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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.


September 14, 2011

Conversions – Good Rankings Do Not Make

I visit many websites every week. From small single person operations and startup businesses, to multi-national conglomerates. Sometimes the most difficult things to explain to clients are that good rankings do not necessarily equal good conversions.

yoda pic

Clients often get confused by this point. One thing I always ask myself and try to get clients to answer about their own site is "Who is this site for?" and "What problems does this site solve?"

The answers are going to determine how long I spend on a site.
I think this is an often overlooked question that unfortunately eludes most websites owners. In many cases it is very straight forward. You have a product, you sell a product.

However, when you are in a very competitive market or in a niche driven market, you must actively recruit and find effective ways to keep people on your site.
Sadly, it is not enough to have a static page that just sells widgets. It is imperative to try to find something different to offer that other related sites do not or, at least to find a new and creative way to do it.

There is no right or wrong answer, but the best thing you can do for your site is to find a way to set yourself apart from your competition. This can be in the form of superior product information, blogs/forums, reviews, link bait, or any other resource that is not readily available from a competitors website. You need to know your market and your customers and be able to appeal to what they need or want. Sometime visitors don’t know what they want until you tell them!

Remember also that it is not just about having shiny things to attract (or distract) people to trick them in to spending time on your site (although this has merit as well when used correctly). You can have great content and unique resources, etc but is your visitors cannot get to the information they are looking for, then it will be for naught. Some other ways to keep people from leaving your site immediately are:

  • Page load times; this is a huge conversion killer. If a page takes more than a few seconds to load, people will leave.
  • Avoid using ads, these tend to cheapen the site and they detract from your message.
  • Be very selective in your use of multiple fonts, font colors or animations on your page.
  • While images are great for enticing visitors to a page, too many increase page load times and causes frustration on a slow connection. Remember a picture (one) is worth a thousand words.
  • Pop-up windows are very annoying and also very antiquated.
  • Ensure that your “buy” button/links are easily seen and that your shopping cart system works well and is not confusing to the user.

Remember that there is always thousands of other website for people to choose from. It helps to step back from your site and view it from the end user perspective. Better yet is to have friends and colleagues from outside your own market to take a look at your site or to offer suggestions as to what they might look for when researching your particular field or product. Doing so may allow you to spot potential issues or problems with your site that may be hindering or turning off customers.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:14 am


 

 

September 12, 2011

Using Twitter for Bulding Backlinks

With the number of Twitter users hitting the 100 million mark and after watching Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday episode titled "Yes, You Really Can Build Links with Twitter",I decided I had to share this wisdom. It seems that many in the industry seem to have a difficult time believing that Twitter is an effective tool that can build high quality, long-lasting backlinks for their websites. Rand detailed eight very effective methods to do just that in his video.

backlinks.jpg

  1. The "Serendipitous Connection"
  2. This is an ambiguous tactic and is perhaps the hardest one to obtain. It is also perhaps one of the most organic tactics you can engage in. By creating and nurturing friendships and connections through chatting, you can build up a powerful network that will usually leads to a link from one to the other. Building up your interaction with select followers in a good way to consider long term friendships and can help with several of the other described tactics.

  3. The "Top X List"
  4. This is a targeted approach and is brilliant from a content development perspective. An example of this tactic might be to research and list the Top 5 personalities in a particular field or industry that you are targeting for links and build it up in the desired hub etc.

    "Let’s say I am in the business of selling snowboard equipment. So what I want to do is I am going to take the top five snowboarding videos of all time, snowboard stunts. In fact, I might even get more septic because getting more specific yields much better results oftentimes from a link perspective. So, what I want to do is I am going to say the top five snowboarding videos taken in Whistler BC, and I am going to make that a piece of content on my blog, on my website. Maybe it is a blog post, maybe it is just a piece of link bait, maybe it is a list, whatever it is."

    "Then I am going to figure out all the Twitter accounts of all the people who appear in those videos, and I am going to use Twitter as a way I connect to them. I am also going to talk to all the people on Twitter and say, “Hey, does anybody know the best snowboarding videos? Do you have any recommendations?” I am going to reach out to people who have shared snowboarding videos in the past, who have the word snowboard in their profile that I find through a service like Follower Wonk, and I am going to create those top X lists. Then I am going to tweet at all those people and give them all badges for having won that they can place on their websites. Suddenly, I am getting links from all of the top places in industry X."

    Very soon after you will find that you are getting links from the top industries in your targeted area. Maybe the best thing about this tactic is that you can use it over and over again in various industries as much as you want.

  5. The "Let me Build/Do/Find That For You"
  6. This is a good method to use when you see someone who is stuck, or who otherwise has a question or problem they are experiencing. If you are in the know, or can otherwise help them, do so. People are very appreciative when you help them for free. And almost assuredly will want to do something to return the favor. This is when you get your links. This may not always be the most time-effective strategy so you should use it sparingly.

  7. The "Storyteller, AKA the Summify"
  8. Oftentimes there are stories or events occurring through social media where the tweets are scattered about or drawn from several sources. You are looking for those stories that are very hard to track unless you are paying strict attention to every tweet and source and sifting through it all to find the story.

    The tactic involves you taking these separate stories and amalgamating them into a cohesive narrative that people will want to follow, link to will want to share with others. You can pull in snippets from LinkedIn, Quora, Facebook and Twitter with the Summify. This tactic is particularly useful with breaking news stories coming in from several sources.

  9. The "Link Suggestion"
  10. This one is really only effective when you have already formed an ongoing relationship with someone. It is most useful when you find potential linking possibilities (or just information) missing from another’s blogs posts, rss feed, website or article. By suggesting a relevant piece of information when you have already developed the relevant blog post or article or url to offer them is a great method of building links.

  11. The "Content to Match Your Query"
  12. Many social sites are filled with questions from its users. Not just on Twitter, but on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Quora etc. If you are able to build the content to match the individual’s questions, or if you see many questions on the same topic a lot and can provide facts, and relevant data and information for these people, not only will they be appreciative, but they almost certainly will be linking back to your quality answer. It is going to bring you traffic to your site, time on site, drive links and produce some quality, valuable content as well.

  13. The "Must-Have Testimonial"
  14. Anyone with a website is looking for people to say wonderful things about the product or service that they are offering. You can engage a startup, small business or a local business by engaging those people through Twitter. You can tell them that you have written a blog post about how much you loved their product/service and that if they would like a testimonial from you that they can to direct message you since you are already following them. Not only will be likely to get a follower and a direct message, but they are most likely put the testimonial on their site and link back to yours to boot. This is a win-win scenario. The site owner gets a glowing review and you get a quality link.

  15. The "Biz-Dev Deal"
  16. This is a particularly effective method to employ, as most businesses are looking for ways to jumpstart their reach. The thought here is that anyone involved on the social web is probably going to be actively involved in a lot of other inbound marketing activities as well. You can connect with preferred companies that are good fit for the company you are linking for. Let them know what a fan you are of what they are doing and that you would love to discuss ways to form a mutual partnership. This approach requires that you have already built up a communications to a strong level of interaction. The Biz-Dev deal will inevitably lead to linking between sites.

    New tactics and approaches are being developed regularly to utilize social media to its fullest potential. These tactics clearly demonstrate that Twitter is useful as an SEO tool and is a phenomenal tool for link-building.

    SEO news blog post by @ 9:51 am


 

 

September 6, 2011

Google Changes Classification of Subdomains

Google announced on August 31st, that they would be implementing a fundamental change to the way that Google categorizes link data in Webmaster Tools.

legosort

Google’s Webmaster Tools lists links coming to your site into two separate categories internal and external. Google stated that: "Today’s update won’t change your total number of links, but will hopefully present your backlinks in a way that more closely aligns with your idea of which links are actually from your site vs. from other sites"

Prior to this change, subdomains were treated as a separate entity and any links from it would be considered as an external link by Google. As of the announcement, these will now be treated as internal links; the reasoning being that they reside within the parent domain.

Google rationalized that most users treat www and non-www domains (www.example .com & example.com) as the same thing and that many people that own a domain typical own the subdomains as well. "…so links from cats.example.com or pets.example.com will also be categorized as internal links for www.example.com".

"If you own a site that’s on a subdomain (such as googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com) or in a subfolder (www.google.com/support/webmasters/) and don’t own the root domain, you’ll still only see links from URLs starting with that subdomain or subfolder in your internal links, and all others will be categorized as external links. We’ve made a few backend changes so that these numbers should be even more accurate for you."

googletable2

Google did however give the caveat that if you own a www.example.com or example.com site, that the number of external links may appear to go down as the reclassification of the urls that were once external will now be internal, but that the total number of links (internal + external) will be remain the same.

The biggest questions that arise from these changes are: Can we speculate that Google will be changing the way they treat links from subdomains in their link algorithm? Most importantly, will fewer subdomains be listed in the SERPs as individual results?

You can read the ongoing discussion in the Webmaster World forum and the see the official Google blog release called Reorganizing Internal vs. External Backlinks

SEO news blog post by @ 9:23 am


 

 

August 22, 2011

RIP Jack Layton

While I try only to post SEO and Internet Marketing related events here in our blog I’m going to skip doing so today.  My temptation was to skip today’s blog post altogether however I wanted to take a moment to recognize the deceased leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party.

Jack Layton died earlier today after a battle with prostate cancer.  His contribution to Canadian politics was extremely high, taking the NDP from a few measly seats to becoming the official opposition and taking ridings they had, until then, never had access to.

I find it unlikely that his legacy will live on after the next election and the New Democratic Party (assuming all goes as I expect) will be once again reduced to the third place party behind the Conservatives and Liberals but his name will live on in Canadian political history as one of our most charismatic leaders.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you may be on,one has to know that this is a blow to the overall political well-being of the nation.  He was a good opposition leader (albeit not for long enough) and he will be missed.  The New Democratic party will now have to select a new leader and I hope they choose well.

While I personally have no specific alliances to any of the major parties in Canada, I do appreciate leaders across the board who represent the interests of their constituents and who fight for the beliefs they were elected to whether I personally agree or not.  It’s rare to find such a leader and a shame to lose them like this.

Mr. Layton:  you will be missed by an appreciative nation.

For more information you can read about his contribution to Canadian politics at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Layton.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:53 am

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

August 18, 2011

Conversion Tools of the Master Craftsman

When Tim Ash and Bryan Eisenberg chat conversion tools, it’s a must attend event.  Even if you’ve seen them chat on the subject before; you’re going to pick up something new.  So here’s how it went (originally written live yesterday in the present tense but Internet issues kept it from publishing):

Tim Ash from Site Tuners is chatting about his favorite conversion tools and explaining why.

CrazyEgg is a favorite tool of his.  For $9 you can get great information on what visitors doing on a specific page.  It tracks the mouse and click behavior and provides an image of that visitor’s experience there.  I’ve used it, it’s not my favorite of such tools but at that price you won’t get this kind of information elsewhere.

Of such tools it’s a fantastic first step.

ClickTale allows you to play back a visitor experience to view how far your non-converting traffic (or your conversion traffic for that matter) to view what they did and why they acted the way they do.  It also provides key data on while form functions and other key site aspects are causeing hiccups, what people are stopping at and help you correct these issues.

Pricing is from $99/mth and this allows you to record 20,000 sessions.

UserTesting.com is a service I’ve personally used and highly recommend.  This is a service that enables you to send visitors through your site and be sent a video of their behavior with audio of their experience.

You give them a task (what do you want the visitor to do? what is their impression after viewing your site for 5 seconds? etc.) and from there you’ll learn how a real person interacts with your site and the issues they face.  Do they click the wrong links?  Does it take them a while to find what they need to do?  OR (if your really really luck) they’ll just engage your site in the way you want but at least you’ll know you’ve got a good thing going and not implement tweaks that may negatively impact your conversions.

Tim brings up the interesting idea to run the traffic through your competitors’ sites.  A fantastic idea that may provide unique insight into how to beat them.

Cross Browser Testing – Test different OS, browser, etc.  They allows you to have different configurations tested for compatibility and to view what your site looks like.

You can rent the service by the second.

Offhand Tip – a line of product description text should be around 40 characters.

Attention Wizard – Is Tim’s own product and I’ve used it.  Very good.

Tim started the discussion here by noting graphics designers can kill conversions trying to make a site pretty rather than keeping the focus on the conversion.

Attention Wizard algorithmically predicts from an image with hotspots of how a visitor will likely view the page.  It’s not flawless but it’s a great first step.

Bryan Eisenberg is up next chatting conversions.  A very bright guy.

We’re about to whip through a whole slough of tools so buckle up. :)

Three things you need when doing conversion optimization are:

  1. Tools to give you and analyze the data to determine what to do.
  2. People for insight
  3. A process to fix the issues.

Bryan Notes: $56.8 billion will be spent on traffic with only a 2 to 3% conversion rate due to a 92:1 ration of dollars spent on traffic vs dollars spent on conversion optimization.

Stay focused on testing the imprint variables early on and worry about fine tuning later (ex – color changes).  Basically Bryan asserts that if you test too many things you’ll lose track of what works and if you start fine tuning before the major issues are dealt with you’ll reduce the effectiveness of you efforts.

Every keyword is a campaign and needs a different message.  Having the same landing page for large segments of phrases will result in an ineffective campaign.

Need a structure approach to conversion rates.  Need a structured approach

Interesting fact: 48% of people don’t believe they can impact conversions.

Important Conversion Points:

Videos – boost conversions by 9% for retail
Increase odds of first page rankings for products by 95%

Usertesting has a PPC test
(code ses2011 to get a $75 credit)
Wirify – turns your page into a wireframe so you can mor stuff around
Mockflow to create wireframes to get ideas
Get premise – landing page generator for wordpress
5 second test – quick feedback on a fast test
Free behavioral targeting – by buckets segments out different visitors so you know what demographic is doing what.
Google website optimizer – get good at free tools, then pay

Should test – headline, images, body copy, form layout

Quick points -
Message consistence across media (PPC to landing page, etc.)

Limited time deals, new products, etc badges overlaid on product image improves conversions by up to 55%

Email acquisition – the money is in the list.  Get their email address.

Boost CRT – competition for Ads.  You only pay when they do better than you.

Bryanses is the coupon code

 
don’t write an ad your landing page can’t cash.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:59 am

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

August 10, 2011

The World Wide Web “Internet” Turns 20!

It is hard to believe but the World Wide Web turned twenty on August 6th, 2011. On this date in 1989, Sir Tim Berners-LeeSir Tim Berners-Lee is credited for creating and distributing the first page on the World Wide Web. Unknown to him at the time would be how revolutionary the concept was and how quickly it would change the world forever. The birth of the Internet is one of the greatest modern wonders of the world.

"I’m often asked if I had any clue at the time of the first web site at SLAC of how dramatically the web would affect society. I certainly did not and I wonder how many did"

At the time of the WWW’s inception, Berners-Lee was a scientist working at CERN. Here is the first web page that was created

CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The name is an acronym for the French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or European Council for Nuclear Research, which is a provisional body that was founded in 1952. CERN’s mandate was to establish a world-class fundamental physics research organization in Europe. CERN is a community that now includes about 60 countries and about 8000 scientists.

"It’s rather like, did Gutenberg or Bell or Marconi really realize at the time the impact on history of their inventions? I suspect not."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmboEjwJwFU&feature=player_embedded

The Web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automatic information sharing between scientists working in different universities and institutes all over the world. The basic idea of the WWW was to merge the technologies of personal computers, computer networking and hypertext into a powerful and easy to use global information system.

Analogous to the birth of Rock and Roll in the 50s. many at the time were unsure if the WWW was just "another fad" and suspected that it wouldn’t last long. But like the invention of the telephone or the printing press, the new technology was accepted en masse and within twenty years has gone from a handful of static pages in select universities and government offices, to a dynamic, world-influencing system that has brought about global economic and political changes. The Intetnet has showcased the best and the worst in human society.

For those of us that remember the squelches and screams emanating from a 9600 baud dial-up modem to connect to the internet and remember when pages first started incorporating images for the first time, watching the creation and development of the internet around the world will be a poignantly defining moment in our history. From the days of mIRC and MMOs to streaming media and interactive communications around the world; we’ve come a long way baby!

For a huge repository of archived pages from the early days of the internet, visit The Internet Archive.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:29 am


 

 

August 3, 2011

Is Google Infringing on Your Location Privacy?

Google has long been scrutinized for its practice of using its Street View cars to collect the locations of millions of laptops, cell phones and various Wi-Fi devices from around the world during its collection of street view data for it popular Google maps service that has long since raised substantial privacy concerns.

youarehere

In a debate that borders on the contentiousness of the Net Neutrality debate, is the concern of whether Google (and other companies) should be allowed to collect and distribute this data. The Google View Cars mandate was to collect the locations of various Wi-Fi hotspots and access points; but they also recorded the not only the street addresses, but the IP addresses and unique identifiers (MAC addresses) of devices that were connected to the wireless networks. Google then made the data publicly available through Google.com up until just a few weeks ago.

Recently French authorities from the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) contacted CNET and stated that their investigation confirmed that the Street View Cars collected MAC addresses and issued a fine to Google for 100,000 euros (approximately $140, 000).

Concerns over Goggles Street View and location privacy infringements from other companies are certainly not new. Apple recently came under attack for its practice of collecting log files of location data obtained from iPhones. Under substantial pressure, Apple released a patch to correct the "problem."

In the wake of the growing controversy, a number of disclosure statements from other company’s location privacy practices, concerns expressed from congressmen, two US Senate hearings and an increasing number of class action lawsuits have brought the location privacy debate to fervor.

Security consultant, Ashkan Soltani, was the first to report that Google made MAC addresses publicly available through a Web interface. Google then discontinued the practice a week later.

In a previous inquiry earlier this year from CNET, concerns were raised over Google’s location privacy practices, but it was unclear at the time whether Google’s location database included the hardware IDs of only access points and wireless routers, or client devices such as computers and mobile phones as well. When asked last month, Google stated only that "we collect the publicly broadcast MAC addresses of Wi-Fi access points…" which addressed only current and not past practices.

The U.S., the Federal Trade Commission concluded its investigation of Google Street View’s accidentally-broad data collection last October without levying a fine.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:50 pm

Categories:Google,Uncategorized

 

 

July 25, 2011

Google Plus Reaches 20 Million Users in 3 Weeks

Like most, you are probably already feeling inundated with the amount of blog posts and media "buzz" (pun intended) regarding the release of Google social networking platform Google+.

comscore data

expanding circles diagram

ComScore Inc. has reported that fledgling social network has acquired over 20 million unique visitors over the last three weeks. This is especially impressive due to the fact that access to Google+ is by invitation only by current members in much the same fashion that Google launched Gmail by invitation years ago.

With the amazing adoption rate being shown, Google has not yet begun to market the new platform to the 1 billion monthly users of the Google search engine, Gmail and various services.

Google+ stands to rival the other major players in the social networking world, but Google still has a long way to go to reach the scale of giants like Facebook, which has more than 750 million users, and Twitter, which has more than 200 million registered accounts to date.

The data Google obtains about people’s interests could also help it change the way its Web-search engine works. Sites in its search results could potentially be ranked based on what users and their friends like or find useful,” Google engineers have said. Google is also hoping to have a service that will be a home for brands and celebrities alike.

Google states that they will eventually allow developers to create "social" games and other applications that would run on top of Google+, similar to Facebook’s successful platform for applications.

SEO news blog post by @ 3:55 pm


 

 

July 13, 2011

15% Off Best Of The Web (BOTW) Submissions

Every once in a while our friends at Best Of The Web (BOTW) offer discounts on submissions. And every time they do, we get excited as they’re arguably my favorite of the paid directories. The fee is reasonable (especially with a discount) and since they’re decline poor sites or sites with broken link or that just don’t have solid quality – they’re a respected directory (which one knows has to translate to “appreciated by Google”).

To get 15% off your submission (of any kind it seems) simply enter the code SAVE15 during your submission process. To submit simply go to BOTW.org.

And happy rankings.  :)

SEO news blog post by @ 3:00 am

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

July 8, 2011

Beanstalk offsets it’s carbon emissions

Beanstalk balances their carbon emissions for 2011Beanstalk has once again partnered with TerraPass in an effort to reduce their environmental impact.  While we work hard to reduce our footprint through and extensive recycling program and waste reduction – travel, transportation, and power consumption are the necessary “evils” of a successful SEO firm.  For this reason Beanstalk has chosen to pay each year to have their carbon emissions balanced through the generation of clean power.

For those of you not aware of carbon offsetting, Wikipedia defines it simply as, “A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere.”

If you would like to know more about carbon offsetting and how you can help be sure to visit TerraPass.com.  The world will thank you. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 9:34 pm

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

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