finally, always review your output and rewrite where necessary. During this process, make words “pay their rent” by weeding out unnecessary ones.

You have many things to consider, a number of bottom lines – plural. Bottom line: You need to read about writing, learn how to edit and refine your technique over time. Bottom line: You need to learn the particular writing techniques that have evolved around blogs, like how to craft good bullet points, when to use them, how to use the page layout to your advantage and so forth. Bottom line: You have to continue reading your competition and your colleagues, often one and the same, and analyze what works and what doesn’t. Bottom line: There are a lot of bottom lines in blogging.

Go forth and blog

Coming full circle, then, let’s consider that “x factor” again. Although it’s not possible to define it quite precisely, we know where it is located. It is in you. It is your personality, your spark, your unique outlook. Be yourself, not what you think they want you to be. In that jigsaw puzzle that is “you” there are many traits and abilities, opinions and truisms, dreams and fears, and the sum total of them all is what adds up to “you” – and no one else – and your own real personality coming off the page is often what engages people. How can you inject “you” into your writing? There’s only one way to draw it out, of course, and that is to write.

Since you are forming relationships, do what Dale Carnegie advised about 80 years ago and ask small favors of your readers. Invite their comments. Ask for their opinion. Encourage them to express their point of view. This tells them you value what they think. More importantly, it engages them and makes them a valuable active participant (instead of a passive visitor), a member of your community, and part of an ongoing and growing dialog. This is what will lead many of them to make the all-important cognitive leap that will have them bookmark your blog, link to your posts, tell all their friends about it and continue the dialog. The leap occurs when readers stop thinking of themselves as readers, and start thinking of themselves as “stakeholders” – readers that interact with you.

If you can convert readers into stakeholders, you’re on your way.

Free SEO Tools Back Online

Beanstalk’s assortment of free SEO tools are once again back online. We experienced some limited issues with a hosting switch and rendered many of the tools inoperative however the issue has been rectified and once more – you’re welcome to use our assortment of free SEO tools ranging from advanced rank checking tools to link building and onsite optimization tools.

Now that this problem is solved we’ll begin working on some exciting new tools – coming soon. :)

You can test the current ones on our free SEO tools page.

Thanks To Our Visitors & Clients

I would like to take a moment to thank all of our valued clients, blog readers and Twitter followers (@beanstalkseo) for casting your votes to help Beanstalk get the PromotionWorld Readers’ Choice Top 10 SEM Firms of 2009.

2009 was a fantastic for Beanstalk and included significant growth and a move to a larger office. In 2010 we’ll be adding in new core services including social media, conversion optimization and PPC management (but not until we’re ready and I’m confident we can offer these services with a high degree of success). In the meantime – we’re exited to continue offering our organic SEO, link building, copywriting and consulting services.

Thank you to all who voted and all who just happen to be on our site (you’re appreciated as well :)

Thanks To Our Visitors & Clients

I would like to take a moment to thank all of our valued clients, blog readers and Twitter followers (@beanstalkseo) for casting your votes to help Beanstalk get the PromotionWorld Readers’ Choice Top 10 SEM Firms of 2009.

2009 was a fantastic for Beanstalk and included significant growth and a move to a larger office. In 2010 we’ll be adding in new core services including social media, conversion optimization and PPC management (but not until we’re ready and I’m confident we can offer these services with a high degree of success). In the meantime – we’re exited to continue offering our organic SEO, link building, copywriting and consulting services.

Thank you to all who voted and all who just happen to be on our site (you’re appreciated as well :)

100 Shows Of Webcology

Today celebrates the 100th show of Webcology for Jim Hedger and I over on WebmasterRadio.fm. Aside from reflecting back on 100 great hours of *fun* Jim and I discussed the situation in Haiti covering the plea for donations, my personal plea to our governments to not forget about the situation there as soon as something new and shiny crosser our collective paths. They were already the poorest country in the western hemisphere with 80% poverty rate earning $2/day (and no – that’s NOT a typo … $2).

We then went on to discuss another light-hearted topic, Google threatening China to provide uncensored search results after attempts to hack information from Google’s Gmail system were detected. These efforts are reported to be Chinese government authorized efforts to secure information on humanitarian advocates. It ended up being an interesting debate (and Jim and I often have) with me arguing that Google has no right to provided uncensored results BUT they do have the right to pull out. Basically – while I’m a humanitarian – I wouldn’t let a company or government body impose their will on my country and thus, I cannot expect others to do the same. They may be able to run a marijuana cafe in Amsterdam but they can’t argue that since it’s OK there – they should be able to open on up in downtown Dallas.

I may not agree with what the Chinese government is doing however our actions are limited to UN, Amnesty International, etc. efforts. We can’t just disobey the law in a foreign country. And so the argument continued. Basically though we both agree – Google needs to just pull out to protect their data and interests.

After that fun discussion we went on to reflecting back on the highlights of the last 100 shows from our 10-part series with WebProNews on Internet Marketing (which we’ve decided to update) to the SEO trademark lunacy and much much more. It was a great show and I highly recommend downloading the podcast at http://www2.webmasterradio.fm/webcology/ when it’s available later today.

Best Of The Web

Best Of The Web (my personal favorite paid general directory) is offering 20% off all listings for the month of January. This site is on my “highly recommended” list and if you’re not in there yet – now’s a great time.

Simply navigate to your desired category from www.botw.org and click “Submit Site”. The cost is already affordable at $149/yr or $299 for a permanent listing and now they’re 20% off with the code NEWYR.