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.


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.


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".


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.


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


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.


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.