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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.


May 1, 2012

Search Engine Experiment in Spam Surfing

If you took a very heavily spam-influenced search engine like Bing for example and removed the first 1 million results for a query, how good would the result be?

How about doing the same thing to the best filtered search engines available?

Well someone got curious and made the million short search engine.

What this new service does is remove a specific # of search results and show you the remainder.

I became immediately curious about a few things:

  • Where are they getting their crawl data from?
  • What are they doing to searches where there’s only a few hundred results?
  • Where is the revenue stream? I see no ads?

Given the lack of advertising I was expecting them to be pulling search data from another site?

There’s no way they are pulling from Bing/Yahoo, there are 14+ sites paying for better spots than we’ve earned on Bing for our terms..

And while the top 10 list looks a bit like DuckDuckGo, we’re seemingly banned from their rankings, and not at #6 at all. It’s funny when you look at their anti-spam approach and then look at the #1 site for ‘seo services’ on DDG. It’s like a time machine back to the days of keyword link spam. Even more ironic is that we conform to DDGs definition of a good SEO:

“The ones who do in fact make web sites suck less, and apply some common sense to the problem, will make improvements in the search ranking if the site is badly done to start with. Things like meta data, semantical document structure, descriptive urls, and whole heap of other factors can affect your rankings significantly.

The ones who want to subscribe you to massive link farms, cloaked gateway pages, and other black hat type techniques are not worth it, and can hurt your rankings in the end.
Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, is probably is. There are some good ones, and also a lot selling snake oil.”

We know the data isn’t from Google either, we have the #1 seat for ‘seo services’ on Google and maintain that position regularly.

So what’s going on?! This is the same company that gave us the ‘Find People on Plus‘ tool and clearly they know how to monetize a property?

My guess is that they are blending results from multiple search engines, and likely caching a lot of the data so it’d be very hard to tell who’s done the heavy lifting for them?

All that aside, it’s rare to see a search engine that blatantly gives you numbered SERPs and for now MillionShort is, on the left side-bar, showing numbered positions for keywords. That’s sort of handy I guess. :)

You can also change how many results to remove, so if your search is landing you in the spam bucket, then try removing less results. If your search always sucks, and the sites you want to see in the results are on the right, you’ve apparently found a search phrase that isn’t spammed! Congrats!

Weak one: Google Drive

Well my enthusiasm for Google Drive just flew out the window on my second week using it.

UPDATE: Turns out the disk was full and Google Drive has no feedback at all. Thanks FireFox for telling me WHY the download failed. Oh man.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:01 am


 

 

April 23, 2012

Bursting Personalization Filter Bubbles

filter bubble

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the Google filter bubbles. The premise is that due to personalization features becoming an important part of how we interact on the web as well as the content that is displayed to us. Links that we tend to click more readily given a higher priority in our search results, whereas those that don’t get click on fade into the ether. The inherent danger with this process is that we do not readily gain access to or are shown all the other websites that the internet has to offer.

The personalization of the modern web removes this diversification and creates a self-based bias (usually unbeknownst to the user), putting is in a narrow loop of information known as the "filter bubble."

MS patent

Microsoft’s Facebook partnership along with the Bing search engine has already allowed for the incorporation of the preferences of users friends into the returned search results. A new patent application from Microsoft describes a "user-following engine" that would not only analyze a users posts on Facebook, Twitter and other connected social networks to deduce a users mood, interests, education level and comprehension of specific topics. The new system would automatically adjust the users search experience and results based on this information to better align with these social signals.

Although the patent was filed in 2010, the details have just been made public. At this point there is no indication that Microsoft plans to move ahead with the patent, but if personalization results are where the net is taking us, I just hope that browsers will allow a user to disable the personalization filters with the click of a button. I think the biggest concern over personalization is where is it taking us? It seems to me that there is a fine line between an enhanced user experience and a decidedly Orwellian future.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:00 am


 

 

April 12, 2012

Another Pleasant Google Plus Refresh

Much like keyword rankings on Google, it’s not a matter if things will update, it’s more a matter of when, how much, and if it’s going to make your life better.

Sounds relatively subjective? Well that’s because while the folks at Google are definitely trying to make a ‘please everyone’ interface for all products, and Google Plus is the latest to get some love, nobody is perfect and everyone is different.

The following video is a bit heavy on the ‘promotion’ and a tad light on the ‘features’ so if you are details oriented you can skip it:

Obvious Changes:

Better use of wide screen format:

  • The left side bar has been iconized with short text labels below the icons.
  • Not only are the icons very easy to see, but they are very easy to arrange/remove.
  • Full drag and drop support for icons makes touch operations much easier.
    ie: You can finger drag someone to a circle without needing a right-click.
  • Having your chat contacts on the right makes good use of wider screens.
  • Larger photo thumbnails are a nice improvement and more modern.

Sharing option is very obvious now:

  • The improved share input area is really easy to understand.
  • Minimalists can still use the old pop-out Share menu linked to your profile image.

Focus on Chat

  • Because your contacts are visible on the left chat is icon-less
  • Removing the icon has removed the useless indent in the chat window:
    New Google Plus chat UI
  • If you liked staring at your profile image you can always switch back to GMail and chat there.

On the BAD side of things:

I was shocked at what you can’t drag to the side bar. If I want to play a single game, I’d rather have it than the ‘Games’ link?

Lonely neck-beards all over Reddit have been mocking the extra space on their wide screens with 16:9 ratios.

Thing is that the chat windows fill that space if you have 2 or more people you chat with constantly, and most people do. Sadly the meme is so popular that #usesforwhitespace is actually a trending topic and leaves me doing my best impression of Jean Luc.

Does this do anything for the folks who see G+ as the arch-nemesis of FB? Heck no!

In fact there’s a fresh batch of very pointless debates raging about how ‘G+ is unwilling to post user statistics because it’s an embarrassment.‘ which is another face-palm because they publish that info all the time (currently @ 170 million active Google+ accounts, 90 million accounts were created in the last 2 months alone) but unlike FB it’s not a bragging point since Google is clearly not interested in user counts.

If Google+ cared about user statistics they wouldn’t care if the accounts were active or not when publishing their stats, and they wouldn’t have worked so hard to allow people to use the system without making accounts (unlike Facebook/Twitter).

To quote John Lydgate:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

The whole self mockery reminds me of this awkward/embarrassing clip demonstrating the temple of promotion that is ‘Hawaii Five-O’ attempting to establish a new ‘slang phrase’for Microsoft while showing off a Windows 7 phone :

Amazingly bad..

SEO news blog post by @ 11:57 am


 

 

March 6, 2012

USA Dot COM

How do you feel about the US ‘owning’ .COM (and .cc, .net, .name, .org, and .tv) regardless of the international needs of the internet?
USA dot COM
Well the U.S. government feels pretty good about it and is exercising a controversial level of control over these TLDs by squeezing the US based VeriSign.

The logic is: if the businesses that control the domains are operating on US soil then it’s American controlled.

There has always been a desire to de-Americanize the internet by restructuring core components outside of US controlled entities but the cost and fears of this sort of uber-nationalist attitude have been ever-present roadblocks. It is sadly ironic then that the US itself isn’t safe from the whims of the local government.

Why so much attention when this has happened hundreds of times previously?

BoDog Poop'd On

Last week a Canadian registered .com (BoDog.com) was taken offline by federal US authorities because the site was making it possible for American citizens to gamble on-line with payouts.

BoDog.com’s business practices are not illegal globally however and having the site shut down by US authorities has a lot of people, myself included, complaining that this is going way too far.

The reason BoDog.com went down under US pressure is because it was registered with DomainClip in Canada which is merely a VeriSign subcontractor. Even then, you have an international business shuttered by the whims of one country’s governmental policies.

VeriSign is throwing it’s hands up in the air proclaiming innocence and pointing out that they are just abiding by court orders that the US based company is lawfully obligated to follow.

So does this mean that you should toss your SEO campaign aside and find a way to register the site outside of VeriSign’s control? Not necessarily.

Unless you are running a site that isn’t US based at all, or likely to come under fire from the US Government, there isn’t much to fear from this situation, at present. If you run an international gambling site and you made the mistake of registering it with a VeriSign affiliate, then you might want to go change it, quickly.

Personally, if this sort of activity continues unfettered, I expect to see a strong push for the ITU to take over some or all of ICANN’s roles. The internet isn’t just an American thing, it can’t be, and the international community won’t tolerate meddling much longer before some sort of action is taken.

And finally, on a different topic, yet similar struggle for control, I have to give Bing a mention for this amazingly bad anti-Google ‘Googlighting’ video:

Yep. Bing used YouTube to burn Google.

For anyone too young to remember 80s television, this was a parody of Moonlighting (TV series) and boy did they do a bad job of Bruce, not that their version of Cybil was much better.. ;)

Most companies can survive simply by putting their best foot forward. Bing seems to think this isn’t enough and that we need to be informed of how dumb we are buying using Google’s framework of tools.

Google was so moved by this advert that Mark Striebeck, the manager of GMail, wore a similar tie at a recent Google technology demonstration to show some good sportsmanship.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:17 am


 

 

March 1, 2012

Easy options for de-personalization

Today I saw the start of a graphical ad campaign by DuckDuckGo aimed at explaining how search personalization creates a ‘bubble’ that traps your search ability. Here is the link to the ad-site if you want to give your brain a wash.

Mark Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying,

“a squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.”

The heart of the matter isn’t new, TED’s got a pretty decent presentation from a ‘user’ perspective dating back to May 2011:

So what’s DuckDuckGo squawking about?

I think it’s time to burst their bubble by taking a look at the options we have and why the suggestion of ‘try something new’ doesn’t really ‘fit the bill’. ;)

Bursting the Bubble Myth

It is very true that search engines know a lot of ways to customize search results based on information that the browser gives the sites you visit. You have some options depending on what you need to accomplish.

For every-day searches:

  • Use the browser you use the most often.
  • Your search results will be relevant to you if you use Google or Bing.
  • DDG results will be relevant to the way DDG thinks results should be filtered because they are avoiding personalization.

For research based searches in your location:

  • Use ‘incognito’ or ‘private browsing’ modes. (* see below for Google tip)
  • Your search results on major search engines will not be related to your personal tastes, just your location/language.
  • DDG won’t change search results according to their advertising.

For research that is not based on language or location:

  • Use a fresh browser, switch your language on a system level, and use a proxy to make your queries from multiple locations.
  • Search results will need to be combined and compared at this point because there will be differences each time.
  • From what we’ve seen, this level of unique information does elicit a variety of search results even from unbiased search engines because language and location are very large factors in search queries.

* When searching with Google you can add “&pws=0″ to the search URL to see the search without personalization. This only turns off the ‘personalized web search’ function so the results will still be in your language and relevant to your location.

You could also add a short-cut to your browser so that you can search with personalization turned off by default, change the default language, location, etc..

While changing the search parameters is only ‘mostly effective’ I will be doing a follow-up post, complete with video guides, on how to do this and how to make it simple with shortcuts in the address bar.

If you still want to guess at the macro images from last month you aren’t too late. We are accepting guesses until we announce the winner next week, so feel free to go back to the old posts from last month and let us know what your little eye spies.

PS: There have been two versions of Minecraft 1.2x released today so far, some features weren’t even in the public builds so there’s some fresh bugs and features to explore. We have been waiting for this version to release to announce a new contest based on Minecraft! Stay tuned for full details in a post to come very soon!

SEO news blog post by @ 11:50 am


 

 

December 15, 2011

We’d feel dirty not posting about SOPA today..

This is the day folks, the bill is in Congress as I type and here’s some good spots to follow the proceedings closely:
Dirty Bar of Soap
EFF Twitter Feed
Video Webcast
Justin.tv re-broadcast of the live feed

Wondering what all the fuss is about?
Here’s a great read:
Wikipedia -> Stop Online Piracy Act

Who supports SOPA?
Domino Project’s SOPA Supporter List

What sort of organizations are opposed to SOPA?. It was such a bad move that Wikipedia was publicly contemplating a blackout of the service just to make it clear how bad the bill is!

There’s also a few very active/current discussions over on Reddit in the r/technology section that give a good ‘nerds eye view’ of the bill reading.

Wonder why Google was opposed to the bill? Here’s a humorous take on the essence of their fears:
Mockery of SOPAs effect on Google in 2012

If I had to personally sum everything up into a TL;DR I would have to go with:

“Artist and labour groups who don’t have a nerdy understanding of how the internet works and how to approach piracy are joining with other anti-piracy groups to fast-track an ill-considered and potentially dangerous bill.

While most folks don’t understand the internet enough to argue the bill as experts the general reaction today has been “we are rushing something we don’t understand and we can’t proceed”.

With any luck that’ exactly how bill H.R.3261 will end, some potential, but not ready. *fingers crossed*

SEO news blog post by @ 10:42 am


 

 

November 21, 2011

Boxing Yahoo Site Explorer

Today is a sad day for those of us in the SEO industry. Yahoo Site Explorer is being boxed for good and as of today will be the last day you will be able to use it. Yahoo announced on Friday 18th that they would be that they would be shutting down the service. Many in the SEO industry are regarding this as the final demise of Yahoo Search.

yahoo storage box

“With the completion of algorithmic transition to Bing, Yahoo! Search has merged Site Explorer into Bing Webmaster Tools. Webmasters should now be using the Bing Webmaster Tools to ensure that their websites continue to get high quality organic search traffic from Bing and Yahoo!. Site Explorer services will not be available from November 21, 2011.”

This follows through on a previous announcement from July 11, 2010 that they service would soon be suspended due to falling use of Yahoo and the transition of Yahoo to Bing.

“In an August 2010 blog post, we said we would continue Site Explorer with a focus on new features for webmaster community, even after the transition to Microsoft platforms is complete. We listened to your feedback, and along with the team from Bing Webmaster Center looked jointly at the roadmap for the webmaster tools. Having two webmaster portals for a single source for organic results does not add enough value. Once organic results are transitioned to Bing in all the markets, we plan to shut down Yahoo! Site Explorer and Microsoft’s Webmaster Tools will be the source for Bing and Yahoo! webmaster site and analytics data.”

Yahoo Site Explorer went live in September of 2005 and was the progeny of Tim Mayer from Yahoo. It has been a powerful mainstay of the SEO industry ever since it’s initial launch. While most of us in the industry knew this day was coming, it is still tragic news for many SEOs who have come to rely on Yahoo Site Explorer as a free, comprehensive and search engine backed competitive analysis link tool.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:00 am

Categories:Bing,Yahoo!

 

 

September 22, 2011

1st SEO Impressions of Windows 8

I started my computer life on an Apple II PC, my first gaming/entertainment electronics experience was the Lesiure Vision, and it wasn’t until high-school that I met my first IBM, an XT with an attitude. So in my years you can bet I’ve seen a few operating system ‘revolutions’, heck the first computer I paid for with my own money was the Mac Classic back when it was the first PC to have a mouse and ‘Windows’ (plus it could talk!). :)

Things have changed a bit since that 8mhz Macintosh with it’s single color 10″ non-upgradable screen. The 4mb maximum limit of RAM that was a selling point of my Mac isn’t even enough for a modern CPU cache, let alone an OS + applications, and ‘booting from disk’ has a totally different meaning.

Along comes Windows 8 and I really felt that I needed a new operating system like I needed a new hair in my nose, so I was in no rush at all to review it. The situation reminded me of a quote from Tron 2.0:

“..what sort of improvements have been made in Flynn… I mean, um, Windows 8?” .. “This year we put an 8 on the box!”
Encom OS-12

Well it’s not really that bad, in fact the more I poke at Windows8 the more I see it’s potential and I can see how it could be a game changer for a web based business. Here’s why:

  • The start menu is now a web page with tiled animated content including feeding from websites like XKCD.com:
    Embedded websites in Windows 8 Start Menu
    – Do you have your website setup properly to feed the new start menu when people add your site there?

  • IE10 is the browser the OS uses, you can install another, but it won’t get loaded until you specifically load it
    – Does your site look the way you’d expect in IE10? I know our aging site layout looks different in IE10.

  • There is no prompt to chose a search engine, you’ve got Bing and what more could anyone want?
    – This could divide the consumer base among power users who have fiddled and those who just use things ‘as is’. Depending on your market this could change the way you look at Bing.

  • Clicking the “Make Google my homepage.” link on the google.com/.ca homepage currently causes IE10 to load a blank white page instead of the default home screen.
    – Does your site use similar javascript? Will you have the same issues with IE10 users?

  • Built in applications for reaching social networks aren’t broad enough. “Socialite” program for FB only works with FB, and drops support for Twitter, Reddit, Google Reader, Flicker, Digg, etc..
    – Speaking of which, how cozy are you with giving MS access to everything?

    Windows 8 Socialite Preview for FaceBook

Mind you, with all the stink that’s getting raised over the UEFI secure boot protocol, the rate of adoption for Windows8 could be pitiful. If Microsoft’s hardware partners went ahead with the new feature it would lock out other OSes and force people to deal with one source for new OS installs/upgrades.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:05 am


 

 

July 4, 2011

Google’s Evolution Innovations

After being away for a few days on a mini vacation, I thought I would touch base on what has been making news since my last post. It seems Google is still dominating the news in several instances.

The rise of Chrome in 2010

It was announced this week by StatsCounter that for the first time Google’s internet browser Chrome has risen to a 20.7% share of all browser usage in the market. Since 2009, Chrome has gone from only 2.8% share to become a major contender in the internet browser market.

In the same time, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dropped from an 59% down to 44%, while Firefox only dropped marginally from 30% to 28%. It should be noted however that StatsCounter tracks totally surfing and not the total number of users in their stats. What this means is that it is the internet "power" elite that seem to be driving Chrome to its increasing success.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

Starting at the end of last month you may have noticed a few changes to the look and feel of various Google products. Google has embarked on an aggressive new design (or redesign) strategy and part of their Multi-Month User Experience Update. In a blog post titled: "Evolving the Google Design and Experience"

The way people use and experience the web is evolving, and our goal is to give you a more seamless and consistent online experience—one that works no matter which Google product you’re using or what device you’re using it on. The new Google experience that we’ve begun working toward is founded on three key design principles: focus, elasticity and effortlessness.

Here are some of the implementations they will be rolling out:

The Google hompage circa 1997

  • Focus: A large part of Google’s new focus is an attempt to reduce the amount of on screen clutter that has been becoming problematic for some time. By making a more user intuitive approach by making changes such as using bolder colors for actionable buttons, or hiding navigation buttons until they’re actually needed, which Google feels can help you better focus on only what you need at the moment.
  • Elasticity: Due to the multiple, various types of mobile devices, tablets and high-resoultion monitors, Google, states that the new design(s) will soon allow you to seamlessly transition from one device to another and have a consistent visual experience. Google says they aim to bring you this flexibility without sacrificing style or usefulness.
  • Effortlessness: Google goes on to show that their design phiolosohy is to combine power with simplicity by using clean, simple design architecture while embracing latest technologies such as HTML5, WebGL and the faster browsers available (like Google Chrome for instance).

Google has certainly come a long way over the last several years in the way they continue to change and evolve the look and usablility of their products. By studying how users use and navigate through the Google and related technologies, Google continues to keep itself on top of a very competitive market.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:09 pm


 

 

May 18, 2011

Bing Integrates Facebook Data into Searches

Bing has announced that they have created a whole new level of Facebook integration into their search results and have "designed a new way to experience search, focusing on great design, task completion, instant answers, and vertical categories like shopping and travel to help you make decisions faster."

Bing states in their blog post that Research tells us that 90% of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process. This "Friend Effect" is apparent in most of our decisions and often outweighs other facts because people feel more confident, smarter and safer with the wisdom of their trusted circle.

In October 2010, Bing formed a partnership with social networking giant, Facebook that would allow Bing to use the Facbook social data and integrate them into Bing search queries. Initially, Bing was slow to integrate the data. In February of this year, Bing took a step towards more complete integration but still was not utilizing the full potential of the data that was available to them.

With the new update from Bing, search results can now be tailored to your Facebook profile based on your friends and even the collective Facebook network (not your FB friends).


<br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&#038;vid=243216f7-9941-4f48-a2d0-2065e06a47b5&#038;src=SLPl:embed::uuids&#038;fg=sharenoembed" target="_new"title="Facebook Friends Now Fueling Faster Decisions on Bing">Video: Facebook Friends Now Fueling Faster Decisions on Bing</a>

Some of the biggest changes are:

  • Receive personalized search results based on the opinions of your friends by simply signing into Facebook.
  • You can see what your Facebook friends "like" across the Web
  • Incorporate the collective know-how of the Web into your search results, and begin adding a more conversational aspect to your searches.
  • You can quickly see what your friends like and are sharing.
  • Showing which of your friends liked the search results given by Bing via Facebook.
  • Bing will promote search results that are "liked" by your friends to the front page of the Bing personalized search results.

Google has used social media as a ranking signal for many months and continue to attempt to incorporate social media signals into their search results. Until Google has a popular social networking platform from which to draw data from, it looks as though Bing has taken the lead in personalized searches by utilizing Facebook social media data.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:48 pm


 

 

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