Dave Davies

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Three big letters: SEO. That’s our main topic for today. We thought it would be great to hear opinions and insights from Dave Davies, CEO of Beanstalk, a specialized organic SEO company. We thought some questions around Google’s new search algorithm and how to do content right would be appropriate. Enjoy the read!

Tell us more about Beanstalk. And tell us more behind the name, too.

I started Beanstalk back in 2004. At the time I was working for a hosting company doing their SEO inspired by the fact that I was their sales person and decided it was easier to get people to come to me than for me to go to them. After getting enough monthly income generating via affiliate sites, I launched Beanstalk.

The name itself came from a trip to New York where a giant beanstalk was affixed to the side of a building. It was foggy so it had the effect of heading into the clouds and that was the same day I was pondering starting my own company. It just connected visually and we ran with it.

Tell us more about your SEO philosophy.

In light of the changes at Google I now approach SEO from a much more 60s marketing perspective, updated to the web. That is, rather than thinking in terms of numbers of links and pages of copy, I think of relationship and authority development and appealing to target demographics. While the demographic may change with different types of copy and on different sections of the site (in the same way the copy would change in a commercial during the Super Bowl vs a commercial airing during the evening news), the mentality in its development is the same.

How do you use your own blog to garner clients?

Generally speaking we don’t actually use our own blog to attract clients. We use our blog to establish trust and authority which attracts links which helps us rank for the types of phrases that do attract clients. We do have a number of our clients who┬áread our blog regularly and to that end it works wonders in helping them keep up with what we’re doing; so when we explain a change in strategy or mention an update, chances are they know what we’re talking about.

What’s the most successful piece of content you’ve published on one of your blogs?

I suppose that depends on how success is measured. Personally I measure success mainly in terms of engagement and if that’s the criteria, then the most successful piece I’ve produced would be an article I wrote for Search Engine Watch when Google+ first launched, discussing why it won’t kill Facebook. It got a ton of comments, over 500 Likes on Facebook and was pushed out on Twitter and Google+ in sizable numbers. If you look at the page, the Twitter numbers are at 800, however that was resent when the article was republished as one of the most popular of the year. In its first run it crossed well over 1000.

Where do you think content marketing is going?

Content is critical. Whether you’re looking to attract new visitors through diversification of keywords, attract links and social signals or increase conversions and onsite time, the only unifying factor is content. While the content type will vary with each use, it is content that Google wants, content that builds authority, content that people link to and content that converts interest into purchases.

How is Google’s new search algorithm changing things?

Google finally caught up with SEOs. For years Google was telling us what not to do and for years those things worked. This created an environment where the people that intelligently rode the grey-line won and being a pure white-hat SEO was very difficult. I can’t count the number of conversations with clients that included me hearing some version of the phrase, “But if they’re doing it and not getting caught, why can’t I?” and it was hard to answer. Especially when that site holds its ranking for months at a time — sometimes years.

Well, now the algorithm is “smarter” and the punishments are severe. Perhaps the best part is that the punishments and algo changes became common information. No longer did we SEO’s have to explain that this mysterious penalty was waiting, a penalty they never heard of. Now it’s more common to have clients question strategies and insure that we’ll follow Google’s guidelines. Something we’ve always written into our contracts but finally it makes sense to the people signing them.

To that end, it’s created an environment where moving forward we need to think of how to add value to a site, how to get that value in front of the right people and how to inspire those people to link to it, push it out on social media or just make a purchase.

How do you think Google’s new searching of apps feature will also change things?

That’s a tough call and one I’ve debated the merits of with peers. Personally, I like it and I think it’ll make the mobile experience far easier. More than just what it is now, it inspires thoughts of a world where a mobile phone will behave more like a WordPress site and the apps like plugins, all working together seamlessly, as opposed to the current environment which makes the UI more like a desktop. This setup doesn’t meet with user patterns, needs and certainly doesn’t make sense in light of developing technologies that are certainly going to be more geared to predicting what you want and displaying it, as opposed to waiting for the user to decide and then make that user wait while it loads.

On this tangent I’m thinking more about user interactions with Google Glass and similar devices combined with Google’s pushes into predictive search. At the same time, we can’t leave Bing out as we head into 2014. Their growth and the potential they have, if they simply focus on the home and leave work and mobile out of it (for now at least), is very high. Their control of the desktop and gaming devices gives them a strong inroad and they have a solid engine. Hopefully they make the right moves and give advertisers more options.

Brilliant insight and many comments that are worth pondering about. The Internet is certainly maturing! Thanks Dave! Follow Beanstalk on Twitter or connect with Beanstalk on LinkedIn. Also, here’s the Beanstalk blog.