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Showing posts from May, 2006

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.