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Showing posts from November, 2005

Google's New Search Quality Strategy

The Jagger changes on Google reflect a new more careful approach.At Least that is how it looks from Download2MP3.com - despite or perhaps because of the extraordinary impact these changes have had on us. It looks as if they have not only broken up the changes into bite size pieces, they are also running extended testing on a small number of datacenters. For example Jagger phase 3 had an extended testing phase - it looked likely that our Bach mp3 page might get moved back to the second page which is bound to impact traffic to that popular page but that most of our pages are un-affected. This is consistent with the comments that suggest that this was a spam elimination/correction phase.

On reflection it appears that Google may have the capacity to monitor searcher behaviour quite closely and I could imagine that they would develop indicators of search results quality by the extent to which searchers dig down into subsequent pages or make subsequent qualifications to searches. For exampl…

Article Publication 2

Now the boot is moving to the other foot.

Rather than publishing other people's pieces I am now looking at publishing my articles else where in pursuit of those elusive one way context rich links back to our site.

This blog should be a reasonable source of material for some articles and we could generate some new ones. It is not clear to me who read this stuff but I suppose it is a mistake to underestimate / overlook the very specific interests which some people follow because search engines provide the means to pursue them remorselessly.

This activity is competing for our time with updates to some pages that are performing less well than they might and where a bit of testing is now in order. But we do need to try it out soon.

Our index page has become rather difficult to format because of the laundry lists of spider friendly links so we have taken on a new template which uses the same topline but formats the rest of the page in a more helpful way. We'll probably use this on some …

Blog Readers (Audience Research)

Writing this blog is an odd experience - particularly when it became clear that the majority audience was robots. That has been compounded recently by erratic updates on Yahoo's listing of links to the site. It appears that Alta Vista is continuing to accumulate each entry in it's list of links but Yahoo is getting increasingly selective as to which it includes. Never the less these entries do get picked up in the search engines and occasionally match someone's search criteria.

Looking back at this month it has been very noticeable that we have attracted quite a few human readers. In particular our Google Jagger Update commentary has not only attracted visitors but the average viewing time of some of those articles has been exceptionally high (I didn't think that the text was that dense - perhaps it prompted some checking by the more skeptical). I'm not sure how to respond to this - it seems pretty clear that this aspect of our website development is of interest so …

Refining our copy

Now that we have a good volume of traffic from visitors interested in our product area the next task is to drive up the conversion to sales. Here is an article with some advice that we will be endeavoring to follow:

A 7 Step Program To Produce More Sales - Step Two

Part one of this series we explored 4 ways to increase your
sales. All 4 ways perform good but the second one
increasing, your conversion rates gave the best results
with less cost and effort.
http://www.mpstrategiesfirm/articles

If your traffic does nothing then driving targeted visitors
to your site has little value. You'll need a lot of
visitors with a low conversion. If you don't want to spend
more money or work part harder to make a sale then focus on
increasing your conversion rate.

How do you increase your conversion rate?
You will find the answers in the rest of the steps. So
moving right along... let us get to step 2

Step 2: The Most Important Marketing Technique

I'd like to tell you this method remains one of those b…

New Readers Start Here

Welcome to the human readers who have started to arrive in small but measurable numbers.

After nearly a year of addressing an audience primarily composed of robots it is a real pleasure to notice that some people are coming to read current postings rather than delving in the archives following a search result. I just hope we can keep things interesting enough for you.

The last few weeks have been the most exciting in the life of this business and its website - there is nothing like customer feedback to breath life into this sort of venture. Behind the scenes we are paddling like mad to update the product information pages in the multi-track shop to the new standard which looks like a Bag o Rags Ringtone . Almost all the Ringtones are done now - on with the composers!

The big five composers continue to dominate the search results - Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Mozart and our one hit wonder - Widor and the amazing Toccata from his 5th Symphony.

Traffic brings Sales!

After a lag of a few days our new found levels of traffic are generating sales at unprecedented levels. Purchases are often made on subsequent visits so this sort of lag is to be expected. I suspect that a presence on many Google first pages strengthens searchers perception of a site and encourages those return visits.

This is a most encouraging development to associate with our first birthday.

So to was the feedback from a customer who experienced problems setting up an account at our multitrack store. In our enthusiasm to simplify things we overlooked some end to end testing and it was not fit for purpose - thankfully the impact on potential customers has been minimal and it has now been fixed.

Happy days!

Article Publication

From time to time we include articles in this blog if they are reasonably relevant to topics we are discussing. They are obviously sent to us to help the authors promote their sites and I guess that bloggers all over the place get these things in the in box. Most are not relevant and get binned straight away - this is what you might call an editorial policy. Just see how I care for my robot readers!

Then today on the SEO fora I read about the sites that post articles from all comers - some without even a login. This looks ripe for abuse to me and I can see Google black listing them in no time flat or am I missing a trick. Will the person who is producing an automated submitter make a killing or become a heroic helper for the assiduous web site promoters?

Of course the objective is to embed links with targeted keywords in the text of the articles so that they appear to Google as natural links and enhance their ranking of the site linked to. There is a feeling that reciprocal links ha…

The Slog of Implementation

We do have a lot of product pages - which is a good thing.

Individualizing even the minimal text on the product pages is hard work - hence the slog.

The Classical and Ragtime Ringtone pages are almost done now and its on with the composers for the next few days.

It looks as if Google has settled down now and Jagger is complete - they have stopped talking about it in the fora and our probes on the google dance tool have nearly all settled down. We did slip a little on a couple of composers but our visitor levels are holding up well.

Multi Track Store - Product Pages Re-designed

Well it has taken a little while but hopefully it will be worth the effort.

The new design of the product page in the multi track store has just been completed - all the tricky little programming issues have been resolved to our satisfaction - one completed and only 208 to go.

Naturally we have started at the beginning of the alphabet and that means that the completed file is the page for the First Movement of the Second Brandenburg Concerto by JS Bach.

There is some risk that we are reducing the internal links to the 'htm' product pages but it is more important that the site works smoothly for our customers and we present our products in the best possible light or in this case sound.

Jagger3 - propagation underway

Nothing too dramatic for us but some adjustments on individual key words and no rhyme or reason that we can detect so far.

We resume the struggle with the MP3 player software in the the multitrack shop today.

Then we'll get down to making some music again.

Jagger3 - Forum Contribution

Just posted this and thought the robots might like to see it here too:

Not sure it is over yet

The Mac Dar Google dance tool is still showing potential changes for some of our keywords.

In contrast with others here we have seen dramatic shifts through the various phases of Jagger. Initially we were cast into the outer 700s and naturally traffic disappeared altogether then two weeks in - presumably Jagger2 restored good results previously seen together with a whole lot more so that our traffic is now consistently (for a week) 200% above previous highest levels.

We only took one set of panicky actions prompted by comments in this forum which was to reduce the risk of our 250 product pages being seen as duplicates by reducing the proportion of boilerplate text and inserting some variety for the sake of it. The modified pages were picked up before we saw the dramatic improvement so it is just conceivable that there was cause and effect.

The prospective Jagger3 changes that we have spotted so f…

Security Check

Strange behavior recorded yesterday. It looks as if one of the customers at the weekend decided to make extensive use of the generous download facilities his purchase offered him. No one had done this before so we had left them alone.

When we set up the first tranche of products the default on Bitpass was 100 downloads over 7 days. With experience this has come down but retrospective changes have to be hand crafted - tedious or what. But prompted by this anomaly we set to and have brought all our products down to 5 downloads over 3 days. Hopefully that will put an end to it - there are some indications in the log that we may have thwarted further downloads by this customer or his friends - so perhaps we don't need to worry too much. However - eternal vigilence and all that are obviously called for.

Starting on amendments to the product pages in the multi track store today - must be careful not to repeat the existing pages. The intention is to simplify the buying process for this rou…

Google Search Quality Strategy

I think that the Jagger changes on Google reflect a new more careful approach. Despite the extraordinary impact these changes have had on us - it looks to me as if they have not only broken up the changes into bite size pieces, they are also running extended testing on a small number of datacenters.

It occurred to me that Google probably have the capacity to monitor searcher behavior quite closely and I could imagine that they would develop indicators of search results quality by the extent to which searchers dig down into subsequent pages or make subsequent qualifications to searches. For example from their point of view if people are satisfied with what is offered on page 1 then job done - otherwise further refinement may be called for. In addition they could look at returns to the search page for more results and the timings of those returns. These sort of metrics would provide an objective means of assessing whether planned changes improve searcher outcomes or worsen them.

If this …

That was Jagger2 ... Now Jagger3

We got a bit ahead of ourselves again. According to the oracle, no database intended, Jagger3 has just appeared on the two 66.102.9.104 datacenters and a quick inspection suggest that some of our more competitive keywords may slip back a few places - possibly off the first page which will reduce traffic somewhat.

The links which Google recognise have changed again - still a very odd selection. The fora also includes some case studies of the impact of duplicate content pages being penalized in a big way for the first time in Jagger1 confirming the view that our efforts last week were not in vain but actually very timely and picked up in Jagger2. This has given me some fresh ideas for the way we display our products in the muti-track store and add more new pages but that is going to need some feasibility testing. The quality of the list of similar sites on Google is also getting better and that has given me an idea for a one way linking scheme that we might instigate.

This stuff really is…

Basking in Success

The scales on the traffic charts have had to be changed by an order of magnitude - I keep pinching myself to check that these results are real but it looks as if Jagger is really over and we have come out near the top on virtually everything we have targeted - even ' classical ringtones mp3' is at the top of the first page and visitor are starting to arrive.

The comments on the fora seem quite subdued now - it looks as if some are stunned and others have been virtually unaffected. When we look at the other sites on the first pages where we appear they are mostly the old familiar faces - it is just that we up there with them much more often now - nowhere to first rank in one year is not a bad achievement. But the events of the last week are a strong reminder of the fragility of an organic search based strategy. Now if we can get conversion rates up then it will be worth going for paid ads as well and that is the next challenge. However it is not clear that anyone else in this li…

Another 50% increase in visitors yesterday

All our composer pages bar Mozart are on page 1 now and our other collection pages are up there too for the first time. We can already see which pages need some development and there are clearly opportunities for more collection pages.

The commentators are suggesting that reciprocal links have been discounted out of existence by Google and that is in line with our link development policy which is probably why we have done pretty well. But it makes our inclusion of other peoples articles in this blog that much more valuable to them because they contain one way text links. So we shall be even more selective in future. We also need to keep the press releases coming because they seem to help - once again Google is able to rely on humans elsewhere to eliminate the spam.

It really does look as if Jagger is complete and we can get back to the business of making and selling music. But we've learnt a few things and we'll be better prepared next time.

Download2MP3

Wow - it was well worth waiting for

Yes folks it looks like Jagger3 has been propagated all round the Google world and we have done very well - not just for specific pieces but we even have decent showings in the most competitive 'composer mp3' results pages. Visitor levels are double the highest seen before.

We have also seen our generic pages picking up and even 'classical mp3 ringtones' has got to number 3. So we should start to see the impact of a lot of the site development work we have done over the last few months. The updates we did to the ringtone pages are up there now so it is just about feasible that they have made a contribution to this result. It is even possible that some one at Google read my email and acted on it - so I shall obviously have to abstain from using WebPosition Gold to check our positions on Google until they see sense and agree to reasonable levels of automated searching.

Was it worth all the agonizing - probably. Definitely, if we hold the gains and are able to build on them…

The Jagger3 Suspense Continues ....

According to the redoubtable Mike Cutts Jagger3 can be found on the Datacenter at 66.102.9.104

This threw me for a while because I had been using 'Gounod Marionette Funeral March' as my probe on the McDar's tool and it was down around 600th on that datacenter but First on some others which are probably at Jagger2. Further checking shows that some of our other targeted keywords are up on Jagger3 compared with Jagger2 and others are down and we can't really see any pattern. At least the whole site has not been relegated as it was with Jagger1. The data also suggests that Jagger3 has propagated to a few other Datacenters.

So it is wait and see for a few more days by the look of things.

It is also evident that our efforts on the product pages have yet to be picked up by Google so we may get some more benefits there in due course.

Webmasters hold their breath

It could be another flash in the pan but those Google searchers are back on the site this morning.

It is clear that another big change is propagating across the Google datacenters again and we have bubbled back up to several page 1 positions. But it is not here on our datacenters yet and the McDar system is overloaded again.

Word on the SEO street reflects the excitement and confusion this is causing.

The thing is that Google isn't just responsible for delivering around 60% of the search results - it is that Google users tend to be the more sophisticated searchers who are more likely to follow through their search to a purchase if they find what they want. This matches our strategy where we have pages targeted not just on individual composers but individual pieces that are likely to meet the needs of those rifle shot searches.

So fingers and toes crossed to see how it all turns out.

Download2mp3.com

Jagger3 arrived - I think

The search results available this morning suggested that our few remaining Google first page positions were sinking far and fast and that has been confirmed on the McDar Google dance quick checker.

This lines up with observations in the SEO forums although there is some doubt whether it is actually Jagger3. Net net we are disappearing off the face of Google for the time being at least.

Meanwhile back to the product pages....

Download2mp3.com

Jagger3 expected today

This is turning into an obsession but I suppose it will be over soon.

It was a great day for spiders yesterday with just 1 in 20 pages downloaded being seen by humans. In particular they were all over this blog so perhaps there is a new spider on the block.

The word on the street continues to produce a whole range of theories - none of which can be substantiated. But they provide company for us in our misery.

One helpful observation is that Google have gone back to using the description tag content if it is available so our efforts to smarten up that aspect of our product sample pages is obviously worthwhile. In the absence of a description tag the first line of paragraph text is being used which isn't always too helpful on those pages but at least that is under our control.

Download2MP3.com

Search Quality

This week we are supposed to start to see Jagger3 kick in. Apparently this is the search quality testing and improvement phase of this latest ranking upheaval on Google.

From my not very unbiased perspective here are a couple of related observations:

For the first time I can remember - over the weekend we got a visitor from the 399th search result out of 400 results. This gives a bit of a clue that people are not finding what they want on page 1 - as do the people yesterday who dived down to page 8 to find the Halloween music like Danse Macabre they were looking for.

For our own part the suggestions that a new filter may be catching sites with repetitive content pages has prompted more work to vary our product pages with in the limits of keeping them, relevant and helpful to visitors. When we started to produce these pages we did not expect them to feature is search results but we did a modest amount of optimisation around some target key words. On reflection some of this was a bit clum…