Interview with Dave Davies of Beanstalk

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In this round of interviews, I invited a number of people around the world to participate. I also asked a few local individuals to participate. This week kicks of with this interview with Dave Davies of Beanstalk, and is followed by his former co-worker, Jim Hedger, who is the Executive Editor of SiteProNews. We’ll follow that up with Todd Hooge from Metamend.

Jim and Dave were at one time co-workers at Stepforth, and of course Metamend is where I cut my teeth in SEO & Internet Marketing.

Dave began his Internet career with WeDoHosting in sales and marketing. This led to his employment with a search engine positioning firm as their VP of Marketing. He since left to pursue his own objectives and later started Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning. I’ve only met Dave a dozen or so times, but since we both live and work in a small community, I have of course been aware of him for quite some time. When I decided to run this series, Dave’s name immediately sprung to mind.

Dave was kind enough to not only agree to the interview, but complete the short questionnaire in record time. Based on a question from Andrew Goodman, I subsequently asked him one follow up question about the hotbed of SEO.

Q. Dave, how long have you been working with SEO / SEM ?

Since 2001 for myself and for specific companies. Beanstalk was launched in 2004.

Q. What’s been your favorite technique that you can no longer use due to algorithmic changes at Google?

Heehee. Good question but there aren’t any tactics I’ve used on client sites that I wouldn’t keep using. On our test sites however, that’s a different story. Test sites are used to check the effectiveness of pretty much any tactics from interlinking, redirecting and cloaking so over the years there have things that stopped working. Interlinking is the biggest I’d say but again, I never used that on a client site (due in part I’m sure to the fact that it became a useless tactic before Beanstalk was launched).

Q. Has Google (or any other engine) ever made an algorithm change which made you very happy?

Many (mainly by Google). I try to take a philosophical approach to this question. The better the results, the more people use search engines, the more important the SEO industry becomes. There have been times when our site and/or client sites have dropped but when I look at the reasons I still have to view them as solid for the SERPs overall and adapt. When they make bad calls and clients drop we generally hold steady and wait, they always return to where they should be within a month or two.

The latest round of algo update on Google have gotten the thumbs up from me. Good for the SERPs, good for our clients.

Q. If you could get Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask to each answer just one question about their algorithms, what would it be?

Could you write that down for me?

More seriously, I would ask them what the weight distribution is for onsite vs offsite factors.

Q. Why analytics are important to you?

Analytics provide the tools that allow us to determine how successful a promotion is and where adjustments need to be made. If we find phrases that aren’t converting well we can use analytics to determine this and adjust the targeted phrases as necessary.

When I first read this question I read it as, “What analytics are important to you?” The answer I wrote was: Search referrer numbers, query distribution, path through site, path by referrer, conversions, conversion by referrer and by referring search query if applicable.

a. how often do you look at them

Depends on the site. For our own site I look at them once or twice a week.

b. how do you suggest your clients use them,

Our clients rarely have the know-how to properly analyze their stats. I’ll generally provide them in a straight-forward format with explanations about what they mean.

Q. What do none of the analytics tools do that you would want them to for you? (yes, this question is self-serving)

LOL - good question. There are solutions to do anything one needs, just not well in most cases. I would like to see a realtime tool that can analyze conversion data and provide and easy-to-understand (i.e. clients can login to it) reporting on which phrases are converting, which PPC campaigns and phrases are converting, and at what levels. An ability to detect A/B testing would be handy as well.

As I said, there are tools that claim to do it but I’ve yet to find one that does it with the accuracy I’d like to see. For every sale I want to know the referrer, for every conversion from a search engine or PPC campaign I want to know the phrase.

Q. What do you see as being the biggest change coming to the search industry over the next 18 months?

I believe we’re also going to see some new ways for search results to be displayed with more options and types on information showing up for specific types of searches (perhaps related to personalization, perhaps related to query type, perhaps both). Either way SEO’s are going to have to stay on their toes and keep flexible in the coming months. I think lighter SEO firms will have some advantages here in their flexibility however the bigger SEO firms will probably fare better based on their exposure in SEO communities and their broader base on backlinks).

From Andrew Goodman Why is Victoria BC such a hotbed for Internet Marketing?

That’s a very good question and I don’t know if I have a great answer for it. We’re definitely a tech community and a disproportionate number of SEO’s herald from here. If I had to guess it would be that Canada breeds some pretty smart people and those that hate the cold and can work from anywhere choose Victoria. Thus, all the techies that don’t need to be tied to a major metropolitan area head here and that would be the SEO community given that we can do business pretty easily from anywhere in the world. An ironic setup since most of us rarely see the light of day.

Thanks Dave

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One Response to “Interview with Dave Davies of Beanstalk”

  1. This series is excellent.

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