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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.


July 5, 2011

Google Hits A Blow Against Twitter

We’ve all seen realtime search integrated into the organic search results.  When you’ve run a search for a phrase that indicated that perhaps you wanted current information you likely saw a realtime search box with Twitter results scrolling through it.  Google’s realtime results have been discontinued both in search results integration as well as as a separate service at http://www.google.com/realtime (URL not hyperlinked as the page is no longer there).  As of July 2nd, the deal between Twitter and Google is over and it doesn’t appear that Google will be looking to re-sign.

In a quote to SEO Czar Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land, the folks at Google noted:

“Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2.

While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google.”

This makes one wonder, will Google by working to push yet another Google property into the results?  Will they be finding ways to make marketers, website owners and then the general public use Google+ for it’s power in the realtime results which Google assures us will be coming back.  To this they respond:

“Our vision is to have google.com/realtime include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.”

Of course, one might be tempted to ask how any realtime results sets can be considered adequate in the absence of Twitter.  Facebook is powerful and while I know a few people who treat it as realtime and are there often, most people use Twitter for the flurry of up-to-date links and content, and Facebook for informing friends and colleagues about the more interesting and topical occurrences in their lives (ofter personal).  So isn’t Twitter the more reliable source of realtime data?

Only time will tell if this move works for Google.  I definitely like some of the features in Google+ but that as an aside, does its success mean that realtime results from Twitter should be omitted?  I would say no and I have a hunch that we’ll be hearing cries of unfair competition, monopolistic tendencies, etc. in the near future as this move is clearly an attempt at keeping Google searchers on Google properties.  As much as I may like those properties, that doesn’t seem to appease the FTC.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:00 pm

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

June 17, 2011

Reviewing Organic SEO Part 1 of 3

So you have your new website. You’re ready to sell your wares. The best scenario has you quitting your job soon. The very worst scenario has you at least earning a part time income.
Time passing
Day One passes with no sales.
Day Two passes with the same results.
As days continue to pass, you grow despondent and worried.

You tweak your keywords and write some blog articles that link back to your product pages. Heck you even add a blog to your own site.
You start talking about the new products and companies you’re dealing with focusing towards discussing things that directly relate to the site and products, with a few links coming back to the site’s blog.

Nothing changes on the sales reports and that’s what you were drilling for in the first place so you want those drops to come faster.
Worried about results
You check your SEO list:

  • your sitemap was uploaded to Google
  • you’re registered with directories
  • you’ve checked and re-checked for duplicate content
  • your keyword research is spot-on
  • your site has user-friendly navigation
  • you’ve done the heat maps to verify attention is focused on the right elements
  • your content and everything important to the users loads lightning-quick

…You cannot imagine what could possibly be wrong.

Searching for reasons
Taking a closer look:
The big competitive terms like ‘widgets online’ are getting into the single digit page #s on the search results causing a naturally matching growth in visits and some sales.
You Google an actual product name/long-tail buy phrase ie. ’42 month emergency widget supply’ from one of your product pages just to verify that they have been cached, check the descriptions, and get a customer’s perspective.
In doing so you find that your site appears somewhere on the first page of Google organic results.
You click on the link cursing yourself for not filling in the meta tag box to get a crafted vs. automated description.

It takes you to your site, but the page isn’t what you expect.
The page shows only a broken link.
How could this be?
404 Page cannot be displayed
You double and triple check by performing other exact product name searches. The results are all the same. Somehow, Google is returning broken links. Why? Take a few guesses before you continue…

Let’s see how you did. Shopping cart host companies offer great features. Many configuration items are automated for ease of use and administration. Items such as page names, page titles, descriptions, keywords, URLs, etc., are often created automatically, as a user or robot navigates through your site from page to page. Other hosts create the pages upon inventory upload or site configuration change. Often, a randomly generated number is appended to the end of these items, so that each may be distinguished from other items that might potentially have the same name.

Think about the consequences of this:Ideas
- How can your potential clients or customers find your products if they always get a broken link page?
- Will potential clients or customers overlook the broken link and still trust the quality of your site, products, check-out processes, shipping, return policies, etc.?
- How can you create and run an effective back link campaign if your links or page names are never the same?

If you don’t do full inventory updates very often, or you don’t change site configuration settings very often, your links will remain the same for long periods of time. However, this scenario may be even more insidious than frequent changes, something that’s a positive signal to your clients and search engines. You may see search results improve over time and even transition some traffic to sales only to find all your progress destroyed when you finally do get around to updating inventory or changing a site configuration.

TL;DR In a nutshell: you need to keep your links static, avoid URL changes at all costs, and make 301s or canonical redirects when a link absolutely must change.

Whew! Okay so that seems like a lot to digest, but this is just round one of what we expect to be a 3 part series on organic SEO strategies for 2011. Google really is improving the search results and every step you take towards working with the changes should make your site better and your on-line business stronger. What better incentive could you have for watching this space and reading on as we follow an organic website competing successfully against paid advertisers in the post-panda search results?

Success

SEO news blog post by @ 7:12 pm

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

June 1, 2011

Have You Fallen Post-Panda and Can’t Get Up?

Several iterations later, the Panda update continues to cause problems for most everyone that was affected by Google’s major algorithm update. The updates came out in several releases starting in February, with the second coming in April and the Third release coming in May. Many reports from people are stating that they have to been able to recover from the Panda at all or that they have only regained a fraction of their former rankings.

Barry Schwartz of SEO Roundtable stated in a blog post that he has yet to see "any substantial proof" of a site recovering from the Panda update, and that anyone who has submitted proof of a recovery shows that it was the result of other SEO efforts.

He goes on to state as an example a WebProNews video interview with daniweb.com in which she discusses the changes she made that stopped the decline in her traffic drop, but that she is far away from a recovery.

While I don’t necessarily disagree with Mr. Schwartz, I feel that it is a non-issue. The Panda update removed copious amounts of webspam that was inundating the SERPs for years and effectively leveled the playing field. This has forced everyone to re-evaluate their content, their link building strategies and their onsite SEO tactics in an effort to regain their former status.

It only stands to reason that it will take a significant amount of time to for the cream to rise to the top of the SERPs. Of course this hits the enterprising business hard who may be reliant on web traffic to generate revenue from their website. The good news is that everyone is in the same boat. By putting on the brakes and forcing all of us to revamp our websites and re-think our web building practices. This will ultimately produced better quality search results, better content on the web and more organic link building and SEO practices.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:47 pm


 

 

May 23, 2011

Victoria Day In Canada

The majority of Beanstalk’s staff will be unavailable on Monday, May 23 as we in Canada celebrate Victoria Day.

Many of us will be checking our email and Ryan (trooper that he is) has volunteered to man the offices but only critical support will be handled.

We will of course be returning to business as usual on Tuesday the 24th and look forward to returning to business (and blogging) then.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:05 am

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

May 18, 2011

Bing Integrates Facebook Data into Searches

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

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

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

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


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

Some of the biggest changes are:

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

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

SEO news blog post by @ 4:48 pm


 

 

May 16, 2011

New Bill Could Force ISPs Keep User Data

A new user data-logging bill that is being introduced is heating up the Net Neutrality deabte. Rep. Lamar Smith of The House Judiciary Committee, is preparing a bill which would require internet service providers to retain information about their users to aid in criminal investigations.

The bill is designed to help increase criminal charges and penalties against acts such as child pornography. The current draft of the act would require logging and storage of "temporarily assigned network addresses" stored for 18 months. However, the bill allows wireless providers to be exempt and they would not be required to store user data.

While some Net Neutrality advocates argue against the storing of usage logs, stating that it infringes on constitutional rights and freedoms, most understand that the monitoring and storing of data is a necessary infringement of personal rights in order to better prosecute criminal offereders.

The proposed bill is gathering opposition from the U.S. Justice Department who is concerned about drawing strong blowback from cable and DSL providers. Some amongst the Democratic congressional staff have voiced concerns and have chosen not to support the bill due to perceived privacy infringements.

Contention arises due to the fact that mobile Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops and other places offering free Wi-Fi access will not be required to store the data, but more traditional wired locations such as universities, business and schools will be mandated to store usage log files.

Additional issues arise in businesses that offer a mix of services. Would these businesses (Internet Cafes) be required to keep logs files for both wired and wireless traffic, or just wired?

Obviously the exemption of wireless logging presents a huge loop hole and would be problematic for trying to prosecute in criminal cases. The deputy attorney general, Jason Weinstein recognized this himself, and emphasised the nessesity for the legislation in be inclusive of wireless services because "when this information is not stored, it may, be impossible for law enforcement to collect essential evidence."

Most ISPs do not retain log files for long due to a lack resources required to log, store, and maintain usage stats.

The 1996 Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act, requires providers to maintain any records they have for 90 days once requested by a government agency. There is however no guarantee that the criminal activity would be discovered before the data had been purged from ISP records.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:06 pm


 

 

May 13, 2011

Facebook’s Foiled Smear Campaign Against Google

Facebook has been accused of performing a clandestine smear campaign against Google. Allegedly, Facebook hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public relations firm to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy.

Facebook has been accused of attempting to hire an influential blogger to instigate a Google-smear op-ed which would be published in high profile news websites such as the Huffington Post, The Washington Post and Politico.

The plot backfired against when the Blogger declined the offer from Burson-Marsteller and instead made public the email correspondence between the two. USA Today released a new story that accused the company of spreading a whisper campaign about Google.

A spokesperson from Facebook confirmed that they did in fact hire Burson stating that: "First, because it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, because Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service."

As Google pushes into social networking world, Facebook is inevitably a major competitor. At the center of the debate is Google’s "Social Circle." This is a tool that allows Gmail users to browse information about their friends and their friends or "secondary connections."

Burson stated in their press release that Google’s Social Circle was: "designed to scrape private data and build deeply personal dossiers on millions of users—in a direct and flagrant violation of [Google's] agreement with the FTC." Burson went on to state that: "The American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloging and broadcasting every minute of every day – without their permission."

An agitated Chris Soghoian, a blogger Burson offered to help write the op-ed, felt that Burson was "making a mountain out of a molehill."

Soghoian published their email exchange online when Burson declined to reveal the amount of money that was to be exchanged to him to syndicate the reports. It was also found that two other Burson employees (Jim Goldman, and John Mercurio) were reported to ask USA Today and other news outlets to publish articles and editorials claiming Google was violating people’s privacy with Social Circle. In the USA Today press release, USA Today commented: "After Goldman’s pitch proved largely untrue, he subsequently declined USA Today’s requests for comments."

SEO news blog post by @ 11:27 pm


 

 

May 11, 2011

Microskype? Skyprosoft? Microsoft Buys Skype

This is one of those cases where we get to see why rumors are just rumors. Last week we reported that a potential deal between Facebook and Skype was on the table. Today, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft and Tony Bates of Skype have concluded a deal with Microsoft purchasing Skype for $8.5 billion. This would be the largest external purchase by the former IT behemoth Microsoft.

Skype has been up for sale for quite some time. Facebook and Google were thought to be the major contenders in a bid for the social networking site Skype with Microsoft entering in late into the game.

Google was not really considered a serious contender in the purchase of Skype as they already have established their Google Voice service which offers video, chat, social and voice. Many people are wondering what the sale of Skype will mean for Linux who frequently use the Skype VoIP platform.

Facebook was a major player in the purchase. The social giant has been coming under increasing pressure from its users to offer video and chat VoIP services for some time. If the company had to use conventional methods to offer voice and video service to its 600 million plus customers, the cost and overhead of operating the infrastructure would be prohibitive if not impossible.

Even though Microsoft is an investor in Facebook, the biggest boon comes to Microsoft by being able to utilize Skype’s assets. Of paramount importance is that they will able to keep the property away from their major competitor, Google.

Some speculations suggest that Skype was sold due to floundering sales revenues. Attempts at turning a bigger profit by charging more for their premium services seems to have backfired on the company and forced them to sell.

According to GIGAOM, some of the reasons as to why Microsoft needed to buy Skype were:

  • Skype gives Microsoft a boost in the enterprise collaboration market, thanks to Skype’s voice, video and sharing capabilities, especially when competing with Cisco and Google.
  • It gives Microsoft a working relationship with carriers, many of them looking to partner with Skype as they start to transition to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3GPP_Long_Term_Evolution LTE-based networks.
  • It would give them a must-have application/service that can help with the adoption of the future versions of Windows Mobile operating system.
  • However, the biggest reason for Microsoft to buy Skype is Windows Phone 7 (Mobile OS) and Nokia. The software giant needs a competitive offering to Google Voice and Apple’s emerging communication platform, Facetime.

Using the $8.5 billion price as the likely sale price, eBay gets $2.55 billion for its 30-percent stake in Skype. So in the end, eBay did make money on the Skype deal.

According to GIGAOM, the biggest winners of the sale were:

  • Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the co-founders of Skype, with their 14-percent stake, take home about $1.19 billion. Damn, these guys know how to double-dip!
  • Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) own 56 percent of the company, and that stake is worth $4.76 billion.
  • Andreessen Horowitz had three percent of the deal and made $205 million profit on their $50 million initial investment.
  • eBay gets $2.55 billion for its 30-percent stake in Skype. So in the end, eBay did make money on the Skype deal.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:18 pm


 

 

May 3, 2011

I For One, Welcome Our Google-Android Overlords!

Google continues to be dismissive over the public’s concerns regarding the ability of its mobile devices to send precise user locations back to its servers. Google has been collecting the location information from millions of mobile phone and devices stating that the information was "extremely important" to the direction of the company’s future.

Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google wrote to Larry Page, founder and now CEO, explaining that location data from mobile phones was "extremely valuable to Google," especially given the privacy blow-up concerning its Street View cars at the time.

Google is suspected in gathering the personal data of portal users from October to May through various Wi-Fi networks during the implementation of its controversial street view program last year. Resulting investigations in the US, Germany Korea and Australia has forced Google to acquire this data through alternate means.

Google location manager Steve Lee told founder Page in the memo: "I cannot stress enough how important Google’s wifi location database is to our Android and mobile product strategy," "We absolutely do care about this because we need wifi data collection in order to maintain and improve our wifi location service."

Google plans to use the data to create a database of Wi-Fi hotspots, for improving their Google maps services and to establish their increasing geo-specific advertising market.

A researcher from Los Angeles, Sammy Kamkar showed how Google Android smart phones where transmitting GPS locations and other data back to Google up to “several times an hour.”

The biggest concern that arises from this data collection comes if the data is compromised and falls into the wrong hands. The data is precise enough to allow a person to correlate the timing and the frequency of phone usage to pinpoint the home address of an Android phone user.

"If your phone is at the same location during night hours, they know where you live," says Kamkar. "If your phone location is on the move, they can guess that you’re in a car and even calculate how fast your car is moving."

How it Works:

The Google Android system collects information about surrounding Wi-Fi networks and nearby cell towers. It is then uploaded and stored in a cache file. Unlike Apple’s iOS, there is a limit on the size of the file, so only the last 200 Wi-Fi networks and 50 cell tower locations are recorded. The data is transmitted along with a unique identifier for the phone itself, and is unencrypted.

In a related story, two Android users are filing a class-action lawsuit against Google in the amount of $50 million USD. The plaintiffs, Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski of Oakland County say in the suit that Google’s privacy policy did not state that the phones would broadcast their location information. They further state that the privacy policy was written in such a way that most users would not be able to clearly understand that the privacy policy allowed for Google to track user’s locations.

Last week Google issued the following statement: "all location sharing on Android is opt-in by the user." and that "we provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices. Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user."

Recently, Apple has become the target of a class action suit and both companies are now under increasing scrutiny. Both Google and Apple are expected to testify on May 10 to Congress about its data collecting practices.

SEO news blog post by @ 8:49 pm


 

 

May 2, 2011

14 Days Later – Post-Panda UK

It’s been a fortnight (two weeks) since the Panda was unleashed in the UK. As predicated, there was and still is a lot of wailing and bemoaning from sites that have been hit hardest by the newest Google algorithm update.

After the significant weeding out of spammy, low-quality content sites from the SERPs with Panda, we are seeing exactly what we expected. We are witnessing the same results we saw in the Panda US release; good quality sites are rising in rankings, while poor sites are dropping. The cream really does rise to the top!

Of course it may take more than a few weeks for the SERPs to stabilize, and some legitimate sites have been experienced a drop in ranking as well but overall it seems to have been implemented more smoothly in the UK than it was in the US.

For a very long time the search results were inundated with spammy or useless result, causing many not able to find what they were searching for. It was also leading to a move away from search engines to social search and search outsourcing using twitter etc. Google was losing traction.

The follow-up question being asked by many SEOs is: “How do I game the SERPs, post-Panda?” My answer is quite simple: “Don’t.” The Panda update is the latest move by Google to return search results to a more organic web. Google is looking for clean sites with good content, that provide a useful user experience…and they are becoming exceedingly efficient at it.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:43 pm


 

 

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