Instrumental+Music Percussion+Music Classical+Music

Friday, December 30, 2005

 

Review of the Year (part 2)

August - in parallel with the completion and launch of the Multi-track store we went back to Wordtracker to look for more key word opportunities.

But the key move of the month was our adoption of Hitslink which has helped us see much more precisely what our visitors are doing on the site and where they have come from. There were some shocks when we realized just how much of the traffic we have comes from robots. It looks as if the big ones visit every day.

September saw the launch of some new pages prompted by the Wordtracker work and the iPod/iTunes pages are now after four months generating a lot of visitors. This month we also worked on the Ringtone collection and got it launched at the end of the month. Results have been pretty depressing really despite having reasonable positions on Google for keywords like 'classic MP3 ringtone' , the interest we saw in our samples earlier in the year and the growth of Mobile phones with MP3 playing capacity.

Through the months of October and November we rode the Google Jagger roller coaster from record heights to the depths of despair. We re-found the community of Google watchers and were amazed by the range of tools that they offered to monitor what is going on across the datacenters. This isn't necessarily a very healthy occupation but is is possible that one or possibly two of the actions we took as a result of that research resulted in the relatively healthy visitor volumes that we have been experiencing for several weeks now.

The Jagger experience also prompted our entry into the article publication arena which is probably a dead end for us unless we can up our game on the exciting writing front. Christmas was pretty quiet as far as sales go and so we go into the new year with a big question mark over the commercial viability of this venture. It feels like we have got to first base - putting decent quality merchandise in front of browsers who have expressed interest. It all depends on our capacity to convert sufficient of that interest into sales.

From a human point of view we have seen a lot more human visitors to this blog and we can see that the site has a few fans who are coming back time and again to go through our whole catalog of samples and we have a few paying customers whose anonymity is protected by BitPass. The blog and the web site have failed lamentably to prompt responses from our audience - the visitor stats are really the only feedback we get and that is pretty thin gruel.

But Hey next week is the start of a new year with fresh challenges to meet and new music to make.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

 

Review of the Year (part 1)

We started the year with a partial list of composers and we used the blog to promote the individual composers and their pieces.

In February we started Podcasting and in March we announced that a complete collection had been published. In April the realization dawned that people were collecting our clips - particularly those which had been podcast and we engineered a substantial change to the site. We bought a Flash application to enable us to stream samples without revealing the samples URL - this doesn't stop those determined to record the streaming sample while it is being played but it does stop the easy rip offs and the volume of sample downloads reduced quite significantly. This change also resulted in nearly 200 new pages being added one day which had very similar content.

Over the subsequent months those files have progressively been differentiated from each other as we have experimented to try and find the optimum phrasing and presentation to encourage purchase from those pages. We were worried about the compatibility of the streaming software for a while - not least because one of our browsers kept giving us problems. The evidence suggests that rather elderly version of IE is not used by may people now and there are no real compatibility issues.

It was around this time that we launched our Ragtime collection - mainly Scott Joplin but augmented by a few other favorites. This was followed shortly afterwards with the collection of Bach Toccatas building on the success of the Widor and Schumann Toccata in the original collection.

In July the next big development was the Multi-Track store based on the osCommerce database application. For the most part this went well although we failed in our attempt to simplify the purchasing process at that stage and the product loading task was extremely tedious. Then at the end of the month we largely abandoned the use of the term remix - although it still remains in the titles of many of our recordings. It just seemed to be too confusing.

Part 2 tomorrow with some reflections on lessons learned.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

 

Welcome to the new iPod owners

The most dramatic change in our search results since Christmas has been the number of visitors arriving at our iPod/iTunes pages - presumably people who got them as presents and were looking for advice. Unfortunately the changes we made to the pages have achieved only very modest success in luring these visitors into the rest of the site. However adding the automatic music has had some impact in the number of page reloads is anything to go by. Perhaps a little more explanation would be helpful.

Overall activity has been a little lower than usual. There is evidently some activity in the Google indexing system and we have experienced some ups and downs. Rankpulse suggests a modest upturn of this activity as does the MacDar data center analysis. The consensus on the SEO chatter seems to be that it is no biggy - maybe just a little post holidays bunching.

Friday, December 23, 2005

 

Seasonal Response

This was an interesting experiment and I suppose it is a little early to judge yet but on the basis of the first 24 hours we are wasting our time offering free gifts.

The only evidence of our lastminute shopping article to be found was using exact search for a five word phrase and that was still on the submission site. More keyword competition research needed if we were to try that again.

On the other hand our changes to the iPod/iTunes pages that launch music sample players have already had a noticeable impact with more visitors going on to explore other pages on the site. It is also possible that there is a different reaction to the two samples chose so there is some scope for further experimentation and development there.

Have a very Merry Christmas - review of the year next week.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

 

Christmas Gift - Carol of the Bells

As a special Christmas gift we have arranged Carol of the Bells on percussion including some bells and made the full HiFi MP3 recording (2.4M) available for the Christmas season only - free of charge.

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

 

Shopping Online – Protect Yourself

This article seemed very relevant to our last minute shopping theme:

Shopping Online - – Protect Yourself

These days, there are great bargains to be found by shopping
online. Many items that previously were only available in
stores are now being bought and sold online every day. Books,
CD's, DVD's and electronics are all growing in popularity as
online purchases. Then there are things like flights, hotel
bookings, car rentals and the like that are which are well
established in the online shopping world. More and more stores
are putting up websites that allow you to make online orders
and even supermarkets now let you do your grocery shopping
online and they'’ll deliver the goods to your door.

Added to this growth in stores and other big business websites,
there are also millions of small traders offering you goods
online too. Online auction sites such as ebay are experiencing
phenomenal success. These types of purchases however carry the
risk that you do not really know who you are dealing with but
you have to give them sensitive financial information in order
to pay for your purchases. You are forced to choose between
buying from small sellers and then trust them with your card
details, or forgo the opportunities they offer and deal only
with large and trusted names.

Payment Sites

This problem has been recognised and that is why it is now
possible to shop online from lots of small sellers while
maintaining your privacy and keeping your financial information
secure. There are payment sites with the most popular probably
being PayPal, that are set up specifically to deal with issues
like these. Indeed, PayPal is now owned by Ebay, which shows
the link in importance between the two services offered by
these companies.

What websites like PayPal allow you to do is open an online
account for free. You can then transfer money into your account
using a standard credit card payment procedure. The advantage
of this is that while you are providing your card information
to PayPal, this is the only company who you are giving this
information to and since they are large and therefore,
hopefully, trustworthy, your privacy and security should be
safe.

Then when you make all your various purchases with smaller,
more anonymous traders, all you do is make the payment through
PayPal and this avoids all the dangers having to give all your
sensitive data out again and again. It is another example of
how using credit cards online are becoming safer and more
convenient.


About The Author: Joseph Kenny is the webmaster of the UK
credit card comparison site http://www.creditcards121.com/,
where you can find a selection of credit card advice. For US
visitors there is also the comparison site
http://www.credit-cards-info.com/ for all US interest

With BitPass you can use your credit card or a PayPal account as the source of funds and so this shares the same protection benefits when you are buying our original MP3 recordings online.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

Timing is Everything

Looking back at our first two article submissions we may have left yesterday's too late - I hadn't noticed the lag because the stats presentation is remarkably positive. We could miss the boat altogether with this one.

Some SEO chat suggests that Google may already be on to this approach and there could even be problems with duplicate copy so we shall not be going overboard on this one. The duplicate copy concern also attaches to press releases and cloned directory entries so I don't think that should be too much of an issue.

Speaking of timing I have also picked on a site called rankpulse.com which claims to keep the pulse of Google rankings by monitoring positions in the top ten for 1000 top key words it monitored the volume of change each day. It seems to run at about 2% per day with a couple of one day spikes of up to 10% during the course of the last year - those spikes don't very obviously coincide with Jagger's various phases but we know that Google release changes progressively and depending how rankpulse accesses data centers that could smooth out the effects. It also suggests that they are being successful in targeting specific 'optimisation' tactics and the relatively small proportion of sites that adopt them. Occasionally it records no changes at all. This is substantially at odds with the approach which used to apply when Google would have a major update each month and fits in better with the image of their using material freshly collected by BoogleBot the following day as we saw with our little experiment earlier this year.

Added later: The submission cycle was much quicker this time and the article is out there now - but not sure if any of them have been picked up and used yet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

 

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Online

After those final delivery deadlines have passed and even after the shops have closed, Online stores that fulfil through downloads are still available.

These stores can give a whole new meaning to last minute Christmas shopping.

The goods available as downloads these days include a whole range of material, from software including games through movies and e-books to the ever popular music options and services including airline and cinema tickets, holiday vouchers, mobile phone airtime and ring tones.

In some ways there is nothing new about the principal of last minute shopping on line. Here in the UK a videotex system called Prestel introduced e-mail in 1981 and shortly there after online purchase and down load of software was introduced. (In those days before bloatware I could access an e-mail system using a 20 line Basic programme so the software downloads were tiny by today's standards.) That was handy because Prestel used very, very, very slow modems and clunky graphics but it was still the platform for one of the first major IT security scandal involving access to Prince Phillip's e-mail account. In those days you charged your purchases to your phone bill - an approach that is still floating around today.

It has been the cost, availability and above all consumer confidence in payment methods for online shopping which has governed the rate of progress over the last 20+ years.

The distribution costs of the online retailer comprised the web site services, shop software and the card acceptance company charges. For a long time the shop software was seen as a highly specialist and high cost area but new solutions have emerged in the last few years that have broken down this barrier. At Download2MP3.com we use two of those approaches. For small purchases of one or two recordings we have adopted the BitPass system. They provide online payment facilities backed off onto the consumer's credit or debit card which permit economically viable transactions for goods or services priced at fractions of a dollar. This is particularly helpful for the distribution of electronic media including MP3 files. For larger orders we encourage customers to set up an account with us using the open source OsCommerce application and payment facilities provided by PayPal where the economics kick in at somewhat higher value transactions.

Availability of content has progressed as secure and efficient file format standards such as PDF and MP3 have been established, encryption for secure transactions introduced and tested in practice and dramatically increased bandwidth at low cost has made it widely accessible.

Consumer confidence has taken some knocks and care is still called for. But with low value, digital content based transactions the risks are pretty low. Online retailers are generally well aware of the need to maintain consumer confidence and will deal fairly with any issues that may arise and the security problems with physical delivery do not arise.

So we have reached the stage where it is perfectly possible to buy substantial products online easily, with confidence and importantly at this time of year, at the time and place of your choice.

Monday, December 19, 2005

 

Is Google Analytics Good For The Internet Marketing Industry?

I have included this rather thoughtful article despite enjoying mixed feelings about the lack of user support from Google - see Catch 22 last week. We were not quick enough to actually get on the first wave of Analytics provision and so we are sitting in a queue with only a modest expectation that Google will respond when it becomes available again. However the opportunity to replace our paid for service with a 'free' one is of great interest:

Is Google Analytics Good For The Internet Marketing Industry?


First they gave us a good search engine. Then they gave us two gigabytes of free server space for email. Now they have given us a high quality web analytics system, for free. Let me just repeat that. They have given us a web analytics system FOR FREE. So what’s this system like? What are its features and how do I see it affecting the web analytics marketplace? This article explains all.

The Web Analytics Marketplace

For a long time now the market has been split into the companies that could afford good tracking at the enterprise level, where the average yearly fee is about $40,000, and those that could only afford around $500-$5000 per year. I don’t see the companies marketing to the enterprises being affected too much.

Enterprise level companies have so many different needs, such as security of their information and high level support, that Googles offer, while probably tempting, will not be a viable solution. Google have slow support and I don't see that being any different for their analytics solution. In fact I think Google will most likely rely on outside agencies to support the product. I also can't see the big companies (especially the big publishers and advertising firms) happily handing over all their data to a company that either is or most likely will be their competition.

The companies who will really benefit are the ones that either use 3rd party tracking and pay a comparatively small fee per year or don't currently use analytics at all. The vendors currently serving the SME sector had better get into the enterprise market. If they don't they will be out of business within a year because the features of the Google system are as good as some enterprise products I've worked with. I'’m not usually one to predict impending doom, but I would imagine that the web analytics vendor space could be down to as little as 30 companies from about 120 next year. This is simply because there is very little need to use any paid tool at the lower end of the market when there is a fully featured one available for free.

What features?

Well, I could write an entire book. The system has all the basics, the page views, the visitor counts, the path tracking, the technical info like browser/platform/resolutions, so pretty much everything you need to get the basic reporting done and dusted. However it's also got what you need to get going with some decent analysis.

For instance you can track scenarios (i.e. figure out where people drop out of a shopping cart or sign up process). You can get demographic information such as what city and what company people are browsing from as well as a global overview to see instantly where most of your visits come from. You have a website overlay so that you may see what links people are clicking in a similar way to that pioneered by Clicktracks. You can cross match one statistic with another, so if you wanted to know how many people whom had visited only your landing page also bought a product or signed up you could find it out. You can find out the top entry pages, exit pages, bounce rates and really drill down into path analysis.

Perhaps most interesting though is the very comprehensive tracking you can do with PPC campaigns, as you would expect from Google. This alone was all I was expecting Google to give away when they acquired Urchin. I figured Google's strategy in buying Urchin on demand (the system that Google Analytics used to be called) would be to scale down the features and concentrate on the PPC reporting for their customers, leaving the fully featured Urchin system as a separate product. But no, this is the full Urchin feature set, a product you used to pay at least $200 per month for. So is there anything here you should be wary or cautious about?

Beware the lawyers

There are some things about the system you should be aware of that Google (at the time
of writing) have not covered to my knowledge. I've had discussions with some of the enterprise vendors who have expressed valid concerns about the legal implications of the cookie injection method Google use. Google use a first party cookie. This means that the cookie that is placed on the visitor's browser is unique to your website - though this is a good thing in my opinion. It is more accurate than third party cookies which are often blocked by software meaning the visitor counts are usually wrong.

The enterprise vendors however all make sure that their clients have the correct privacy statements regards the use of cookies. Their concern is that legally, at least in Europe you have to state somewhere on your website (IE in your privacy policy) that you use cookies to track visitor behavior. Google have'n’t told anyone to do this currently, though this may change as their offering matures. However if you're in Europe and your privacy statement tells visitors that you'’re using a cookie to track them then you have nothing to worry about.

Another thing that has had some users complaining is the initial problems Google have had due to high demand. Google tried to give away too much too soon and the system can'’t handle it, teething problems which I'’m sure they'’ll solve eventually. The final thing is that the data is not real time, it's six hours old, but really you can't expect everything for free. The legal issues are the only real problem to look out for in my opinion.

Legal matters aside …

Google Analytics is the best thing to happen to the Internet marketing industry since pay per click was introduced. It really is that important and I'’m telling you this for your own good. It'’s free, feature rich, and it's a powerful tool that means you have no reason not to start using web analytics. I've been banging the web analytics drum for ages and one of the biggest objections has been the price of the tools. Well that price just got as good as it can get. So what are you waiting for? Finally I have to add, respect to Google! Giving this away helps the industry tremendously, web analytics tools are necessary; finally we have a good free one.
Editors Comment
Since writing this article Google have responded to the legal concern raised. You may see their response by visiting this page. It shows that Google have actually addressed this issue in the same way as other vendors do.


Author: Steve Jackson, Editor - Conversion Chronicles
Steve Jackson is the Editor of the Conversion Chronicles, a website conversion rate marketing newsletter dedicated to improving website conversion rates. He is also the CEO of Aboavista a web conversion and web analytics consultancy based in Finland and the USA. You can get a free copy of his e-book sent to you upon subscription to the Conversion Chronicles web site.


Looks like we should be updateing our privacy statement...

Friday, December 16, 2005

 

Catch 22

And yes what a wonderful novel that was.

We appear to be caught in a Google's Groups Catch 22. I our first flush of enthusiasm over article publication we applied to join 26 Google groups but before the confirmation emails came in we thought better of it and didn't confirm our requests. Nevertheless we started to get multiple copies of emailed articles addressed to the group but because we never joined we can't get back in to the system to change the parameters to avoid the emails or un-subscribe.

Here's hoping that this is just a little undocumented feature of the beta software that Google are using and that they will respond sympathetically to my request to extract me from this mess. In the mean time a new rule in Outlook will dump all these messages into the spam bucket at the current rate of about a thousand a day.

Later that day: Google thanked me for my bug report and said that they couldn't respond to individual queries - so much for user support!

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

 

Were we in the Google Sandbox?

Found a really interesting article today describing the current best understanding of the infamous Google 'Sandbox' effect.

While we have mainly stuck to 'trustworthy' directories we have succumbed to a couple of reciprocal link proposals that looked pretty innocuous but we also added large numbers of pages with the MP3 ringtones launch.

But looking at the chronology - we were doing less well on competitive keywords such as [composer MP3] on Google than we were on MSN and particularly Yahoo during most of this year. But our escape from the sandbox if that is what it was came during Jagger when we put some effort in to making our product pages more distinctive from each other and emailed Google about them.

So case not proven but strong hints to avoid confusing Google in future. I think that means continuing to avoid irrelevant back links and care over any reciprocal linking and making any sudden moves. Hopefully the article publication route with it's content emphasis will not get us into trouble. What is more puzzling is this blog and the editorial policy implications of the sandbox effect. We have run with two interwoven themes from the out set - development of the site and the business and discussion about the musical content of our site. While there is no problem with the latter you can see that Google might think the latter is off topic. On the other hand this blog is not attracting back links so it may be ignored by the sandbox trip wire.

It would be reassuring to think that it was the sandbox because it implies that if we are careful we can expect to maintain our current positions and make further progress in the remaining competitive areas based on our article publication strategy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

 

Nine Proven Techniques To Stay Motivated Whilst Building Your Internet Business

We have been running for over a year now and visitor numbers are well up to expectations, the sample and product download bandwidth are running at close to the capacity of our current ISP package but we are still some way from financial viability so this article seemed particularly relevant to our situation:

Nine Proven Techniques To Stay Motivated Whilst Building Your Internet Business

It's a fact of life - sooner or later your motivation to
continue building your Internet business may start to drop.
Yet if you want to build the best possible business you
can't afford to let this self- destructive tendency get in
your way.

Here then is my own hotlist of methods that keep me
constantly moving in the right direction...

1) Monthly Subscriptions

There are a number of high quality membership websites
available which have the real strength of updating you
every month with new information. If you're like me it will
set your imagination going and give you a kick up the pants
to get going again!

A few good examples I personally use include:

http://www.onlinemarketingletter.com
http://www.netbreakthroughs.com
http://www.thecopydoctor.com

2) Mentoring

There are mentoring programs available with successful
business people though many cost thousands each year to
participate in. However a cheaper option is to simply
meeting like-minded individuals to share ideas, successes
and problems with.

For best results meet up in person. Knowing you'll be
seeing them soon will help spur you onto achieve more so
you have something concrete to show for the period since
your last meeting.

3) Success Stories

For me at least, possibly the greatest motivation of all is
to read about other people who have been there and achieved
great success.

Because when you see what others have done, it's so much
easier to believe you can do the same.

A great resource is:

http://www.secretstotheirsuccess.com

4) Time-Sensitive Targets

Set yourself regular targets of what you're going to
achieve - and when.

I plan months in advance, breaking down large projects into
bitesize pieces then assigning each one a day.

Doing this keeps me focused as I have clear targets to meet
and know that if I don't complete my tasks then my workload
just starts to build up until it's unmanageable.

I aim to always do *something* to push my business forward
before I go to bed every night - even if it's something
simple like sending a few emails or reading a new marketing
book. And yes, even if I'm ill or going out that day. This
is non-negotiable.

Infact, I'm going on vacation tomorrow but promised myself
I'd finish this article before I go - even though it's now
11.30pm!

5) Count Your Blessings

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the everyday tasks
of your business that you lose sight of your eventual goal.

Maybe it's working full time from home. Maybe it's taking
life a bit easier. Maybe it's buying a new yacht.

Whatever it is take time to sit back and appreciate how
much you're achieving.

6) Celebrate Small Successes

Sure, you may not have a million dollars in your bank
account yet, but you *do* have numerous small successes
every week, if not every day. Finished writing that
article? Great! Managed to fix that script that didn't
work? Fantastic! Managed to get a top ten position in
Yahoo? Way to go!

Make sure you take time to celebrate these small successes
- it'll help you realise you *are* making progress. It's
all just a matter of time...

7) Reward Yourself

Your reward may be a fancy coffee with friends or a private
island but whatever you choose (and can afford) try to
reward yourself regularly. It helps make your success more
tangible to you - and to reinforce *why* you're working all
those late nights and weekends. It might also help you do
the same to your cynical partner!

My vacation will just be a weekend away, but my business
income is paying for it 100%. And while I'm away, my
business will still be generating profits for me. What a
nice feeling.

8) Self Belief

Sometimes it's a lack of belief in your own abilities that
causes us to lose heart. Will my project really be a
success or am I wasting my time? Will anybody really want
to buy my new product? Will I ever be able to enter such a
competetive market?

The fact is, if you don't get going, you'll never know. And
whilst nobody is successful 100% of the time, you'll learn
something every time. As the saying goes - it's not whether
you get knocked down, it's whether you get up.

9) Continued Learning

Aim to learn something new every week. Once every month or
two I splash out on a large collection of books or CDs from
Amazon or buy an expensive home study course.

By consistently learning more and more about business,
management, search engine optimization, copywriting and so
on I continue to find new ways of looking at old problems,
new solutions and possibilities and improve my results.

And when you're rewarding yourself for small successes,
this can become a positive feedback loop very soon indeed.



About the Author:

Richard Adams is the founder of Merchant Account Forum, one
of the net's most popular merchant account advice sites.
Click here now => http://www.merchantaccountforum.com



I like the philosophy and hopefully some of it comes out in this diary. For example we have tracked down and fixed the bug which stopped the measurement of pages we updated recently and our default page now seems to be performing well - our iPod and iTunes pages on the other hand are not generating sample hearings so we're contemplating automating that to see what if anything that does.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

 

Music for the Christmas Holidays

In our multi-cultural societies today the run up to Christmas is experienced in many different ways. The commercial version pioneered by Coca Cola's magazine advertisements which established the red suited Santa Claus image, washes over us all through the TV advertisements and the decorations in the High Streets and shopping Malls. They built on and reinforced the Victorian version of Christmas celebrations which was dramatized by Charles Dickens in 'A Christmas Carol' which consolidated many of the associated food and garland rituals in the public imagination - and helped Coca Cola promote their winter beverage sales. Much of this is accompanied by 'seasonal' music in the form of carols and hymns - often coral arrangements but sometimes instrumental - especially brass bands and the dreaded sentimental Christmas pop songs.

Music is often a subtle way of getting under the radar and evoking emotional responses from our subconscious. The commercial focus on Christmas seeks to convert these feelings into purchases - sometimes in crude direct appeals to consume but often in a more indirect atmospheric ways. While the committed Christians concentrate on re-telling the Christmas story through as many media as possible, including music - using the Advent season to re-charge their spiritual batteries and encourage others to join them. Their tunes and some times even the words are often hijacked by those who wish to evoke a warm hearted, relaxed atmosphere for the sale of their particular goods.

Much of this activity assumes a common Christian heritage and must strike those who do not share that background very oddly, not to mention the truly seasonal issues for those in the Southern Hemisphere who celebrate Christmas in mid summer rather than the deep mid winter. There is also the rival celebration of New Year which is a predominantly secular affair with a very limited musical repertoire - mostly of Scottish origin for some reason and this eclipses Christmas in many countries. Christians adopted the pagan Winter Solstice celebrations as part of their missionary progress but those ties were loosened by the reformation and the French, American and Russian Revolutions amongst others.

The seasonal hit at Download2MP3.com is Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite with its Sugar Plum Fairy which fits neatly into the Victorian Christmas story telling context. While Debussy's Children's Corner with it's 'The Snow is Dancing' (Northern Hemisphere Christmas/Mid Winter associations) is another favorite and forms the backbone of our Children's Classics Collection which includes several of our shorter and lower priced recordings. Other beneficiaries include our instrumental versions of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah and Gounod's Ave Maria

Recordings like these are an ideal way to personalize those iPod or MP3 player gifts for a few dollars more - perhaps introducing children to the classics in an accessible, amusing and memorable way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

 

Opened a new vein of Spam

Away for the weekend and returned to 1300 massages in the inbox. Some are article submissions but the new feature are the junk advertising and 'get rich quick' scams - we obviously made ourselves targets for this by raising our heads above the article publication parapet - so if you are thinking along similar lines to us, it will be worth your while setting up a separate email address so that you can segregate the rubbish.

Having started however now seems like a good time to try a seasonal music piece so we'll have a go at developing that today and get it out.

We are still blind on the pages we updated last week despite trying several experiments - there must be some code on those pages which is interfering with JavaScript but We haven't managed to find it yet. We also noticed some browser specific issues with the IE on this PC which succeeded in registering hits a few times while none of our others would - so a fairly subtle interaction then - joy of joys.

Friday, December 09, 2005

 

Music for the Christmas Holidays

As the Christmas holidays approach we have seen definite changes in the patterns of interest in our music collection.

The most obvious benefactor is Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite with the Sugar Plum Fairy much in evidence.

Debussy's Children's Corner with it's 'The Snow is Dancing' is another favorite and forms the backbone of our Children's Classics Collection which includes several of our shorter and lower priced recordings.

Recordings like these are an ideal way to personalize those iPod or MP3 player gifts for a few dollars more - perhaps introducing children to the classics in an accessible, amusing and memorable way.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

 

Google update

Here is a really comprehensive view of recent Google events:


Jagger, Google Analytics, and the Future of Search & SEO

By Glenn Murray | SEO Copywriter & Article PR specialist *


Two big things have just happened in Google-land: Jagger and
Google Analytics. Together, these two events may have
changed the face of search forever.

JAGGER

First, let's discuss Jagger... Just like hurricanes, Google
updates have names. (A Google update is a change to the way
Google determines its rankings. Google makes these changes
periodically, and they're universally feared because they
can impact dramatically on a website's ranking.) The latest
update is called Jagger, and it has search engine optimizers
(SEOs) all around the world in a state of panic.

Why was Jagger such a fearful update? Simple... With Jagger,
Google once again outsmarted huge numbers of SEOs. You see,
many/most SEOs spend their time (and their clients' money)
trying to trick Google into thinking that their websites are
more relevant and important than they really are. They do
this mostly by swapping links, buying cheap links, and
placing links on free directories. While there's nothing
wrong with these sorts of links (i.e. they're not considered
'black-hat'), they don't really show that the site is
relevant or important. All they really show is that the site
owner has made a deal with another site owner. In these
deals, the incentive for the linking site owner is a
reciprocal link, money, or increased link volume. Google
much prefers it when the linking site adds the link simply
to enhance the value of their content or to increase their
own credibility and authority.

In other words, Google wants its search results to contain
relevant, important sites, not sites that merely appear to
be relevant and important. To this end, Google invests
millions of dollars and employs the world's smartest
mathematicians to create algorithms which identify sites
that are trying to trick them. And that's exactly what
Jagger did; and when it found those sites, it simply
adjusted their ranking to more accurately reflect their true
importance. (Unfortunately, it also demoted some sites which
actually deserve a high ranking. It is hoped that these
mistakes will be ironed out with future minor updates, but
that's a topic for another article...)

From a technical standpoint, Jagger was well described by
Ken Webster in his article, 'Google's Jagger Update - Dust
Begins To Settle?' -
http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/topnews/Jagger . To
summarize, Jagger:
1) Increased importance placed on IBL (Inbound Links)
Relevancy?
2) Increased importance placed on OBL (Outbound Links)
Relevancy?
3) Promotion of relevant Niche Directories (related to #1 &
#2)?
4) More weight thrown back to PR @ top domain?
5) Increased importance on AdSense placement relevancy?
6) Possible introduction of CSS Spam filtering?
7) Overall Blog demotions?
8) New and unresolved "canonical" issues?

Some more interesting effects were reported by WG Moore
(http://www.sitepronews.com/archives/2005/nov/9.html) who
runs a number of test sites for SEO purposes. By monitoring
the links to his test sites as reported by Google, he
established that:

"all reciprocal links had vanished. We think that this is
because Google is down-grading or eliminating reciprocal
links as a measure of popularity. This does make sense,
actually. Reciprocal links are a method of falsifying
popularity. Sort of a cheap method of buying a link, if you
want to think of it that way... During the second week of
the Jagger Update, a few of our reciprocal links did come
back up. However, we also noticed that these were from
places where we had highly relevant content. They came from
articles where we discussed our area of expertise: Web
Analytics, or from forums where we had relevant threads. So
we feel that these links came back because of content, not
linking.

The other group that came back up was one-way inbound text
links, regardless of the originating web site. These links
also had strong relevance to our web analytics business. In
other words, they contained keywords and/or phrases related
to our site and its business."

In short, Jagger undid the hard work of thousands - if not
millions - of people! As a result, hard-won high rankings
and revenues plummeted.

Interestingly, article PR (article submission) came through
Jagger seemingly unscathed. My SEO copywriting website
http://www.divinewrite.com , for example, went from no.4 to
no.1 worldwide for "copywriter", and I've employed article
PR almost exclusively. Whether it was promoted or the sites
around it were demoted, one thing is clear: article PR is
one of the best ways to obtain a high ranking.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS

The second monumental event to occur recently was Google
Analytics - http://www.google.com/analytics/index.html .
Google Analytics is a free web-stats solution which not only
reports all the regular site stats, but also integrates
directly with Google AdWords giving webmasters and insight
into the ROI of their pay-per-click ads. According to
Google, " Google Analytics tells you everything you want to
know about how your visitors found you and how they interact
with your site."

Why is this such a landmark move? Because for the first time
ever, Google will have access to your real web stats. And
these stats will be far more accurate than those provided by
Alexa - http://www.alexa.com . Furthermore, Google's privacy
statement says: " We may also use personal information for
auditing, research and analysis to operate and improve
Google technologies and services." -
http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacy.html . Now let's put
two and two together:
1) Google is 'giving' every webmaster in the world free
access to quality web-stats.
2) Millions of webmasters will accept this 'gift', if only
because it integrates directly with their Google AdWords
campaigns.
3) Google will then have full access to the actual web stats
of millions of commercial websites.
4) Google will have the right to use these stats to develop
new technologies.
5) What's the next logical step? Google will use these
statistics to help determine its rankings, of course!

It should come as no surprise. It's been on the cards - and
frequently discussed - for a long time. For example, Jayde
Online CEO, Mel Strocen, recently published an article on
http://www.site-reference.com/articles/Search-Engines/The-F
this very topic, ' The Future of WebSite Ranking' -
uture-of-WebSite-Ranking.html . She quite rightly asserts
that:

"Google's "democratic" vision of the Web will never be
achieved by manipulating algorithm criteria based on
content. It will only be achieved by factoring in what is
important to people, and people will always remain the best
judge of what that is. The true challenge for search engines
in the future is how to incorporate web searcher input and
preferences into their ranking algorithms."

In fact, the Jayde Online network already owns and operates
a search engine, ExactSeek (http://www.ExactSeek.com) which
incorporates user popularity statistics in its rankings.

THE FUTURE OF SEARCH AND SEO

To date, ExactSeek is the only search engine which uses
visitor stats as criteria for its rankings. But Google isn't
far behind. We all know that Google specializes in taking a
good idea and implementing and adapting it brilliantly. This
is exactly what we'll see in this case. By combining link
popularity and user popularity statistics, Google will be
the only major search engine to consider both what other
sites think of your website and what your visitors think of
your website. And because they have the most advanced
algorithms for assessing link popularity, and will soon have
access to the farthest reaching, most accurate web stats to
assess user popularity, its competitors will be a long time
catching up.

So if that's the future of search, what's the future of SEO?
The future of SEO is undoubtedly one where:
• one-way text links from relevant pages continue to be the
most valuable links
• reciprocal linking continue to decline
• the 'shotgun' approach to link buying declines
• mass email link requests decline
• free directory submission declines
• niche directory submission increases
• article PR (article submission) increases
• article submission sites (e.g. EzineArticles -
http://www.ezinearticles.com , GoArticles -
http://www.goarticles.com , and ArticleBlast -
http://www.articleblast.com ) play a much bigger and more
important role in helping online publishers locate quality
articles (due to the increasing article volume)
• user popularity is just as important as link popularity,
which means:
o the quality of article PR improves in order to increase
site traffic, credibility, and loyalty
o the quality of website content improves in order to
convert traffic and encourage repeat visits

Clearly, the choices for SEOs will be pretty much limited to
paying for links at niche sites and/or engaging in article
PR. Being an SEO copywriter, I may be a little biased, but
for mine, article PR is the hands-down winner in this
comparison:
• It satisfies Google's criteria for relevance and
importance. Linking site owners include your article and
link because, in doing so, their site becomes more useful to
visitors, and their business gains credibility and
authority.
• It generates hundreds of free links quickly enough to make
it worth your while, but not so quickly as to raise red
flags at Google (in the form of link dampening).
• Links are permanent and you don't have to pay to keep them
there.
• You get a lot of qualified referred traffic who already
trust you and your expertise. This satisfies Google's
visitor popularity criteria, while at the same time bringing
you a lot of extra customers.

(For more information on article PR, read ' How to Top
Google with Article PR
' -
http://www.articlepr.com/SEO_Article_Submission.shtml .)

CONCLUSION

The lesson from Jagger is, don't try and trick Google!
They've got more money and more brains than virtually any
company in the world. It'll only end in tears! Don't spend
time and money trying to make your site look important and
relevant. Instead, spend that time and money actually making
it important and relevant! Content - the real content behind
the optimization - is the answer. After all, whether it's an
article or a web page, it's the content that keeps 'eyes on
paper', and that's what it's all about.

Happy optimizing!





* Glenn Murray is a director of SEO copywriting studio,
Divine Write and article PR company, Article PR. He is a
renowned SEO copywriter and an article PR and article
submission specialist. For more information, please visit
http://www.DivineWrite.com or http://www.ArticlePR.com .
Glenn can be contacted on Sydney +612 4334 6222 or at
glenn@divinewrite.com.


Encouraging words for us I think - quality content will win out in this environment and the big boys will not betheir to use thier muscle to squeeze good material out of the high ranking search results. Our shift to article submission also gets a boost from this analyis.

Of course Google's Analytics is so succesful that we are still on a waiting list to join.

Irritatingly the pages we have just updated have simultaneously dropped off the Hitslink radar - the Javascript looks OK but we'll just have to re-install it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

 

2 Blog or not 2 Blog

In the spirit of cooperation with other authors and just to show that I don't just delete all those emails offering articles except the ones that arrive 10 times over - here is a piece about the use of Blogs:

How Blogging Can Help Your Business – Ways to Use Your Blog


As a business owner who likes to stay up-to-date on the latest marketing methods and technology, you probably already know how blogging can help your business. There are many benefits of having a company blog, and a great many business owners have already discovered the advantages that are to be had. But if you aren’t sure how to use your blog for your business, here are some ways that your blog can be used.

Customer relations are one use for a company blog. Opening up the lines of communication with your customers is the first step to excellent customer service – and you can learn a great deal from your customers. Print the URL for your blog on receipts, business cards, and brochures to build interest. You can also use your company blog to get customer feedback about your products or services. Again, you can learn a lot from your customers, and use the feedback to improve your products or services and give customers more of what they want in the future.

Company blogs are great research and development tools. You can ask your customers questions about what they want or need. Tell them what you have in development, and what it will do, and ask them how you can make it better. You can even run contests for your customers through your blog, offering the product in development as a prize to the person who comes up with the best idea.

Once you have developed new products or services, you can use a company blog to introduce your new product lines. Keep your customers up-to-date on what is developing or changing at your company. Past customers should be your first customers for your new products and services – and this will happen if they have had a positive experience with you in the past. A blog adds to that positive experience.

You can also use your company blog to teach customers how to use products or services. You can use the blog to answer technical support issues as well. Many companies turn their blogs into a series of how-to articles that are to be used primarily by their current customers. This method has also been found to increase interest – and sales – for products as well. People always want to know how to improve something in their lives, and you should use this need to your advantage!

You can drastically improve employee relations with a company blog. Your employees have private lives, and often, they have happy news that they want to tell the world. Allow them to tell their fellow co-workers their happy news on the blog. Some companies hire a person to maintain and up-date the company blog. People within the company contact the blogger with their news, and the blogger blogs it. This is a great way to boost moral at your place of employment. You can also use the company blog to keep employees up to date on projects, new products, training sessions, or company policy.

If you will be allowing your employees to add entries to the company blog, it is a good idea to implement a blogging policy. There is a great deal of controversy today about company censorship of blogs, so even if you don’t have a company blog, you might want to implement a policy concerning any mention of your company in personal blogs as well.

Get your company blog set up and operating today.

Jason frequently gives tips like this to the subscribers to his newsletter. Visit his blog at http://www.AdventuresInIM.com and subscribe to his newsletter today!

Author: Jason DeVelvis

Author's Email Address: Jason@Content-Articles.com
Article Source: http://www.articlemarketer.com


As you can see we have used quite a few of these ideas but have yet to spark reactions in the form of comments but the number of human visitors to the blog is going up all the time - much of it in the archives.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

 

Playing Bass Guitar

As a former bass player - many years ago I couldn't resist the following article:

Playing Beyond Basic Bass Guitar


The drive and power source of many jazz, rock and pop
groups is the bass guitar. The bass more often than not
is the driving force in holding the band together.
Still, when the bass breaks clear of the mix, its
sound pulses through your entire body. Justifiably,
the bass is all-around one of the top emotive
instruments.

Yet more often than not the bassist is content to take a
laid back role in any group. There aren't many group
leaders that also play bass - Paul McCartney is a bassist
first and foremost, Phil Lynott led Thin Lizzy whilst
covering bass duties, and Mark King was singer and
bassist in Level 42 - but it is the exception rather
than the rule. The bass is also quite different from the
guitar in that you will hardly ever hear the bass played
solo except for short breaks or in jazz. Nor can you
very easily accompany your own voice folk singer style
with nothing but a bass guitar.

Few bass players can easily explain why they choose this
instrument. However, many bass players can quickly
identify their favorite bass player since there have
been so many influential bassists. Many bassists
mention John Entwistle of The Who at the top of their
list. Entwistle's bass playing has encompassed many
lead roles. Other bass fans comment on the power and
influence of Cream's bassist and band leader Jack Bruce.
Cream has also recorded with the famous guitarist Eric
Clapton. The younger bassists tie their love of bass to
Red Hot Chili Pepper's Flea U2's Adam Clayton, and Rush's
sometimes vocalist and bass player Geddy Lee. Funky
players like Donald "Duck" Dunn and Bootsy Collins make
some bass fan's lists.

These names are just a brief sampling of all the great
bass players that have inspired and influenced many
women and men's playing techniques. Just like any
great instrument player, you have to love the sound
(of the greats, that is) if you really want to be good
(remember, you're still aspiring to greatness). Along
with this appreciation, you have to love the music
created by the instrument. The listed samplings only
scratch the surface of all the great players out there,
so many more come from the Jazz world. Explore these
players, especially the greats that come from early
modern Jazz.

This is the point where you get to begin playing. It's
child's play to get the notes from an electric bass
since basic bass playing is mostly single-note action.
For this reason, bass is considered one of the easier
instruments to play. So, even though it doesn't take a
lot to get down the basics, it does take a lot of
practice (like with anything) to make it sound great.
In order to progress in playing the bass, you have to
not only grasp the fundamentals but also possess an
instinctive ability to keep time. This is why it's so
important to begin bass playing with a great teacher so
your technique doesn't suffer. If finding a teacher is
out of the question, then get your hands on lots of books
and study their instructions so you can work on your
style. Above all else, observe other bassists whenever
you can and listen to their music. Then, listen to
more music. And, then, listen some more...


Copyright 2005 Carlie Marriott. All rights reserved.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Carlie Marriott is the manager and developer of
Bass Guitar A
a superb site with bass guitar related topics on the
Internet. Find more details by clicking on his
archive of articles: http://www.bassguitara.com/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I think bass players and drummers have formed some remarkable partnerships and that it is often the combination which is so special - John Entwhistle and Pete Moon, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker and my longtime favorites Fleetwood and Mac.

Download2MP3

Monday, December 05, 2005

 

Article Publication off and running

Shortly after Friday's blog we found that submission has begun and the number of successes continues to rack up. Apparently our article is a little shorter than preferred by some sites but it was accepted any way. No sign on the links front yet - I'm assuming that we will see something significant on Alta Vista even if most of it gets filtered out by the others.

At the same time a massive slew of spam hit us. Some of it is of the targeted webmaster kind but there is a whole lot of 'money maker' stuff - so if you are thinking of doing this a separate email address and reader might be a worthwhile precaution. I am starting to get a handle on the submission groups now and will be leaving most of them later this week. It always astonishes me how much interest there is in pets and dogs in particular on the internet.

Apart from that our new home page design was release on Friday and has been picked up by Google. Our iPod and iTunes pages received the same treatment in the hope that it will encourage more of the people who arrive on them to stay and listen to what we have to offer but they have not yet been picked up by Google. No results to speak of yet but a few more pages to get the same treatment today.

Friday, December 02, 2005

 

First Article Still in the Submission Queue

Yes it seems the effective cycle time for article submission is a little longer than advertised. In the meantime I'm drowning in other people's suggestions - have yet to find the relevant taps to turn off!

We are starting to see some seasonal impacts on the music searched for and listened to - Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and the Sugar Plum Fairy in particular are doing well but also our instrumental version of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. Around Halloween it was Danse Macabre and the Marionette's Funeral March that came to the fore.

November has seen a transformation in the visitor profile to this blog with humans probably outnumbering Robots at last. So we will be operating an even tighter editorial policy for the inclusion of other people's material - for example I decided that you wouldn't really want to read about the effect of music on plants!

The November results also show that we have double the normal share of sophisticated visitors using Firefox at 16% and that the proportion of our visitors coming from Google is now substantially higher than average which in itself is at the highest levels seen for the last year. We also have more than our fair share of Mac and Linus users visiting us.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

 

Too Early to Say

First impressions of the article submission arena a bit off putting.

I have joined all these Yahoo and Google groups - many of which seem to duplicate each other and I've got to change my selection on some because I am getting multiple copies of recently published articles on a most extraordinary range of topics. The digests on the other hand look rather good - it is possible to quickly scan what is available and I'm sure we will be publishing some of them here.

The submission site we are using has a 24-48 hour update cycle so it will be a day or two before we see any impact. As with the PR sites there are upgrade options that you have to pay for but we'll wait and see what the free offering does first.

A quick look at our details on Google shows that they have picked up some of the new product info pages but they are jumbled in with everything else so I'm not sure what proportion have been picked up. As far as I can see each of these blog pages is included so I guess that helps them see what an active site this is. I notice that the catalog pages are also there and so perhaps we should look at the text because they are pretty bare at the moment.

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