2006-12-27

WebTrends 8.0C Upgrade - Is it worth it?

One of the questions I'm frequently asked is "Should we do the incremental upgrades of WebTrends?" This question is a difficult one to answer as many of these types of upgrades fix very little and the problems they address may not be impacting your particular use of WebTrends.

So now with 8.0c out I'm being asked this again. First off I always tell everyone you should do every upgrade and keep current. It just makes sense. However, since many clients' installations are managed by their IT departments and performing a WebTrends upgrade, needs to be scheduled well in advanced accompanied with copious amounts of paper work, the answer may not always be that easy.

So here is my answer to the WebTrends 8.0c question. Check the list of fixes and decided if you really need the patches and fixes contained in 8.0c. Here are my two reasons for the upgrade:

One, WebTrends 8.0c includes the upgrade to allow WebTrends to work with IE 7;

Two, from my perspective, WebTrends has addressed one of my concerns with the product and the "Report Designer" module. In the past when you granted user permissions to all report templates, the Designer Module would appear in the navigation and when clicked on it appeared that you could change some of the Options settings as the screen would open up with editable fields. Fortunately, the save button was grayed out. On several occasions I'd have users asking what this was and why they couldn't save changes.

Well in 8.0c, WebTrends has addressed this to a certain degree. While the Report Designer menu item still appears, the link to the "Options" screen is no longer present. Access to the list of report templates and dashboards is still there, but only a list of these items appears when the links are clicked on. I still wish that WebTrends would stop this entire module from appearing unless a user has edit privileges, but I'll take what I can get.

All in all, WebTrends 8.0c is worth the upgrade especially if you're planning on rolling out IE7 in the near future to your organization.

2006-12-20

WebTrends 8.0c Upgrade Now Available

WebTrends quietly released a version 8.0c upgrade on December 15th. Version 8.0c in now available for downloading from WebTrends' FTP server. It's been a few days since the upgrade was made available on the WebTrends FTP site (ftp.webtrends.com), but still no alert in my installation or others that I monitor. I'm sure one will eventually show up.

Don't remember a version 8.0b, don't worry about it. WebTrends only released version 8.0b for their on-demand service. Version 8.0c doesn't seem to fix much, even in their documentation there is no reference to IE7, I've yet to confirm if the IE 7 fix is included, but my preliminary test show all is OK. Still I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't done the IE7 WebTrends patches first.


I was hoping for more fixes and improvements, but for now all seems well. A list of the fixes is available at product.webtrends.com/wrc/8/issuesresolved/IssuesResolvedInWebTrends80.pdf
And the upgrade is available for downloading at
ftp.webtrends.com/WRC/80c/

2006-12-06

Web Builder 2.0 Another Success

Just as in the past attending a Web Builder conference has proven worth while. The mix of people representing all aspects of web development is a great opportunity that you just have to take advantage of.

As I said before, I'm glad Fawcette who brought back WebBuilder after 4 years. I just hope this conference once again becomes an annual event and that I can continue my streak of attending every WebBuilder conference.

To Jim Fawcette, thanks again for the great conference and the opportunity to speak to this amazing group of people.

2006-12-05

Ethical Blogging at Web Builder 2.0

I'll be doing a last minute presentation here at Web Builder 2.0 as slot opened up by a speaker no show. My chosen topic for today is "Ethical Blogging". There was a last minute request for a presentation and I was given the opportunity to choose my topic.

This is going to be an interesting presentation as I pulled together a mini slide presentation on what I think Ethical Blogging is in about 25 minutes. What will truly make this presentation interesting is I've recruited DL Byron author of Publish and Prosper: Blogging for Your Business to join me for the presentation. The session will have very few slides and we'll be turning it into more of a live human to human conversation with all attendees participating.

2006-12-04

Ajax and Web Analytics Problem or Opportunity?

This morning, I sat through the most imformative Keynote I think I've ever sat through. Scott Dietzen the President and CTO of Zimbra, kicked off Web Builder 2.0 with some great insight into the potential of using AJAX to build Web 2.0.

I'm not going to summarize his talk, but he really showed the potential in a way everyone from marketing people to hard core java developers could undertand.

I finally got to see some of the issues that the web analytics world is going to face when it comes analyzing this new generation of web sites. I know products like WebTrends claim to have a solution, and yes it should work. However, during the presentation, I may have discovered some other alternatives for more accurate reporting.

I talked breifly with Scott and hope to follow-up on it over the next few weeks. Perhaps between the two of us, we'll come up with a workable and easy to implement solution that will work across all web analytic tools.

Teaching the World about Web Analytics

Last week I had the privilege to deliver a 20 minute presentation on how to improve the accuracy of web analytics reporting to AIMS (Association of Internet Marketing & Sales) in Toronto. The presentation went extremely well as I was flanked on both sides by cases studies.

One of the cases studies addressed improving Search Engine Marketing efforts with analytics and the other was improving overall web site efficiencies with it. The irony was both of these presentations dealt with the travel industry.

Today in a few hours I'll be addressing the international crowd at WebBuilder 2.0 in Las Vegas. The subject is Improving ROI with Web Analytics. A very similar presentation to last week's, but this time it's just me.

So far the best part to the trip is my hotel room. While my flight here was uneventful (just long with a 2 hour layover in Denver), getting out of the Las Vegas airport was another story. I had to wait 30 minutes for my suitcase. Now I'm not a person who normally checks a bag for short trips, but with the layover I thought it would be the wise thing to do. Well never again. Now the worst part, after checking into Caesars Palace at the airport checking, I decided to take their airport shuttle ($7 vs. a $20 cab ride). What a big mistake, after rushing the length of the terminal to catch the next shuttle, I was told it was full and I'd have to wait for the next one. Well the next one didn't arrive for another 30 minutes. So basically it took 2 hours from touch town of my flight to the hotel.



The bad news continues, the room they gave me, didn't have a view. OK not a big deal, but when I looked out the window, I was right next to a roof top heating and cooling system making lots of noise. Fortunately, I complained and I'm not one to complain, but with a big presentation to do the next morning I thought I better. Well my hats off to Caesars Palace. Despite being sold out, they found me a better room. They gave a much superior room (about 3 times in size) as a no charge upgrade and it even has a reasonable view (35 floor vs. 4 floor).

Why am I telling you this? Simple, it is all analytics. Telling people it took you 2 hours to get to a hotel from an airport doesn't tell anything. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? Once I break down the steps into a scenario we get to see where problems are in the process. If I hadn't prepaid for the shuttle, and had known I'd have to wait 30 minutes, I would have abandoned this scenario and the ROI for Caesars selling shuttle passes would have gone down.

While Caesars Palace gave me a less then desirable room at the airport checkin, they demonstrated a desire to fix the problem at some cost to themselves, they improved my experience got a nice writeup in this blog, made me feel good about being here which in turn may mean I'll spend a little more at least tell people about it. Hence a soft conversion that is hard to put into dollar values, but still a positive factor in the ROI equation.

All these topics are being covered in today's presentation, the only difference I'll be talking it about from a web site perspective and there really isn't a difference. There is always a customer at the other end.

2006-11-24

Google Being Sued - It's not what you think!

Google is quickly becoming the next punching bag on the street. When they were small and a private company most people just took them for granted.

Since they went public, Google has had their fair share of people suing them and with acquisition of Utube.com, you cam bet there will be more. However, I saw this article from "Yahoo News" http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061123/ap_on_hi_te/google_vs_newspapers_4 and thought that this must be a first. Google being sued for including someone’s content in their search engine (Copiepresse a French language newspaper in Belgium).

After all, it's the job of an SEO like myself is to get companies content in Google and not to exclude it. Of course, this court case specifically takes issue with Google News (news.google.com) and that they took content without permission.

Perhaps I've been in this came for too long, but search engines always assumed they had permission unless you told them otherwise. Isn't that what the robots.txt file is for?

In this instance, Google quickly responded and removed the offending content, but the lawsuit is still there. I'm sure Google is taking all this in stride.

It does beg the question; if legal challenges like this become successful does it mean the end of search engines as we know them? For now, I'll concentrate on getting my clients content up there and ranking well. After all, the more organizations that decided not have their content included, the better my chances are of ranking well.

2006-11-19

Xenu Link Sleuth Updated

OK I missed this some how, but one of my favourite tools for web development and SEO work Xenu Link Checker was updated last month. A new version of Xenu Link Checker 1.2i was released October 16, 2006.

I love this tool first from a web development stand point as it allows me to quickly test a large site for broken links. I've yet to find a better tool.

From an SEO stand point, I use it much the same way, but this time as a bot/spider emulation. It allows me to view the sites linking architecture (site architecture) backwards. If there is a specific page that I'm trying to get ranked high in the search engines, then I run Xenu and make sure, first the page gets found. Secondly I can reference all pages that link to the page. I can then evaluate if the page needs more internal links or perhaps to be relocated within the sites architecture.

Either way this is an extremely useful tool for the SEO & Web Developer tool box.

A download of Xenu can be obtained at http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html

2006-11-13

IE 7 Automatic Rollout Has Started

Yes, Microsoft has started the automatic roll-out of IE7. While IE 7 has been available as download now for several weeks, they have started pushing the upgrade via the OS automatic update utility as of late last week. Their plan is to have the roll-out completed within 3 months. I personally think this is a bit ambitious, but the reality is that by the end of Q1 2007 the majority of IE users will have been upgraded to version 7.

What does this mean to you? If you haven't done so, start testing your web site(s) and any web based applications to ensure they work with IE 7. If not, time to start fixing them before the clients start calling.

For more information on the rollout, read the following article from Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20061113/tc_pcworld/127851

2006-11-12

A Good Web Conference in Canada?

One of my biggest complaints is that rarely do good quality web conferences come to Canada. Not even when our dollar was valued at 65 cents US, did the big US conference come here.

There were a few exceptions most notably Search Engine Strategy which now has an annual event here in Toronto. I've been fortunate enough to attend all three and even speak at the last two.

Well I'm proud to say it looks like an excellent web conference is coming to Canada. This February 6-10 in Vancouver and new conference called "Web Directions North" is coming. From what I've learned, this or a similar version of this conference was run annually in Australia and they've decided to bring it to North America. Of course if you're going to have a conference in Canada in February Vancouver is an excellent choice.

I don't normally plug conferences that I'm not speaking at, but I'll make an exception for this one. First off, there list of speakers is excellent. As well two people who I'm very found of and have had met at other conferences are speaking there. So if you've never had the chance to hear either of these two world renowned speaker Molly Holzschlag (Molly.com) and Kelly Goto (Gotomobile), and you'll be in the Vancouver area in February, I strongly suggest taking in this conference. In my opinion, just listing to these two Divas of the web world, you'll get your moneys worth.

If you do go to Web Directions North, please let me know you what you thought of it. Unfortunately, my schedule these days most likely won't provide me the luxury of attending this conference.


2006-11-10

WebTrends & IE 7 Fix Works!!!

I followed the instructions from WebTrends and found only one item that didn't go as expected. Step 4, didn't completely stop every WebTrends service. So I did that task manually by accessing the Administration services list.

The whole process took about 5 minutes.

Take note, IE 7 hidd the SmartView Icon. I spent more time looking for it then doing this fix.

Let me know if you try that and it works. It was hidden on my installation to the right of the home button which was postion to the far right. I finally simply expanded this tool bar and lo and behold there was the SmartView icon.

All tests proved positive.

2006-11-08

WebTrends & IE7 Fix Available

WebTrends has just released a hot fix for the problems that Internet Explorer was causing. These WebTrends fixes mean IE7 is now a supported browser and also include a fix so you can use the WebTrends SmartView plug-in for IE 6 and with IE 7.

For those using WebTrends on Demand, WebTrends has already installed WebTrends version 8.0b which includes the support of IE7, but not the fix for SmartView. The good news about these hot fix is that WebTrends has decided not to wait until they make version 8.0b available to the general public and instead issued the hot fixes.

I just got these links directly from WebTrends and haven't had the chance to test them. However, WebTrends assures me they will work.

So here is the links to the fixes:
SmartView - ftp://ftp.webtrends.com/WRC/80a/IE7/SmartViewUpdater.exe
WebTends - ftp://ftp.webtrends.com/WRC/80a/IE7/8.0a_IE7_Solution.zip

Be sure to follow these instuctions
1) Log in to WebTrends as an administrator.
2) Select Service Health under Administration | Monitoring.
3) Click the Shut Down System button.

4) After the system is shut down, extract the 8.0a_IE7_Solution.zip into your installation directory (e.g. "C:\Program Files\WebTrends"), overwriting existing files.

4a) If WebTrends is installed in a Distributed Architecture you will need to overwrite the files on each system WebTrends is installed in.

5) After this completes, start the WebTrends system database, if stopped (for example, the "WebTrends - MySQL" service in a MySQL environment)

6) Next, launch SmartViewUpdater.exe. After the installation completes, your WebTrends server will have an updated version of the SmartView in the component repository.

7) After the files have been overwritten and the SmartViewUpdater install completes, start the WebTrends system. To start the system, run “SystemShutdown.exe mode=start” from the command line when in \modules\analysis under the installation directory.

The next time users run SmartView from an updated server, they will be informed that a newer version is available and asked to upgrade. Once they select "Upgrade" the new SmartView client will be downloaded and installed over their previous version. The new version includes support for both Internet Explorer 6 and 7.

Good luck and please post a response if these WebTrends fixes for IE 7 work for you.

2006-10-30

My Space so Yesterday

Great article from the Washington post on the pending demise of Myspace.com WT tracker

I don't think it will disappear over night, but the teen market appears to be a lot smarter then the general public and especially parents give them credit for. According to the article teens are leaving myspace.com for privacy reasons and because of the creeps that are hanging out there pretending to be someone else.

Where are they going instead? It turns out many of them our heading to facebook.com.

Read the article for more information

2006-10-24

WebTrends Doesn't Work with Internet Explorer 7

I was on the phone talking with WebTrends technical support about the problem I discovered with using WebTrends and the newly released version of IE 7 as mentioned in my previous post.

Their response is as follows:

  • Yes, we've seen that problem before
  • It doesn't occur with every instance of IE 7, sometimes people get lucky with IE 7
  • Development is aware of the problem and WebTrends is working on a fix
  • Expect the fix in the next release of WebTrends

As result, my personal recommendation is don't upgrade to Internet Explorer 7 if you don't have to and you need to use WebTrends. If you've upgraded already or if your organization forces the upgrade, or by mistake you let Microsoft upgrade your version with their automatic auto-update utility, then start using FireFox.


2006-10-20

WebTrends & IE7

Yesterday I installed the first production version of IE 7 from Microsoft. So far, I'm not overly impressed in anyway.

I find it even slower then IE 6 with just a slightly nicer user interface. I'm slowly going through all my application that use a web interface. While most perform correctly (if just a bit slower), I've run into many issues in using IE7 and WebTrends.

The problems seem to change between reboots and each test, but here are two of the big ones.

* when switching between reports IE hangs so you can't see additional reports
* java applets for graphics periodically fail to load properly in IE.

Of course, I'm having no issues with using WebTrends in Firefox. I'll be calling WebTrends later today to discuss fixes for these issues and to see if others are having them as well. I'll keep you posted.

2006-10-19

Helping Raise Money With Search

I thought I had seen it all, but thanks to Blinkx.com, and my bookmark on "search engine optimization", I've discovered something wonderful in the world of search engines.

www.goodsearch.com has developed a new approach to entice users to come and use their search engine for searching the web. Goodsearch.com like many smaller search engines out there is powered by one of the bigger search engines and in this case it's yahoo.com. Like all players in this field, they make money by running pay per click advertising on their site, but here is the twist. Goodsearch.com donates 50% of its revenue to your favourite charity.

That's right your favourite charity and not a charity of its choice. You can choose from thousands of organizations already registered or add your favourite cause (charity, non-profit, school, etc.). This includes nominating your funds to go to your child's school for example. No you're not going to generate tens of thousands dollars a year for your charity or school, but think of the possibilities. According to Goodsearch.com, each search will generate approximately $0.01. So if a school has let's say 500 students and each parent does 2 searches a day that equates to a mere $10/day, but multiply that by say 365 days (1 year) and your cause has earned $3,650. If you're worried about the quality of the search results remember it's powered by yahoo.com and the quality will be the same.

Good search also has a utility that allows you to monitor and see how much money has been earned by the various charities.

This figure is of course an estimate and depends not only on the frequency that people search, but how likely they are to click on the generated ads. Remember only earning pennies at a time still adds up (just think of all those charity boxes on store counters) and if you're going to search anyways, might as well make some money for your favourite cause.


GoodSearch smaller logo

IE 7 Released

Microsoft has finally announced the production release of the new Internet Explorer version 7. IE 7 is now available.

Here is the press release. Take a minute to read and see what's up. Some interesting facts on the loss of market share to Firefox and Opera.

Now that it's out of beta, I might even download it for myself.

2006-10-12

The connection between your marketing spend and the bottom line

Make the connection between your marketing spend and the bottom line

I don't know what's in the water these days, but I've been asked to deliver another talk on using web analytics to measure ROI. This time I'll be speaking here in Toronto at AIMS (Association of Internet Marketing & Sales).

The primary focus of my talk will be "Clearing up the confusion about cookies, privacy, and why 'hits' and 'unique visits' are meaningless for the majority of websites".

I'll be one of two presenters and this should prove to be an interesting event for all those who are interested in learning how to leverage their investment in web analytics software to improve the performance of their web site.

For more information visit the AIMS web site.

2006-10-10

Measuring ROI with Web Analytics

I'll speaking at WebBuilder 2.0 this coming December. Web Builder is a Fawcette Technical Publishing (FTP) conference. My topic is Measuring ROI with Web Analytics.

While many people many have never heard of the Web Builder conference, it origins go way back to 1997 and was originally put on by C|Net before being sold to Fawcette who ran it for several years before sending it to the beach in the fall of 2002.

While Web Builder may have been on vacation, it's nice to see FTP bringing it back. What has always separated Web Builder from other web and Internet conferences is it doesn't target just one of the many groups involved in web development instead it tries to make the conference all encompassing for entire web development team. This covers everyone from the hard-core program to web managers and even web marketers.

It's always fun to see how the crowds at these conferences gel. Sometimes, everyone blends and other times, you can really spot the separation. What usually contributes to the blending is a great kick-off party or event the night before the conference. It will be interesting to see if FTP brings this conference feature back as well.

By speaking at this conference, it will ensure that I've attended every Web Builder conference since its inception. I've gone as a regular attendee and on many occasions as a speaker. Back in December 1999, I was speaking on virtually the same topic. Back then, the web bubble was nearing the point of implosion, and not many people wanted to listen to my message. I suspect that 7 years later the audience will be a little more receptive.

If you attend this conference, be sure to track me down and say hello.

More Video Search

With Google's acquisition of YouTube, web based video is being thrust even more into the Internet spotlight. Despite all the publicity, people still don't know how to find relevant on-line videos.

I've mentioned before some video search tools such as SingingFish.com and Google Video search, well here is yet another on-line video search tool. Check out blinkx.com/!


As on-line search goes, its average but it has a different reach which means it covers more then just YouTube or some of the other search engines. According to their on-line documentation, Blinkx has over 6 million hours of video in its database and "blinkx uses visual analysis and speech recognition to better understand rich media content". My limited testing of this, could neither prove or disprove that Blinkx is using voice recognition software to help rate videos, but what an interesting idea. Instead of relying on what video producers say a video is about why not look at the dialogue and the video itself.

One feature I thought was cool was their video wall. When this option is selected a wall of video thumbnails is created with all videos (that matched your search result) displaying at the same time. See something interesting simply click on the thumbnail to view it in full size and with audio. You can even create a hard link to this video wall that can be added to you bookmarks or even included in your blog. See below for the term "search engine optimization".

2006-09-22

VOIP Speed Tester

Thinking about getting a VOIP phone or perhaps you're having problems with your current connection. Well I discovered this interesting tool that let's you test your Internet connection for both speed and quality of service. It then ranks the overall results. So now you can know if you're Inerent connection speed can support VOIP as well if you're having problems with your VOIP phone if the problem is your ISP or the VOIP provider.

It's a free tool and well worth checking out if you're think of VOIP.

My VOIP Speed

Below is a shot of the summary page of my Internet connection.

Web Analytics & Cookies

Measuring how many visitors are coming to your web sites is one of several critical web analytic measurements. But how do you measure visitors? In the good old days 10-15 years ago, you simply needed to track a visitor by their IP address. But those easy days of measurement are long gone with the introduction of proxy servers and large scale ISPs.

Virtually all web analytic tools on the market today suggest the use of persistent cookies to identify unique visitors instead of relying on the old and inaccurate measurements of IP addresses. The by tracking cookies, you can more accurately track user behaviour through the web site, track returning visitors, number of visits between purchases, average number of purchases by visitors, campaign effectiveness etc.

The real question we need to ask is just how effective are persistent cookies. Unfortunately, the answer may not be what you want to hear. First off, they are only as effective as the percentage of web site visitors who accept cookies. From my observations at various clients, I've seen an acceptance rate range between 60%-95%. The biggest factor in defining the acceptance rate is the target audience for the web site. When targeting tech savvy individuals especially those in the open source movement, I've seen the lowest cookie acceptance rates. When targeting general consumers I've seen the highest cookie acceptance rates.

Another factor, based purely on my observations is location. It appears that people in some countries are more likely then others to accept or reject all cookies. The following table contains some my observations. These figures were taken from a single client who operates multiple b to b web sites across the world all with the same target audience and promoting the same product over the last 90 days (bot and internal traffic excluded).

Country/RegionAcceptance Rate
North America80.3%
Germany85.3%
UK88.5%
Ireland90.0%
France85.0%
Belgium87.0%


While the above information may not be statistically relevant across all industry, it does demonstrate that the use of cookies to improve accuracy is not 100% as some would lead us to believe and the greatest concentration of people and organization suffering form cookie paranoia are located in North America. The reality is that cookies are still the best alternative available to us and are far more accurate then the use of IP addresses.

Of course, if you want to be 100% accurate, you'd need to have users register and log into your site and then track them by their user id. Of course, if you followed this approach, most web sites wouldn't get any visitors and then they wouldn't have anything to measure. Remember, web analytics is about measuring trends and measuring effectiveness and even with a cookie acceptance rate in the low 80's, you can still provide statistically relevant data

2006-09-09

Video Search Google & Singing Fish

I've always been a fan of Sing Fish (www.singingfish.com) for searching for mp3, wav, other audio files and yes video clips. So if you’re on the look out for a search engine that very few people have heard give it a try.

If you're just searching for video clips, may I suggest the new Google Video Search (video.google.com). It's new and they also offer a space where you can up load and share your own videos.

I haven't tried the upload and share feature, but searches on some my hobbies did reveal some interesting home videos. I especially like somebody's windsurfing vacation video all 21 minutes of it. Makes me suspect that Google is offering lots of free space for your videos.

2006-09-04

Press Releases, Blogs & Success

It's been 7 days since my SEO friendly press release on this blog was released. So now I need to determine if the press release was an immediate success. I can unequivocally state " yes".

You may be surprised by how my measure its success so let me say first what didn't happen and that I don't care about. The press release didn't drive thousands of visitors to my blog or my web site. Did I expect it to do so? No, but I did expect some increase in traffic and yes that did happen. In fact traffic on the day of the press release was a 150% more then usual and up until today (Labour Day) has been about 25% more then usual with the number of return visitors also increasing.

This alone is not a sign of success. Here are some other factors do make the press release a success.

* Press release was picked-up by Google News and Yahoo News
* Of the people who saw the on-line press release summary, 1 in 113 opened it up and presumably read the press release.
* Of those who read the on-line press release:
- 10.6% saved it as a PDF (presumably for future reference)
- 10.1% click-through to my web site and several of those visited more then once
- those who visited my site averaged 2 page views per visit.

It is these statistics, gathered from both my press release company, and my web analytics tool that I use to measure success. Based on my experience getting an press release open rate below 1 in 125 is a good thing, getting a 10% conversion (people who read a press release and click to your web site to find out more), is fantastic.

Now the best part, I've just finished an on-line interview with a journalist who read the press release. Assuming I get quoted in his article and they include a link to my site (in both the print and on-liversionson), I've garnered a valuable inbound link and expanded the marketing efforts the press release.

Once again, a press release when well written and SEO'd is a valuable tool in the SEM and SEO tool chest and can form part of your SEO Best Practices foundation.

2006-08-31

Google Analytics Now Open for Business

If you've been itching to try Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics), but didn't because it trial was on an "by invitation only" status, you are in luck. Google has recently lifted that restriction and Google Analytics is now open to everyone.

It may have also been a worth while wait. Since its launch Google Analytics has added many new features that now allow it to complete with some of the major players. These include click map overlays similar to WebTrends SmartView and the one offered by Ominture's Site Catalyst.

So give it a try and I think you may like it. The level of reporting is still on the light side, but it's free. So don't complain.

2006-08-29

Yahoo Click-Fraud Class Action

Something interesting arrived in today's mail. Yes traditional mail dropped off by a mail carrier. It was a "Notice of a Settlement" for a class action against Yahoo for Click Fraud.

The period covered by this class action includes January 1, 2004 to July 31, 2006. Take note that includes the period before Yahoo purchased Overture (at least to the best of my memory).

This seven (7) page document covers a log of material, but basically the outcome is even less exciting then the Google Settlement. There is no mention of how much everyone will get, but simply that Yahoo has to put in place a mechanism for companies who believe they were victims of click fraud to make a claim and then have it investigated by Yahoo and for it to become part of the final settlement.

Sounds like a lot of work to get back a few clicks.

Of course the lawyers did well again. They get $4,950,000 plus expenses up to $25,000 (US dollars of course). Not the same legal payout as Google got hit with, but still somebody is making money with all these law suits and it sure isn't the people who paid for all those clicks.

The only good thing to truly come out the click fraud legal actions (at least one can hope} is better tracking and monitoring by the Pay Per Click programs for click fraud so perhaps in the near future what you pay for in a ppc campaign will be for real web site traffic.

Free Business Apps from Google

In case you didn't hear it yet, Google yesterday formally announced that it is offering a free trial of the Beta of its new enterprise business application. This includes everything you see at www.google.com/a

So now you can have an enterprise version of:
* Google Mail
* Google Calendar
* Google Page Creator
* Google Talk

While I'm a user of Google Calendar for my personal calendar and have enjoyed using it with the ability of sharing my calendar with others (makes scheduling appointments much easier), I'm not sure of the others.

Do I really want to shift my business e-mail from its current provider to Google? Yes Google will be free, but who do I call when something goes wrong?

While free today and Google does promise that it will be free forever to all beta users, what happens when the new and improved version of everything becomes available and is sold as a premium service? Is this is just a fancy take on the bait and switch?

Just more offerings from Google, now add these to other offerings by Google: Writely (www.writely.com a free word processor) and Google Spreadsheet (spreadsheets.google.com) and you have a company which is ready to take on the entrenched Microsoft Office. Perhaps these products aren't ready for major corporations, but they do and will make sense to all the small and medium sized businesses out there.

It's strange that about 6 or 7 years ago or so, I had predicted at a conference that Internet and web would allow software companies to move their applications on-line. This had a few advantages, from the users perspective, they didn't have to keep buying upgrades and could always be on the latest version and it should cost less per user. From the software manufacture perspective, they can say good-bye to pirated versions of the software since there are no CDs out there to be burned and license keys to be hacked.

Well let's wait and see how all this plays out. It could become very interesting.

2006-08-27

Blogs, SEO & Press Releases

On Tuesday August 29, my firm is issuing a press release formally announcing this blog. The questions may be why now after a couple of months or why issue a press release at all.

So let start with why wait. First off, I wanted to see if I'd be posting blog entries on a regular basis. I never planned on the one day thing, but at least one a week or so. Well a review of past postings shows, I have didn't always meet the weekly posting boal, but I've managed close to an average of one a week. There is no point in issuing a press release without having anything to show. Secondly, I wanted to see what would really happen without any formal announcements.

From my log files I've been able to see that several of my posts have attracted many visitors via the search engines as I had hoped they would. What's nice is many of you do appear to be coming back to read more despite the not posting comments to my blog entries.

So, I've started with the soft roll-out. Now out comes a press release. So why a press release? There are a couple of factors; first a high quality on-line press release with links to a specific page does create high quality external links an important factor in ranking well in the search engine results. Secondly and the most obvious is to drive traffic to my blog and perhaps increase the number of regular readers and in turn increase the value of my brand. Third and the last reason, is a well written press release (I believe this one is), may get picked up by on-line news engines like Google news and Yahoo news. This increases the probability of someone searching for an SEO or web analytics blog from finding mine and perhaps a reported looking for a quote on a specific subject that I've covered will come and seek me out and once again improve my brand.

From an SEO perspective, a well crafted press release is always a good thing. From a business perspective, it always good to issue one when you have something positive to announce, so why hold back.

So as an SEO firm that tells clients to issue SEO'd press releases, it is always a good time to "start eating our own dog food".

2006-08-24

Free Skype To Landline - Have You Tried It?

As a regular user of a VOIP (voice over IP) telephone system and regular user of Skype (an Web based VOIP network), I was intrigued by Skype's offer earlier this summer of free Web to landline calls in North America.

I love using Skype to talk to friends and family all over the world for free. All they require is the free Skype software, speakers and a microphone. Now throw in a web cam and we have live video calling. Truly amazing to talk and see the person who you're talking with in real time. Of course depending on your bandwidth, the person on the other ends bandwidth and the overall available bandwidth on the network this can range from a great call with OK video to a poor quality call with very jerky video.

In my experience, when you turn off the video, Skype delivers an OK quality voice call. So now I could call for free friends and family throughout North America (assuming I'm in North America) for free who don't have Skype. Of course with my Primus TalkBroadband VOIP line I already had unlimited calling in North America, but for others who only had Skype this could be a real money saver and extremely convenient.

Let me explain, for Skype to Skype to work, both people have to be on-line. So if the person you want to speak to isn't at their computer you can't talk to them. With Skype to landline, you login in to your Skype account, dial their telephone number and your almost instantly connect.

The problem is the quality of the call. While on the web you might expect a poor quality call, but on a land line that is another story. I gave it a try a few times and was reminded on International calls I used to make 10-15 years ago. Where you talked wait a few seconds and hear yourself on the other end.

OK this is for free, but the person on the other end doesn't know it. I personally think if Skype is trying to promote this service in North America they need to improve their network routing within North America. I know of several Europeans who use this service regularly with Europe and are happy with the quality.

If you're using this free Skype to landline a try in hopes of evaluating VOIP overall don't. It simply isn't the same thing.

I gave a few VOIP providers here in Canada a try and all provided a good quality service (except AOL). For the most you can't tell I'm on a VOIP phone system regardless of where in the world I'm calling.

Dan MacLean over at ITworld Canada has a good editorial piece on why you shouldn't use Skype to evaluate VOIP. Well worth the read if you are thinking of going to a VOIP phone.

2006-08-22

Access Log Scrubber Update

I'm happy to announce that versions 0.8 of our log scrubber beta is now available.

The biggest enhancement is that the scrubber can now open and process files that were gzipped. So now you can scrubb (remove unwanted entries) from your IIS and Apache access log files in the following formats

.log
.zip
.gz

To register for the beta trial simply go to www.knechtology.com/log-scrubber/log-scubber-30day-trial.html and complete the registration form.

For more detailed information on the Log Scrubber visit http://www.knechtology.com/log-scrubber/.

I hope to have the production version ready within 2-3 weeks.

Canadian Web Surfing Facts

I saw these interesting facts from Statistics Canada last week and thought I'd share them.
  • 68% of adult Canadians used the Internet for personal non-business reason in 2005

  • In Toronto, that number rose to 75%

  • Almost two-thirds of adult Canadians who used the Internet from home used it every day during a typical month

  • About six in 10 Internet users used it to read news or sports, or to conduct their banking online.

  • More than 50% used the Internet to check weather conditions, make travel arrangements, to search for medial or government information and window shop.

I found the last point most interesting especially on the point about "to window shop". While it is always easy to see and measure the direct benefit ("ROI") of a web site sells something or has various on-line conversion points, it is difficult to measure the success of window shopping. Yet there is a benefit and we all know it. Think about how many restaurants have web sites. If they don't provide takeout and merely have a web site for promotion and letting people check out the menu then this site is purely for window shopping.

What about stores which operate both on-line and in the brick and mortar world. There must be some residual value of people merely window shopping on the electronics side to review product offerings and price. From the benefits side, this needs to be taken into account when assigning a true value to the company web site.

2006-08-17

Microsoft AdCenter Beta - Review

In case you haven't heard yet, Microsoft has entered the world of search engine marketing with its own Pay Per Click search engine ad system called AdCenter which has been around for about 9 months now and servers ads on the MSN search engine (perhaps you didn't even know Microsoft had its own search engine). While still in beta, I've been privilege to be a participant in the AdCenter beta program for the past 3 months.

What is interesting is that for once Microsoft seems to have done something right. While PPC has been around for a long time already, and the industry is supported by many tools to support search engine marketers, Microsoft has taken the lead of these 3rd party tools and taken the best form Google Adwords and Overture by integrated them into AdCenter PPC engine.

Some features of AdCenter include day parting tools (the ability to set specific days of the week and times to run your ads), a keyword research tool (which incorporates the best of Overtures keyword tool, WordTracker and others) and a demographics tool. All these tools fall under its research tab.

The most interesting tool is the demographic tool. With this you can enter a specific word or phrase and see the demographic of who is searching on the phrase. You can find out the split between male and female web users, age bracket and income. What is suspicious is how does Microsoft know all this? Well according to one Microsoft rep I had the privilege to talk to at a conference they gather all this info when users register for their products such as HotMail, Operating systems, MS Office, etc. So how much value should you put into these demographics? To me the answer is how truthful do you really think everyone is when registering on-line for products. Have you ever stretched the truth? Regardless it at least has some merit and may be useful in targeting specific ads to specific keywords to a specific category of user.

While AdCenter does offer some limited geotargeting, for Canadian you are out of luck. AdCenter does not allow its ads to be targeted at Canadians (msn.ca). The reason is that Micorsoft Canada still has a deal in place with Yahoo Canada (hence Overture) to continue to server ads on MSN Canada Search.

As mentioned earlier this product is in Beta, but I now know Microsoft is taking PPC and AdCenter to heart. I was invited to participate yesterday in a survey of SEM professionals here in Toronto. The focus of this survey was AdCenter. I can not comment more on the survey as most of it is confidential, but I can say get ready for a strong ad campaign for when it comes out of beta.

For now AdCenter is still in Beta and I'll keep my eye on it to see if when its ready for prime time.

2006-07-20

Why Pre-process Access Logs (Log scrubbing)

We'll I've finally released a public beta of my log scrubbing utility.

It's been 6 months in concept, several months of internal testing along with some limited user testing. So now I need some serious feedback before it can make the leap to a production version.

You might be asking yourself "Why Should I optimize my log files after all my web analytics program filters hits out of my log files?" The answer is really simple. Do you want to speed up the time it takes to process your access logs and generate more accurate results?

Think about it, each hit filter takes time to review each hit and decided if should include or exclude it from the reported results. Now repeat that additional time for each time you process your log files. The result can be everything from an extra few minutes to hours a day depending how much data is being filtered. For one tester, the simple removal of a single specific page (used as part of a 404 redirect) from its log files resulted in almost 9 million fewer pages a year that had to be filtered out of the analysis.

As to accuracy, it's so easy to miss setting a filter to capture variety possibilities. This may result is some pages being accidentally excluded or included in your results.

By pre-processing and reviewing the extracted data (log file dirt), you can be sure that only items you don't want are removed and significantly reduce the size of your web log files.

So give log scrubbing a try. For more information about optimizing (scrubbing) your access logs and to download the beta visit my website K'nechtology.

2006-07-15

Stop Google From Using DMOZ Listing

Here is a great article on the new meta tag recently embraced by Google that was originally created by MSN.

Why do want to stop Google from using your listing in the Open Directory Project (ODP) aka DMOZ? Simply ODP has always been slow to update listings to reflect changes within company offerings or they might simply have it wrong. Either way, this could effect your ranking in the SERPs or even what is display as a site description within the SERP.

It's all covered in the article from Stepforth.

2006-07-13

FireFox 2.0 Now in Beta

Mozilla has just released FireFox 2.0. It's a big jump from the current production version of 1.5.

Just take a look at the new or enhanced features
* Built in Phishing Protection
* Search suggestions now appear with search history in the search box for Google, Yahoo! and Answers.com
* Changes to tabbed browsing behavior
* Ability to re-open accidentally closed tabs
* Better support for previewing and subscribing to web feeds
* Inline spell checking in text boxes
* Search plugin manager for removing and re-ordering search engines
* New microsummaries feature for bookmarks
* Automatic restoration of your browsing session if there is a crash
* New combined and improved Add-Ons manager for extensions and themes
* New Windows installer based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System
* Support for JavaScript 1.7
* Support for client-side session and persistent storage
* Extended search plugin format
* Updates to the extension system to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions
* Support for SVG text using svg:textPath

Of course its still early in its beta, but keep an eye open for its release. To find out more go to http://developer.mozilla.org/devnews/

2006-07-05

Search Engine Market Share in China

Seems a lot of people have been reading my previous post about search engine market share here in Canada and in the United States.

So I dug up some more numbers for you. Hope you find this useful.

Search Engine Market Share for China
TMCnet.com reports:
Baidu leads with 43.9%
Yahoo is in second place with 21.1%
Google is in third place in China, with 13.2%

China Internet search engine sector achieved a total income of CNY 303 million in the first quarter this year.

TMCnet sources this information from the Beijing Modern Business Daily from the Tuesday, June 27, 2006 edition

The full article can be access at www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2006/06/28/1699289.htm

2006-06-25

$5 Router will you Byte

An interesting article about one organizations attempt to establish a free global Wi-Fi network. The catch, buy a router from them for $5 and share it with who ever wants access and you get free Wi-Fi access where ever you go.

Sounds good, but what about security? By sharing your Internet connection you are sharing your home network. As time goes by and more network based appliances start becoming mainstream in the home this could create just another opportunity for identity theft, privacy breaches and viruses to spread.

So will you take the bait?

I for one will not, but it is tempting.

2006-06-18

New Google Adwords Features The Good & The Bad

If you didn't log into your Adwords account for the past week you may be in for a good shock. Yes Google has added some new and valuable features to their big money maker Adwords.

Here is the breakdown.

First, the most disappointing, you can now set the time zone for your reports and budgets. This means instead of having a campaign expired at midnight pacific time, you can change your default to your time zone. With a couple of mouse clicks your Google Adwords Campaigns now run and report on North American Eastern time, GMT, or what ever time zone you want. Sounds great doesn't it, but watch out. This is a one time setting, choose the wrong setting and your s*** out of luck.

Also, why can I only set it for my profile and not per campaign? I run campaigns for others and they can be in any time zone around the world. Why for a Vancouver company do I have to run their campaigns on Easter Time and for a company in England on Eastern Time and not GMT time? I think Google is on the right track, but this one should have stayed in the closet a little longer for all the kinks to be worked out.

Secondly, and this is a win win for everyone, is they now offer day parting. Day parting allows you to set what days of the week you want your Google Adwords to appear and the time of the day. This means if you want to only target business in Toronto, Ontario you can now not only set the geotarget to the New York City area, but you configure Adwords to display ads only from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, if that's what you want. This when done correctly, will allow you to increase the click through rate and improve your ad quality score. As we all know the all important quality score is becoming even more important then the PPC bid. High quality score ads can get listed higher in the paid section and be charged less per click then other ads. So start testing when your ads get the best click through rate and target your budget there.

For third party software companies like "BidRank" that offer tools for day parting, this may signal the start of their down fall. Well for now there are still those Yahoo/Overture campaigns to worry about.

2006-06-13

Talking SEO to Chartered Accountants

Today was an interesting day. I gave a conference address on Search Engine Optimization to a group of Chartered Accountants here in Toronto at the inaugural CICA National IT Conference.

The conference organizers thought it would be a good idea to have a track devoted to techie subjects. Hence, I gave a talk on the hot topic of SEO. Too bad most of the 200+ attendees didn't agree. While the room could seat approx. 150 people, I'd say that no more then 25 attended my session. The good news is that those 25 were very interested in learning what SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) were all about and how they/their firms could take advantage of both SEO and SEM.

For this crowd, I had to deemphasized the techie details in my regular presentation and concentrate on the business side of SEO and SEM. This is something that comes naturally to me and I could easily rely on my presentation topics from 1999 and 2000 where I exclusively talked about how to measure ROI and the success of web projects.

I did receive some excellent questions at the end of my address. And I think I managed to impart, on what I hope are the decision makers of companies, the importance of SEO and the need to embrace it as a long term strategy and how there are real financial pay-offs when done correctly and how SEM can be used to supplement SEO efforts.

All in all I'm pleased with the presentation and it was fun to run into some people who I had worked with in the past.

My hat is off to the conference organizers for a excellent and well run conference and good luck with next year's conference.

2006-06-12

Google's Market Share US & Canada

SearchEngineWatch reported on Netratings score of the on-line searches for Arpil 2006. Google has now reached 50% (http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060526-090731). This compares to comScore reporting they represent 43% for the same period. No matter how you look at it, Google is the most popular search engine at least in the US. No wonder every SEO targets Google, but do the math, if you can rank well in the other search engines, you'll still reaching 40% or so of the potential market. So if it's easier to reach 40% then to reach 50% where do you put your effort?

It's just something to think about. The reality is you need to know where your target market is searching and not just be fixated with Google.

By the way, for those in Canada here are some stats that were given to me by Google Canada.

Reach December 2005
Google - 66%
MSN - 14%
Yahoo - 13%

Hmmmm, looks like Google has a strangle hold on Canada.

2006-06-09

More Google & China

There is a follow-up news article to the one I referenced in my previous post.

Google co-founder says company is staying in China.

This article is well worth the read and provides better details on how Google is going to walk both sides of the fence (at least fro now) between censoring its index and providing non-censored results.

As I said before, they're in business to make money and not change the world. So this way they can comply with China's requirements and provide a high quality (speedy search engine) and also continue to provide access to poor quality (slow speed search engine) that doesn't comply.

I guess China is hoping that users will go with google.cn because its fast and Google things people will go to google.com because its not censored. Let's see Google built its reputation on being a fast search engine with high quality results. For now, according to this article quality is winning (99% use Google.com). So just like going out to eat, if you want good quality food and service it may take longer then grabbing something at your favourite fast food establishment. Yes it may be 100% beef, but which part of the cow?

2006-06-07

Google and Compromised Principals

So Google has now admitted that it has compromised its principals when it comes to China (see: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060607/ap_on_hi_te/google_censorship_5) and the censorship of its search results.

So the first question one needs to ask is "SO?" While I personally don't like censorship, Google is already conducting censorship in North America just not as obviously as when an government asks them not to list specific sites.

Don't believe me! By their own admission, if they discover you've used some black hat SEO techniques on your site, they can blacklist you from their index. That is a form of censorship. Yes saying you "must not do XXX on your site or else we won't list you" is a form of censorship.

How about when you build a brand new site only to have Google put you in the Google sandbox. This may be a temporary form of censorship, but you are still penalized for being a new site.

Google makes no claims that their index contains every web site in the world. Nor is there ever a guarantee that they will index you despite your best SEO efforts.

As a private company they have the right to modify their product to best fit their customers and their market. Go to a pizza parlor in Jerusalem, because of the religious dietary laws, you won't get meat on your cheese pizza. In Muslim countries the government may require restaurants to only server Halla meats and no pork. Is this any different then telling Google they can not server up specific sites to people of that country? In the first instance they are trying to stop people from consuming specific foods that are forbidden by their religion and in the other they are trying to stop people from consuming specific knowledge that is forbidden by their government.

Yes, I agree what China is doing is bad and it is right up there with the people who keep trying to stop the teaching of evolution, but let's not blame Google or the other search engines for trying to make money and expand their markets. Set the blame where it belongs on the governments that set the rules we all live and work within.

2006-06-05

FireFox Security Update

For those of you who are using the FireFox browser beaware that a rare security warning has been issued for FireFox and the Thunderbird e-mail reader both from Mozilla.com. There is a security hole common to both application and the fix is available on-line simply by upgrading your current version at http://www.mozilla.com/.

The Cyper-Alter was issued on June 2, 2006 see below.
Cyber Security Alert SA06-153A


Mozilla Products Contain Multiple Vulnerabilities

Original release date: June 2, 2006
Last revised: --
Source: US-CERT


Systems Affected

* Firefox web browser
* Thunderbird email application


Overview

The Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email application contain
several vulnerabilities. By taking advantage of one or more of
these vulnerabilities, an attacker may be able to take control of
your computer.


Solution

Upgrade to the latest versions of Firefox and Thunberbird

Mozilla has released an updated version of Firefox to corrrect
these problems.

Mozilla has released an updated version of Thunderbird to correct
these problems.


Description

Mozilla products, including the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird
email application, contain a number of vulnerabilities. These
vulnerabilities may allow an attacker to access your computer, run
programs that could cause your computer to crash, or gain control
of your computer.

For more technical information, see US-CERT Technical Alert
TA06-153A.

2006-06-02

Measuring Bandwidth Speed - What's Your Speed

Over the last couple of days I've noticed a slow down on my main pc and generally with accessing the web. So was it my ISP or my PC.

Many people over the years have asked me this question and how do you know before you call and complain to your ISP or start looking at your PC.

The easiest way is to first eliminate the Internet connection. To do this you can access anyone of many bandwidth checkers. What these utilities generally do is conduct a small file transfer in both directions and measure the time it takes to for the file to transfer. In other cases they simply do a test called a Trace Route and measure the time it takes for servers to respond. In either case, they can give you a sense of your bandwidth speed (does it match what you’re paying for) and how many errors are encountered along the way (causes of slow downs). If all looks good then it's your PC, if you have lots of errors and your bandwidth is off, then it's your ISP.

My favourite tool for testing my connection is MySpeed Bandwidth Test.

In the past, I've caught one ISP who had reduced my bandwith speed to a lower level then what I was paying for. Unfortunately today it’s something with my PC and I now need to spend some time figuring out what. Until then, at least I know my connection is good.

2006-05-31

1, 2 or 3 & SEM

Search engine marketing is much more of a science while search engine optimization is more of an art. I was asked today by a client why their Google Adword ads were generally showing up in the number 2 and 3 position in Google search results and on occasion even in the 4th position.

I had to explain to the client that simply being in the number 1 position is no guarantee of anything and that by balancing a limited budget with the cost per click I was able to maximize the number of clicks per day to the daily budget cap in Adwords.

What it boiled down to is to be in number 1 cost more, leaving less budget room and to make things worse the click-through rate was lower. Since Google introduced their ad quality score, it has become even more important to ensure high click-throughs on ads to help keep the cost of ads down. The irony of this is, that Google will start to automatically move ads higher in the ranking if they have a good quality score. Yet in many cases the ideal position for maximum click-throughs may be position 2, 3 or 4.

Fortunately, Google does offer you the ability to set a position preference. Something that more of us should perhaps should consider using to maximize click-through rates. I wonder what will happen when everyone wants position 3 and no-one wants position 1?

Any one else experience similar results, where being number 1 wasn't the best position for maximum ROI?

2006-05-29

The Power of One Good Word

The world-wide web never ceases to amaze me. I mentioned that last week that PC World had referenced my site and specifically the e-mail encoder to help stop spam. Since that single reference, I've discovered several more site creating links to the same page on a virtually identical reference.

What is amazing isn't that this page was released several years ago, has been fully search engine optimized so it routinely ranks in the top 5 if not the to 10 in all major search engines for a variety of keyword phrases, but rather that until now I was only aware of 2 other links to it, despite it being access many time during a typical day. Since that article came out, I've picked-up at least 6 links that I know of, so what were these people waiting for? For someone else to link to it first or perhaps they were just waiting for someone to validate the utility? Either way, it proves that providing valuable content combined with good Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you'll drive traffic to your site and build quality links organically. The unfortunate part is, as I tell all my clients, it rarely happens over night.

2006-05-26

The Press Release - The Day After

Well initial results from my site stats looked amazing, traffic up 4 to 5 times, but then I started to dig.

First, I looked at the referrer report; I noticed a lot of traffic from PC World and very little from the various press release distribution sites. This was not enough of an increase to explain the overall increase in visits. Total referred traffic up approx. 25%. The majority of the increase was from direct traffic.

So, I investigated the referring page from PC World. It turns out; they had put a link (blogs.pcworld.com/tipsandtweaks) to the free e-mail encoder on my site along with a favorable review. Yet that link only delivered a handful of the visitors. So I kept digging and checked my most popular pages.

My most popular page of the day was a page that doesn't exist on my site and was generating a 404 error (page not found). Had I made a mistake in my press release and pointed to a non-existent page. No, that was not it. Remember, there were no referrers to this page, all the traffic was direct traffic. So where was it coming from? Perhaps a new bot/spider that I'm not scrubbing from my log files. Yes that was it.

My site was and still is getting pounded by the AvantGo spider. AvantGo is a proxy utility for the Palm and Windows CE that helps sync users handhelds with the latest news etc. So my guess, AvantGo had picked up the press release from one of the many distribution points and was following all the links. Now since, AvantGo only supports HTML 3.1 (at least from my investigations) and no java script, and my site is built in XHTML, the poor little spider is having problems and getting confused by my web analytics java script tracking utility.

So it's back to monitoring it, and trying how to get AvantGo to stop calling a page that doesn't exist. I'm well aware that the benefits of press release are not just traffic to a web site, but it is an indicator of people's interest in the subject matter etc. At a minimum, the inbound links from the press release across all the sites it appears on should give me a boast in link popularity and that should help increase my overall ranking in the SERPs.

2006-05-25

K'necht to Address CICA National IT Conference

Well my press release went out this morning. So far it has had no impact on web site traffic, zero e-mails etc.

Here's a link to press release (http://biz.yahoo.com/iw/060525/0131019.html)) - let me know your thoughts.

Are You Going Claim Your Share from Google?

If you haven't been following the story, several months back, Google settled out of court a class action regarding click fraud. The basics of the settlement are as follows:

1. Google to pay $90 Million US
2. Lawyers to take $30 Million
3. Public to share remaining $60 Million
4. Payout on a prorated basis of your share of Google’s total revenue during that period.

To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:
"The settlement will provide advertising credits to class members who certify that they were the victims of "click fraud" or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements purchased from Google on or after 1 January, 2002."

So my questions are: a) How can you prove that you were a victim of Click-Fraud? and b) How are they going to check?

In the end all you are going to get are advertising credits (better then nothing), but think about it. Even if you spent $20,000 during the identified period on Adwords and 2% of the traffic was click fraud. That equates to $400 of click-fraud. Now what proportion of you're $20,000 spend is that of Google's total Adword revenue during that same period. My guess is maybe 1/10,000 if not less. So that means you'll be able reclaim an advertising credit of $6.

Hardly seems worth it. Remember you only have between June 19 and August 4, 2006 to make your claim.

For more detailed information on the is topic go http://www.clicksettlement.com/

2006-05-24

The Shoemaker's Children

First off, yesterday I managed to get several high priority tasks taken care of. As the old adage goes "the shoemaker's children go barefoot", I've take upon myself to address this short coming in my business. After years of encouraging clients to issue optimized press releases to not only help promote their busineses, but to also build valuable links to their sites as part of a search engine optimization strategy, I finally signed-off on my company's first press release in several years.

While I frequently help clients optimize their press releases, I out sourced this service for myslef. Why? Simply if I had to put it on my plate, it would have waited until paying clients got the attention they needed and then it would be too late to issue it.

Of course a press release for just the sake of a press release is a worthless thing. I'm finally promoting my speaking engagements. This time it's my address to CICA (Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants) at their annual National IT conference this coming June.

Once some stats are in, I'll post the effect of the press release on web site traffic, and any other direct benefits.

A Call At Last

Well Yahoo/Overture called me back about the problems I was having over the weekend. The call came at almost 7:00 pm local time. Good thing, I have a home office. If I worked normal hours in an office; I'd have missed the call. Perhaps they should look up my address and check the time zone before calling?

On a positive note, they did leave me with their toll-free number incase I run into problems in the future. Perhaps good customer service isn't dead it just works a little slow.

2006-05-23

Back to Business & Customer Service

Well the Victoria long weekend here in Canada is now over and it is officially back to work. The joy's of my business is there is never truly a real day off. Yesterday I got a call from WebTrends to follow-up on a minor bug in Version 8a, which I had reported earlier last week and for which they sent me a fix. The call was to make sure the fix had worked. This call was unexpected and a welcomed surprise, as they had already sent me an e-mail notification that the case was closed. I'm not used to such good customer service from a software company. The weekend had some other surprises, I ran into to some login problems with my Overture account, managed to get that resolved on my own (good luck trying to find a contact e-mail address to resolve problems with on the Overture web site), and after several months of issues with my Google Analytics account (could not login), they finally fixed it. Of course did they send me an e-mail to notify me that they had fixed the problem? Nooooo, I did my weekly test and bang I could actually login.

That's my weekend experience with Customer Service groups, some good and some bad. Let me know about your experiences with different customer service groups.

2006-05-21

WebTrends 8 Update

Last week, WebTrends quietly released the first patch for their new WebTrends Analytics 8 (8a). I've been very impressed with version 8 and the patch fixes a couple of minor bugs. These bugs mostly affected people who had upgraded from the previous version 7.5

I've been an avid user of WebTrends since version 1.0 and love the easy of use for the users and the quality of the graphics. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't all that much more in version 8 then in version 7 for the users. I must admit, from an administrator's point of view, getting e-mail notification when things don't work as they should or a Geotrends database update is available is simply wonderful and a truly must have feature.

I'll be posting more thoughts on WebTrends 8 over the next few weeks.

Welcome

After being encouraged to start a blog for many years by colleagues and contemporaries, I've finally broken down and started my first blog.

One of the reasons I've resisted was that I couldn't come up with a consistent theme for this blog. Well I've been giving it thought for more then a year as my regular newsletter went by the waste site as I never could put together enough time to write and publish it while still keeping it current and relevant.

So now I will attempt to use this blog to highlight events, latest news and product reviews of things that I think are important. I will concentrate on search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and web analytics. Despite this desire to target these areas if I come across something that I find interesting, you can be sure I'll post it here.

Now, only time will tell if I'll be able to keep it up and if I can develop a loyal following.