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Showing posts from 2006

Christmas Day surge in iTunes Enquiries

It almost doubled the normal number of visitors and on the festive day itself. Our iTune/Pod help pages were prompted by noticing a niche in this area which we sough to fill to our own advantage. We have been relatively successful and these are amongst if not quite always the most popular pages on our site. They also represent some of the longest visits which suggests that they do find the copy useful. But we are very unsuccessful at converting those visitors to listeners or paying customers. On reflection I suppose that this is just a piece of in appropriate targeting and we should really re-visit the whole novelty music issue.

Google Update signalled by Rankpulse

Rank pulse is showing it's highest level of changes in rankings on one day for the last six months, so something is a foot. No comments on the SEO forums yet but I suppose that this is a good time to slip through a big change - too late to have a significant impact on the seasonal commercial activity and a quiet time in which to settle things down. We are seeing one of those seasonal increases in iTunes driven enquiries as people get their new iPods - just wish we knew how to convert a few of them into sales. Interest in the Carol of Bells is flagging a little but we'll keep it there until New Year or maybe even for the full 12 days of Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Out of Beta

Blogger is out of beta and that was pretty painless. The new features look quite interesting so we'll give them a go shortly. No collaborators on the search engine yet so I think we'll do a page on the main site and see what we can achieve from there. My news group post killed the thread I responded to - so nothing from that source either. An index page update was picked up by Google the following day so we seem to have all that part of the system sorted and I finally got round to tidying up the title and description so that might generate more responses. We are ending the year on over 2000 visitors a week on the main site but not many on this blog - I'm really doing it for my personal benefit now but it helps to imagine that anyone could come along and read it. In fact I suspect that we have far more readers of individual pages thrown up by searches than we do regular readers.

File Usage on Download2MP3

Looking through the stats I thought I'd come back to the issue of the way our site is used. For a digital content site the whole issue of band width is Giga - we have to buy enough capacity from our ISP to ensure that our visitors and more importantly our customers can down load what they need. The way the site is engineered has some baring on that but at the out set all we had was a best guess. As things stand this month so far MP3 downloads have consumed about 60% of the bandwidth used on the site which is pretty good. Next up are the online steaming samples which appear as Flash animations at 12% but if you add the Javascript for the menu presentation to the gifs, png and jpeg files their combined total is about 16%. Following on are the Html files which include most of our text at about 10%, our CSS layout code at 1% and bringing up the rear PHP for the shop code at less than half a percent. I could wish that the PHP was working a little harder but overall the balance loo

Carol of the Bells on Bells

We have just taken the time to have a look at the performance of our Christmas gift on the site. We noted earlier that we were quickly on to the first page of Google for that keyword phrase but on looking at and more importantly listening to the competition we have not made enough of our distinctive arrangement. While we might have to acknowledge the superiority of the Leonard Bernstein version ours would come a close second and might even edge ahead for festive values. So a minor up date on the index page is in order - just to make that point. So far nearly 400 downloads have been recorded - not breaking the bandwidth bank but some potential new customers we hope.

Carol of the Bells - new Number 1

Yes our seasonal gesture has got off to a flying start and is now the number one keyword phrase for people searching for our site. This is really quite remarkably responsive and it illustrates the benefits of working with the Google grain rather than against it. In particular the site map facility seems to stream line the Google bot visits. It is also true that with our template page structure we are able to get a message like this out over all our pages very quickly and that must strengthen its impact in the ranking. So Carol of the Bells MP3 finds us at number 9 on the main Google engine and number 5 in our customised Legal MP3 Downloads engine. Without MP3 in the phrase we are nowhere and the addition of Free is no help at all. For those who would like to know more about this tune here is the Wikipedia reference.

Dazed by DMOZ

Yes , I gave DMOZ a go. I have hardly used it except to register new sites to help them on their way on Google- not sure that works any more but it gives that extra air of respectability to be signed off by a reasonably knowledgeable human being. So it was a bit disappointing to find a significant number of broken or 'temporarily' down sites and one or two with very old news features. But it did take me down some interesting by ways - Mozart's works for mechanical organs and some organ replications. Several more independent sites have been added and we are up to 68 sites in total now. There is a bit of a Classical music bias and I'm going to wait for collaborators to address of other styles.

November Best Month Yet!

On virtually all metrics November was our best month yet. This is partly a seasonal recovery from the dog days of the summer when people are away from their PCs and partly a genuine strengthening of our positions on Google. However it has weakened a little in the last week so we are not getting too excited. Never the less I think it is probably time to bring out our Carol of the Bells seasonal gift because last year's press release is still floating around. You can download it free of charge for your personal use from here first: use this link Carol of the Bells in time for the first Sunday of Advent in the Christian Calendar.

Why not use Open Directory?

Yes it has taken a few days for us to hit on this resource. We have been included in DMOZ almost from the outset and it supports our position in Google but drives next to no traffic. So we should be piling up the human checked sites into our search engine at a much faster rate now. This exercise also highlights the benefits of the focused system we are seeking to develop - there really is quite a lot of dross and repetition in the Google listings which makes me think that they probably focus their effort on cleaning up the first three pages which would make a lot of sense. We've doubled the number of sites included to 36 now.

Search Engine _ Instrumental MP3s

Instrumental MP3 has not been a very productive seam for new MP3 sites - we have stopped after page 7. The level of site duplication in these listings is quite substantial - might be an interesting topic for exploration some time but anything below page 3 is of academic interest really. But there are some possible promotion sites which we will need to investigate. I have excluded Karaoke sites on the grounds that they are too specialists and can do their own search engine if they need too. So it is off to the specialist areas around our own sites content - classical, composer names, percussion and ragtime then I think it will be time to raise the profile a bit. In the mean time an update on Google - signified by a modest one day spike on Rank Pulse and reduced linking sites and like us sites on Google it self - but little in the way of impact on visitor volumes so far and not picked up on the forums.

Progress with Site Inclusion

This little project has given us a reason to look afresh at the MP3 scene on Google and it is evident that this has improved. There are still some rubbish sites out there but the proportion in the first few pages of search results is much reduced and since that is all that most people ever see Google can be well please. Never the less our editorial approach still seems worth while - we are up to 18 sites included now. Collaborators would be very welcome!

Search Engine Progress

To begin with we just had a look at what Google produces for "MP3 Download" and started a selection from there. To our list of exclusion criteria we have added portals that point to other sites, so far we have included one Russian site that appears to charge prices that are not too ridiculous. We also exclude sites that say "delete after 24 hours and buy the CD" - don't think that would stand up in court. It now produces 443 results for 'mozart mp3' and we are number 10! Should we refine the focus on to instrumental music - another area to explore...

Customised Search - Call for Contributors

We have made a start on a customised search engine: Legal MP3 Downloads This is raising lots of issues: commercial, legal, organisational and time. So we intend to use the blog to air these and invite participation. The focus of the search engine reflects frustration experienced in the past with sites which quite obviously ignore copyright so we are going for a positive inclusion approach rather than a black list. This has the disadvantage that we won't pick up new sites very quickly and it will take time and effort to be comprehensive but the search results will produce legal MP3 files for download. Not subscription sites are being included they can fend for themselves. However we will include some of the big boys whilst putting most of our effort into the independents and self publishers. The idea is to help searchers find the available versions of specific pieces of music or examples of particular music genre no matter how obscure, without hooking them in to broader or l

Legitimate MP3 Search Development

We checked out the OS Commerce site and it is evident that there is a new milestone release on its way so we are going to sit on our hands with that for the time being. However yesterday there was an interesting development by Google which came to our attention - this is the new Google Co-op service which enables webmasters to develop specialist search facilities based on Google's infrastructure. This opens up interesting areas for possible cooperation between the smaller independent MP3 distributors or between the 'legitimate' to provide a valuable service to their visitors. So we are going to experiment with it here on this Blog and see if we can generate some interest and support for it. Naturally we'll keep you updated.

Tools for Webmasters

Google have pulled together quite a decent set of indicators to help webmasters check how their site is working with Googlebot and the indexing system. For example a regular reader might recall that we set up a sitemap file for Google's benefit using a website offering a free solution. This included submission to Google - what we didn't know until last week was that that submission didn't appear to have worked. So we used the Google facility to submit the file which had been sitting in the appropriate directory for months without being looked at by its intended audience. More reassuring was sight of the Google reading of our Robots file which has been there for much longer. The listings of frequently used keywords seem to be a bit at odds with our Google analytics results but we have yet to dig into that - it could easily be a timing issue because there is a constant churn in the popularity stakes for this site. It has now joined my daily checklist.

Blogger Beta's OK

After a couple of days boldly trying the new Beta version its seems to be OK. The new spell checker is neat and it is one less click to post which is cool too. Looked at Link Popularity Check for the first time for ages - not much change but modest improvements on Google which must be helping - which led to looking at Google's new tools for webmasters. We have a little tidying up to do but nothing too serious.

Formating Fixed

At last our little local formatting problem has been resolved. The presentation of our main pages is based on a template developed from a commercial package and over time we have experimented with the left and right marginal columns. This is always tricky because of the interaction between the fixed and %age width and height of tables and their elements. The logic of these arrangements sometimes escapes me so there is always some trial and error involved. But at least it doesn't seem to be a compatibility issue for the different browsers just my incompetent coding.

False Alarm

Good job we didn't panic - it was a reporting problem. Unusual because it was spread over a three days. We have migrated to the Blogger Beta this am so we'll see how that goes. We're going to try to fix the Firefox presentation issue today so wish us luck!

Google Hitch

Over the weekend Google analytics indicates a significant fall in visitors from Google so we shall have to investigate. It is too early to panic because it could still be an Analytics reporting problem. There is nothing on Rank Pulse to suggest a wider issue so we just need to go to heightened awareness for a few days we hope. Keeping your posted as it happens or some times even if it hasn't happened!

Blog Resumption

Starting this blog was quite difficult - for one who is not used to putting thoughts down "on paper" on a daily basis. But after a while you get into the swing of it and the daily monitoring and development of the site, the search engines and our visitors provided a steady feed of ideas. Over time the monitoring has been cut back as things have got into a reasonably steady state and some of the tools which we used to monitor individual key words and pages have become unavailable or been terminated by Google. So after our sabbatical there seems to be much less to talk about. The absence of daily contributions doesn't seem to have made much difference to anything so I think you can expect more irregular but hopefully still interesting contributions from now on.

Home Again

Yes we're back from the South Pacific. The lap top we carried enabled us check into our email and monitoring web sites from time to time. The spread of wifi and lap top access in hotels and internet cafe's meant that we could deal with most contingencies that might arise. As it turned out there were no customer problems raised during the period and visitor numbers increased significantly with out any action on our part. But we are back in a new era of browser compatibility problems because the latest version of Firefox renders our margins in a rather unattractive way while IE is fine with it. So that's our first repair task - we'll keep you posted.


That little production cycle has taken quite a while. We were a bit rusty to be sure but there must be a better way - perhaps a check list would do it. Looking back we got the music production and recording set up working on the 17th July - so it took just over three weeks from then to the press release. Not too bad by industry standards I suppose. However we are going to take a pause now - a bit of a sabbatical even. This blog will be off the air until November unless something dramatic happens while we are on our travels. We're taking the lap top so that site maintenance and customer service will be sustained albeit slightly less responsively than normal because we will be out or range of the Internet for some parts of the trip. I considered regaling you with travel blog episodes but that didn't seem fair so we'll go quiet for a little while. Au revoir!

Press Release

Yes - at last we have resolved the remaining snags and are ready with the long promised Press Release for our More Bach Collection: New World Instrumental Recordings of JS Bach Released. The latest additions to the Online Percussion MP3 Source have just been released. Original arrangements of famous pieces selected from the enormous output of JS Bach have been specially arranged and recorded in HiFi MP3 format for sale exclusively online - a Bach's Dozen freshly baked . In several of these recordings the Steel Drums and Marimbas are supplement by new Synthesizer sounds to give added depth to the novel percussion interpretations of these pieces. Highlights of this collection include: The incomparable Air on a G string - reinterpreted on Marimba and Steel Drums; An amusing Choral Prelude with "humorous" Brass effects; All three movements of the A minor Steel Drums (formerly Flute) Concerto - introducing the Log Marimba on Basso Continuo; A brilliant

August Google Update - a Modest Affair

After some of the tidal waves it looks as if the August update on Google was a modest affair if we can rely on Rank Pulses results. Never the less the recovery in our visitor numbers continues so we are keeping our fingers crossed. I'd forgotten how much work was involved in setting up new products on our site. We just have a little more code to cut and paste, a couple of images to generate and some supporting text to generate and we'll be away. A very intrepid customer could actually buy them and download them now but I don't think there is much risk of that. Then there is the exciting task of generating the Press Release!

Visitor Numbers picking up again

It looks like we have turned a bit of a corner but not yet returned to our former glories - so far so good. More progress with the new products yesterday - the new sample pages are almost complete and the products are registered on Bit Pass. Now we just have to register them in the Volume discount store and then tidy up the More Bach page text. On with the motley!

Amazing Churn?

If we believe the Google Analytics results there has been an almost complete replacement of the first two hundred keywords leading to our site associated with this latest update. I suspect that this has more to do with a change in Google Analytics but of course we can't be sure. It's not that the areas of interest have changed but the specific form of words where we are picking up visitors seems to have changed across the board - that's spooky if it is true. However even if Google returns flattering results to me when I search on my key words, positions have not changed that much - so I think it must be Analytics that has changed. The product registration and web pages are taking longer than expected and it may still be a few days before we complete the task. In the meantime here is a sneak preview of our new Hi Fi Freebie - Bach's Crab Canon just under a minute long and weighing in at 1.3 Meg.

Configuration Day

The new files are uploaded and so today is configuration day. There are the final checks on the descriptions to be used, prices to be set, the web page to be filled out and then the product registration on Bit Pass and our own discount shop. Dreamweaver is up and running and it looks like it might be a bit cooler today thank God so this should not be too onerous. Meanwhile the seasonal droop in visitor numbers goes on and there was a significant spike on Rank Pulse yesterday which usually presages an update so no doubt we will see more churn in our SERPs over the coming days.

Uploading New Products

As it turned out we found another hidden copyright claim in one of the pieces we had planned to record so we have abandoned that. We also think that one of the others had been incorrectly attributed to Bach and is actually a Mozart minuet so we left that out too. All part of the final checks as we go into production. We have to hand craft the uploading of our products one at a time because of the security arrangements - drudgery but necessary. Eased by the faster upload speeds we get these days thanks to our broader band connexion. Speaking of which it seems to have learned how to speed up. Our download speed has risen to 5.8Meg in the last few days although it fell back a little this morning. There has not been enough rain to dampen the cables yet so we'll see how we go. For some reason Dreamweaver has lost our site details so we'll have to re-configure that next. The files are still there as are the other sites we manage with it but I suppose it can't be a coinc

Recording Session Almost Complete

We will probably wrap it up today! Thankfully the houskeeping we did has made the whole thing much more stable - very few crashes yesterday despite continuous use. Yesterday's recordings included Bach's Double Violin Concerto which is one of my all time favorites. I didn't really think we'd have the nerve to tackle anything like this but we have become more proficient and the pre-sets have become available. We have even included the slow movement. So we have managed some experimentation but still stuck close to our established approach. Next we need to upload the files, price them and register them in our two shopping facilities and then produce the new web page - end of week possibly for the Press Release. There is a substantial droop in visitor numbers at the moment but we are hoping that it is just the students away from their school/college internet connexions.

In Production - Sample from the cutting room floor.

It is nice to be back in the game as it were. As promised we are including a sneak preview to our regular Blog readers. The sample is one of those slight errors a bit like the variations on rare stamps. Normally when producing the LoFi Clips we select a few phrases up to about 30 seconds to record but yesterday we overlooked that step on one occasion so here is the resulting LoFi recording of Bach's BMV 560 a Prelude and Fugue originally composed for the organ and re-arranged on Steel Drums and Marimba. The solo bass marimba sections are a little odd but we decided to go with it any way. Despite the LoFi recording a good impression of the full recording is conveyed in the full three and a half minutes. More house keeping on this machine yesterday including an afternoon de-fragging the D: drive where Windows 2000 sits. When I consider how stable this operating system has been it is doubly galling to see Microsoft begin to withdraw support - no IE 7 for us apparently and

Orders of Magnitude

I don't know about you but I still can't get my head around the expansion of memory that has occurred with computers in recent years. I have been working with computers directly for nearly 30 years so there has been a bit of a change. When the last desk top arrived with a 120 Gigabyte Hard drive I divided it up into some big partitions and forgot about it. At the end of last week it became apparent that part of the instability we have been experiencing was due to insufficient memory - we were nearly down to our last Gigabyte on the C: drive. Please note that the C: drive nomenclature has not changed from the DOS on the Mainframe Timeshare which IBM provided to us in 1978 - nor has most of the rest of the basic DOS despite Microsoft's "re-write". What has changed is the amount of memory that is routinely available. On our system the thing that clogs it up is back-ups. Over six years of operation we have tried a series of different back up solutions - none of

Unstable Software

Producing music on a PC involves at least four major concurrent applications: the Operating system, sound processor, sequencer and synthesizer. And more if you use more than one synthesizer. Naturally to get the most out of the system we often push that combination to the limits and we experience system crashes on a regular basis. In our case the operating system is XP with all the available updates. Hard restarts often require a second restart to get the mouse cursor moving but many music crashes will only respond to a hard restart. Our sound processor is Creamware both the software application and the DSP processors on the sound card - we have our ticks and moans about it but when it is up and running it is very very good - it can even handle a little bit of sound processing overload without throwing a hissy fit. When they occur these often they involve loosing the ASIO sound interface i.e. silence. We use Cubase SE as our sequencer and that fits our needs very nicely but that

The ....... of the New

As part of the run up to this current bout of arranging we loaded up lots of new presets - instruments on our two favorite synthesizers thinking that this would help provoke some new thinking and new sounds. And yes we have done some more experimentation and the Log Marimba will appear from time to time when it's staccato effects help. We have also tried some of the tempting new pads but have rejected most on the grounds that the effects are too gross and un-controllable. In many instances the quality of an arrangement is achieved through the restraint applied to the variety and complexity of the sounds combined. Where the classical composer has the standard orchestral pallet to work from an electronic music composer has an enormous potential range of instruments to use. Part of our success has been the identification of a restricted pallet of instruments that work well together. This week we have identified a couple of pads which sit nicely behind our steel drums and mar

Composer MP3 collapse?

As regular readers know we have put a lot of effort into promoting composer mp3 keyword combinations through our site. With the recent rise of iTunes related phrases we wondered if there was a general collapse of composer mp3 combinations causing the current fall off in visitor numbers but that doesn't seem to be the case. There has been a longer term fall off on this front and this has been exposed by other movements in the last few days. So turmoil and drift now - not an easy situation to combat so I think we'll sit tight, work on the music production and see where that takes us. The system was standing up pretty well yesterday and we probably have the bones of a More Bach page, possibly including a whole concerto. The question mark as ever is over the slow movement but we might package it up as one piece rather than separate movements on this occasion because our arrangement does emphasise the contrast with the faster movements. Still finding hidden copyright messages

New Recording Configuration Working

Yes - by George they've done it and the new set up is up and running. So we are into the really fun part now - experimenting and listening and experimenting and listening. I'll start to put some of the new recordings up in the next few days - there might even be a few freebies for our regular readers. It looks like the first collection will be "More Bach". Meanwhile keyword phrases containing iTunes have taken over our top 5 and our iTunes advice page gets an even bigger proportion of our entrances - which is a shame because it also has the highest bounce rate despite our efforts to entice these visitors into the rest of the site. And our Broadband speed has been stuck below 4 Meg since Thursday. Given the heat I would have thought that any dampness that may have got into the cable would have dried out by now. It seems the algorithm is good at slowing down but not speeding up!

Setting up the new recording configuration

Yes that's what the first day was all about. The Creamware software isn't too robust so there was a lot of trial and error, ASIO driver dropping out etc and many restarts. Hopefully it will be OK once we have settled on a new default configuration. However we do seem to be making progress and we did make one test recording with the new graphic equalizer inline and today we are going to se if we can get some of the other effects working too. We now have so many pre-sets for the Moog synthesizer that it is a real struggle to find the one you want some times. It looks as if our Google backlinks have fallen again - no logic that I can see to this - not sure what impact if any it will have on our SERPs.

The decks a cleared so on with the music

To day's the day - we are going to try a new software configuration for mastering as the old one is still broken and we have had no response to requests for support. We will also try some of the new Moog presets to record some new pieces. The web site is ticking along and there doesn't seem much that we can do there for the time being so we are going to try some new musical content - perhaps branching out a little from our tried and tested formula. We'll keep you posted here as we progress.

What can I say?

Yesterday Google Analytics was slow off the mark in producing the previous day's results and the blogging moment passed. The results are really unexceptional at the moment - a bit down on pre update levels but no obvious key word issues - just continuing turmoil. But it looks as if that is par for the course when you look at the chart for the most stable keyword on Rankpulse which happens to be 'texas' there is still a very active scene for places 4-10 while 1-3 sail above it all. Our recent Paypal incident bares a little comment. They changed their terms and conditions after they were taken over and required Merchants to sign up to the new terms. But when we tried to comply it didn't work so we wrote it off as another scam and left it at that. Next thing we hear is from a customer whose payment is turned down. Fixed the problem pretty quickly on the Paypal site although the relevant link was not very prominent or supported by any additional text. Still don'

"Bad Data Push"

The latest word on the street is that some one in Moldavia has found a way to con Googlebot into accepting enormous numbers of pages of SPAM and that Google are having to delete much of it manually. I don't think I believe the last bit but a major problem with Spam pages could explain the high level of churn over the last few weeks. Apparently Google refer to this event as a bad data push which is prosaic enough. Our usual investigative tools are still down although Rankpulse comes back every couple of days or so. But Google Analytics shows us the turmoil in the keywords being used to find our site as we continue to recover from the low visitor numbers seen a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile back at the ranch the boy struck by lightening in the park last week was in church last evening giving thanks for his good fortune. And - fingers crossed it looks as if our Broadband connection has settled down at over 5 Meg for several days.

7/7 Memorial

The recollections and ceremonies one year on were unexpectedly moving today. The courage of the victims combined with the vivid descriptions of their experiences seems to penetrate skins thickened by years of IRA terrorism. In particular the description by a victim of noticing the bomber reaching into his rucksack to detonate the bomb was particularly chilling to those of us who traveled on the tube every day for decades. The injured victims and the grieving families of those killed want a public enquiry because the perpetrators are dead, there will be no criminal trial and there is no body to sue. But our society brought up the young men who did this - gave them the experience and the values that led them to take these awful actions. With a bit of historical knowledge and some imagination we could understand what we had done to the Irish Catholic community over centuries to generate the reaction in the form of the IRA but this is different. Many of the colonial actions of the

A Good Day at the Office

Normally when any part of your customer service system is broken the first thing you hear is a customer complaint but if the failure prevents them becoming a customer most people walk briskly away. So it was particularly nice this week to have an issue raised by an enthusiastic potential customer who pointed out that our PayPal service was broken. PayPal have updated their terms and conditions and asked us to update our agreement with them. I had attempted this earlier without success and so was surprised to find that we had been put on limited status which meant that we couldn't accept payments. This doesn't affect out BitPass account just the discount store. Anyhow it worked this morning and we are back on song so I took the opportunity to advise all our customers of this circumstance in case any of them had been affected but not mentioned it. They say every complaint is a gift and this one certainly was. Not only that, Broadband is firing on all cylinders this mornin

What's Happening?

Not too much - it is very hot here and we are not used to it. You wouldn't think that air conditioning had been invented in England! Our Broadband speeds are up around 4 Meg again and the connection seems fairly steady which is encouraging - we'll see what the rain from the forecast thunderstorms does later this week. Visitor numbers are drifting up again but there appears to be turmoil with individual keywords and that is backed up by evidence on some of the charts at Rank Pulse. Although the very large spikes are over the daily level of change or flux as some people call it has been twice as high as normal for the whole of June. The most worrying straws in the wind are the disappearance of our backlinks from some data centers and the lack of information about the domain and the falling number of sites containing the domain name.

Ringtone Article

It's been a while since we re-published any articles here - that is partly because we are being more selective/rigorus and partly because we have finally managed to get clear of all the gropus we joined to access an amazing volume of unuseable material. So this arrive unsolicited and here it is: Many Ringie Dingies Ringtones are more easily understood when you understand how cell phones work. The brain of the cell phone is its microprocessor. Ringtones work with your cell phone's microprocessor and memory to create a distinctive musical presentation when someone calls your phone. Your phone, much like your computer, uses its microprocessor to tell it what to do and control all it does and works with memory where the programs are stored. Ringtones are individual programs for your phone that get placed into your cell phone memory to be brought out by the microprocessor when your phone receiver gets the message that a call is coming in. Phones that are capable of l

Is it Google wot broke them?

OK so the grammar is flaky - up too early taking daughter to airport for an early flight this morning or the influence of SUN sub-editors - take your pick. Tried McDar this morning after abandoning it for ages and same status as Reladvance i.e. just not returning SERPs. Can Google have found a way of blocking some of these programs or is it a coincidence that three are off the air at the same time? We know that they contravene Google's guidelines but they have been around for quite a while. Enough of this - back to the music and then another long weekend!

Broken Tools

With our Broadband slow and subject to breaks after years of robust steady service and now this morning it becomes apparant that it is Reladvance that is broken and not our site. It is evident that some of our pages have been expelled into the outer darkness by Google but not as many as we thought. Here is the Rank Pulse chart showing the passage of the recent update: Rank Pulse itself has been offline for a few days but is back again although the detail on some of the most changing keywords is still faulty. Never the less we soldier on and customers come and buy music from time to time . . . .

A weekend away and what's new!

Well - the wifi worked at one of the hotels so we saw how bad things were on Saturday but did we panic or despair - no! Visitor volumes are back on a recovery path now - not all the way back but in the right direction for three days now. The Google bloody flux has cast the keywords we have been monitoring with Reladvance into the outer darkness - who knows why? Co-incidentally Google stops giving some of the usual information about the domain. There appear to have been some slips and some expulsions - no obvious pattern and no variation across data centers - random violence again. Rank Pulse is off the air again but our explorations there showed extensive evidence of wild and sudden fluctuations on some keywords and none to speak of else where. Head, banging and walls come to mind! In the meantime while we were away Broadband download speed has fallen below 2 Meg again but the tabs browsing on Firefox is brilliant. With the new lap top we have also tried the new Google Bro

Visitor Volumes down - not sure why

Yes the puzzle continues. We know that there has been a significant Google update but the impact on our SERPs has generally not been too significant - the usual crop of ups and downs spiced up by the odd disappearance. But the last couple of days have been 25% down on the previous working day run rate. Remember - don't panic over a couple of day's figures! So we are going to have a long weekend - back next Wednesday (for our small faithful band of regular readers). This trip will be a test of some technology we are planning to take on a much longer excursion later in the year - so we may improve on that if we find Wifi hotspots in North Wales. If you are one of that faithful band it would be fascinating to hear from you. This daily exercise in one way communication gives focus to my morning review of yesterday's data but the complete absence of response is a bit weird. I have to say it is matched by the lack of response on the SEO board where I have zero credibility

New Presets for the Modular Moog

One of the benefits of software emulations of a flexible synthesizer like the Moog Modular is that you get to benefit from the sound engineering skills of some of the best in the world as part of the ongoing support. The observant amongst you will have noticed that we have not published any new material for some time. This is partly due to the long running software problems we have been having with our Creamware board - still no response to our support request. These problems still apply but the new presets we have recently downloaded have tempted us to have another go and to see if we can attract some interest in them. The broken Creamware functions relate to the final mastering stage so it won't be possible to polish them quite as much as we would like but we'll see how we get on. We have also managed to extricate ourselves form the last of the re-published articles groups at last. In case you are tempted yourselves the Yahoo groups are much more manageable than the Goo

Google Site Map Works?

It looks as if the Google Site Map approach does have some effeect but quite what and when is not too clear. We have used one of the free sitemap generation tools from which is extreemly slow but does the job eventualy. It also picks up some broken links and gives us the opportunity to fix them. Speed is not exactly of the essence in this part of Google because several weeks after we put up our first site map XML file we have started to see changes in the number of pages indexed at some data centers. This was then joined by a third higher version and today the middle one has reduced in value somewhat at its data centers. So we still have three: 460, 1000 and 1530 spread across different centers in roughly equal proportions. The current cache is still over a week old here in the UK so Google is not always picking up all of the weekly changes we make associated with Composer of the week. The other odd thing that has occured in the last few weeks is that

Rank Pulse Rocks!

Rank Pulse is really displaying its unique benefits this morning. There is indeed a an update underway and this time it looks as if the extraordinary spike was just the beginning and that the significant level of changes over the last few days have been a settling in or refinement phase. This is based on looking passed Music in the most active listing and checking out the next 10. You have to select all of the current top 10 sites to see the picture clearly on this occasion. It looks as if Google may have attempted this change in May and abandoned it - coming back to it in June with even more vigor and is now consolidating and refining it. It would appear that Music is in total disarray with 100% change of the top ten on every day that we have looked recently so there is no trend to be seen. I'm not sure that I believe that but that's what the data seems to be saying. This change applies in some degree to about two thirds of the 1000 keywords which Rank pulse monitor and the

Google Update Underway

At least that's what it looks like on Rank Pulse - a more normal monthly spike of changes a few days after the extra ordinary one. No big deal for us apparently expect for the change in the number of pages indexed. The penny finally dropped yesterday after the blog - this is the most obvious consequence of our Site Map initiative and we confidently expect to see it propagated to all data centers soon. Well fairly confidently anyway. We done a bit of a review of our "composer mp3" positions and most are up there on page 1 or 2 but here are a few notable exceptions including Claude Debussy , Mozart , Mendelssohn and Schumann . We are also number one for Marimba MP3 which was a bit of a surprise. After this morning's wobble our broadband is up to 3.8 Meg so fingers crossed BT are getting a grip - either that or the joints have dried out after the recent rain storms!

Stuck or wot?

Broadband still at less than 1 Meg and wobbly first thing in the morning! Site map only 60% processed after days in processing and more wreched errors! Rank Pulse is off the air again. Visitor volumes down for no apparent reason. But at a few of the data centers this moning there is an increase in indexed pages on Google to 1010 which is only 10 less than what Yahoo credits us with. As ever it dosen't let you search right to the end of the list but the major change seems to be the re-inclusion of these Blog pages together with more shop pages. This is now in marked contrast to MSN's miserable 314. Not sure what if anything this will do for us but it shouldn't cause any harm - after all we could always go back and sow some more internal links if Google are going to pay attention to them!

Steady but Slow.....

Our Broadband connection is now running at less than 1Meg downstream although the 0.4Meg upstream seems to be steady as a rock and is very useful to us. There is still a regular perturbation first thing in the working day so we can only hope that they are still working on optimizing the transmission performance. Rank Pulse is back up again this morning and it clearly was a one day spike but the back up charts on the pattern of rankings for particular keywords are not working properly and we haven't got the looked for pattern of this latest spike there on the most changed keywords. In fact the most recent days traces don't make much sense at all. This is obviously a database driven application and it appears that the May and June spikes have gone outside the expected bounds for the keywords subject to the greatest upheavals. The problem is that today's top 10 appear to have no immediate past which doesn't make sense unless of course they are moving independently of the

Slow Weekend

It was Flaming June here in England this weekend and it was a tad slow on the website - let's hope it's not a World Cup effect. Rankpulse made a fleeting appearance over the weekend but it's not there this morning. Googling around on rankpulse revealed no further intelligence - there are some references in other blogs but nothing recent - so yet again you heard it here first! Chopin MP3 is back on the second page after some time on the fourth and fifth and everything else seems to be flying high on Google SERPs. Reladvance shows a modest amount of variation on some of our test keyword SERPs across different data centers but it is really pretty steady at the moment. Time to update Composer of the week I think - suggestions welcome!


Oh - this is almost like real journalism. On 28th April we referred to eClassical as a subscription site and one of their staff has been kind enough to email us to point out the error of our ways. Google suggests that we are not alone in this misconception - some 142 entries - but it is quite clear if you visit their site now that they are offering Classical MP3s for sale and download. They look like good value too because they are long files for $5.99 and appear to be legitimate recordings. This is a real innovation and will bear further study. Not so Rankpulse which has gone off the air this morning! Perhaps Google has intervened or maybe this is self censorship but an explanation would have been nice. Not a flicker else where - just your normal flux. The office got a bit warm yesterday so the new laptop with it's wizzy wifi connection got it's first serious outing down the garden - under the pear tree and alongside the hammock - oh the temptations!

Another Google SERPs Update Spike?

I thought that this time a copy of the Chart from would not come amiss: As you can see yesterday's spike is even higher that the one this time last month. Of course we have to remember that this is a snapshot of one data center. It is possible that Rankpulse get pointed to a different data center from one session to the next or they may point to a specific datacenter address. From our point of view the fact that the term Music is the most changed set of SERPs on the day is startling. But then a little more probing shows that the whole of yesterday's top ten were last seen on that one day in May when we saw the last spike. So what are we to make of this? It looks like one database may be slipping a cog and putting up a radical alternative set of results briefly - could be for less than a day - just when Rankpulse when was watching. If that is the case they will have gone tomorrow - we'll let you know. After a rocky morning yesterday our Broadband conne

3 Cheers for Google Support

By George they did it. Yes at last we are free of the daily deluge of copies of articles for re-print here. It turns out that I signed up for these Google Groups with an old email address which is pointed to my new main one for receipt but not used for sending any more. This got conflated in the Google Accounts system with my new main and so when I tried to cancel the membership it was not recognised. My paranoia - the mild internet conspiracy kind - led me to believe that some one had copied the group membership list and was sending them to me off that list. I even asked one of the suspects to stop but he was kind enough to reply that he just used the group and this prompted me to go back to Google Support. This is not the most welcoming of Google functions and makes all sorts of assumptions about the nature of the problem being raised but I persisted and was rewarded with an intelligent and ultimately totally successful response. All I need now is for someone with a Gmail ac

Stave Invaders

Yes I liked the name too - . This web site announced itself on amongst others this am and for once I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. They offer some simple and useful MP3s for early music theory - primarily aimed at new guitarists - free of charge. They also offer one of their own recordings for $0.99. However the e-commerce is a bit creaky because PayPal seems to add another dollar. It is nice to see a bit of enterprise emerging on the music scene which is different to the run of the mill and looks really useful. Constructive criticisms would be that the site needs a bit of work on layout and link presentation. If you are going to try and sell music on line you need to have samples so that people can hear what they are getting before they part with their money. The guitar blues offered free isn't really up to professional standards but has a nice enough atmosphere - I wasn't tempted to buy the one for sale I'm afraid.

New Music

It is time we changed our tack and came up with some new recordings perhaps in a slightly different style to see if we can generate interest that way. The main obstacle at the moment is our kit. The software for our sophisticated Creamware sound card is not working properly with our Cubase sequencing and recording application. Specifically this means restricted access to final mastering functionality as we put the mixes to bed. On the instrumentation front we have some new presets for the Moog that we'd like to try - provided they don't pull the processor over and we have some Symphonic movements on the stocks that could be fun. So this calls for another attempt to get a response from their support organisation. In the meantime the weather here in London is sunny and warm at last, our broadband reasonably steady and the visitors are coming into the site in reasonable numbers but that's as far as it goes. Time for the new weekly composer now - Saint Saens I think.

Dynamic Stability

Our visitor numers are pretty flat at the moment and Rankpulse shows very low levels of churn in rankings for it's top 1000 keywords but... Underneath that apparent stability our keywords are in turmoil some up and some down. The percentages can be a little misleading because the ups can be several 100% from a low base over a week but in absolute terms that may equate to a 50% reduction on an other keyword. Meanwhile Reladvance is showing a very low level of variation across data centers for our daily checks but Chopin MP3 is still in the dumps i.e. the 30's . The other odd pattern we are seeing is that the page views for a particular keyword often move in the opposite direction to visitor numbers, suggesting that there is a kind of base level of use and some kind of froth or ephemeral/unintended viewing going on. Goodness only knows what Google make of this if they attempt to analyse these sorts of patterns over a variety of different sites or sites within particular cat

Definitely too soon

Broadband down load speed back down to pre upgrade levels but upload is still holding up. More wobbles and restarts. Just have to be patient I suppose. Google is relatively quiet at the moment although it is still juggling with chopin mp3. Google support however have taken my google groups problem seriously and are investigating. I just hope that they can interpret the message header information I sent them this am and help stop the up to 1000 a day articles group messages that we get at the moment.

Day 6 - Spoke too soon!

Our broadband performance over the weekend has been a bit more exciting than our first couple of days on broaderband had led us to expect. BT have indeed been exploring the envelope. We've been up to 8 Meg with frequent disconnections - even at less thrilling 5 and 6 Meg the whole thing has been rather unstable. It has even exposed a little weakness in our XP desktop which leads it to hang to the point of requiring a power down rather than a simple restart as it struggled with re-establishing the LAN and associated internet connection. By contrast this faithful old 2000 desktop and the brand new wifi connected lap top were pretty steady through all the network turmoil. We're down to under 4 Meg this morning although fortunately for us the upstream path seem to be steady at the expected doubling of it's previous rate. Four more days of refinement if the newsgroups are to be believed before we settle down. Otherwise it was a relatively quiet showery holiday weekend here in

Day 2 and Download speed Doubled

It is nice for a change to be able to praise my former employer for the quality of their service. There have been no glitches so far and the online test says that our broadband speeds have more than doubled already. I can see that BT have been learning from their earlier experience of this roll out when some people did have a bumpy ride but this is very positive. Let's see how high it will go after the holiday weekend ... Meanwhile although there is not much movement on Google at the moment but chopin mp3 was knocked back into the thirties again but now seems to be coming back to the low teens in most centers. On the other hand Beethoven mp3 is starting to drift down a little towards low teens , bach mp3 is rock steady at 8 and bach toccata mp3 has been expelled to the outer darkness. Have a good one!

Upgrading to Broaderband

Not content with a 2meg service we have accepted the offer we couldn't refuse to upgrade to the 8 Max service from BT where they try to squeeze a few more meg out of the copper path from here to the local exchange. The news groups are full of horror stories but we are going to try to be calm. We had the swithch over e-mail promptly at eight o'clock this morning and the router control software says the service has changed and the other PC suggests that the speed has gone up to 2.2Meg in contrast with one of the online checks which says that nothing has happened yet. The performance of this technology is so much better than any of us in the UK industry had any reason to suspect when we first looked at it 15 or so years ago. We thought that our line lengths and equipment practices would severely limit the bandwidth that could be carried and there were all sorts of worries about interference with the performance of the voice traffic being carried in the same cables but we were

Slow News Day Again ...

Most days our regular review of the monitors on our site's performance or the latest bit of development makes the choice of topic for this blog pretty straight forward but not today. All our major developments have bedded down, Google is quiet and the articles scene is a desert of relevant and useful copy. It is increasingly clear that Google is pretty discerning when it comes to relevant material. In truth I suspect that much of this diary of an online business is seen by the algorithms as irrelevant to the main focus of our site and we are ignoring any link exchange request which is not directly relevant - so no more opticians for us - let alone online gambling. 163 in the site map queue this morning and no change to old cached pages!

Google Site Map Complete!

Yes - we finally got there. The XML file is 3500 lines long and we've done a little editing. It is not clear yet how the FreeSitemapGenerator application assigns priorities and update frequencies. Having inadvertently submitted the job a second time (188 in the queue) it will be interesting to see where and how the new version compares but don't hold your breath, as it could be at least a week before we see the results. It will also be a useful check that the errors exposed the first time have all been eliminated. As to what effect this is going to have on GoogleBot's behavior is anybody's guess but hopefully the old cache pages will be replaced reasonably soon. In the mean time there is continuing keyword turmoil in the successful searches for the site and the home page is drifting down while the iTunes pages continues to fly high and bounce our visitors away in an alarmingly consistent fashion!

47% Complete & More Errors

Yes more churlishness and humble pie in similar measure. More errors have been exposed - so a bit more work to be getting on with there. Some are in the blog archive and I am going to ignore those I think - or then again perhaps its time for a complete re-load. But even more extraordinary - the Google Site Map is still only 47% complete. The number of pages crawled is 1400+ which must mean a very thorough crawl through the shop most of which is not really optimized for Search Engine robots. The dilemma is are the errors holding it up and should we start again or do we just fix the errors and hang on in there. I am used to having applications that can take from midnight to 6 or 7 in the morning to complete but this is the first time I've ever seen anything run for more than two days! Let's see what it looks like on Monday morning.

Google Site Map 35% done

It is obviously a bigger job than I had appreciated but the Google site map is now 35% done after two days in the queue. But it has already paid for itself by pin pointing the incorrectly coded links on our product pages. They took a little while to correct even with find and replace but they are done now. The stupid thing is that we had seen them in the failure log for some time but not suspected the cause. It can be a painful business - this kicking yourself! Meanwhile back in the Google SERPs modest flux continues and bach toccata mp3 has fallen dramatically from grace for no accountable reason. With a bit of luck fixing those errors coupled with the site map will get that one back on course. Reladvance also suggests that Google's experiment with a significantly reduced number of indexed pages for us has ended for now to that is a relief.

Still in the Queue

Oh this brings back memories. When I were a lad we used a mainframe computer with a telex machine as the man machien interface. Any job that took more than one minute of cpu time had to be submitted for processing in the overnight batch run. Even that had a maximum of 5 minutes CPU time and each year I had to jump up and down to get my 6 minute job to run. To put this in perspective the mainframe had 1K of RAM so we are not talking bloatware or rocket science - just monthly stats accumulated over 15 years or so. All that was prompted by finding that we have moved from 63 to 11 in the queue in 24 hours. Still it is churlish to be critical of free goods - I just hope it is right when it does run as I don't fancy that as a correction cycle. Otherwise our Google and Yahoo visitor numbers are showing continued steady growth. Interesting but long..... post from Google insider Matt Cutts yesterday if you are interested in Google Search quality matters.

Google Sitemap

For a search engine Google can be pretty elusive about its add-on goodies. Many lights under multiple bushels. We looked at Google's Site Map offering before but put it back in the too hard file. An article that came in yesterday prompted another go and we are well underway using to put it together. This appears to be a bit like a super robots.txt file that helps Google find its way round the site and lets us tell Google's robot about our priorities and frequency of updates. It's early days yet and we'll keep you posted as time goes by. It is still too early to see any real results from yesterdays changes but there have been a few successful clicks on the left column images already and possibly a hint of some response on the iPod and iTunes pages - fingers crossed!

iTunes Conversion

Our cunning wheeze of offering some help to iPod and iTunes users has played out in rather an odd way. Ironically enough they are amongst our most popular pages but we get next to no traffic from them into the rest of the site so now is the time to try some experiments as we have nothing to loose! We'll keep you posted. In the meantime there is clearly a reasonable level of flux underway on Google affecting some of our individual piece keywords rather than the composer pages - could be Google catching up with some of the improvements we've been making to the product pages but it is not clear and we need to run some checks. A quick check on the old cache product pages shows that cache updates have stopped around page 90 in the pages from listing on Google which coincidentally is the number of pages being shown on some data centers. Perhaps we should be doing piece of the week instead! It's time to update Composer of the week and we're also going to take the opportuni

Site Map - Breaks Out

It seems that the addition of all our product pages to our site map has done the trick and it has suddenly broken through after months and months with very little traffic. The Google cache was updated on 30th April soon after we made the change and it's ranking has obviously improved significantly. Other observations today are that Google has largely settled down after the very spiky update and we are seeing pretty consistent results across data centers. But Reladvance has halved the number of data centers it reports on. It hasn't made any comment about this and so I'm guessing that they have rationalized on to the centers which have a track record of moving independently from each other. MacDar wouldn't respond properly but there was a hint of a similar rationalization. Perhaps more of that Big Daddy discipline emerging?

What's this got to do with Music?

Readers of this blog over the last few months might have wondered where this is going and what it has to do with Instrumental Music. It all goes back to the original question behind - can an independent musician make it online? There are several hurdles including the searchengine rankings and in particular Google's SERPs without that even our samples are not heard. This has been a major focus for us for at least a year and we have been very exposed to the vagaries of Google's algorithms, updates etc. However the biggest hurdle seems to be persuading potential customers that our music is worth paying for. We have attracted a few enthusiasts and one or two have even been kind enough to say how much they like this or that arrangement. It is becoming apparent that the reason that we have no company in this niche is that there is very little interest in buying this sort of music. This has been reinforced lately by the customers who have registered in our volume d

Google SERPs Convulsion

Yesterday Rankpulse recorded it's biggest spike yet . According to this 20% of the top ten ranking places changed in one day across the sample that they monitor. This compares with the more usual 2% daily churn. Not a flicker on the SEO Forum but the moving average is now as high as the last peak at the end of February. Reladvance is too busy to talk to us at the minute which also suggests that something is up. We had a slightly better day for visitors yesterday so, fingers crossed, we are continuing to make steady progress. More analysis tomorrow Reladvance permitting....

Spring Sale Over

Well the Spring Sale was a good exercise to check how easy or not it is for us to run price promotions. It also suggests that our customers are not in the least responsive to that sort of offer. It did take a fair bit of effort to amend all the relevant files but without the find and replace facilities in Dreamweaver it would have been a night mare. The main and streaming pages were straight forward but the shop pages required a little more digging. The price change it self was simple once we found the correct place on the admin menu. At the same time we took down the Bach Poll because that too was a waste of space. The triumph of the day was the resolution of the graphical layout issues with the right column. We are going to let it run for a while without links from the images before we add some back.

Don't think it is Hardware

There is a thread in the SEO forum today suggesting that hardware capacity problems are at the root of the anomalies that we have been seeing on Google's SERPs in the last few months. But it seems to me that the ability of Google to produce consistent results from all data centers albeit only occasionally gives the lie to that hypothesis. In any case it all seems to stem from a broad brush comment in a corporate finance statement. It has always seem to me that Google's distributed processing architecture was a very resilient basis for responding to growth in demand. The speed with which they were able to respond to the apparently unexpected level of demand for Analytics was an example of that capacity to respond promptly and effectively. Software changes are much more likely to be at the back of all this and I like the idea of the Big Daddy infrastructure change including some enhanced software change control capability across the datacenters. There are evidently still som

Something is Up

Yesterday saw a major spike on Rankpulse and SEO's are reporting all sorts of odd results - so something is up at Google. Whether it is cock up as some are suggesting or part of a plan only time will tell. Analytics is down for maintenance and Reladvance is busy - always a clue - so not much more detail from us for now. We'll just have to keep our eyes peeled. A quick look at the source shows no obvious problems for us. We'll keep you posted next week - have a good weekend!

Google has updated our Product pages

A little while ago I mentioned that Google seem not to have picked up recent updates of our product pages but a check today confirmed that the latest version is there. But, the cached versions are still ancient. In the past these two aspects of Google used to march in step but the cache is evidently being left behind some times. The weather is so nice this week that we have decided to bring the Spring Sale to a close as soon as we can update the templates etc i.e. in a few days. We are also going to take down the poll experiment from the Bach page at the same time because that has attracted very little interest. After a lull of a few days something is stiring in the Google pot with experiments with radical reductions in the pages from count at some data centers which was what prompted today's check on pages held. And there was what may turn out to be the start of a ripple on Rankpulse. Where would we be without all these monitoring tools?

Steady Boys Steady

The latest Google update has finished at least as far as we are concerned and Google visitor numbers have plateaued at a more comfortable number than the downward trend that applied prior to the update. The priority for this week is to replace the text in the left column with images to see if that improves the optimisation of the main pages. As our regular readers may have noticed we have been using fewer articles from other sources lately. This reflects an evolution of our editorial policy i.e. we are trying to be more selective and a diminishing flow of usable material. Back in January we signed up to lots of groups sharing articles and nearly drowned in the subsequent flow of dross. It is all streamed off into the Spam Bin now because it proved difficult to resign from some of these groups. We do get a few targeted articles sent to us and have used a few of those but they are few and far between now.

More Company

On the SEO forum there are often cries of pain from people who can see competitors using 'unfair' tactics etc. Our arena has been relatively free of that but there is quite a lot of rubbish in the SERPs when you look at it from the point of view of someone looking for particular Classical MP3s to download. You can put up with the modern stars who share part of their name with a famous composer but it is the sites that lure you through from an innocuous front to another site when you click that download button that are disturbing and frustrating. Looking at Chopin MP3 and Dvorak MP3 this morning on Google there are also a few broken sites and a charming one that reports "Dvorak 0 files found" surrounded by other useless automated content. And you also tend to find that the 'Free' sites don't actually work. The Chopin MP3 check was also a dramatic example of how Google adapts the SERPs to individual searchers because on Reladvance this morning we are be

Old Cache is being Updated at Last!

A further delve into the pages from the site listing showed that in fact Google has - on some kind of selective basis been replacing the old cached pages of our streaming samples progressively over the last month or so. It still has quite a way to go but at least it is making some progress now and our efforts to avoid duplicate content should be evident. Rankpulse is showing a modest spurt of activity so there is clearly something going on but the scale is not obvious yet let alone any impact on us. Reladvance is showing some variation between data centers for key words in the 30's but the page 1 and 2 examples that we check each day seem to be holding their recent gains and remain pretty steady across all centers. Having had a look at the way our left panel impacts on the text that spiders see and more significantly the order in which they see it. I think we could usefully convert it into images so that the optimized body text has maximum impact. There will be some impact on ini

Why Site Map?

The Boys Own A-Z of website development page 1 - include a site map. This will help visitors overcome any short comings in your on site navigation facilities - won't it. So along with millions of others we dutifully include a site map - but no one comes - not for over two months! Can't believe our navigational aids are that good - so why do we bother? Well - the beings that do use sitemaps are the spidering robots - I am assuming that is what the 101 requests so far this month for our site map were about. I got onto this topic because I've been trying to think of ways of enticing the Google bot to come and visit our streaming pages and update their cache because I hope that the improvements we have made will improve our performance. Now that I know that humans are not involved with this page I can add links to the streaming pages without considering their sensibilities. Cut and paste here I come ..... The next step might be to have another go a Google's site map fa

The Company you Keep

It is always instructive to keep an eye on the competition on Google. Take Bach MP3 as a popular keyword phrase for example - there we are most of the way down the first page. Our regular companion Classical Cat catalog of free mp3 organised by composer almost always to be found on composer mp3 first pages near the top. Some of the others are reputable expert Bach sites but their MP3 offerings are a bit thin. There are one or two of these automated content directory pages that are no use to anyone and some subtle and not so subtle fronts for some of the Mega MP3 sites which ofetn appear two or three times in these results. There is also a performer using MP3 recordings to promote his concerts which is cool by me. There are no other independent publishers and no sign of iTunes but I guess that they don't need to bother. You don't get to the very cheap, Russian based, album download site till mid page 2 and then there is the prolific pianist who is offering his recordings qui

Site Overlay Blues

One of the best features of the Google Analytics package is the Site Overlay which allows you to see what intra site links are being clicked or not! For some reason that I cannot fathom our visitors are ignoring our blandishments in all directions except to hear our music samples. This has definitely got worse lately and is consistent with the higher bounce rates that we are seeing from the index page and others. This is a most salutary experience for your dedicated web master who is trying to make site visits as interesting and interactive as possible. Luckily the quiet drift up the Google SERPs rankings for lots of our key word phrases is being rewarded by increasing numbers of visits and most of our composer pages are doing their stuff.

New technology, New Ring Tones

It's time we mentioned ringtones again: New technology, New Ring Tones Who ever invented the ring tone is probably sitting on a beach, drinking something with a little umbrella in it and will never have to worry about paying the bill again. Most of us know that ring tones are the sound our cell phones make to alert us of an incoming call. It was first just a tool used so one person could distinguish one cell phone ring from another, however, now you can make your cell phone make any kind of noise you can think of, from the voice of a favorite band or singer to everyday sounds of street traffic to barn animals. Some ring tones make a nice sound and don't annoy the ones around them. Other sounds are just down right annoying and rude and those are the ones that are usually the loudest and can be heard from blocks away. Birds too have picked up on ring tone music too and a German study has found that many wild birds are excellent mimics. Starlings, Blue Jays and Jackdaw'

Google Update Acknowledged

There has been some acknowledgement of the recent Google Update on the SEO forum but not much excitement. However the flux continues according to my daily checks on Reladvance. The most disturbing aspect of recent results is the lack of response to our Spring Sale. Time to change Composer of the week ... Gounod this time I think.

Customer Feedback

One of the disadvantages of an internet business is that it is hard to elicit feed back from customers let alone visitors to your site. Regular readers of this blog will know that it attracts very few comments and the same is true of the wider website. So that made the e-mail from a customer who likes our recording of Saint Saens Danse Macabre so much that he wanted to tell us and suggest that we try and get it on Classic FM's Playlist. Not confident that our approach to them will have any success but it was most encouraging to have such positive and thoughtful feedback. We have looked at this whole issue of customer communications a number of times but we have yet to come up with a productive approach. Mind you even offers of 50% discounts appear to stir no interest amongst our visitors so I'm not sure what kind of sledge hammer it will take. Perhaps we just have to become more creative musicians and hook people by their ears!

Freefall Halted - for now

Much relief over the weekend - the steady fall in visitor numbers has arrested and volumes have plateaued out. The results from Rank pulse suggest that the "Google Update" activity has ceased now - with quiet days all over the weekend. But our Reladvance observations are showing continuing changes for us - mostly gently positive. It has also been interesting to see the consistency of results across data centers varying over time. Most days there is some variation on the small sample of keywords and pages we have been watching. Then every so often all variation is eliminated and a day or two later the local experiments/changes start again. Not only SERPs but also pages indexed are showing this sort of variation. It is tempting to think that this is Big Daddy at work but perhaps it was always like that and we just didn't see it because we weren't using Reladvance or MacDar's Google Dance pages. And we've had an e-mail from a satisfied customer - more of t

Unacknowledged Update Continues

My response to the latest Update thread in the SEO Forum killed it dead! So it is quite clear then - we must be being singled out for cruel and unusual treatment - or is that the paranoia kicking in? Rankpulse activity was relatively high again yesterday and we had an even higher number of visitors coming in on very individual keyword phrases from Google. Reladvance is also showing continuing activity on SERPs results across different datacenters. The movements are not all adverse and things are a little less consistent than they were across data centers. Apparently there should be different results for our home territory in the UK but I haven't found out the address of those centers yet. Found to my surprise that Google is still caching last August's versions of our streaming sample pages which is a bit ironic given the effort we have been putting into them over the last month or so and Googlebot is obviously skimming our site and not following the many links to our streams