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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.


June 14, 2012

TECHNOlogy: What is AJAX? Baby Don’t Hurt Me!

Wikipedia defines AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) as:

A group of interrelated web development techniques used on the client-side to create asynchronous web applications.

What a mind-numbing description! What you need to know is that AJAX is the combination of a several technologies to make better web pages.

If you have no interest in making websites but you like techno music, or you’re curious why I picked that title, this is for you:

This is a good soundtrack for this post. You should hit play and keep reading.

After a bit of time with HTML/CSS I started to build a growing list of issues that I couldn’t solve without some scripting.

I learned some PHP, which wasn’t tricky because it uses very common concepts. Here’s the traditional ‘hello world’ example in PHP:

<?PHP echo ‘Hello World’; ?> = Hello World

.. and if I wanted to be a bit more dynamic:

<?PHP echo ‘Hello World it is ‘.date(‘Y’); ?> = Hello World it is 2012

Because PHP is only run when the page is requested, and only runs on the server side, it’s only the server that loads/understands PHP; The browser does nothing with PHP.

With PHP code only seen by the server, it’s a very safe way to make your pages more intelligent without giving Google or other search engines a reason to be suspicious of your site.

In fact one of the most common applications of PHP for an SEO is something as simple as keeping your Copyright date current:

<?PHP echo ‘Copyright© 2004-’.date(‘Y’); ?> = Copyright© 2004-2012

Plus when I need to store some information, or fetch that information, PHP isn’t that easy, so I added MySQL to the mix and suddenly my data nightmares are all data dreams and fairy tales (well almost). I won’t dive into MySQL on top of everything here, but lets just say that when you have a ton of data, you want easy access to it, and most ‘flat’ formats are far from the ease of MySQL.

But I still had a long list of things I couldn’t do that I knew I should be able to do.

The biggest problem I had was that all my pages had to ‘post’ something, figure out what I’d posted, and then re-load the page with updated information based on what was posted.

Picture playing a game of chess where you are drawing the board with pen and paper. Each move would be a fresh sheet of paper with the moved piece drawn over a different square.

PHP can get the job done, but it’s not a very smart way to proceed when you want to make an update to the current page vs. re-drawing the whole page.

So I learned some JavaScript, starting with the basic ‘hello world’ example:
<span onClick=”alert(‘Hello World’);”>Click</span>

hello world javascript alert box

 
If I wanted to see the date I’d have to add some more JavaScript:
<script language=”javascript”>
function helloworld()
{
var d = new Date();
alert(‘Hello World it is ‘ + d.getFullYear());
}
</script>

<span onClick=”helloworld();”>Click

Hello World it's 2012 alert box example

 
JavaScript is ONLY run on the browser, the server has no bearing on JavaScript, so the example above won’t always work as expected because it’s telling you the date on your computer, not on the server. How would we see the date of the server?

This is where AJAX comes into play. If we can tell the browser to invisibly fetch a page from a server and process the information that comes back, then we can combine the abilities of JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL.

Lets do the ‘hello world’ example with AJAX using the examples above.

First you would create the PHP file that does the server work as something witty like ‘ajax-helloworld.php’:
<?php echo ‘Hello World it is ‘.date(‘Y’); ?>

..next you’d create an AJAX function inside the web page you are working on:
<script language=”javascript”>
function helloworld()
{
var ajaxData; // Initialize the ‘ajaxData’ variable then try to set it to hold the request (on error, assume IE)
try{
// Opera 8.0+, Firefox, Safari
ajaxData = new XMLHttpRequest();
} catch (e){
// Internet Explorer Browsers
try{
ajaxData = new ActiveXObject(“Msxml2.XMLHTTP”);
} catch (e) {
try{
ajaxData = new ActiveXObject(“Microsoft.XMLHTTP”);
} catch (e){
// Something went wrong
alert(“Your browser broke!”);
return false;
}
}
}
// Create a function that will receive data sent from the server
ajaxData.onreadystatechange = function(){
if(ajaxData.readyState == 4){
alert(ajaxData.responseText);
}
}
ajaxData.open(“GET”, “ajax-helloworld.php”, true);
ajaxData.send();
}
</script>

Only the purple text is customized, the rest of the function is a well established method of running an AJAX request that you should not need to edit.

So we have a function that loads the ‘ajax-helloworld.php’ page we made and then does an alert with the output of the page, all we have to do is put something on the page to call the function like that span example with the onClick=’helloworld();’ property.

Well that’s all neat but what about the ‘X’ in AJAX?

XML is a great thing because it’s a language that helps us with extensible mark-up of our data.

In other words XML is like a segregated serving dish for pickled food that keeps the olives from mixing with the beets.

Going back to our ‘hello world’ example we could look at the ‘date data’ and the ‘message data’ as objects:
<XML>
<message>Hello World it is</message>
<date>2012</date>
</XML>

Now, when the AJAX loads our ‘ajax-helloworld.php’ and gets an XML response we can tell what part of the response is the date, and which part is the message. If we made a new page that just needs to display the server’s date, we could re-use our example and only look at the ‘date’ object.

For some odd reason, most coders like JSON a lot, and this makes it really common to see AJAX using JSON vs. XML to package a data response. Here’s our XML example as a JSON string:
{“message”:”Hello World it is”,”date”:”2012″}

Not only is it really easy to read JSON, because JavaScript and PHP both understand JSON encoding it’s really easy to upgrade our ‘hello world’ XML example over to JSON format.

Here’s the new PHP command file ‘ajax-helloworld.php’:
<?php
$response = array(“message” => “Hello World it is”, “date” => date(‘Y’));
echo json_encode($response);
?>

The output of our AJAX PHP file will now be the same as the JSON example string. All we have to do is tell JavaScript to decode the response.

If you look back at this line from the AJAX JavaScript function example above:

if(ajaxData.readyState == 4){
alert(ajaxData.responseText);
}

This is where we’re handling the response from the AJAX request. So this is where we want to decode the response:

if(ajaxData.readyState == 4){
var reply = JSON.parse(ajaxRequestAT.responseText);
alert(‘The message is : ‘ + reply.message + ‘ and the date is : ‘ + reply.date);
}

Now we are asking for data, getting it back as objects, and updating the page with the response data objects.

If this example opened some doors for your website needs you really should continue to learn more. While the web is full of examples like this, from my personal experience I can honestly tell you that you’ll find yourself always trying to bridge knowledge gaps without a solid lesson plan.

Educational sites like LearnQuest, have excellent tutorials and lessons on AJAX and JavaScript including advanced topics like external AJAX with sites like Google and Yahoo. Plus LearnQuest also has jQuery tutorials that will help you tap into advanced JavaScript functionality without getting your hands dirty.

*Savvy readers will note that I gave PHP my blessings for SEO uses but said nothing of JavaScript’s impact on crawlers/search engines.

Kyle recently posted an article on GoogleBot’s handling of AJAX/JavaScript which digs into that topic a bit more.

With any luck I’ll get some time soon to share a gem of JavaScripting that allows you to completely sculpt your page-rank and trust flow in completely non-organic way. The concept would please search engines, but at the same time cannot be viewed as ‘white hat’ no matter how well it works.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:19 am


 

 

May 29, 2012

Facebook going to the Opera?

Fat Lady singing Opera logo

With all that IPO cash in hand Facebook could really have a night on the town, perhaps even watch the fat lady sing?

Given the bad press over their profit reports and legal actions from investors, I’d be tempted to do anything that’s a change of topic from ‘stock prices’.

Why buy Opera?

That’s actually not too hard to answer as a nerd or as an investor.

Shut Up and Take My Money
Opera is real technology and has actual value. Something FB needs to be snatching up.

 
The main reason: Opera has always provided some of the best mobile browser software. My first experience with Opera Mobile (5.1?) was back in 2006 on an HTC Apache (X6700).

I remember installing Opera on my Windows Mobile phone and back then the 1x connection speeds were barely better than dial-up and data prices were just unthinkably bad. Opera Mobile not only pre-compressed the data for me, it would compress data my phone couldn’t render, like simple Flash video/animations and even let me painfully navigate Flash based menus.

That’s right, I was able to interact with Flash based content on a mobile phone before the iPhone was a twinkle in Apple’s.. erm.. eye. That’s how long Opera’s been providing must-have solutions to the mobile market.

Opera is more than just a very popular/powerful mobile browser with unique features… Opera is one of the most complete browsers available on the PC today.

SEO TIP:The turbo feature acts as a proxy to avoid identity issues on most sites.

Unless you are on a secure site or a site that you’ve configured specifically to pass your identity, Opera’s Turbo mode will send requests to Opera’s proxy server instead of the website you are on. The responses come back to Opera, get heavily compressed, and then it’s sent back to you. This means that Opera’s proxy IP is making the requests, not your computer’s IP. Handy dandy!

The IRC client is great and requires almost zero setup/knowledge to jump into discussions with really nerdy (and often brilliant) people.

I used to be a die hard user of mIRC, I even used it to author some scripts to create the first DOS network (SuperKill) myself and my nerdy friends from around the world had ever heard of. Today I happily use Opera’s IRC client because it’s zero hassle and it’s built into a product I already use.

Opera's HTML5 Date Picker
Opera’s HTML5 Date Picker

Opera also has some of the most complete HTML5 implementations of any desktop browser.

It makes sense that if you have to to know how to render/handle HTML5 tags for mobile use, it’s not hard to extend that support to your desktop users.

An input element with a type value of ‘date’ should illicit a date selection box, but of all the major browsers on the market, Opera is the only one that recognizes and supports these elements by default.

Opera’s other features are just as thorough and well developed as it’s core functions. Opera’s application page allows you to turn your Opera browser into a media player/streaming host, file sharing hub, webcam server, private photo shares, web proxy, messenger, etc..

If Opera had been made in Sweden vs. Norway we’d have to dub it the ‘swiss army knife’ of browsers, but for now we’ll have to look at it as the ‘concert of awesome’ for those times when you want one program to do everything.

Why NOT buy Opera?

Price. Plain and simple.

Google is a major partner in Opera, and is the default search engine for the Opera browser. If there’s a bidding war to purchase Opera, Google’s not going to let FB buy it cheap, nor will the other competitors in this arena of mobile/social web dominance.

Right now top financial teams from banks like Norway’s DNB have speculatively estimated Opera at a value of between $1 billion – $1.35 billion.

This is a value based on Opera share prices, and the stock was on a 17.2% rise this morning and hasn’t stopped climbing, with Google finance putting it up at 30.23% currently!

In fact, if you want my personal opinion, at this stage of the game, with FB’s intentions very clear, I’d say the whole deal will hinge on price alone since it’s a sound decision to buy, but only if the value holds.

I’d say you could take that to the bank, but I’m neither rich nor financially skilled, I’m just a nerd that’s been around for a long time. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:54 am


 

 

May 10, 2012

No Browser Bans on Windows 8 ARM Edition

We could have ‘spun’ the information that it’s very unlikely we’ll see competing browsers in ARM edition of Windows 8, explaining that the difficulties make it the same as a ‘ban’…

…But we respect the fact that all (3?) of our readers come here for the truth on these topics, and only dirty laundry needs a spin cycle.

Where else is FireFox ‘banned’?

ChromeOS ? Yep!

iOS ? Yessir!

So why would Firefox/Mozilla come out today and only complain there’s a ‘ban’ on Firefox for Windows 8 ARM Edition?

Well from what I can tell, they never did, and the ‘b-word’ was all ‘spin’ by a very annoying technology news site that keeps amazing us with bad headlines and horribly inaccurate publications.

The TRUTH is that it will be VERY hard for any company to get approval for a browser running in Windows 8 ARM Edition because it’s not just ‘another version’ of Windows, it’s a Mobile OS with very clear goals that make it unique.

First of all is memory handling and battery use. By now we should all understand that you can’t deploy programs coded for x86 operating systems and expect them to sip carefully on resources like batteries and memory without some major changes.

Since ARM is aimed at ‘portable’ we can also expect people to seek more privacy and security on these devices. Allowing any-old-app onto the OS won’t happen. You’ve had to have a certificate to publish your apps on Microsoft’s mobile operating systems since the very first days of Windows Mobile, and that will not change any time soon.

If Microsoft wants to protect the quality and end user experience of their mobile products, locking down risky third party software clearly is one of the best ways for them to do it.

This is in no way a ‘ban’ on applications, and Microsoft admits that they are willing to help developers reach a quality standard that will permit them to publish to this new mobile platform.

On the plus side, I was tossing out some rather negative feelings about Microsoft’s investments in technical news sites, and this latest fumble leaves me with some doubts as to who’s invested in whom. Either that or this oft mentioned news source is chock full of people who not only don’t know what’s going on but they don’t even know the hand that feeds them? Crazy.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:10 am


 

 

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 17, 2012

Google Drive is going nowhere but is still moving

I swear there’s Google staffers who are so devoted to the projects they are working on that they don’t know what the rest of the company is developing.
One hand does not know what the other is doing.
If I was working on self driving car technology I think that the last thing I’d do is call my on-line storage solution ‘Google Drive’, but that’s exactly what they are doing and it’s coming out next week.

For old-school nerds, this might seem boring. GMailFS came out years ago an it allowed GMail users to add a ‘GMail’ drive as a file system in your PC. Anything you drag over to the GMail drive would be uploaded to your GMail account as hidden email messages with attachments. Browsing the GMail drive on any internet connected PC would show you all your files and you could copy/delete/upload from any location. It was actually pretty handy.

Sadly GMail’s technical staff saw the potential nightmare that would arise if something changed with these ‘special hidden messages’ and quickly moved to block the GMailFS tool from working before it became too popular.

Everyone using GMailFS knew it was a hack, against the EULA for GMail, and so the move to block it wasn’t a big stink, more of a ‘bummer’ moment like when they realize they forgot to increase the price of your favourite soda in the school’s vending machine and then fix it.

Also, while Gmail offers almost 8GB of storage, using it for files could cause mail interruptions if you were to max it out trying to copy some files between machines. Plus all your mail eats up your storage, and in my case, that means only 3486MB of storage not 5GB.

While prices aren’t available, we know all Google storage limits are expandable for paid accounts. It would only make sense, given the processing needs of email, that Google Drive will allow you to add more space to your drive for less money than you’d pay for the same storage in GMail.

Speculation is that Google Drive will have desktop integration on Windows, Android, and Mac meaning it should be as easy to use as a USB drive yet you only need to pack around your username and password.

Other operating systems will obviously have web access to the drive, that’s a “no brainer“, so even obscure versions of Linux and potentially even appliances like WebTVs will have limited access to your shared files.

Why not sign up a few friends using a DropBox referral ID and get 15GB of free space? Well if you want to use your friend’s info like that, you either hate your friends or they are really understanding. Plus DropBox doesn’t have the best track record of privacy and security; in fact it seems like the hackers lay off DropBox just long enough for it to become a ripe target and then they hack it again.

Even without the historical issues surrounding the competition, this is going to be just like G+ vs. Facebook, Skype vs. Google Voice:

  • If you use GMail you already trust Google with your most private assets, using them for files is no extra risk.
  • Google is a hardware and software solutions provider. Anything they deliver will be more advanced than the competition.
  • Google has a much larger exposure base than the competition yet a much better track record on security and data integrity.

Personally, to me this is a no-brainer, and the only questions I have are how awesome the integration will be with other services?

  • If I upload a music folder with a playlist so I can put my music onto my car-pc, can I open the playlist and stream my tunes from Google Music on my work PC?
  • If someone emails me a file and I wanted to share it with my co-workers, will GMail let me save the file to a shared folder in Google Drive?
  • If I put a huge RAW image from my DSLR camera on my Google Drive, can I open it in Picasa and share a thumbnail on G+ without making 5 copies of the same picture?
  • If something crazy happens while I’m in a Google self-driving car, can I save the last 5 minutes of exterior video to my Google Drive and then later share the pertinent time-segment of that clip on YouTube without having to upload/download?

;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:13 pm


 

 

March 22, 2012

Don’t drink the link bait..

Kool-Aid
Kool-Aid
Thanks to the recent (April/March) Google updates, ‘tread lightly’ has never been better advice to anyone in the SEO industry.

Between extra offers in my inbox to ‘exchange links’, ‘sell links’, ‘purchase links’, that all seem to be coming from GMail accounts, and reports of simple Java-script causing pages to drop from Google’s index, I’m about ready to dig a fox hole and hide in it.

First off, lets talk about how dumb it is to even offer to sell/buy/exchange links at this stage of Google’s anti-spam efforts.

Even if the offer came from some part of the universe where blatantly spamming services, using GMail of all things, was not the most painfully obvious way a person who SHOULD be hiding every effort could get detected, it still doesn’t bode well for the ethics of the company trying to sell you some ‘success’ when they can’t even afford their own mail account and have to use a free one.

Further, if the offer came from someone who was magically smart enough to send out all the spam and not have it tracked, if they are at all successful what you’ll be doing is adding your site to a group of sites ‘cheating’ the system. The more sites in the ‘exchange’ the more likely it is to get you caught and penalized. So technically, any success there is to be had, will also be your successful undoing.

Secondly, lets consider how you would try to catch people buying/selling links if you were Google? It’s an invasion of privacy to snoop through someone’s GMail to see if they bought/sold links, but if Google sends you and email asking to purchase a link on your site, is that an invasion of privacy or just a really accurate way to locate the worst spam sites on-line? The same would go for selling a back link to your site, just send out an email, wait for positive responses from the verified site owner, start demoting the site. Talk about making it easy for Google.

Heck as an SEO trying to do things the right way, if I get enough offers to sell/buy links from a particular spammer, wouldn’t it be worth my time to submit a report to Google’s quality team? I think the ‘lack of wisdom’ of these offers should be very obvious now, but they still persist for some curious reason; Perhaps they are all coming from those relentless Nigerian email scammers?

Java Script?

The next issue is on-page Java Script with questionable tactics. I know Google can’t put a human in-front of every page review, even if they actually do a LOT of human based site review. So the safe assumption for now is that your site will be audited by ‘bots’ that have to make some pretty heavy decisions.

When a crawler bot comes across Java Script the typical response is to isolate and ignore the information inside the <script></script> tags. Google, however, seems to be adding Java Script interpreters to their crawler bots in order to properly sort out what the Java Script is doing to the web page.

Obviously if a Java Script is confusing the crawler the most likely reaction is to not process the page for consideration in SERPS, and this appears to be what we’re seeing a lot of recently with people claiming they have been ‘banished’ from Google due to Java Script that was previously ignored. We even did some tests on our blog late in 2011 for Java Script impact and the results were similar to what I’m hearing from site owners right now in this last update.

So, the bottom line is to re-evaluate your pages and decide: is the Java Script you’ve been using is worth risking your rankings over?

If you are implementing Java Script for appearance reasons, using something very common like jQuery, you probably have nothing to fear. Google endorses jQuery and even helps host an on-line version to make it easier to implement.

On the flip-side, if you are using something obscure/custom, like a click-tracker/traffic Java Script which is inserting links to known ‘SEO’ services, I’d remove it now to avoid any stray rounds from Google’s anti-SEO flak-cannon.
Google Flak Cannon

I did toss some Minecraft demo map videos on-line last night/this morning, but they didn’t turn out so swell for a bunch of reasons and I’m just going to re-record them with better software. Stay tuned!

SEO news blog post by @ 12:42 pm


 

 

March 20, 2012

Start your own Google Datacenter

headlamp

Google’s technology has reached a point where they have to take all the light bulbs out of shared data centres and equip technicians with ‘helmet lights’ to keep their infrastructure solutions a secret.

Long have I pondered how they initially got passed the data storage hurdle during their early years.

As an SEO, I’d LOVE to have the sort of storage to keep all my data on-hand in a giant database that’s constantly refreshing and crawling for new info. Due to the cost of HDDs I’ll have to keep running Google queries or head over to sites like Majestic where the data runs deep and fast.

At one point I even hypothesized that Google had a smart-load system that could bring storage medium (magnetic disc platters/DVDr discs) on-line quickly from a very fast storage mechanism. So while all my recent email is stored on fast access media, and when I do a search for old mail that search is running from an index, when I go to open some old mail, that delay you get is from the loader fetching the offline storage.

I doubt that any of the ideas I had were even close to the real secret, heck Google probably just had a very friendly storage deal with a major manufacturer until they were able to start making their own solutions. Yes, Google makes a lot of it’s own hardware now, and a custom built storage solution would not be shocking to me at all.

Remember about 2 years ago when REALLY big drives started becoming cheap and common? Remember when it suddenly became impossible to find a drive with less than 320GB of storage? That was roughly the time that PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) technology hit mainstream hard disk manufacturers.

PMR drives were not only bigger (the single plater size was suddenly 320GB+) but at the same rotational speeds (~7200RPM) they were also faster, lighter, and cheaper. The instant these drives came to market I took the time to memorize the model #s of drives with the new tech so as to avoid buying the outgoing/older drives.

Enter HAMR: heat-assisted magnetic recording

Perpendicular HDD recording compared to HAMR.

Today Seagate announced significant forward progress with HAMR drives:

“one terabit per square inch”

In 2007 Seagate’s own estimates on PMR were that the density would peak at 1Tb/inch², a goal they have only now hit with HAMR. In fact in 2007 when Seagate was actively researching HAMR technology they were estimating a peak density of 5Tb/inch²!

What does all this really mean? In August of 2011 Seagate was boasting of a .722Tb/inch² capacity which resulted in 3TB hard disk models hitting the market.

Seagate claims the recent stride in density should ‘nearly double’ the capacity of current drives. If this all pans out I am putting a 6TB HDD on my wish list for XMas this year. :)

Don’t forget about our Beanstalk Minecraft Map Contest, now with ~$300 worth of prizes going into the competition it’s better than ever!

I’ll try to get some demo videos on-line this week for inspiration, and until then, good luck!

SEO news blog post by @ 12:49 pm


 

 

January 31, 2012

Stacking up Google optimization efforts

We keep optimizing our meta tags, keywords, link structure, content densities, markup, etc.. etc.. But how does Google optimize itself for us? If this is any sort of ‘relationship’ what’s Google been doing for us lately?

Comparing work done

Anti-Spam DMARC Efforts

One of the big problems with promoting on-line is the folks who don’t care about courtesy or the rules and they just spam everyone/anyone. The best way to cope with this is to never buy products we have seen ‘spammed’; Yet this has been a nerd mantra for so long, and clearly the consumers never got the message because spammers still get paid.

Because of all the abuse, legit advertisers have a bad reputation even before they get started. This is why we have captchas, whitelists, RBLs, and many many other annoying services that some people actually pay to use.

This is why we can't have nice things

Major email providers like Google and Microsoft (including Yahoo!/Hotmail), are working to ally with major online sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, PayPal, and more to work on the DMARC system to cope with not only spam, but phishing, fraud, password scams, ID theft, etc..

In a nutshell DMARC is:

..a technical specification created by a group of organizations that want to help reduce the potential for email-based abuse by solving a couple of long-standing operational, deployment, and reporting issues related to email authentication protocols.

Essentially it’s going to make ‘authenticated’ mail much more commonplace in hopes of raising the global bar on email authentication to help eliminate the spam problem. Still too long winded with the explanation?
Here’s an illustration of DMARC:

This is why we can't have nice things

New Privacy Policy

I’ve witnessed a lot of complaining about this move, and yet I haven’t seen one logical complaint I could ally myself with. Personally, I’m a GMail user who has already invested the deepest amount of privacy I can into Google just by using GMail. Each time Google releases a new product, if I use the same Google account as I do with other Google services, I ‘expect‘ it to be smart and use what Google knows about me to the fullest.

If I wanted a privacy division between Google Maps and GMail, I’d make a separate account and use multiple logins so that if I am hunting for the closest guitar shop I won’t have to deal with Guitar adverts getting special preference when I am logged into GMail. In fact, if I was looking for a gift for someone and I really loved the focus Google has on ‘me’, I might just use a fresh browser instance to keep Google from getting confused.

Fresh browser instance?! I know, that’s jargon and we promised to explain ourselves, so a quick demo of this is to load Chrome (sorry Moz lovers) and then right click on a normal link. In the right click menu you should see this:Chrome Incognito Option

This will open a Chrome Incognito window :
Sites in this tab will not see browser history!
Try visiting your popular sites to test!

If all goes well, as long as you use the incognito window, you will be able to use Google services, and others, without them easily tying the info to a particular account.

Keep in mind that the alternative to a unified privacy policy is a system where the users have to read each privacy policy for every Google service to make sure they understand each service. Then, if you wanted your data to be shared between services you’d have to not only go and manually ‘share’ the information, but you’d also better be praying or something to find a way to motivate Google spend the time to enable the link between services because as we know already, Google doesn’t waste much resources on things that aren’t going to be popular. When you make something like this automatic it changes the entire functionality of that idea and what would otherwise be a ‘wasted effort’ suddenly becomes a ‘big win’.

Kicking Keister in Kenya


If you haven’t read about the Mocality debacle (link removed ), you really aren’t missing that much, it’s more of a ‘How the heck?’ than anything.

In a nutshell:

There was a Google contractor in Kenya using Google IPs and identifying themselves as a Google entity that had been ‘scraping’ the sign ups from Mocality and stealing them away with lies.

When Google first heard of the situation there was a “No freaking way, let us investigate and get back to you.” response from the powers within Google looking into the issue. As things unfolded it became clear that Mocality was indeed providing honest information and that something very bad was happening over in Kenya under Google’s name. Google’s own team leads were ‘mortified’ over the details of how the situation unfolded.

At this point the head of the Kenyan offices for Google, Ms. Olga Arara-Kimani, has resigned stating she felt personally that ‘the buck‘ stopped with her and she wanted to take full responsibility.

While no official statement has come from Google there are signs that the investigation is over and that Google is already implementing measures to prevent something like this from happening again. I expect we’ll hear a few more details as things unfold.

How’s Chia Bart? Well he’s in limbo, and I haven’t started the re-plant. Time for a vacation I think? :)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:23 pm


 

 

January 17, 2012

Surviving the SOPA Blackout

Tomorrow, January 18th, is SOPA blackout day, and lots of very popular sites are committing to participate in the blackout.
SOPA Blackout cartoon
How can web companies, such as SEOs, and supporters (like us) maintain workflow in the midst of a major blackout?

We’ve got some tips!

I need to find things mid-blackout!

While some sites will be partially blacked out, a lot of the larger sites will be completely offline in terms of content for maximum effect.

This means that during the blackout folks will have to turn to caches to find information on the blacked out sites.

If Google and the Internet Archives both stay on-line during the blackout you can use them to get cached copies of most sites.

If you’re not sure how you’d still find the information on Google, here’s a short video created by our CEO Dave Davies to help you along. :)

I want to participate without killing my SEO campaign!

If all your back-links suddenly don’t work, or they all 301 to the same page for a day, how will that effect your rankings?

Major sites get crawls constantly, even 30 mins of downtime could get noticed by crawlers on major sites.

A smaller site that gets crawled once a week would have a very low risk doing a blackout for the daytime hours of the 18th.

Further to that you could also look at user agent detection and sort out people from crawlers, only blacking out the human traffic.

If that seems rather complex there’s two automated solutions already offered:

    • sopablackout.org is offering a JS you can include that will blackout visitors to the site and then let them click anywhere to continue.
      Simple putting this code in a main include (like a header or banner) will do the trick:
      <script type="text/javascript" src="//js.sopablackout.org/sopablackout.js"></script>

 

  • Get a SOPA plugin for your WordPress and participate without shutting down your site. It simply invokes the above Javascript on the 18th automagically so that visitors get the message and then they can continue on to the blog.

I’d be a rotten SEO if I suggested you install an external Javascript without also clearly telling folks to REMOVE these when you are done. It might be a bit paranoid, but I live by the better safe than sorry rule. Plus just because you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean people aren’t trying to track your visitors. :)

How’s Chia Bart doing? .. Well I think he’s having a mid-life crisis right now because he looks more like the Hulkster than Bart?

Pastamania!
Chia Bart number 5
To all my little Bartmaniacs, drink your water, get lots of sunlight, and you will never go wrong!

SEO news blog post by @ 11:28 am


 

 

December 9, 2011

The last USB flash drive you’ll ever lose..

Do you have a general distrust of the local area network? Store all your SEO research, metrics, stats, etc.. on a USB flash drive and end up lending it to mischievious co-workers? So you know what it’s like to lose a flash drive to someone’s pocket?

Well those days are over my friends, the chicken foot USB drive is both comical and functional:
Chicken Foot USB Drive
Not only is it IMPOSSIBLE to miss it’s presence protruding from a PC, but it’s also a good laugh when people do a double take wondering why there’s a chicken jammed head-first into your PC.

Plus if someone pockets the drive, the odds of it making a trip through the laundry are much slimmer than a traditional USB flash drive.

You can’t put a price on this kind of functionality folks!

After going through a bucket of pens I’ve become very wise to the powers of the co-worker pockets.

“You want to borrow a pen to go over a webmaster tools checklist? Sure!”
Want to borrow my pen?

Have a great weekend.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:55 am


 

 

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