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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.


January 3, 2013

Google’s new Offline Conversion API

Happy 2013!

It may look like we’ve been loyal to the Mayan calendar, but we’ve just been busy internally over the holidays and didn’t blog.

Google has also been busy in 2013, retiring the old Offline Conversions APIs (both the Javascript and Python versions were retired in November 2012), and beginning a new Offline Conversions import service within the DoubleClick Search brand.

This announcement has been subject to both good and bad press, typically depending on the technical skills/depth of knowledge of the story writer.

Most writers looking for the worst possible scenario chose to doubt Google’s privacy controls, and boldly suggest there will be problems due to data aggregation.

Google’s DoubleClick service explicitly states:

“Advertisers are prohibited from sending personally identifiable information using this feature, as outlined by the Terms of Service for the API.”

Further to that there are lots of assumptions being made about who can supply data, who has access, and what data is relevant. In one article they just tossed in a mention that the data could be ‘decrypted’ by 3rd parties/or government agencies with nothing to back that claim up.

To help understand the role of this service lets look at a typical use case:

  • You sell widgets.
  • Your website has online ordering.
  • You also have a physical store.
  • Clients are finding items online, but buying them in person.

So if you are basing your promotion efforts on Web based analytics, you will be in the dark as to what promotions drove the clients to come to the store and make a purchase.

Unless Google gave you an interface with which to send them transaction info on offline sales?

Lets see how that would work:

  • A Google user is searching for widgets.
  • Google puts a PPC Ad on the page promoting your widgets.
  • The user clicks on the Ad, and looks up ‘Blue Widget # 42′.
  • 2 hours later, your in-store till sells 2 ‘Blue Widget # 42′s.
  • The till sends “2 x Blue Widget # 42″ to Google as ‘sold’.

That’s it, Google now can relate the pay per click advertisement as relevant to the sale of the widget, and you have more info on how well that advertisement worked.

This also works very well with telephone based sales, especially if you are in a position to use specific phone numbers, or extensions, to narrow down how the call came about.

So while some folks are very concerned about how much companies will know about them when companies start comparing notes, that’s not the situation here at all.

Companies have been comparing notes for years, without the help of Google. Just think about the shopping trends that you reveal when you use an Air Miles card?

Google only wants to help reduce unwanted/ineffective advertising and reduce the amount of money businesses spend to reach potential clients.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:46 pm


 

 

December 13, 2012

Google Maps is Back on App Store

Lost without directions.

Afraid of the iOS 6 upgrade because you love Google Maps? Well the waiting is over, and Google Maps is back on the App Store for Free!

Not only is it still free, they upgraded the App to included all the latest features from the current Android version:

  • Turn-by-turn driving instructions
  • Live traffic information
  • Train, bus, subway and walking directions
  • Transit schedules for nearby stops

Which, when you compare the newer, fresher UI integration of the latest iPhone App vs. Android, makes the iPhone version ‘slightly better’ than the current Android version!

On top of all that, Google’s new Maps App adds API support for using the Maps App in other applications so that developers have the option of integrating Google maps into their Apps.

Google also mentioned that indoor maps support, and an offline maps option are currently in the works.

Stay tuned!

Google is also making certain things harder to find..

I cannot lie, Zazzle.com has some funny T-Shirts.

In other news, Google Image search just got an update that makes finding porn images more difficult, or at the very least, less accidental.

A young asian.

Personally, when I am at work, say making a blog post that needs an image of cigarette ‘butts‘, or a ‘young asian‘ person, when I don’t include enough search terms, I can appreciate that Google puts less priority on the more abundantly available/popular pornographic images.

… at least for the .COM site.

If you load those URLs and change the .com to a .ca?

Well lets just say that I hope you aren’t at work! ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:55 pm


 

 

December 6, 2012

#DROIDRAGE Back-Fires and Creates #WINDOWSRAGE

#WINDOWSRAGE

Microsoft is spending an increasing amount of resources on pointing out the faults of it’s competition, reviving the #DROIDRAGE hash-tag at a moment in time when most Android users have very little to rage about.

For me it’s like watching some high-school bully try and make light of his own faults by pointing out the problems with one of the best students in school; Ultimately running out of complaints and resorting to childish tactics in an attempt to keep themselves from looking bad.

In this case the best student is pretty popular, and the insults have backfired on the bully, leaving the bully (Microsoft in this example) feeling like they are standing in public with their pants around their ankles.

The net today is bubbling with annoyed Windows users sharing their frustrations.

For me, a non-mobile PC user, I have general beefs like:

DirectX 11.x will be for Windows8 only?!

Microsoft Security Essentials is getting merged into Windows Defender?!

But if you take a swim through the #windowsrage hash-tag on Twitter you will see a lot of Windows Mobile, XBox, and other flavors of rage against Microsoft’s products.

Meanwhile, Google’s Saving the World..

While I’ve yet to see Google chase after Microsoft’s reputation, it might just be due to them having no time for it, what with all the awesome things Google’s been doing around our planet.

Google Drones seek out poachers

Like a $5 million dollar grant from Google to the WWF that’s getting spent on unmanned aerial ‘drones’. While the WWF doesn’t want to call them ‘drones’ because of military references to the term, that’s pretty much what they are.

Unlike the military’s drones however, these unmanned aerial watchdogs won’t be rigged for anything more than surveillance of the vast areas of land that the WWF protects.

In fact from what I can tell these will just be ‘commercial’ versions of the drones you see hobbyists and flight enthusiasts playing around with.

The $5 million is actually a small part of the $23 million total funding that Google is providing, this year alone, to non-profit organizations with challenges surrounding technology and innovation as part of Google’s Impact Awards Program.

I doubt that’s much of a ‘slag’ on the competition, but apparently Google has bigger goals than mocking/slandering competing companies?

SEO news blog post by @ 12:44 pm


 

 

November 28, 2012

Search Engines: How Did We Get Here?

search engines

It seems strange to say but, for those old enough to remember, there was a time when internet searches were not dominated by Google. Prior to its arrival, the one time alpha and omega of search engines was Alta Vista (founded in 1995). One can still find Alta Vista (resurrected by Yahoo) bravely hanging on in a very lonely and unvisited corner of the internet, quietly giving competent search results via a rather bland and unappealing interface (it has a baby blue background that reminds one of the color of an unwanted sweater at Christmas). Perhaps if one has the time, go and enter a query for old times sake; it is akin to visiting a long forgotten relative in an old age home. The gesture is bound be appreciated and Alta Vista still has the power to tell a good story or two (although, you may feel like you are listening to Yahoo – which now receives primary and paid search results via Bing, which is in turn in owned by Microsoft).

Reading over the names of the now non-existent search engines that began life in the mid 1990s does illicit a certain sense of nostalgia, though without the passage of time usually required to stir these feelings. We are of course talking about “internet” years, which in a way mirror dog years (though dog years have remained fairly static and predictable). Does anyone still remember these one time players from the seminal days of the internet (some of the names could easily be mistaken for hair metal bands): Excite, Magellan, Snap, Direct Hit, Hot Bot. Some have soldiered on, others have been absorbed or have faded away into well deserved obscurity.

Today, as we all know, the dictatorial and tyrannical ruler of the internet, when it comes to searches, is none other than Google. Google started life as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996. By 1998, Google had been incorporated as a privately held company. Today, Google has an Explicit Core Search share of 66.4% (more than four times that of its nearest competitor – Bing/Microsoft). Google is now a part of the scenery, like wood paneling in the basement. You don’t really like it, its kind of bland and dated, but you are too lazy to take it down and re-decorate as it serves its purpose so you tolerated it.

The other distant, but managing to get by, search engine that is nipping at Google’s heels is Bing. This Microsoft owned search engine is slowly gaining in stature, but still has a long way to go before it is truly relevant. Many prefer it to Google (perhaps more so out of spite), as it gives a wider range of results and is not as inclined to burden the user with advertisements or cookies. That said, Bing has failed to catch on. All one needs to do is look at their own analytics to see which search engine is driving traffic to their site. Bing is responsible, across the board, for a very small percentage of that traffic. Why? Google, for all its problems, still gives users the results they want and provides a feeling of familiarity (see wood paneling). It begs the question then, “what does Bing offer that Google doesn’t?” The answer, unfortunately for Bing, is not enough to cause one to switch. Google has a form of brand loyalty that cannot be trumped at the moment.

Bing, or better yet, Microsoft, in a desperate attempt at relevancy, tried a side-by-side comparison (Coke-Pepsi taste test, anyone?) and for all intents and purposes it failed. It wasn’t that Google provided by far the better results, it is just that Bing didn’t bring anything else to the table other than a vague sense of, occasional, equality. Even though Coke changed its recipe, but then wisely reverted back to what made it great, it still won the Pepsi challenge – hands down (such was its hold on public consciousness; and the fact that it was simply a better product). It is probably safe to say that Bing and Google will have Coke-Pepsi relationship for the foreseeable future, despite Google’s best attempts to annoy those most reliant on its search results by changing its “secret” recipe via the never-ending Panda and Penguin updates.

So what of Yahoo? Yes, it is still around and has refused to leave like the ubiquitous reveler who doesn’t know the party has ended. Oddly, we still begrudgingly acknowledge its existence as is evidenced by its Explicit Core Search share of 12.8%. Honestly, though, most Yahoo searches are probably done by accident. Yahoo’s behavior is even more bizarre in that they have kept the aforementioned Alta Vista afloat. Perhaps it is a write off for tax purposes or the beginning of a retirement home for irrelevant search engines.

So who are the other players left in the North American search engine wars? There has to be some RC Colas out there, right? In third place, with an Explicit Core Search share of only 3.2% is the Ask Network (originally know as Ask Jeeves – founded in 1996). Ask Jeeves, for the multitudes who will not recall, was the first search engine to employ what is known as “natural language” queries as opposed to the more terse syntax required by other search engines. Ask.com still uses this method and has also expanded it to include conversion, math and dictionary questions, which are really its forte. With the Ask Network’s recent purchase of About.com, it may see an increase in its search volume, but nothing to bother Google and Microsoft. It should also be noted that Ask.com receives paid results from Google.

Languishing in fourth, and talk about staying in the fridge past your best before date, is AOL, inc. Surely this can only be due to all those computers that came preloaded with it being turned on from time to time to see if they still work and if there are any harvest-able parts in them. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The real problem with AOL was how restrictive it was. They were intent on keeping its users within its sphere of influence by directing them to approved sites and services. It was an early attempt at a “dumbing down” of the web for the masses, which thankfully failed. PCWorld magazine even awarded AOL the number one position in its top ten list of most annoying tech products on April 16th, 2007, for its practice of direct marketing. PCWorld claims that between 1993 to 2006 that AOL sent out over 1 billion AOL discs (most of which, according to PCWorld, ended up at their office).

Around the world, the search engine equation really isn’t much different. Google still holds the top spot by about a 7:1 ratio over its nearest competitor, Baidu.com. For those unfamiliar with Baidu, it is a search engine designed for websites, images and audio files that contain Chinese language content. Baidu has also created a Japanese language search engine, which only makes programmatic sense considering the written languages of China and Japan are ideographic and have a shared history. Out of all the other search engines mentioned, Baidu, based on the pervasiveness of Chinese languages (Mandarin and Cantonese) and culture, is the most likely to enjoy the biggest gains against Google globally.

Yahoo comes in at about an 11:1 ratio when compared to Google internationally; Microsoft sites come in at a 25:1 ratio. Rounding out the top five is the little known search engine known as Yandex. Yandex is a Russian owned internet company, which also owns the largest search engine in Russia. In addition, the Yandex site was voted the most popular website in Russia, too (which may or may not mean anything considering all the controversy around election fraud there and the fact that Yandex’s 40% market share in Russia is still second to Google). Yandex does have a presence in the USA as Yandex Labs, which is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before Yandex can really make a global impact it is going to have to become the dominant search engine choice in Russian speaking countries first; if not, expect continued marginality.

So, what does the future of the internet searches hold, well, for many it will be one lidless eye watching over all one does. But, If history has shown us anything, it is that no company, institution or government has been able to maintain a monopoly, and one day, without warning, the next young upstart(s) will come along and displace the wise old man of the web (currently Google). Hopefully Google will depart with more grace than some of its predecessors. Case in point, as of the writing of this article, US regulators are about to sue Google for using its search prowess to stifle competition and push up online advertising costs. Is this the first chink in Google’s armor that will open the door to the competition?

Credit: a big thanks to comScore for their invaluable help and information.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:47 am


 

 

November 27, 2012

New YouTube Creator Space in LA

Google’s YouTube service has just launched it’s third Creator Space studio, this time in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles.

Hughes H-4 Hercules Fuselage

The 41,000-square-foot aircraft hangar was formerly used by the US Army for making helicopters in the Vietnam years, and it was the assembly point for the famous Hughes H-4 Hercules transport plane in World War II.

Renovations to the facility have been extensive, with Google adding:
- professional-grade equipment
- green-screen stages
- motion-capture rooms
- screening room
- editing labs
..and more!

Have a look at the video from the UK version of YouTube’s Creator Space:

As you can see, this is a huge boon for aspiring entertainers, actors, producers, and even editors who want to learn the craft.

In fact it reminds me of the library in my Elementary school which had a full VHS recorder, camera, TV, and space to set up a stage. We would take the time to write scripts (bad jokes), dressup (do giant paper chipmunk teeth and thick rimmed glasses count as costumes?), and perform for camera.

While nobody ever watched what we recorded (this was during the advent of VHS), the recording was a popular affair and students would flock to the library when we were doing a show over lunch.

Likewise YouTube is hoping that they will encourage creators to mingle and ‘hang out’ in this space, granting them free reign to come and go as they please for the time period they are allotted.

Signing up for the UK space is done via this customized Google Docs sign up sheet.

There doesn’t appear to be any such sheet for the new California location, but the Creator Hub Website should handle all your inquiries.

The LA Times did a nice job of gathering some photos of the LA Creator Space into a gallery:

The new You Tube facilities in Playa Del Rey

Interestingly enough the same channel also has a really well polished video on YouTube Analytics that I’ve personally never seen previously:

 

Ernie Coombs / Mr.Dressup’s 85th Birthday

November 26th would have been Ernie Coombs’ 85th birthday, and Google Canada celebrated with a Google Doodle.

Mr.Dressup - A Canadian Childrens TV Show

It’s very amazing what one man, a puppet boy named Casey, a magical storage box full of costumes, and a puppet dog named Finnegan can do to engage an audience. When I was young I always wanted a tickle trunk, which really means I still want a tickle trunk because I’ve never grown up. ;)

Mr.Rogers on the other hand always seemed like a strange show, and I never really watched it, favoring our Canadian version, Mr.Dressup.

It’s interesting now to learn that Ernie Coombs, a US citizen, actually worked with Fred Rogers in Canada to debut ‘Misterogers’ which later on became the US children’s TV show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.

In fact many of the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” set pieces, such as the Trolley, Eiffel Tower, the ‘tree’, and ‘castle’, were created by CBC designers during the initial 3 year run in Canada.

Mr.Dressup stayed in Canada, and became one of the longest running Canadian TV shows, running between 1967 and 1996 for a span of 29 years.

The actor may have passed on but our memories will linger for generations to come.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:31 am


 

 

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

There seems to be a lot of spam vs. turkey this year, but we still have plenty to be thankful for!

In fact just today I was reading about how Google is thanking Maps contributors with ‘Badges‘!

If you login to Google and head on over to the Map Maker section of Google Maps you can get started on either reviewing changes that need to be approved/disapproved, or make your own.

The badges are apparently awarded as follows (stolen from IBF):

List of Google MapMaker badges

So Thanks Google, for being Thankful! This is going to work very well for trust factors on your G+ profile, which as we pointed out many times now, should also be the author link for your site content.

In Other News..

DuckDuckGo was trying to prove they could deliver better search results without learning anything about the user.

It would have been neat if it were possible, but I wouldn’t send a stranger out to buy me new shoes, and I don’t want a web search that doesn’t know me either.

At this point DuckDuckGo have been reduced to complaining about Google not selling them cool domain names like “duck.com”, and how many extra clicks it takes to change the search engine in Chrome vs. Firefox.

While I agree that making use of duck.com as a 301 to google.com is a bit ‘cruel’, my guess is that nobody offered Google a fair price for the domain, and it’s not bad business to improve the value by holding onto the name until a valid offer comes along.

If DuckDuckGo wants to disclose how much they offered Google, I may change my opinion, but for now this is just ‘big business’ vs. anything ‘anti-competitive’, and if this is the absolute worst mud that DDG can sling at Google then they have little to complain about.

Google Music Translate

While I have been eager to see someone like Wierd Al tackle the song Gangnam Style with some English lyrics, I am not sure I’m eager to see this ‘project’ come to life:


Heck this was meant to be a joke, but Google is so spooky with it’s tech that this is totally plausible?

Indeed some news sites this morning are actually getting flamed for discussing this as if it were a real service offered by Google.

Well ‘played‘ sirs.. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:53 pm


 

 

November 15, 2012

Google Ingress – Niantic’s Project

Google's Niantic ARG Logo

My post about creating traffic detours on the internet had a blurb about the Niantic Project where I was speculating that it was indeed a Google Field Trip promotion where you play the game by visiting landmarks to view clues.

I wasn’t too far off with my speculation, today is day 1 of the closed beta for Ingress, a ‘Niantic Project’.

The video gives us a pretty good idea that this will a modified version of Google’s Field Trip app with extra options to interact with both the landmark clues but also potentially other players of the game.

Essentially it looks like the goal is to get enough people from all over the world working together to solve/hack enough of the important clues to solve the mystery.

Clues appear to be well placed so that you get an idea that something is going on with a landmark, but until you find the right interaction with the landmark the information is locked.

From the screen shots we can see there’s a level meter tracking your progress as a player, an energy meter that likely limits your ‘moves’ in the game, and a GUI that was developed specifically for this game.

Right now you can’t join in and play, but you can sign up for the closed beta on the Ingress Homepage.

My guess is that you’ll have to be patient in waiting for a reply to the beta signup. Not only will there be a lot of interest, I’m betting that the team wants to approve people in an even distribution globally.

Picture what would happen if they let people sign up at random. Due to the per-capita density of nerds/landmarks, Canada would solve all it’s clues too soon and try linking it’s gates before any of the other countries are ready to link up.

Back over on Nianticproject.com we have an exotic interactive screen that requires a password with the clue “CLASSIFIED _ _ _ _ _ _ matter” implying that the password is 6 letters long, which fits none of my guesses!

Even getting past that clue leads to more clues, so the game is clearly not going to be solved or won by one person.

Brandon Bager is apparently trying to make me look like a bad guesser. He’s confirmed that at 9:33am the invite script was on the letter “B” for invites.

Perhaps I should go back and add another email address that doesn’t start with an “A”?

Patience!

SEO news blog post by @ 10:54 am


 

 

November 14, 2012

Google’s New ‘AuthorRank’ Bigger than Panda and Penguin Combined

If you are in the SEO industry, you have probably a new buzz word floating around the water cooler; “AuthorRank.”
AuthorRank signals image
In August of 2005, Google filed a patent for a technology dubbed Agent Rank in which ranking ‘agents’ use the reception of the content they create and the resulting interactions as a factor in determining their rankings. The patent goes on to suggest that more well-received and popular “agents” could have their associated content rank higher than unsigned content or the content of other less-authoritative “agents”.

After adding a continuation patent in 2011, Google is now able to attribute content to specific agents and can now rank these agents thanks to platforms like Google+. AJ Kohn goes into much detail about AuthorRank and why he feels it will be bigger than Panda and Penguin combined. AuthorRank will not be a replacement for PageRank, but will work in conjunction with it to enable Google to rank high quality content more appropriately.

I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on AuthorRank and in fact am only learning about it as I write this. What I did learn from the information I read is that content has and will always been key to the success of any website. Google’s mantra to publishers has always been that “content is king”; provide high quality content and the ranking, and followers will follow. This new signal will be in place soon as a final coup de grace to those still stuck in antiquated methods of content creation and syndication.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:59 am

Categories:Google,Google,Google+

 

 

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 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+

 

 

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