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Just Awesome Tech: The Oculus Rift

I’m a nerd and a gamer and to that end … I love gadgets.  I’ve been subscribed to the Oculus Rift newsletter for some time.  For those who don’t know, Oculus Rift is the latest and best push right now into virtual reality gaming and experience.  In fact, it goes past gaming and for folks who’d like to really “on another world”, a NASA application has been built for it already that allows you to walk the Martian surface.  Seriously.   Before we get going on the newsletter, here’s that video …

Now, to be clear – I don’t own one yet but I do have a few friends who do.  Personally, I’m waiting for the consumer version to be released but at $300 for the developer one … I’ll admit that I was tempted.

So while this has almost nothing to do with SEO and Internet Marketing … this is the future of gaming and more – as we’re seeing with the NASA app, may well be the future of entertainment (with a lot of refinement of course).  Imagine if you will the marketing opportunities inherent in letting people roam the world and see the ads that apply to them or an ecommerce experience that sees shoppers enter virtual stores, interact with others there, ask questions of actual staff, etc.  I don’t just see this as a cool gadget, they are building the next generation of how we will interact with machines.

To give you an idea of what’s going on with this technology I’m going to do something I never do and that’s simply repost what I got, videos and all.  Past just thinking it’s neat, I highly recommend to let your brain ponder what this means just a few years from now for marketing opportunities, and who might buy out this company.

And now … their newsletter:

Virtual Reality’s Bright Future

With so much happening across the industry, we wanted to take a moment and share some of the exciting VR-related news from the last few weeks!

Gaming Insiders Summit and NVIDIA Tech Event

Last week, the team attended the Gaming Insiders Summit, where Brendan gave a talk about the future of virtual reality, and the NVIDIA event in Montreal, where JohnC participated in the announcement of their new G-Sync project (we’re very excited to see people getting serious about improving display performance in PC gaming).

John with Jen-Hsun Huang (NVIDIA), Tim Sweeney (Epic Games), and Johan Andersson (EA DICE). Image courtesy of Engadget.

One of the key topics we discussed was the latest progress around reducing simulator sickness (akin to motion sickness).

We’ve said before that delivering the most comfortable VR experience is a key focus here at Oculus, and tech advancements are bringing us closer to the Holodeck. Luckily for us, Brendan has always been very sensitive to visual errors, which makes him an ideal subject for testing the latest demos. At Gaming Insiders, Brendan talked about using a new VR prototype at Valve, which combines ultra low latency, precise head and positional tracking with low-persistence visuals for one of the most immersive and comfortable experiences ever. We can’t share all the details yet, but we’re taking the insights we’ve learned from that demo and applying them to the development process to make the consumer Rift even better.

We’ve also talked about the potential for mobile VR, especially for experiences like VR Cinema and games with creative visuals that don’t require a high-end graphics card. John summed up our vision extremely well during his Engadget interview:

“The way I believe it’s going to play out is you will eventually have a head-mounted display that probably runs Android, as a standalone system, that has a system-on-a-chip that’s basically like what you have in mobile phones…”

A standalone VR headset is the future of VR, especially as mobile computing continues to rapidly advance. Bringing VR to an open platform like Android will pave the way for completely new experiences. The Oculus Android SDK is up and running internally, and we’re working on core optimizations for mobile chipsets now.  Stay tuned for more news on this front!

Next-Gen Rift Dev Hardware

In John’s interview with Engadget (which you can watch below), he mentions a second Rift development kit.

To clarify: we’d like to ship a new development kit before the consumer version that provides near identical features that developers can build on and test against for the Rift’s launch. That said, we have no plans to announce a new development kit this year. The timing of a new dev kit is tied to the launch of the consumer Rift, and we’ll keep the community posted.

Also, we’re working to ensure that content built using the current Rift development kit is compatible with new Oculus hardware, though there will be some integration required to take advantage of the new features, especially for the best experience.

Marshall Cline Joins Oculus!

We’re excited to introduce Marshall Cline, our new VP of Platform. Marshall is a world renowned software architect, engineer, PhD., and author of the legendary C++ FAQ. His work was an early inspiration for Brendan and Michael when they started in the games industry. Marshall is heading up development of the Oculus platform, which means he’s responsible for all the web services powering your virtual reality experience. Please join us in welcoming him to the team!

Rift in the News

In case you missed it, the Rift was featured on the Today Show, where Matt Lauer tried the Unreal Engine 4 Elemental demo on the 1080p HD Prototype live on national television!

Oculus rift ... staring at the sky.

Oculus rift ... at war.

Images courtesy of Kotaku.

The Rift also won a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award and a Golden Joystiq Award for Innovation of the Year! It’s a huge honor — Thank you for making these possible!

Oculus Rift - Golden Joystick Award.

Oculus Rift - Just Oculusome.

Image courtesy of Popular Mechanics.

Finally, if you’re in the Boston area the weekend of Nov. 2nd, join us for a VR developer meetup! A few of us will be there talking about the Rift, virtual reality, and hardware development. You can find all the details here.

We hope to see you there!

– Palmer and the Oculus team

Enjoy and see you … in cyber-space. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:51 pm on October 25, 2013


PubCon: Jason Calacanis v. Matt Cutts

Oh the highlights from PubCon are sending tingles up everyone’s spines. So it should since it started of with a head to head in a David and Goliath face off; except in this case it was Goliath that wins. If your wondering what I’m referring to it is the Jason Calacanis and Matt Cutts Showdown. In a packed standing room only day one keynote talk by Jason Calcanus, he kicked it off by targeting the giant Google. Multiple tiny stones were thrown at Google’s way by Jason but I assume they were nothing more than an irritating itch in Google’s collar.

Looking at Jason’s track record it seems to me that he is one successful man. I’m sure he was happy with Google at one time but unfortunately from what we hear from our sources (or lets just say Twitter) not so much anymore. Two of the most talked about issues brought up on the social vine was

1. Google’s take down of Spam, and
2. Google’s Preferential treatment of partners with big money.

1. Spam is spam and it even tastes bad in a can. Props for Google hitting it hard and Search Engine Journal posted Matt’s comeback as: “We had to move fast when attacking spam. We attacked anything that looked like a content farm. But when most of the site is spam, there is nothing we can do. Even if you have some quality content but mostly negative content… nothing can be done.”

If a company took advantage of spam they obviously knew what they were getting into and ultimately were going to get caught. Don’t complain now.

2.Preferable treatment? This isn’t the case. It’s advertising – the more you advertise the more you’ll be seen. This is just common knowledge. Besides, there is more that you can do to get in front of clients and potential clients just get out there and network!

To sum this up it really seam to me that the evolving way we do digital business has made somebody uncomfortable and in fact, it’s made many people uncomfortable. This demonstration is a good example that no matter if you’re a big business or small – how you play the game is so important and that choice can ultimately haunt you down the road.

The list of influential speakers at PubCon has made an impact on it’s audience. Just reading from three Twitter feeds alone, many business took time to visit the convention for answers. From topics “Monetizing and Optimizing your Blog” with Adam Reimer, Michael David and Stephen Spencer as well as “Conversions in a Social World” by Tim Ash. Topics like these are parts to a stable foundation for online business and marketing. Perfect for many of the smaller businesses who took the time to visit this convention.

The first three days made an impact for so many but also seemed to connect the digital leaders to the businesses they work with. Besides the entertaining match between Matt and Jason many positive connections were made and will continue to be made as long as these conventions continue.

We’ll have a more detailed post about what was learned and what was talked about shortly.  Now that we’ve got the gossip out of the way. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 3:47 pm on October 24, 2013



Fascinating Finds from the Web Graveyard

We SEOs work with the World Wide Web and the Internet every single day, and probably spend a great deal of our off time on it as well. One of the brilliant things about today’s technology is that we’ve become used to its rapid evolution and continuing changes, even when it means our jobs get a little more challenging. When I joined Beanstalk twenty months ago, we were at the very end of an era —Google’s Panda had literally just been released, causing SEOs all over the world to rework their strategies. This year’s Hummingbird has required another alteration to the way we work with our clients and the web in general.In the perpetual race to out-puppet the puppetmaster that is Google, we have come to assume that many things are concrete: the importance of certain social media properties, a set of specific tools to be used to gauge your success, and a general sense of what Google deems important in the rankings race. But the wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is anything but concrete; in the three or so decades of modern browsers, the Internet has grown exponentially and for every successful website or product there are handfuls of other tools that didn’t work. It’s fascinating to go back through history and imagine what could have been if these sites had won the race to the top. In the spirit of Halloween, I took a stroll through the graveyards of a few choice sites and tools to dig up some of the oddest web products now laid to eternal, irrelevant rest.

Google Lively

 Courtesy of didn’t become the most successful web company on the planet by playing it safe; it’s widely known that its employees can spend 20% of their time on developing crazy projects. If you have a news alert for ‘Google patents’ you’ll inevitably find that the company is always filing the weirdest claims on technology that isn’t even possible yet — or, weirder still, releasing news related to a brand new piece of tech which was patented years before being realistically viable. But you don’t get to the summit of Mount Everest without encountering a few frozen corpses (they serve as landmarks), and you don’t become Google without some flopped experiments.

One of the most fascinating of Google’s discontinued products is Google Lively. It was an online 3D social arena which looked a great deal like Second Life, except that it was integrated with the Internet and accessible from one’s browser. You could explore a three-dimensional realm and chat with up to 19 other people in the same room. You could also hang Youtube videos on the “walls”, embed your personal Lively area to your blog, and read your email. Second Life users disliked the non-customizable realm and the lack of virtual commerce, and Google quietly shuttered Lively after only six months of life.


Right now we all rely on Twitter — for news, for gossip, and for collectively sharing how awesome the last season of Breaking Bad was. But before our beloved little blue bird there was Jaiku, a Finnish-based micro-blogging service that took its name from a play on the Japanese haiku. Released in 2006, Jaiku was compatible with Nokia phones and allowed users to post short messages, similar to how Twitter works right now. The company was acquired by Google to open-source the product; in 2009, Jaiku re-launched on Google’s App Engine. But the little bluebird had taken over the world by then, and Jaiku became defunct in 2012.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:37 pm on October 23, 2013


Google Q3, Mobile Ads & Hummingbird

Google announced their Q3 earnings last Thursday (October 17th) with higher-than-expected earnings, up 12% over the previous year at $14.89 billion. This resulted in Google shares crossing the $1000 per share mark for the first time in the companies’ history. Before we get into how that’s being accomplished, let me first insert my brief rant:




Alright, feeling better …

At the end of the day the higher than expected earnings came on the back of an average 8% drop in the average cost per click.  This drop was due mainly to the growth in mobile however (where the rates are cheaper) and rather than indicating a decline in search is an indicator to the contrary.  Because growth in the mobile realm is as high as it is, it is able to impact the overall averages dramatically however desktop search did not decline.  This is a case of Google winning in mobile and not losing in desktop creating a net gain though an average cost per click drop.

If we don’t think this growth in mobile wasn’t the key to the Hummingbird changes we’d be kidding ourselves.  Hummingbird has very little to do with desktop search and everything to do with mobile and mobile devices.  With the growth in the sector being what it is and the enormous revenue opportunities that exist there – it looks as though Google is adjusting their entire algorithm to accommodate.  And it makes sense as users demand more from mobile and from technology in general.  The contest is on to feed more data faster and monetize better.  Tell us what we want before we know we want it.

Will Google be able to keep up?  Only time will tell.  It’s theirs to lose at this point but not that long ago it was Microsoft’s to lose.  Of course, Microsoft could buy Google if they wanted so …

And now, on a lighter note (albeit it only slightly relevant) let’s take a moment to remember what we have, what mobile is doing, what we take for granted and maybe even chuckle a bit …

SEO news blog post by @ 11:10 pm on October 21, 2013



Mario Up the Beanstalk

mario 2

Today we celebrate an iconic figure that united people around the world and his name is Mario.
25 years ago today this chubby little plumber from New York battled his way up and over falling barrels to save his princess from the evil Donkey Kong. This Koopa stomping, tanooki flying, mustachioed man sold a record smashing 222 million copies. His popularity uncanningly opened the door to an odd live action movie to boot. We all remember John Leguizamo as Luigi, Mario’s brother and plumbing counterpart in the 1993 movie? I’m sure you’ll avoid saying you saw this movie but we all know you did. Besides all the interesting creatures that came with his success, very little is known as to why he was named Mario.

The lore goes that back to the early years; Mario was actually called Jumpman by the American and Japanese Nintendo staff. Until one day when their Italian-American landlord Named Mario Segale smashed down the doors to Nintendo’s headquarters and demanded rent from the Staff. The resemblance was there and the light bulb went on for the developers thus declaring Jumpman as the new Mario.

Shigeru Myamoto and Gunpei Yoko collaborated together producing a character that would prove to give off a long lasting impression in the North American culture. When they first brought Mario over from Japan in early 1983 the series crashed with having a few home versions on multiple systems at the time. Soon enough the NES came out which included Mario Bros as its main title and theme. This then exploded through the years releasing innovative ways to keep our attention. From cute costumes that gave him certain powers to introducing new villains and 3D gaming – they had us hooked.

I’m sure we all remember playing Super Mario Bros for the NES to the point we could finish the game in less than 10 minutes. Every kid knew every warp, hidden bonus tubes and all while running at hyper speed with their right thumb on the b button throughout the course of the game. I’m Uncertain if this is something to brag about, but the Mario Bros laid the foundation for at-home video game play.

We raise our thumbs in the air and pledge allegiance to the mustachioed plumber from New York and wish him many more birthdays to come!

Image credit×356.jpg

SEO news blog post by @ 3:16 pm on October 10, 2013



Twitter TV and Nielsen

A Good Baby Step Towards Accurate TV Ratings

It probably won’t come as a surprise to many that I’m a nerd. It’s tough to work in SEO and not be a little geeky; I highly doubt that you’ll find the typical football jock seriously considering the factors which go into your average Google search. My boss (fearless leader Dave) interviewed me in an office that was literally plastered with Star Trek posters and Jedi figurines. We celebrate May the 4th as a serious office holiday.

So what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been a fan of many quirky, nerdy, off-beat television shows over the years, and I’ve had my heart broken many a time by the callous treatment that such shows receive from their parent networks. Firefly, Futurama, Pushing Daisies, Arrested Development — all of these shows had absolutely brilliant potential, were often critical darlings, and were sometimes the best thing on TV, but all of them met their end far too soon. But what some people may not know is that watching a beloved show on network TV doesn’t actually count towards the ratings unless they are a part of the Nielsen Family audience measurement system, which has been the dominant market analysis company since before the invention of television itself.

Nielsen ratings are currently acquired through two avenues: viewer diaries kept by a target audience (always in the US), and small devices called Set Meters that are attached to a family’s television to gather viewing habits every night. If you don’t have a Set Meter in your home, then you’re not contributing to the ratings data. This truth can be a frustrating experience for fans of cult TV shows; despite a vocal following, the numbers often don’t correlate to the love. The Nielsen system has been criticized as both statistically flawed and hopelessly out of date; not only do the sample sizes fail to reflect the actual TV-watching population accurately, but the Nielsen system has overwhelmingly failed to account for the increasing number of Internet viewers, many of whom have ditched traditional televisions entirely. So it’s refreshing to hear the news that Nielsen and Twitter have teamed up with Social Guide to launch Twitter TV, a ratings service that measures which US television shows have the largest audience on the social network.

The chart aims to track an overall audience for each show based on the total number of tweets mentioning the program, and how many unique accounts are producing them. It’s a potential ratings gold mine for advertisers, and the initial rankings have revealed what nerds across the nation have always suspected: there is a huge gap—practically no overlap, according to Variety—between the highest rated shows and the most-tweeted shows. On Twitter TV’s charts, the most tweeted-about show for the week of September 23 was “Breaking Bad”; the top ranked show as measured by Nielsen was NBC’s “NFL Football: New England at Atlanta.”

While it seems that change is on the horizon, unfortunately Twitter TV isn’t quite the cult-show savior we’ve all been waiting for. The suits have all been clear that Twitter TV ratings do not translate into audience share; that’s still largely being decided by the Nielsen families. The main goal is actually related to commercial and advertising potential, as Twitter gears up for its IPO and anticipates working with major networks to coordinate advertisements seen on highly tweeted shows. But it’s a good baby step towards a more democratic view of TV, along with the proliferation of web-only series on Netflix and Hulu. As a recent convert to the CW show Supernatural (don’t judge me, the actors are pretty but the writing is solid too), I am gripped with anxiety as the ninth season premiers tonight, worrying that it will be the last, and that this new beloved show will fall under the same ruthless axe as previous favorites simply because the “standard Nielsen family” isn’t as interested as millions of online fans. We’re on the brink of television revolution, where the Internet has a serious stake in what is watched and what is produced; Twitter TV is a good first step in letting the bigwig producers know what we really want.

SEO news blog post by @ 2:25 pm on October 9, 2013


So you got bit by a flesh eating panda


It’s been a few months seeing the drastic changes Google has made in the SEO industry. Being so fresh to SEO I never truly experienced what the impact of this buzz was all about. From my perspective of owning a business before was that this change was a great thing. I mean who wouldn’t want certain shady practices cleaned up and a true sense of marketing back on the table? If you own a shop don’t just expect to get traffic by simply having a website or opening your doors. From what I hear shady architecture, irrelevant, sloppy links and no connection to your targeted demographic is in any sense an idiot’s guide to bankruptcy. A well-built site that plays by the rules and relevant networking practices are what should drive the internet as well as any business.

Fight club 1

So we have penguin, panda and now the hummingbird what I think they should have had was a flesh eating, four headed dragon, a zombie bear and a vampire seagull. Why make businesses that follow bad practices feel calm with cute animals. Well I guess it is a little more entertaining when you see a cute little bear tear the heads off of shady competitors. Sure, blackhat SEOs are under a lot of pressure to figure themselves out, but when I see the whitehats they primarily seem calm as Hindu cows; as Tyler Durden from Fight Club would say.

After weeks of Webcology broadcasts discussing change in the middle of change it really seems to me that a majority of these SEOs are uncomfortably welcoming in all of this and most have been prepared for months. However, the online businesses that sold their morals to the blackhat devil are under a lot of pressure. I don’t feel bad for them at all and they better feel lucky that there is an honest playing field to help them out of rough water.

Fight club 2

Countless numbers of walking dead sites take position on the net and I don’t want them popping up at the top of my search any more. We are becoming more social on the interweb as well as practicing more translucent behaviors. It’s this translucency that holds these digital entities accountable and this is why there is a stronger presence in search. I always do social research before I engage in an online service and if they don’t interact or seem as an authority on a subject then I don’t bother with them. These companies need to do more than just operate and have a pretty looking web site, they need personality and social is what gives them this opportunity.

At one time I heard we had a thing called link building, but I would like to introduce it as “relevant networking”. This means – tie up your boots, get out there and start making connections like your Dad did; network with other companies or personalities who share a common interest and you will begin to gain traffic and business. Just like the good old days, call them up or send them an e-mail and get creative with campaigns to draw in your crowd. It really isn’t different from the good old Brick and Mortar mentality of running good inbound marketing.

Every industry evolves and this is what keeps life interesting. This level of search evolution is a great change and will bring together our advances in technology as well as bring back healthy, vibrant and honest business. We should all ride bravely into the sunset atop of our flesh eating panda and encourage the transformation of search innovation.

Pictures from Vanessa Mathews

SEO news blog post by @ 9:00 am on October 8, 2013



Penguin 2.1 (AKA Penguin 5)

Penguin 5

The newest iteration of the Penguin algorithm has rolled out.  In a tweet by Google czar Matt Cutts at 1:50PM on October 4th it will affect ~1% of all search queries.  The tweet is as follows:

For those paying attention, the link goes to the April 2012 information on the Penguin updates.  This is an indicator that nothing new has been introduced and that this is a tweaking of the current algorithm sub-set.  The core change (according to Google) is that where Penguin tended to detect quality issues with the homepage of a website only, this change takes it further to assessing the quality of a website as a whole.  This makes good sense given other recent changes at Google which are generally seen to be pushing people to focus their energies on overall visitor experience and interaction as opposed to a focus on subsets of visitors and what you want them to do.  One need only look at the removal of the keyword data from Analytics for reinforcement of this principle.

So what does this mean for you? 

Nothing that you wouldn’t have gathered previously if you were paying attention for the past couple weeks.  Focusing on visitor experience globally seems to be more crucial than ever and insuring that you’re putting out good, quality content on a regular basis to reinforce your knowledge or, alternatively, to give Google something to pull data from (insert Hummingbird here) and potentially distract visitors who aren’t interested in your specific product/service.  In this I’m simply referring to using the information portions of your website to give your generally-bouncing visitors something to do as opposed to heading straight back to Google.

While I may have issues with the expanded knowledge graph for what it does to publishers, clearly Google wants their visitors to get their information they want quickly, on any device and decide for themselves what subset of that information they are interested in.  This tells us that we should do the same, while our product or service may not fit the searchers needs, it’s becoming more important that ever to insure that we do provide them with something.  As a perk, done well – that something way well serve as great link bait. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:01 am on October 6, 2013



Adobe Hacked

A siege on Adobe.Adobe has been hacked with the credit card information of almost 3 million accounts compromised. This is a huge blow for the company and for the trust users have in them as well as a solemn reminder for all of us as the fragile nature of our data. We discuss often the privacy concerns around Facebook and Google but ti takes an event like this to remind us that the systems we take for granted every day, like eCommerce – mandatory now for the smooth functioning of our society – are vulnerable at even the highest level.

Admittedly, the belief currently is that the credit card data pulled was encrypted, anyone familiar with encryption knows that with enough time and computing power, it can be cracked.  You can simply ask the NSA for verification on that point and sophisticated hackers (say for example, like the ones that could break through Adobe’s security) will have access to the knowledge and resources to get it done.

I personally got my email notification from Adobe at 11:01PM yesterday, hours after the event occurred.  Now fortunately, I’ve paid for everything via PayPal (admittedly more to avoid currency conversion fees) so it’s not a sizable issue for Beanstalk but for many of my friends and clients this is a huge issue. On their blog they reported the following actions being taken:

As a precaution, we are resetting relevant customer passwords to help prevent unauthorized access to Adobe ID accounts. If your user ID and password were involved, you will receive an email notification from us with information on how to change your password. We also recommend that you change your passwords on any website where you may have used the same user ID and password.

We are in the process of notifying customers whose credit or debit card information we believe to be involved in the incident. If your information was involved, you will receive a notification letter from us with additional information on steps you can take to help protect yourself against potential misuse of personal information about you. Adobe is also offering customers, whose credit or debit card information was involved, the option of enrolling in a one-year complimentary credit monitoring membership where available.

We have notified the banks processing customer payments for Adobe, so that they can work with the payment card companies and card-issuing banks to help protect customers’ accounts.

We have contacted federal law enforcement and are assisting in their investigation.

I’ll give them kudos for doing what needs to be done and can’t even blame them for it happening.  For those affected, make the appropriate arrangements and for those unaffected, take this as a serious reminder about what can happen to your credit care information, other private information and to your website.

Image source:

SEO news blog post by @ 10:30 am on October 4, 2013


Google Changes Property Links – Removes Video

For those of who who haven’t yet noticed, Google has changed the way they display the links to their other properties and search functions. As opposed to the typical row of links across the top of the page, Google has replaced this row with an “Apps” button to the right beside the Sign In link.  For comparison, here’s a links to the archives and what it looked like just a few hours ago – Google homepage on

The page currently looks like

Google homepage on search.Which, when you hover over the Apps link to the right becomes.

Google homepage on hover.The push here it is clearly to provide a clear path to their most popular search function but one might notice (maybe) that on the homepage the option to search videos outside of YouTube has been removed (though it does appear to be currently available on the internal search options).  I suppose I can’t begrudge them, it’s their site and they have the right to point people to their other properties but do you remember the days when Google was a search engine?  Wasn’t that neat?

SEO news blog post by @ 4:48 pm on October 2, 2013



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