Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Not Armageddon

Without any fanfare or explanation, it's back.

No major updates either. I'm still PR3.

But oddly enough....

Go figure.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

It’s Armageddon!!

Oh the forums they are a-buzzin’

Anywhere and everywhere you turn, there is only one thing in any webmaster’s mind this Memorial Day weekend.

Google PR is down

Is it just a computer glitch? Will everything be ok on Tuesday?

Were they hacked?

Have they trashed it?

Are they repairing it?

Time will tell. The thread about it at WebMasterWorld.com is up to 18 pages and growing.

Interesting times. An entire industry has been built on Google PR, so this holiday weekend has got to be a pretty miserable one for more than a few folks.

Having just recently made the grand jump from PR0 to PR3 this doesn't effect me nearly as much as most folks out there. It should prove interesting though to see what happens on Tuesday with that all important Page Rank section of the Google toolbar

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hairy Females

So far so good. I’ve gotten my META tags fixed for keywords. The keyword tags I had before were a mess. It’s hard to know what is the optimal number of characters to have in that META tag field… every site you go to says something different. All agree you shouldn’t go over 255 characters though, so that’s what I’ve kept them at.


Understanding Google is a science I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand. DigitalPoint, which offered the keyword analysis in my post a few days ago, also offers another cool tool where you can check your page’s ranking for certain keywords daily, weekly and monthly. Here’s where I stand on certain phrases over the last week:

Why, I ask myself, is a site all about the Reverse Daycare at Warped Tour in the middle of page 14 on Google? Well, typing in that phrase in Google brings the answer. From pages 7 through 14, there are a series of nonsense spam sites. Any parent searching Google using the phrase Reverse Daycare Warped Tour has to pass by such nonsense and/or offensive gems as (I kid you not, these are real site names):

Hairy Females
Taylor Little F*ck
Midnight Booty Call
Free Cock Dick
Darma and Greg
Eugene Public Library


So when the next kid asks their mom or dad, "Can I go to Warped Tour? They have a Reverse Daycare you can hang out in.", and mom or dad heads out to Google and types in Reverse Daycare Warped Tour, what do you think the chances are that they’ll find my site after spotting Hairy Females on page 7, or Free Cock Dick on page 10?


Yeah, I think the same. I shouldn't complain though. Perhaps out there is some webmaster who has spent countless hours creating an informative and well researched site on Hairy Females. And perhaps their authority site is pushed down to page 14 after a series of spam pages on the Reverse Daycare at Warped Tour.


Anyway all of the opening day bands I was able to find are added, and I’ve started to slowly wind my way through June. This should be a pretty busy weekend so I’m not setting out on my next goal of page optimization until Monday.


Have a happy and safe weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Warped Tour, Randall's Island, August 13, 2005

One thing about teenagers… their minds change like the weather.


If I’m well enough to attend Warped Tour this August remains to be seen. I have two herniated discs in my neck and two herniated discs in my lower back from the car accident, so right now the idea of standing in line for three hours to get into Randall’s Island makes me wince.

If I am well enough, if I go at all this year is dependent on the whims of three teenagers who are undecided about this year’s lineup. August could see me crossing the Triborough in any one of the following combinations:


Scenario 1: Boys only. If it’s that combination, they don’t need me there. I’ll probably just drop them off at the shuttle in Queens, and rely on them for website updates of what happened at Warped 2005.


Scenario 2: Stepdaughter & friend. She’s still young enough that she needs someone there, so in that case, I’d attend and hang out in the Parent’s Tent. Maybe I’ll go with some surveys and hand them out there to other parents, if they’ll let me. That way I’ll have more updates for the page.


Scenario 3: Boys and stepdaughter & friend. That would mean I’d have to attend. My husband as well as we’d need two cars to haul boys plus a stepdaughter plus a friend.


Scenario 4: Boys with friends plus stepdaughter with friend. Well we definitely can’t do that limo thing again. We’ll just have to cram everyone into the Cavalier and the Accent.


Scenario 5: Nobody wants to go.


Scenario 6: Nieces and children. I have a few nieces with kids in the 12-13 year old range. If they want to go, I may tag along as company for them so I can get some parent interviews in.


As living with teenagers has proven time and time again, which scenario I fall into probably won’t be decided until August 1st.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Opening day (almost) finished

All the opening day bands that were easy to find have been added, and I finally finished adding the genres to the bands I already had. There were a few I couldn't find, both bands and genres, so I need to do a little more digging to get them all in. I'm always afraid that some band member (or even worse - some band member's mother) will think that they've been excluded from the page.

I really hate the way the band page looks right now, but as I decided before I'm not going to work on any design overhaul until Warped Tour is over for this year.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Keywords

All of the reports at SEOmoz finished running, so this week I’ll be tackling keywords.

SEOmoz suggested running the free keyword tool at DigitalPoint. Using the number one search term “Warped Tour”, DigitalPoint suggested the following keywords

So it’s pretty obvious the keywords I need to tweak the page for. DigitalPoint also offers an analysis of how your page ranks using certain keywords and phrases. While I wasn’t as bad as I originally thought, for the top term of “warped tour”, I was position 141 on Google today. Not as bad..... but still pretty abysmal. A searcher needs to wade all the way down to page 10 to find me, and most Google searchers give up after page three.


So… my goals for week ending May 28th are to finish getting all the bands for opening day up on the page, and to tweak the front page text a bit so that the phrase “warped tour” appears more. It's a pretty cool little tool, if you'd like to try it for your site

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Why a Warped Tour Site? Part Two

Continuing on with yesterday’s post, I’ll add the other answer to “Why a Warped Tour site?” This one is much more personal and selfish than yesterday’s post.

During a workshop at
Omega several years ago, we were walked through a guided meditation. One of the exercises afterwards was to make a list of things we wanted to be when we were children. We were told to think carefully, and then write down the top thing we wanted to be as a child, and the top thing we wanted to be as a teenager.

My items were:
1.) Child -
Archeologist
2.) Teenager – Journalist for Rolling Stone magazine

We were told that in some practical way, we should try to incorporate those two things into our lives as a hobby. That even though our careers and lives bore no resemblance to our hopes and dreams when we were young, there was still a part of us that was that child, that was that teenager, and that still had those dreams.

All of us had grand career dreams when we were young. And all of us had our grand career dreams laughed at by those around us. By finding expression for those dreams, not only would we honor that authentic self within us, we heal the wounds of having our dreams invalidated.

We were told to write down the disparaging remarks that were made about our goals:

You better marry a millionaire if you want to be an archeologist. There’s no money in that.”
Rolling Stone Magazine! How many thousands of resumes do you think they get in a day?”

And those comments were neither said in a cruel tone, nor meant to be cruel. They are honestly true. There really is no money in archeology. You do have to be born wealthy to have that as a career. And I’m sure the number of resumes that Rolling Stone Magazine gets totters on the tens of thousands.

Unrealistic career goals to be sure, but they were part of my authentic self’s dreams.

Incorporating archeology into my life was easy enough. It was something I already had done. Watching mostly
PBS, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel, I was a walking encyclopedia on the ancient history of the Celtic Islands.

But a music journalist…? How could that ever be incorporated into a hobby? I can’t name one single band I hear on the radio. Most of my CDs are New Age/Ambient/World Music CDs. And I’m really not that good of a writer. So I shelved that idea. Yeah, it sounds good at an overpriced new-agey Omega workshop, but it just don’t fly in the real world, friends.

It was funny how the Parent’s Guide got rolling long before I ever made the connection between that workshop and what I was doing. Unconsciously, I had incorporated that 25-year-old dream into a hobby.

Even if my conscious, practical, rational self saw no way that a busy adult woman who knew nothing about music AND with a full time job could find some type of music writing hobby, that part of my soul took over and found a way for it.

So that’s the other reason, I tell those who look at me slightly askew. It’s my hobby. And I’d recommend it to anyone.

Make a list of the top thing you wanted to be when you were a child, and the top thing you wanted to be when you were a teenager. And find a way, anyway, to just do it. Those around you will think you’ve gone insane. But let them. It’s good to have people worried about you. Keeps them on their toes. Let them think you’re a nut. The fact that you’re not, the fact that you’re the farthest thing from a nut, will be your own private joke. I won’t tell them if you won’t.

Go nuts.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Why a Warped Tour site?

That’s usually the question posed to me by well meaning but rather concerned family members who think I’m experiencing some sort of a psychotic break.

There are two precise reasons actually, but mid-life psychosis has nothing to do with it.

First and foremost, I still remember the first time my son asked to go to Warped Tour. He was only 11, and even though I didn’t have a clue what kind of concert Warped Tour was, I just knew he couldn't go:


Him: Can I go to Warp Tour this year?
Me: No
Him: Do you even know what Warp Tour is?
Me: No. Take the trash out.


He asked again at age 12 – pleaded actually, because some band he adored would be there. This time the conversation was a little longer:


Him: Can I go pleeeeaaassseeee to Warp Tour this year? BandNameIForget will be there.
Me: What is Warp Tour?
Him: An all ages punk rock festival
Me: No.
Him: Why not?
Me. You’re too young for a concert.
Him: It’s all ages. What part of all ages don’t you understand? Little kids go there.
Me: Take the trash out.

OK not much longer, but at least this year I knew what it was.


In the spring of the next year he asked again. Warped Tour would be in Randall’s Island on the auspicious occasion of his 13th birthday. I have rather anthropological beliefs about that most horrible and painful of ages. The coming of age year of our distant ancestors. But to be brought up in a society so far removed from the culture, tradition and rituals of our tribal past, 13 many times goes neglected. Unless you’re brought up Jewish, there is little ritual for a 13-year-old. What rituals can non-Jewish families do to acknowledge and honor a year that, quite frankly, sucks. 13 has got to be the most emotionally painful year of anyone’s life. And such a milestone. Standing on the brink between childhood and teenage years. And it goes by without any fanfare for so many of us.

Warped Tour was something I knew he felt strongly about. I know that in our modern, divorced from ritual society, the first concert you go to definitely has it’s own ritualistic elements. The preparation and excitement leading up to it. Determining what to wear. The factor of the unknown. The first time you are exposed to live music, it’s a mind-altering experience. And somewhat religious as well, in it’s own warped way. What else can cause that great, soul-swelling heart-chakra love experience, than seeing a band you adore perform live for the very first time?

I wanted him to have that, in my own urban ritual way of honoring and acknowledging 13. So I said yes. And then practically vomited with fear at the idea of saying ‘yes’ to something I knew nothing about. I went out online trying to find Warped Tour information. I posted on every Internet bulletin board, discussion group, and news group I could find. I felt a little better after having talked to other parents, but I was still very frightened. My first concert was The Rolling Stones at age 15. 13 still seemed like such a vulnerable age.

I was a nervous wreck, from the moment I said ‘yes’ to the first time standing in that line to get in. I really didn’t know what to expect, and the crowd seemed overwhelming. My fear started to lift though, when I saw how nice the people in line were. Some band came up passing out flyers, pleading with everyone to go to their stage, and promising to play REO Speedwagon for me if I would see them play. Even though I hated REO Speedwagon when I was young, that had to be the funniest thing I had ever heard.



It was a real affirming and educational experience for my husband as well. He and I were miles apart in high school. I was in the nerdy-artsy-theater-crowd and he was brought up evangelical Christian attending Youth for Christ rallies. His only exposure to punk was seeing Sid & Nancy on IFC - not really the most accurate of descriptions. He was really ignorant to anything and everything about it. Shortly after getting in line, he was won over by the friendliness of everyone there. There's something so wonderful about seeing the blinders lifted from the eyes of someone you love, and seeing them come to their own conclusions naturally. Ask him now what punk is, and he couldn't describe a single band or genre, but he will tell you what came to him on his own. He'll simply say, "It's about community."

I decided at that moment I would write a review on Epinions of this, and it took off from there. I know out there somewhere, some mom or dad has been asked that same question, "Can I go to Warped Tour?" Knowing nothing about what Warped Tour is, they set out on the Internet to find out. And I hope my site can fill that void that was there back in 2002 – providing parents of adolescents some information that will make their kids very, very happy, and give them a good blast of reminiscence as well.

That is the biggest and most important reason of "Why a Warped Tour site?" The other one I’ll describe in more detail tomorrow. This is enough for today.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I get knocked down, but I get up again, no you’re never gonna keep me down

I love one hit wonders.

Continuing on with the theme of my first blog post, I’ve decided that any substantial Google traffic for this year’s Warped Tour is a bust, so I’m setting my sites on Warped 2006. The site needs to be completely done over from the ground floor up if I want to appear in at least the third page of Google results, let alone the first.

I’m not going to work on any major design revamp right now, as I still need to service the visitors who are coming for parental information on this year’s Warped. Trying to get all of the smaller bands in before the opening day is a daunting enough challenge, one that I don’t think I’ll make in time. But hey, I’m trying.

Because I tend to think better when I’m writing goals down, I’m trying to organize and categorize my priorities and wishes for the site. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Understand and implement better keyword phrases
Understand and implement page optimization
Begin a link building campaign
Understand and implement search engine optimization
Re-design site
Get substantial traffic
Earn AdSense income
Get a domain name

That’s the order. So, before I begin, where to start?

There are zillions of webmaster resources on line, and each one will tell you something different. I’ve decided to start with SEOmoz as I find the site to be accessible to people like me – people who know that they need something, just not exactly what is it. Pretty much I’ll spend the next week or so going over that site from top to bottom.

To understand what to fix, I felt I needed a snapshot of where I stand now. SEOmoz has tons of extremely valuable tools that are free if you don’t mind the wait. Honestly, for the value these tools provide, I’d wait all day.

I’m running the reports there, and at several other sites they suggested, and will save the results so I have something to look back on as I tweak the site a bit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Wow, I'm honored and humbled

Checking the referrer logs, I noticed my first bloglink. I'm really amazed someone would bring up my site in a discussion. It was from a discussion on the more things change, the more they stay the same kind of things. If there is any way that punk today is the same as it was back in the oldentimes, it's the male domination of the music industry.

My page came up as a reference to another hot topic, girls and crowdsurfing, which I still get endless barely-intelligible emails stating something along the lines of YO U SHULDN'T TALK ABEOUT WUT U DONT NO ABOUT BITCH CROWDSURFING RULZZZZZZZ, which in English I believe translates to "Excuse me madam, but I enjoy crowdsurfing very much, thank you."

I wasn't in any of the pits at Warped 2004 obviously, so I can't relay first hand knowledge. I can only go by what was told to me by my son. When a feminist woman and an enlightened male have a child, and raise him in a community of other feminist women and enlightened males, they tend to raise someone with a healthy respect of women. And he was really disturbed by what he saw in more than a few pits.

At first it was, "OK that was gross"... then in the second pit it was, "What the hell?"... after about 5 pits of witnessing the same old groping behavior he was pretty disgusted.

I don't know. My stepdaughter went into the pit at Warped 2003, but she kept her feet on the ground. That's still my stand on the whole issue.

Should they be able to crowdsurf without being groped? Yes. Is it their fault that they got groped for crowdsurfing in the first place? No. We just still live in an imperfect world, even if we are at the perfect concert. There's no easy answer.

Sandboxed by Google

You learn something new everyday.Knowing less about search engine dynamics than I do about modern punk rock, it seems a foolish enterprise for a 41 year old nerd to be the webmistress of a Google-dependent site dedicated to Warped Tour, but I've never been much one for common sense.

The site has gone through several incarnations. At first, it was a one page review of Warped Tour on Epinions.com. That was seen by an editor at a local community newsletter who contacted me, had me spiff it up a bit, and ran it here on a Long Island newsletter. Because it got a fair share of attention, I thought maybe it might be nice to get it up and online so other parents searching the web would have some information to turn to when asked, "Can I go to Warp Tour?"

It's first incarnation was on (get ready to laugh) Geocities. Although I'm pretty literate as to the damage that can be caused by ActiveX imbedded within HTML, when it comes to actually putting up a web page, I'm clueless. I used some goddess-awful Geocities template and had a one page site there. That lasted a little bit, until I realized that the url http://geocities.com/myrealfirstandlastname/warptour.html was a rather stupid thing. (Not the sharpest tool in the shed)

The site then wandered over to Tripod, until I got fed up with the barrage of popups there. Finally I settled on http://warpedtour.atspace.com/, which has proven to be a pretty stable free host with no banners or ads, and they allow you to host your own affiliate links. Affiliate links are a must, as we are just dead broke.

So far this year I've enjoyed a steady upwards climbing stream of traffic, with daily unique IP's increasing each day. About 80 percent of my traffic came from Google, with the remaining bits evenly spread out between MSN, Ask, and the blessed and beloved folks at http://www.warpedtour.net

So imagine if you will my dismay to log into Statcounter today, only to find 12 total hits during the hours of midnight to 5AM.12

From 12 unique IPs per half hour down to 12 in a 5 hour stretch. That's a sad sight to see while you're waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.

I checked the site to make sure it was still up, and there it was in all it's garish yellow glory. Odd...I checked the referrers, and that's when a sinking feeling hit me. Nothing from Google at all.

Before today, my keyword analysis was pretty steady:

google: warped tour
google: warp tour
google: warped tour parents info
google: let me go to warped tour
google: warp tour bands

You get the idea. I used to come up in position 3 on Google's first page results, even though my Google PR (which I still don't fully understand) is 0. But still, number 1 was the official Warped Tour site itself, 2 was the unofficial Warped Tour site, and there was yours truly right at spot 3.Too good to last.

Now I'm at about spot 500 in any Google search for "warped tour". Hundreds upon hundreds of sites that have less than nothing to do with the festival come up before me. After spending a frantic day searching around at various webmaster forums and sites, I think I've stumbled upon the answer.

I've been sandboxed.

It's a horrible place to be. The calming author of this article claims not to panic, because the sandbox effect usually lifts after about 3-4 months.

Just when Warped Tour ends.

Is there anyone who has worse luck than I? Oh well. I guess I'll spend this year's Warped Tour season trying to understand that whole Google PR thing, and trying to build links with other sites. That way maybe for Warped 2006 I'll be back on Google's front page again.

I hope.