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Beanstalk's Internet Marketing Blog

At Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization we know that knowledge is power. That's the reason we started this Internet marketing blog back in 2005. We know that the better informed our visitors are, the better the decisions they will make for their websites and their online businesses. We hope you enjoy your stay and find the news, tips and ideas contained within this blog useful.


November 7, 2012

Ongoing Google Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes

Google has confirmed that as part of its ongoing rollout of changes across their properties, they will be applying the new search interface to all U.S. searches very soon. This is part of an ongoing strategy by Google to move to a sleeker interface with a decidedly “mobile” feel to the search results pages.

David Bowie Changes
Some of the options include the ability to search verticals like Images, News and Maps are being moved from the left side of the screen and are now placed at the top above the search results. The advanced search tools and filters will be moved under the Search Tools option on the right side of the page. Google announced that it would be implementing the new interface to the U.S. and all other areas as soon as possible.

"We’ve been working on ways to create a consistent search experience across the wide variety of devices and screen sizes people use today. We started with tablets last year, got it to mobile phones a few weeks ago, and are now rolling out to the desktop,&quote says Google Search Lead Designer Jon Wiley. "With the new design, there’s a bit more breathing room, and more focus on the answers you’re looking for, whether from web results or from a feature like the Knowledge Graph."

The changes of course are not without a certain amount of criticism or skepticism. Wordstream Founder Larry Kim commented that this is clearly an attempt to create more space for ads above the fold.

"Even though Google’s stated goal of the new SERP layout is to improve usability (which i believe to be true), we should ask ourselves what additional motivations they might have, and why Google making the change to the SERP layout right now?" Kim tells WebProNews. "After all, the previous SERP layout was in place for many years."

SEO news blog post by @ 10:34 am

Categories:Google

 

 

November 6, 2012

Dogpile on Apple Day!

Dogpile on Apple

Clearly someone neglected to remind me that November 6th is the international Dog Pile on Apple Day!?

Lets take a look at a popular technology subreddit..

Not r/applesucks, just r/technology:

Those are just the current headlines!

Last week we had a great story about internal politics in Apple, and the firing of Scott Forstall, a 15 year vet managing the Apps team.

Some folks felt that the departure was due to a change of attitude at Apple, from Jobs to Cook, where people unwilling to apologize aren’t welcome.

Others look at how Scott handled himself inside the company, acting out much like Jobs did, but without Jobs around he was making enemies instead of friends. Indeed Bob Mansfield cancelled retirement plans with Apple and agreed to 2 more years upon news of Scott’s firing.

It can’t be all that bad really, since Apple sold over 3 million iPads last weekend alone?

Plus, now that Apple lost the legal challenge over money owed to Motorola over patent licences it can just give up all intention of paying.

In fact many observers agree it was Apple’s lack of interest in following the law that cost them the case.

To paraphrase a really good reply to the decision:

Why this was dismissed with prejudice:
Apple wanted the judge to set license fees, but said that they would not agree to the ruling of the judge unless she set it at less than $1 per device.

The judge essentially said, fine, since Apple won’t adhere to legal judgements, Apple’s case is pointless.
The last ditch attempt to say Apple might adhere to legal judgements hasn’t swayed me, I dismiss the case, and Apple can’t bring it to trial further.

Why even bother with a trial when the plaintiff has made it clear they do not respect the law or the potential decision?

If I knew this judge I’d be pleading her to let me take her out for a free meal as a thank you.

So folks, if you see an Apple laying in the gutter, taking a power nap, just know that it’s hard being green.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:07 pm


 

 

November 5, 2012

The Ever-Changing Face of Google

New Gmail message screen
If you haven’t noticed it already, Google is making some sweeping changes to the look and feel of their Gmail service. Probably the next time you sign in to your Gmail account, you will receive a prompt informing you of the changes to the compose message interface.

Google has continued to implement a minimalist, streamlined interface across their properties. The new compose window is very reminiscent of a social chat window. The new window sits on top of the screen rather than opening up in a new window. Users can now compose a message without leaving their inbox and now have the ability to edit more than one message at a time.

This is an ongoing move by Google into a more ‘social’ source of revenue due to a failing business model that targeted click ads for revenue. It is also part of a larger rollout of sweeping changes being made to Google properties such as Gmail, Search, News and Google Docs (now called Drive) by integrating more of a consistent G+ social feel to them. It may also be an attempt to familiarize people to the G+ interface by bring the look and feel of the fledgling G+ platform to the user, in order to make the transition more seamless.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:53 am

Categories:Facebook,Google,Google+

 

 

November 1, 2012

Google Image Optimization

Image optimization for Google can mean several things, from image compression, to image resolution, or even referencing Google Image Search optimization.

Worry not, the topic becomes broad but we can tackle it section by section, and along the way we’ll be pointing you to actual Google tools in order to ensure you’re getting the best results.

Image Compression

The biggest gains you can get with the least effort typically come from looking at the wasted bytes (often kilobytes) when images aren’t compressed properly.

Here’s a comparison of JPEG image compression:

Max size Max size
5,899 bytes
Poor Compression
3,493 bytes
Quality Compression

And now PNG compression:

Max size Max size
5,590 bytes
Poor Compression
4,769 bytes
Quality Compression

Now honestly, if I had hidden the image sizes and descriptions, could you tell me which was the 3.5kb image?

Google could tell you in a flash, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights scores your page speed by how optimized your images are.

An observant reader may wonder why the PNG with ‘poor’ compression is smaller than the JPG? The answer is that it’s transparent, and the PNG is only saving image data (compressed losslessly) for the visible pixels vs. JPG which has to save the additional information that ‘these pixels are white’.

Also keep in mind that we used really small images to keep this page loading quickly, the larger the image, the more of a difference compression quality can make.

Image Resolution

The phrase ‘resolution’ has so many variable definitions that I would need to resolve the idea of this as a post vs. an article.

For the context of this discussion I’m speaking of the image dimensions, not the pixels-per-inch.

As an SEO blog I’d have to be really lazy to not mention the issue of image placement/size on a site when we know that Google has a clear concept of what’s most visible to your audience.

When I say ‘your audience’ it is not just a buzz-word, I really mean that Google looks at it’s analytics data and the browser window size of your traffic and actually knows when a site is delivering the right content for the majority of it’s user base.

So if your website is plastered with images that force the user to look for your content, and your content isn’t images, then that’s actually a problem in terms of SEO Optimization.

In fact Google’s just in the middle of moving it’s ‘Browser Size’ tool into the Google Analytics suite.

As you can see in this example of jQuery Mobile in the Browser Size tool, the existing results are generic and dare I say “unprofessional” looking?

Example of jQuery Mobile in the Google Browser Size tool
In the above image we can see what % of general web users can see the elements of the page.

I would show off an example of the same page using the new tools, but Google Analytics is only for sites you own, and the new version is still in beta, throwing out ‘Not a Number’ (NaN) errors regardless of your choice of browser.

What you want to end up with, regardless, is a site that fits the screen size of your audience. So if you are running a forum that reviews ‘apps’ you probably want to aim for a design that will fit you most important content above ‘the fold’ with mobile browsers (at least the current generation of mobile browsers).

Image Site Maps

Site Maps are typically an XML format document that explains your website’s pages to Google in a more technical manner.

An image site map is specifically for explaining the images that are on your site.

Google does a great job of finding pictures you’ve linked to, but if you use JavaScript to create galleries, without using <noscript> tags, then Google could have difficulty indexing those images.

An image sitemap’s XML structure lets you clearly spell out each image with options like:

  • loc: The full URL for the image
  • caption: Description of the image
  • geo_location: Physical location ie: British Columbia, Canada
  • title: Title of the image
  • license: URL pointing to a license for the image

Since each entry is related to a <loc> URL if your image is remotely hosted that’s fine, Google understands the need for CDNs, but that remote site needs to be registered in Webmaster Tools for proper indexing of the images.

Once again I’ve gone a bit too far on the topic for a first round, but I will return with a deeper look beyond the surface of the issue in a part 2 post.

For now if you wanted to start working on an image sitemap (or adding image references to your existing sitemap) look at this answer in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:32 pm

Categories:Coding,Google

 

 

October 30, 2012

3 Musketeers: Google Nexus Style

We blogged about the new HD Google Nexus tablet coming from Samsung and Google in the beginning of the month as a stub to an SEO post about Google’s Exact Match Domain fallout, and it’s already official on Google’s Blog.

Google’s press-release/blog post announcement is far more than some details on the new Nexus HD tablet, indeed Google has 3 treats for us in November.

Sadly, while the digital press is unhindered, the actual NYC based Android 4.2 release event was cancelled due to some infamously bad weather.

Nexus 10

Google Nexus 10
Ooop! Ooop! Hey pretty tablet!

 
Lets start with the new HD tablet’s confirmed specs:

  • 10.1″ 300PPI 2560×1600 Resolution LCD
  • Android OS v4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (MIMO+HT40)
  • + Bluetooth and NFC (Android Beam)
  • Dual Core Cortex A15 ARM CPU
  • Mali T604 ARM GPU
  • 9000 MAh LiPo Battery
  • 9hr Battery run-time (>500hrs in Standby)
  • Front facing HQ stereo speakers (Movies!)
  • 2 GB of internal RAM
  • 16/32 GB of internal Storage
  • 603 grams (~240 Pennies)

Heck looking at this thing’s sensor list (5mpx front Camera, 2mpx rear Camera, Microphone, Accelerometer, Compass, Ambient light, Gyroscope, Barometer, GPS), all it’s missing is the ability to taste.

… and removable storage?! I find it very odd there’s not one mention of what sort of interface the tablet has for removable storage, though I’d be really shocked if it didn’t support MicroSD cards.

The price is almost as shocking, with the 16GB selling for $399US, and the 32GB version selling for $499US. Both models should be available on the 13th of November, which is also shocking because it’s a bit early for an xmas promotion, but that’s Google for you.
 

Nexus 7

Google Nexus 10

When discussing the middle device in a lineup I’m always reminded of Stealers Wheel – Stuck in the Middle with you.

In this case there’s no clowns to the left or jokers to the right, and nobody’s stuck.

In fact the Nexus 7 will be the mainstream device to buy for each of the kids, and at $199US for the 16GB version, you can afford to have a big family!

Heck the 32GB version is only $50 more at $349US, unless you wanted mobile high speed data access, which tacks on another $50 for a $299US price tag.

The specs aren’t as impressive as it’s big brother, but you do get what you pay for:

  • 7″ 216PPI 1280×800 Resolution LCD
  • Android OS v4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU
  • 16/32GB Internal Storage
  • 1GB of Internal RAM
  • 8 hour 4325 mAh Battery
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n & Bluetooth/NFC

The Nexus 7 sports many of the same sensors as the Nexus 10, but it’s single 1.2Mpx camera is clearly just for web-chat/video calling.

The $299 Nexus 7 has fully unlocked HSPA+ support which I am almost certain will be used for more than just web-surfing given the available internet telephony options.
 

Nexus 4

Google Nexus 4

Last but not least is the latest cell phone from Google, the Nexus 4. In fact I seem to have saved the best for last.

This is way more than a phone at this point, we’ve really got to start looking at these devices as mini-tablets because the Nexus 4 has better features and functionality than most existing tablets.

The price gives the Nexus 4′s secret goodness away, the 8GB version goes for $299US, and the 16GB retails for $349US, both of which are unlocked/contract free. That’s not a typo, if you spent $799(CAN) on an unlocked 32GB HTC One X, which has inferior screen hardware, you might want to sell it, quickly.

According to Google’s blog:

The 16GB version will also be available through T-Mobile for $199, with a 2-year contract (check here for more details).

Sadly, I’ve really run out of space to explain the specs, but the Nexus 4 page on Google’s Play store does cover the details quite nicely.

In a nutshell it’s 4.7″ display, at 1280 x 768, has got the highest pixel density (320ppi) of any device in it’s class.

Indeed, if the world were to switch to this grade of phone and/or tablet hardware the concept of a ‘mobile version’ of your website would be pointless since this hardware has more than sufficient resolution to display a desktop style website.

At these prices the idea of the world switching to Nexus isn’t too far fetched either. I know I’m in the market for a better phone and I’m so glad I went with a standby device and waited for something this good of a value to come out.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:55 pm


 

 

October 29, 2012

New Webmaster Guidelines Part 3 – Quality Guidelines

This is my final installment on my overview of the New Webmaster Guidelines. My first post covered Design & Content the second part covered Technical Guidelines.

quality control image

While the topic of this post is “quality guidelines” it is perhaps the most misunderstood part of the webmaster guidelines as it is open to interpretation; however, the core of the guideline remains the same:

“Don’t engage in tactics that are questionable. If you would be hesitant to explain your actions to a competitor or to Google”

“How would you build and promote you site if there were no search engines?”

While I could go in to specifics on each point, this is an instance where it is best to get the information directly from the source. Google has not really updated anything here, but do state the following suggestions:

DOs

• Make your webpages for your readers; no for Google or other search engines
• Do not deceive your visitors
• Avoid tricks/schemes designed to improve you rankings.
• Focus on what makes your site unique, valuable, or engaging and make it stand apart from others in your field
• Actively monitor your site for hacking and remove hacked content as soon as it appears
• Prevent and removed user-generated spam from your site.

DON’Ts

The clearest recommendations that Google makes to avoid the following practices:

• Automatically generated content
• Link schemes of exchanges
• Cloaking/hidden text or links
• Suspicious redirects
• Doorway pages
• Scraped content
• Load pages with irrelevant keywords
• Abusing rich snippets markup
• Send automated queries to Google

Once you have repaired your site and corrected and errors or errors, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google:

SEO news blog post by @ 12:42 pm


 

 

October 25, 2012

Time to look at your Google Calendars (Again)

October is a trade off between birthdays (New-years babies unite!), feasting, and parties, vs. bearing witness to the lament caused by waking up in the dark, low energy, and the changing seasons.

Google can’t change the position of the sun, but it could improve your mood by helping quickly add events to your calendar.

Example of a Google calendar with more calendars added to it.
I tried to get a screenshot of the weather feature but only so much fits in 550px

 
To get more events on your calendar, without importing or adding them one at a time you need to ‘subscribe’ to additional calendars.

The first step, after getting logged into a Google account is to click on the Other Calendars menu and choose the “Browse Interesting calendars” option:

The Other Calendars menu in Google Calendars.

 
On the next page you should see three tabs, “Holidays”, “Sports”, and “More”.

I’d say everyone should add their national holidays, even if you’ve done this before, take a moment to preview the official calendar for your country, as the official version is likely a lot better than what you’ve been subscribing to.

The sports tab is pointless, since we’re nerds, and there’s no WRC/Drifting events in the list. (I kid, I kid.. No, not really.)

Finally the ‘More’ tab is where the magic happens.

Under the ‘More’ tab you want to seek out: “Contacts’ birthdays and events”

Subscribing to this calendar and allowing it to show on your main calendar will help you track all those birthday parties that will help get you through this dreary fall season.

Keep in mind however that subscribing to a calendar does not modify your calendar, nor does it add notifications or alerts to your calendar.

If you want to be reminded a week ahead of your best friend’s birthday, you should go make that event manually.

If you just want to know on the day of his birthday that you forgot, then you can simply click on the birthday’s calendar item and then click on “copy to my calendar” to get that event on your personal calendar.

All my friends use FB not G+ so who cares?

Well, at least in New Zealand, G+ user interest is actually passing Twitter/Linked In for new users, and making up ground quickly on Facebook.

Illustration of the user growth in major social media for the NZ area.

Roy Morgan’s analysis of Social Media trends in NZ is a bit hard to look at (even upsidedown) but his data is very telling of the growth that G+ is getting from the adoption of Android phones and other Google products.

I’d love to say that G+ is just more social/edgy/trendy than FB but that’s never what it’s been for/about.

If you’ve read any of my rants about comparing the two social networks you’ll know I look at it like replacing a banana (FB) with an orange (G+).

On one hand, a banana can be fun, especially if you’re care-free about discarding the peel, but an Orange has some serious potentials that a Banana lacks, especially in clean presentation.

Ultimately as SEOs we would advise paying respects to both networks as each has it’s perks, though G+ hasn’t made news this week for app developers selling 1 million user profiles for $5 US.

TL;DR: Man buys 1 million user data records (mainly First/Last Name, Gender, Age, Email, Phone #,etc.. data) for $5 and FB thanks him by telling him not to talk about it.

So really, enjoy your access to private data while it lasts, build those calendars while it’s easy, because if we have app developers selling a million user data records for $5, you can be sure people won’t want to share valid info with insecure sites. In fact due to this, it’s better to put in intentionally incorrect info and only trust services with solid security reputations.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:47 am


 

 

October 24, 2012

Cooling the Google Data Center and the World

In a previous post called “Internet Pollution – The Dirty Secret of the Information Age” I spoke about how the methods and technologies used to cool data centers and the perceived need for people to have instant access to online messaging and archival data are propagating a huge amount of pollution.

On the advent of its 14th birthday Google unveiled its data center in Lenoir, North Carolina to the world. Google then disclosed one of its best kept secrets: "How it cools their multitudes of specialize servers in high density racks".

google-hotaisle image

The Coles notes of the Google cooling process is broken down as follows:

• The entire rooms serves as a cold isle
• Enclosed hot aisles are framed on either side by rows of racks
• Cooling coils circulate cooled water above the racks as a “ceiling” for the hot racks
• The ceiling in turn houses large stainless steel pipes that circulate water to and from cooling tower located in the equipment yard.

We can all agree that the technical knowledge and the applied science required to successfully create and to maintain such an enormous infrastructure is nothing less than incredible and is a very lofty achievement. What was not disclosed by Google was the raw data on their power consumption figures.

Google states that they are committed to reducing consumption and is actively engaged in increasing internal efficiency and give us lots of information to back up their approaches to do so. Creating and promoting energy efficiency does not start and stop at the data center. The more data and features we crave or think we need to have access to drives the machine of the industry and promotes pollution.

Data centers and information technology will continue to become more efficient but if data usage patterns continue to grow at current rates, the environmental benefits will be negligible and will probably even get worse. A fundamental paradigm shift in our global consciousness is necessary to curb our spiraling energy consumption patterns.

In a scenario akin to the decimation of the global environment due to our perceived dependence on petroleum, our escalating usage and reliance on technology requires all users to play an active role in promoting energy efficiency and furthering green technologies.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:05 pm


 

 

October 23, 2012

Wintergrate: Windows 8 Integrated

Steve Ballmer wearing a santa hat.

It’s fall and soon it will be winter, with Old St. Ballmer putting an integrated Windows 8, with integrated Internet Explorer, under the tree for Christmas this year, learning a new UI is all we have to fear.

Yes we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, you’ll have to re-learn Windows to love Windows 8.

So then you might ask, “Why bother learning Windows if I have to learn something new?“, which is where this post becomes informative.

Windows 8 isn’t trying to teach old dogs new tricks for the sake of being different; that’s someone else’s logo/catchphrase. Microsoft wants to integrate your devices and applications so that your efforts with one product aren’t wasted in another product.

What’s all this integrated brouhaha? Well this video shows you a sample of it:

That’s pretty cool stuff, and if you have embraced Microsoft products, say you have an XBox based Car-PC, this sort of integration tech between your smart phone or your tablet would really make you glad you invested with Microsoft.

The thing that gets me is that if my phone is over in the corner recharging, and I don’t own a surface, how ‘attached’ will I get to touching my screen vs. locating a mouse and keyboard?

If you become hooked on touching what’s that going to cost in terms of a multi-touch screen?

Looking at my local suppliers, a multi-touch 1080p 21″ screen is $200 more than the same screen without the overlay.

While that’s a lot less than it used to cost for an touch overlay equipped screen, it still adds far too much cost to the screen price to justify the usability.

As someone who has worked with touch technology for over 10years, I can also point out that unless you are super careful your touches will wear the screen in the sections you are touching frequently.

So until they are making it easy to remove/swap overlays I’d predict that this will be a bust in a few years if people adopt the current touch solutions for desktop use.

Do you have a hankering to try Windows 8 even without a touch option? It’s really not recommended but you can challenge yourself to trying it out using VirtualBox and either of the ISO files from this handy page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download (No Signups Needed!)

Search for Life

Google seems to be one step ahead of us, and indeed they have done it again, just weeks after starting a project involving “Conway’s Game of Life“, where I’d suggested we use the algorithm to animate some tiles in a website background.

Having beat me to the punch, I used an image generated from a Google search as the background image of this post.

However, if readers suggest some good images to tile and animate for a fun use of the code, I’m keen for suggestions, as long as they aren’t all along the lines of: “Grab random puppy and kitten images from Google image search and use those for the squares!”

SEO news blog post by @ 11:10 am


 

 

October 18, 2012

Google Rickroll’d the Internet

So Google has time for more than attacking your websites with black and white animals. They recently did a virtual ‘street-view’ tour of a Google data center in Lenoir, North Carolina, and managed to include some ‘easter eggs’ in the process.

Here’s the ‘video tour’ with nice audio explaining the various sections of the Street View tour:

 
Not missing a beat, Google’s G+ account noticed the recursive nature of the servers taking a picture of the servers that would then host the pictures of the servers taking pictures of the servers..

Google+ post from Google about Google Street view inside a Google Data Center that hosts Street View data.

 
Folks with a keen eye will notice some ‘odd’ images in the tour, including the world’s largest ever single Rick Roll attempt:

A Google employee casually shares the same video on two screens. Apparently he's never going to give us up or let us down, never going to run around and desert us..

 
Someone hiding in a costume that looks like an android:

A Google employee dressed as an android inside a Google Data Center.
Love the white boards! All offices need whiteboards!

 
And even an image of their on-site security team:

A Google employee dressed as a stormtrooper and a mini R2 unit stand guard inside a Google Data Center.

 
Some good humor from Google, and a really neat tour of something that is typically a very private operation.

One last ‘observation’, I also like the advice of freshly washed/sliced veggies, like celery/carrots as an item to have beside your keyboard throughout the day. As the sign says, those veggies are a good source of fiber which is really important if you give a .. darn. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:39 am


 

 

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