Free Technology Newsletter - From The Desk of Alan K'necht
In this issue:
- Product Reviews
WebTrends 7 - an esential tool for web analytics
- Happening at K'nechtology
- In The News
FireFox goes Mainstream
Microsofts New Search Engine
Midway through 2004 NetIQ () released the latest version of its industry leading web analytic tool WebTrends. The new version 7 is available in three different packages (Small Business, Professional and Enterprise). There is little difference between the three versions, in fact it is the exactly the same software download. However, depending on which version you've purchased one or more additional features becomes enabled.
The two biggest changes to WebTrends to make careful note of, is the drop of a Unix version and a new pricing model. The old pricing model required you to purchase a certain number of licenses based on the number of servers you were using for a flat fee per license. Under the new scheme, each license is limited to a certain number of page views.
For example, with the small business license, your license is limited to the analysis of 500,000 pages per year and with Professional your license is increased to 1,000,000 pages per year. So now the choice of which package to purchase has become more complicated. You now not only need to compare which features you want, but also how many page views your web site is going to analyze in a give year. It is important to note, that if you decided to purchase a specific version, but know you'll require more page views you can purchase additional increments.
Putting aside the loss of a UNIX version of WebTrends and the new pricing model, NetIQ has made several significant improvements to their product, once again establishing WebTrends as the industry benchmark.
Of the new features, we were especially impressed with two new reports (scenario analysis and Search Engine Marketing) and a plug-in for Internet Explorer called SmartView.
SmartView (available only with Professional & Enterprise versions)
The SmartView plug-in is a must have for any marketing department to help analyze their web site. While visiting a web page on your site, you simply click on the SmartView icon in IE and a frame opens up. Contained in this frame is specific web analytic information about the page you are viewing. You can set your timeframe (yesterday, last week, last month, etc.) and see the number of page views and visitors.
If your site is using a persistent cookie, the wealth of information is further enhanced.You are now presented with the most common referring page, the most common page link off the page, and a visual path analysis (both forward and backwards). A quick look at the actual page will show you something simply amazing. The links on your page become encircled with various colours showing you which links were clicked on the most and you have the choice of seeing what percentage of clicks or how many clicks each link received.
This is a must have for anyone who wants to see which area of the web page is being clicked on the most and makes the additional expense of moving up from the Small Business version to Professional a worthwhile investment.
The Scenario Analysis Report
The Scenario Analysis let's you create custom user scenarios (page sequences) and then monitor what happens as the user navigates through the scenario. Want to monitor what happens when a customer starts your on-line stores check out process. Simply create the scenario of all the pages in the checkout process and then run WebTrends.
The Scenario Analysis report provides you with both the physical numbers of what transpired, and the choice of two different visual representations. My favourite is the funnel graphic (other is a waterfall style graphic). These graphics show both visually and with physical numbers how many visitors entered your scenario and where they came from. Then at each step, it demonstrates how many flowed into the next step, and how many went elsewhere. This continues right to the last step of your scenario.
Using this report, it is easy to identify problem areas in a registration or check-out process. While you don't require the use of visitor cookies to use this feature, the existence of a persistent cookie will enhance the accuracy of the results.
Web Marketing Performance Reports
There are several Web Marketing Performance reports available all of which require the use of a persistent cookie. If you're planning on doing any web based marketing, these reports will prove themselves invaluable.
My favourite report is the Search Engine Performance report. WebTrends unlike its competitors no longer lumps all search engine referrals into one report. Instead it breaks down organic from paid search results. By using this tool you can easily see how effective your search engine marketing campaign was and which exact works were driving clicks to your Google or Overture ads.
If you're running banner ads on other web sites or multiple campaigns as part of your search engine marketing efforts then the campaign analysis report is a must have. A small bit of customization to a WebTrends translation table is required to enable this report. This is a worthwhile effort as you will now be presented with which ads from which campaigns are truly driving traffic to your site and with a bit more customization you can monitor conversions by ad (a conversion happens when a user make a purchase, sign-up, register, etc.)
WebTrends 7 in a Nutshell
We were truly impressed with WebTrends 7 and find it well worth the expense. In trained hands, WebTrends 7 will help improve your web site performance and convert more visitors to customers. There are many competitors on the market to WebTrends many of whom offer good products for the price, yet we haven't seen one yet that has all valuable features available in WebTrends 7.
What's Happening at K'nechtology?
At K'nechtology we are continuing to expand our search engine optimization service and keep adding clients. On one recent project, we were able to increase the number of visitors and page views by over 400 percent. This resulted in a significant increase in leads generated by their web site.
We are now offering an expanded web analytic service which includes WebTrends installation, configuration and training.
As always, I've been busy publishing columns and articles. Here is the list of recently published ones:
- The Dollar and Sense of Building to Standards - Digital Web Magazin - Feb. 9, 2005
- Firefox What's Next? - Computer World Canada - Jan. 21, 2005 - PDF
- Ten ways to boost your search appeal - ItWorld.com USA - Oct. 15, 2004
- Will the browser wars begin anew? - Computer World Canada - Sept. 3, 2004 - PDF
- Search Engine Optimizaiton and Your Web Site - Digital Web Magazine - August 4, 2004
- It's Time to Take Advantage of XHTML - Computer World Canada - July 23, 2004 - PDF
In The News
FireFox goes Mainstream
In case you've missed it, Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser now has its first serious competitor in years. The competitor is a standards compliant, quicker and more secure browser called FireFox. FireFox is an open source software product and free for everyone. I've been using the various beta versions for well over a year now and have not been disappointed.
It's quick to download thanks to its small file size, and has a huge array of free plug-ins and extensions available. If you're interested in reading more, please see my article Will the browser wars begin anew?
To download FireFox go to: http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
The answer is that it depends on what you plan on using it for. If all you want it for is locking up your document so the receiver can't change it, go with the regular version at $299 US. This version is great for sharing documents, locking invoices for e-mailing etc.
Microsoft's New Search Engine
In mid January, 2005 Microsoft released its new search engine to compete with the likes of Google and Yahoo. What does this mean to you? Not much unless you start your searches on the MSN home page or your clients do.
So start reviewing your web logs to see what percentage of traffic is currently being referred by Microsoft Search. If it is significant, then you better check out the new search engine and see how and for which terms you're ranking well.
Overall, I haven't been overly impressed with this new search engine. It doesn't offer anything new and the qualities of the results are for the most part comparable to what I've been getting already on my other favourite search engines. In my opinion the Microsoft search, is a way to save money by not having to purchase/license the search services for their portal pages from other companies and two to start cashing in on the growth of Search Engine Marketing. Can their own equivalent of Google Adwords or Overture be far away?
Raising the ante in the search filed, Google released the beta of its map and direction service (http://maps.google.com) early in February. This service has the potential to compete head to head with MapQuest (www.mapquest.com), but for now this beta is restricted to addresses in Canada and the USA.
There are a few things I personally love about this utility. First off, is the ability to click and drag the map across my screen to centre my point of interest and then zoom in on it. Making minor centering adjustments as I go. Next, once I have my point of interest I can search for services (pizza, dry cleaners, gas stations etc.) and Google Map place flags where I can find these services then click on one of the flags for location details.
These leads to the part I dislike. Because of the drag and drop feature, Google Maps are made up of many smaller images which depending on your connection speed can take several seconds to load. The user interface also leaves a lot to be desired with too many options to choose from at the start and then they disappear. This makes the utility a little confusing to use right off the start, but once you get the hang of it you'll find it very valuable.
I'm sure with the millions Google now has in the bank; it won't be long before this new utility is perfected.
For more information on any of the topics or products referenced, please feel free to contact K'nechtology Inc. directly. Just to remind you that my services and the services of K'nechtology Inc. are always available to help you with your technology strategies, search engine optimization, IT project management, Internet/web development needs and software reviews. Subscribe to future newsletters or find links to previous newsletters, columns and product reviews at news.knechtology.com
© K'nechtology Inc. June 2004 - Toronto, Ontario Canada