Blue Man - Las Vegas - SEO

So what do the Blue Man, Las Vegas and Search Engine Optimization have in common? Yes, the Blue Man is a fun pack 2 hours entertainment event at the Blue Man Theatre at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. Yes, Las Vegas recently was home to PubCon's Search Engine Marketing conference. But the fact that both have Las Vegas in common doesn't make Blue Man = SEO.

What they have in common is the marketing team behind the Blue Man show; understand search engine optimization and the importance of building links. During the Pub Con, the Blue Man invited several of us to attend their show. The cost of admittance was to ensure we wrote a review of the show and ensured that it would be published on-line with a link to the show. They clearly understand the importance of viral/word of mouth marketing and of link building. With each link to their show web site, they increase the importance of the site in the eyes of all leading search engines. So the distribution of a couple of handful of tickets to leading bloggers and SEO people can easily lead to the selling of hundreds of more tickets.

Yes, I saw the show free of charge, but does that mean you shouldn't pay for it. Alan K'necht with a Blue ManAs a reviewer, I was entertained even before the show started right through to the closing routine. Simply waiting for the show to start and reading the stages electronic marquee (ticker tape) with humours messages about turning off cell phones was entertaining. Even as the show was just about to start, they singled out several individuals in the crowd including yours truly. As I gazed upon the ticker tape I noticed my name flashing across it, with the message "Let's welcome Alan K'necht an all round good guy who knows everything!". My simple waving of hand wasn't good enough; the marquee then got the entire audience to chat in unison "Stand Up Alan and take a Bow".

After I took my bow and they directed their attention to others in the crowd, the show began. The show a combination of amazing drumming, visual effects, humour all from the emotionless Blue Men is something to be experienced. The only complaint was at times the band with their use of neon and blinking lights was a bit distracting from the action of the Blue Men.

So if you're heading to Vegas, I highly recommend this show.


Spock the Next FaceBook?

People are always looking for what the next big thing on the web is going to be. Almost a year ago I wrote about Facebook. Back then it was still redistricted to people at educational institutions. Well it opened up to the rest of us and as the say "the rest is history".

So what is the next big thing? While I won't put any money it, give Spock a look (www.spock.com). This site is the ultimate web site for ego surfing. It is a search engine of just people. So type in your name, type in my name and see what comes up. You might be surprised.

Want to update your personal information or start a network of trusted individuals then go for it by registering. Spock has a rating system of the importance of individuals called "Spock Power". Simply add more people you your network and your power grows. As well, you immediately get Spock's recommendations of others who you might want to invite to your network because they are connected to you through someone in your network. Think of Spock as a blending of Facebook (the personal social network site) and LinkedIn (the business social network site)

You can also increase your power by establishing trust with others. Get people you know to confirm who you are and anything (tags) that you've used to identify yourself.

So why do I think Spock could be the next big thing, after all we already have Facebook and LinkedIn. I registered with Spock about 1 year ago and I didn't hear anything more about it or from it. Yet over the past 2 weeks I've started getting lots of "Trust Requests" from it. This means others are now starting to flock to it. Perhaps it's a fad perhaps not. Either way, people are starting to use it and if you want to be up on the latest social networking sites, you better take a look. And while you're there, why not add yourself to my network as a K'necht-It reader.

Las Vegas Web Conferences Wrap-Up

It's hard to believe that it's been 2 weeks since the wrap-up party from PubCon. I know I promised to keep you posted on events and news from both Web Builder 2.0 and PubCon, but work and life sometimes gets in the way of the best plans.

To summaries both events, both were great in different ways. Web Builder 2.0 as predicated brought to together developers, web project managers, usability specialist and so much more. The sessions were top notch and giving the speakers a full hour each gave them a chance to go more than just surface level on their given topics.

PubCon on the other hand was an SEO and SEM focused event. It was much larger and the sessions were composed of panels of experts (including yours truly). While this format gives the opportunity to hear lots of different views, by limiting the panellists to 9-12 minutes each, you don't get into much depth.

I always say you can tell a great conference from a good conference by what happens between sessions. Using this measure both conferences were great! PubCon gets an extra star for organizing a wrap-up networking session on the last day. Perhaps it was the free beer and soft drinks, perhaps it was squeezing almost a thousand people into the Brew Pub at the Monte Carlo or perhaps it was just the desire of people to get to know people at a deeper level.Whatever the reason, this was the highlight of PubCon. I met more new people that afternoon and swapped more business cards in 4 hours then I did over the first few days combined. Many of the speakers stuck around for this event and it gave the opportunity for the attendees to get to know us and to ask us those final questions they didn't get to ask during the sessions.

My personal highlight was watching Matt Cutts (of Google fame) and Danny Sullivan (from Search Engine Land) race their cellphones. It was IPhone (Matt Cutts) vs. The HTC 6800 (Canny Sullivan). I had to cheer for Danny as he has the same cellphone as I do (IPhones are not available in Canada). So with cellphones in hand and browsers open, the race began. Would the sleek design of the IPhone win over the large QWERTY keyboard of the HTC 6800. It was Mac vs. Windows Mobile and the winner is...

Well Matt Cutts did hold up a Search Engine Land sticker on his head.

Here's hoping that both events will take place again next year. If so, I can almost guarantee I'll be there.


Summary of Web Builder 2.0 2007

This years Web Builder 2.0 was well organized and had a great speakers. Unfortunately attendance was down a bit from last year and the rooms could have easily help 3 times the number of attendees.

One thing that became clear while attending several of keynotes and sessions is that world of Web 2.0 is maturing. There wasn't much new to say, just a few adjustments and adjusted forecast.

One presentation that stood out to no surprise was the Usability session with Jared Spool of UIE. While Jared didn't address Web 2.0, he did take us back to the early days of the Wang word processor and showed the "Evolution of Intuitive Design".

The one quote that stood out from his presenation besides pointing out that everyone uses the word "intuitive" incorrectly was "Who ever set the standard that an "*" means required? I want to find that person and kill him. Just kidding!".

Despite the small turn out, I still enjoyed Web Builder 2007 and the people I talked to loved the fact that this is only conference for the whole web team. Here's hoping there is going to be a Web Builder 2008.

2 Conference 1 Week

It's Wednesday and I'm half way through my 1 week in Las Vegas with 2 conference addresses at two different conferences.

This morning I wrapped up my second address with Presentation at Pub Con.

It was a great presentation on "A Top Down Approach to SEO". I was part of a 4 person panel which included : Mark Jackson, Lyndsay Walker and Paul Bruemmer.

The presentation contained lots of great tips and my slide on comparing poorly coded web pages (from an SEO perspective) as noose vs. a straight rope (the linear approach) was well received.

If you'd like to read more on the presentation, Mark has a great summary of the presentation on his blog


The Night Before Web Builder

Another year has gone by and its time for Web Builder. As usual there are lots of speakers and lots of interesting topics being covered. While nothing has made me jump with excitement and highlight a specific session, I'm sure there is going to be lots of great information being exchanged.

My presentation on Web Analytics is now all ready to go and is rock solid with just a touch of humour and lots good information. The sad news is it is the last session of the day. And with a conference starting at 8:30 am and going until 6:00 pm I don't know how many people will still be there come the 5:00 pm start time.

I'll be sure to post any interesting tips and gossip I hear during the conference.

It's hard to believe that it is 10 years since I attended my first Web Builder conference in New Orleans. Back then all this was so new and the excitement of just being with others in love with this emgerging technology called the web as a communication tool gave the conference a buzz that I have never seen or felt before or since.

So keep your eyes on this blog for some great info. Remember that I'll be speaking and attending PubCon from WebMaster's World starting Wednesday.

The best news so far is that I've been comped a ticket to Blue Men for tomorrow night and there is going to be one big blow out party sponsored by Microsoft this week. I'm sure there will stories to tell from that party.


SEO from Scratch

For a change I'm getting to work on a search engine optimization project the proper way. My firm has been hired to do SEO for a start-up company. What's nice to see is this start-up is making search engine optimization part of the project plan right up front.

Before they even engaged a design firm, they had identified their SEO needs and started working with us to help define the requirements that the design firm must meet. Now SEO is part of the entire project plan.

I'm looking forward to not trying to retro fit SEO into poorly designed page templates, or trying to fix a site just after it was launched.

I'll be posting more about this project as various steps have been completed. On of the challenges faced my start-ups in the SEO world, is that of longevity. The search engines give some wait to how long a domain has been around. So instead of keeping everything under wraps until the site is launches in 2008, or just leaving a standard "Under Construction" page of a hosting company's parking page as a place holder, we launched a subject matter place holder page, which has a few keyword phrase in it. What will this do? First, it helps establish the site in the search engines eyes and secondly it starts telling the search engines what this page/site is about. So take a look at the place holder for 479 Popcorn to get an idea of what I'm talking.

More on 479 Popcorn as the next steps in SEO project are completed


Google's Market Share US

Overall the number of searches in the US in October increased 12 percent from September to 10.5 billion. Google's market share continued to increase to 58.5% or 6.1 billion searches during this period according to comScore.

Just remember that all searches are not created equal and these numbers include searches on such web properties as YouTube and other search engine web properties. What does this all mean? If the experts are right, then the US search market is destined to resemble the Canadian market where Google has well over 80% of all searches. In essence, Google is becoming a monopoly when it comes to search.

Here are the other major search engines' market shares for the US in October:

  • Yahoo - 22.9%
  • MSN - 9.7%
  • Ask - 4.7%
  • Time Warner (AOL) - 4.2%

To more information please see the Yahoo News article


WebTrends 8.1A Success at Last

After numerous attempts to get the new WebTrends version 8.1a working on my test server I finally succeeded. That's the good news, what I had to do to get here is another story and the bad news.

First for those who've been following my blog posts on WebTrends can tell that I haven't been happy with the new version of WebTrends. I've been on the phone regularly with WebTrends technical support staff and just couldn't get it working the way I wanted. As someone who installs, configures and manages WebTrends for clients across North America this has been disappointing to say the least.

Since WebTrends 8.1 release back in August I've had a few opportunities to do clean installs on new servers. They went relatively OK as long as we got all the setting right the first time. If the client had first tried to install WebTrends and then I needed to reinstall to add missing components that's when another set of nightmares began. But these nightmares got me on the road to figuring out the good clean installation.

So now back to my test server. On several occasions, I had WebTrends 8.1 working, but speed was an issue and it kept crashing. In the end, I was one of the problems. This is a test server and I was using Windows XP Pro as the OS. Because of the version of IIS isn't a full version and only allows 1 web site to work at a time. I had previously used this instance of IIS to host my test SDC server. This was problem number 1. The SDC component even when it wasn't operation seemed to cause a conflict. And when I'd switch between them WebTrends would crash. So I deleted the SDC component and WebTrends ran, but it ran slow.

My WebTrends test server has been around for a while starting with version 7.0 and has always gone through upgrades. It was the 8.1 upgrade that ultimately was causing me problems. To get WebTrends to run properly, I latterly had to uninstall the previous version of WebTrends, delete all related files (OK simply rename the directory) including the instance of MySQL and start from scratch. WebTrends is now flying on my test server and I haven't had a single problem in days. That's good news for me, but if you have an existing WebTrends installation and need to upgrade you're not in the position to blow it all away and start over. So proceed carefully, do a complete server back up and be ready to revert if you run into problems.

I'm starting to like the new interface despite less than a handful of things that annoy me. I'm still waiting for at least one more round of patches/fixes with this version before recommend to clients to proceed with the upgrade. However, if you're starting from scratch there is now no reason to stay away from version 8.1a of WebTrends.


Log Scrubber Version 2.0 Released

My company K'nechtology Inc. this past Monday released version 2.0 of it's popular log scrubber.

For those who may have not seen previous posts about the Log Scrubber here is a brief overview. The Log Scrubber allows for the optimization of both Apache and IIS access log files. What does optimization of log files mean?

Log file optimization simply means removing unnecessary hit (line entries) from the log file. This allows for the size of the log file to be significantly reduced and speeds up the processing time your favourite web analytics tool.

For example, do you really need to report on all the .js and .css file calls in your log file? What about those up-time utilities that are hitting a web page every 60 seconds that you are filtering out anyways from your reporting. By removing these entries uses have typically reduced their log file size by 25% and in some case even more.

This is a big deal especially if you process your log files multiple times. The time savings can really ad up. As well, if you're using a product like WebTrends that charge you based on page views, you can remove specific page views before WebTrends process your log file and now save money as well as time.

The Log Scrubber is still priced at $199 until the end of the year and there is a free 30 day trial version also available. For more information on the Log Scrubber please visit the Log Scrubber product page or read the Log Scrubber press release.


Verifying your PPC Efforts

I'm currently giving the product PPC Assurance a trial run. PPC Assurance is a product from Enquisite that makes it easy to verify that all the clicks you're getting and paying for from your Google Adword campaign are legitimate.

According to their web site up to 10% of clicks you get charged for you shouldn't be charged for. Now if you're running a small campaign that may be just a couple of bucks a month, but what if you're spending thousands per month. In this case it can equate to 100's if not thousands of dollars each month and over the course of a year, we're talking big bucks.

So with a new client SEM campaign launching last week I decided to give PPC Assurance a trial run. The set-up looked simple and it should have been. However, my expectations and requirements didn't fit into the standard business model. So a few emails and phone calls later I was up and running with a clearer sense of how this product works. Knowing what I now know, it should taken less then 15 minutes.

PPC Assure basically sits on top of your existing Enquisite account (more on that great product another time) and measures every click you get from Google Adwords. With an API into Adwords itself, PPC Assurance verifies that every click you're being charged for match your campaign criteria. It then reports on inappropriate clicks and even has a mechanism for claiming refunds from Google.

Is PPC Assurance for you. The answer is no if you're running a Global campaign with no day parting settings and no audience targeting (language, country, etc.). However, if you like most of my clients running specific ads targeted at specific audiences (country, city, state/province, etc.) then PPC Assure is something to look into.

So far my trial test is going great. The campaign is set to only display ads to people searching within Canada in English. According to PPC Assure, about 8% of ad clicks are from outside that definition and that Google is charging for a little less then 1/2 of those (about 2.5%).

I'm going to run PPC Assurance for a whole month and then try the claim mechanism to see how it works. Keep looking here for more updates on this trial evaluation.

For more information on PPC Assure visit their web site at http://ppcassurance.enquisite.com/

SEM & Web Analytics

Here's an interesting article on the getting the big picture of Search Engine Marketing lined up correctly with web analytics. Basically it boils down to the problem of different camps and different responsibilities and objectives.

If you have a few minutes give it a read at http://semphonic.blogs.com/semangel/2007/11/search-engine-m.html


Baidu SEO

One of the benefits of running my SEO Tools and Resources Directory is people are always sending me in suggestions of new SEO tools or Search Engine Optimization resources.

I personally review all submissions and decide on which items to added to my ever growing list. Unfortunately, most submissions are not up to my standards. I was however pleasantly surprised by todays submission.

Today's submission was for an on-line article about Baidu (the most popular search engine in China) and how SEO for Baidu is different then SEO for Google or the other major search engines. While the English used in this article is not perfect, the message and methodology is clear.

Key points of the article include the use of simplified Chinese as the character set, use of specific meta tags (once again in simplified Chinese) and use of domain names an hosting locations. Over the SEO techniques described are nothing that don't apply to other search engines, but the specific combinations of elements are a bit different.

So if you're interested in marketing your web site to China and want to be optimized for Baidu give this article a read www.baidupro.com


The Description Meta Tag

The description meta tag, is frequently overlooked by HTML coders and copy writers. Yet, the importance of this tag has never gone away.

Some of us in the SEO community feel it is an important element in the various search engine algorithms, while some others do not. According to Google "While accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't impact your ranking within search results." Yet, I've seen sites rankings improve in Google with a simple rewrite of the description meta tag. So who do you believe? That's up to you and regardless, the mere fact that in many instance it will be displayed in the search results to describe the page, make it an important sales message to improve click-through rates.

If the search engine is your new home page, you not only need effective page titles (the first line of a search result listing), but an effective description meta tag. This tag needs to be more then just loaded with keywords, it needs to be engaging, and convince the searcher (if they see this element) to click on your listing. After all, being number one in search results with an uninviting page title and description, won't get your site any traffic.

As a reminder, the format of the description meta tag is
<meta name="Description" content="informative description here">

This is why, my firm K'nechtology always stress the importance of this tag and has developed a specialty of writing effective description meta tags. Effective description meta tags must be part of your Search Engine Optimization strategy.

For more information on this subject, here is a link to a great article from Google on the subject matter (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/querystats?siteUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.knechtology.com%2F&hl=en).


WebTrends 8.1a - Issues and Solutions

An interesting thing occurred today, I received a call from one of WebTrends senior technical support staff. Turns out he was reading my blog posts about all recent issues with version 8.1. This is also one of the reason I like WebTrends. This was not a call to calm me down, but a proactive call and investigation into the cause of my problems and if I managed to get them resolved. I've always said that WebTrends has some of the best Techincal Support staff in the software business (both knowledgeable and high quality service)

We chatted for about 15 minutes and discussed issues and the reasons why. Here are a couple of things that came out of it.

1. My problem about the status message not updating for over 30 minutes is noted and should be addressed in a future release;
2. The reason why it takes so long upgrade compared to any previous version - turns out that WebTrends makes a temporary backup of the existing database, then deletes everything before performing a complete new install afterwards it restores the data.

This is a high risk move which is why WebTrends stresses the need to properly back up your WebTrends before any upgrade. I'll be posting a guide to the upgrade that I've developed based on some other conversations with tech support to ensure it goes smoothly.

3. Spent 3 days working with version 8.1a - while it is taking a while to get use to the new interface and there are still some technical issues, there are some new features that do make the upgrade worthwhile. Just make sure you plan for the upgrade properly (leave lots of time).

Here are a few of my favorites new features
  1. Scheduled Reports - you can now specify a default SMTP server and from Address - no need to enter for each scheduled report.
  2. Ability to FTP scheduled reports to a repository
  3. Use of date macros in scheduled report naming convention (no more overwriting previously saved reports)
  4. Ability to right click on a graphic a copy and pasted to other applications

Here are a few things I really don't like
  1. Can't open profile reports in a new window or tag - so have keep closing report to view the admin module instead of toggling between them;
  2. Export to Excel Smart Reports is no longer listed as an export type (solution - just choose "Export to Database");
  3. Still no date macros available for scheduled custom compare reports

I'll expand on the above items in another post. The good news is the software is stable and performs as promised.


WebTrends Releases 8.1a

As previously posted, the new version of WebTrends 8.1 was a bit buggy. So 4 weeks later, WebTrends has now released the first round of patches with version 8.1a.

I'm in the process of upgrading my test server and the upgrade is slow. Just like during the original upgrade, it looks like the upgrade is hanging giving a message for more then 30 minutes "Time remaing: 13 seconds". I learned my lesson last time and did kill the process.

The result, after 30 minutes, I was notified that the upgrade was successful and to reboot the server.

I also did a brand new clean install today on a production server at a client. It went smooth until I went back to modify the configuration to change the UI port from the default of 7099 to port 80. After 30 minutes, WebTrends was still displaying the message "Shutting Down WTUI". It was a little after 5:00 pm, so I left it and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be resolved by tomorrow morning.

So until I see the impact from tonights upgrade, I still can't recommend the WebTrends upgrade. However if your installing from scratch, go for it and download the latest version WebTrends 8.1a at ftp://ftp.webtrends.com/WRC/81a/wt-windows.exe


WebTrends 8.1 Update

Over the weekend WebTrends released version 8.1 to all Ondemand customers. It appears to be working fine.

I've also installed the stand-alone version on my test server and despite some problems getting the upgrade to work, it appears to be working. However, I also have a test SDC installation on that server and that has created a conflict.

I think I know where the problem lies, but I just haven't had time to fix it. I hope to have that resolved shortly. Once I have that out of the way, I can better comment on version 8.1. I must admit, I do like the new interface.

A couple of complaints on the new version and the install. First it requires .net Framework version 2.0. I had to go out and look for it on microsoft.com and install it. It should have come bundled with the install.

Secondly, since the new version doesn't require Apache or Tomcat it should have prompted me to delete these two applications. Instead it simply leaves them on the server and deactivated the Apache Virtual host. Not a very clean upgrade.

Lastly, my test server has less then 10 profiles and all are very small. Yet it took several hours for the upgrade. This seems excessive and I'm not looking forward to upgrading my various clients who have a 100 plus profiles.

WebTrends Geotrends Database

WebTrends has deleted the most recent geotrends update from its ftp site.

As of this morning they have replaced the dat file with the previous one from November 2006. My guess is that I'm not the only one who got stuck with the corrupted database.

I expect a fix by Friday or early next week.


Problems with WebTrends GeoTrend Update

Don't bother downloading the latest Geotrends msi updater. It is corrupt and won't work. I tried two different downloads onto two different installations and both failed.

So I tried it the old fashion way and downloaded the Geotrends data file and ran the installation program to use the new GeoTrends dat file. While that worked, my geographical data is now corrupt. Many of the North American state names don't appear correct and are using some kind of different character set.

I just discovered this today and haven't had a chance to call WebTrends tech support. My guess is this GeoTrends update is only for WebTrends 8.1. I guess I'll find out when I do my upgrade in a day or two.

So the best advice for now is don't update your Geotrends database.


WebTrends 8.1

Want to thank Wolf who gave me the heads-up that WebTrends 8.1 in now available for download.

I'm on the road this week and next week running WebTrends training classes, so I don't know when I'll get the chance to install and evaluate this download. Should be lots of fun

If you want to be the first on the block with WebTrends 8.1 go ftp://ftp.webtrends.com/WRC/81/

For the OnDemand users, WebTrends is promising the upgrade this coming weekened (Auguat 18 & 19th).

Should be a fun time for all.


Another Las Vegas Web Conference

This year overlapping with WebBuilder in Las Vegas is Pubcon. Pubcon is an all encompassing web conference run by WebmasterWorld.

Pubcon will run Dec. 4 - 7, 2007 at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.

I've also just been confirmed as a speaker at this years Pubcon as well. The exact topic my address has not been finalized, but will most likely be focused on either Web Analytics or SEO. More on my address as the details are worked out.

For more information on Pubcon visit the conference web site at www.pubcon.com

WebBuilder 2007 Schedule Annouced

As mentioned in an earlier post, I'll be speaking at this years WebBuilder 2.0 conference in Las Vegas (December 3-5, 2007). The good news is they've finally launched the conference web site at www.ftponline.com/conferences/webbuilder/2007.

The bad news is I've been given a tough time slot. I'll be speaking on Tuesday December 4 at 5:15 pm. Once again my session is entitled "Designing with Web Analytics In Mind".

For details on my session and the other sessions along with information about the conference workshops, be sure to visit their web site.


More on WebTrends 8.1

I've gotten some of the dirt on the soon to be released new version of WebTrends (WebTrends 8.1). Here are the highlights of new features (remember this will first be released to On-demand customers and then as a download to software owners).

1. A new interface for both Admin and end-users
2. Graphics will no longer be generated using Java, but will be dynamically generated web graphics (i.e. jpg or gif)
3. Users will have the ability to e-mail and schedule reports from the profile interface (not sure if this will be a rights issue or not)
4. Admin logging - yes the feature we've been asking for. All profile changes will be dated and logged. Everything an Admin does (so they claim) will be logged. Open a profile for edit, it's logged etc.
5. No more icons on the right-hand side for Admins (analyze now and reanalyze icons that look the nearly the same) - instead they will be replaced with a drop down list to make it less likely that you'll click on the wrong icon and delete your profile.

You can view a sales demo of the new version at:

Now stuff from the rumor mill. There is going to be a big change in the pricing model. The cost of for the On-demand version and software version are going to be nearly the same and if you've chosen to buy the software, the annual costs will be much higher and perhaps close to the costs of the On-demand version. Final pricing hasn't been set (at least the person I talked to at WebTrends didn't know if had). The good news is that it looks like if you've already purchased the software, you'll be grandfathered in and won't face the new pricing model.

What does this all mean? It looks like WebTrends is trying to harder to move all new customers to the On-demand version of their product. While some businesses don't care, this means higher costs to for others, especially if they like to slice and dice their web site into numerous profiles and have ownership over their own log files.

Other news/rumors from WebTrends, version 9 is now off the drawing board. It has an internal name and development has started. Anticipated release date some time in 2008.


WebBuider 2007 Here I Come

I've just been confirmed as a speaker at this years WebBuilder conference in Las Vegas. This years conference will run from December 3 to December 5. I'm thrilled to be speaking at this years conference as usual. This speaking engagement will ensure my attendance at one of the industries most interesting web conferences anywhere plus it keeps alive my continuous attendance at WebBuilder conferences since the inaugural event back in 97.

WebBuilder was originally organized by CNet and eventually sold to FTP Publications who just after last year's WebBuilder conference was purchased by 1105 Media.

What makes WebBuilder stand out as a conference for web builders is it is the only conference to target the entire web development team. This includes everyone from programmers to project managers to the entire marketing team. There are conference tracks there for everyone and some that try to bring the different teams together. My topic this year is exactly that. Entitled "Designing with Web Analytics in Mind", will address the needs of the marketing team for measuring success and build a bridge with the web developers to ensure that the web site is designed and code in such a way to support the web analytic needs of the marketing and management teams.

More on my conference address at a later date. Once the conference web site is up and running, I'll be sure to post a link to it. For now, if you want to check out last years conference you can view the 2006 WebBuilder 2.0 web site instead and start planning to attend this unique annual conference.

Canadian Mobile Data Rates

Here is a very informative article about how appalling the mobile data rates are for Canadians. Turns out we are paying more then anyone else including some second and third world countries.

These high costs are no going to hold back the adoption of mobile web devices here in Canada and in turn, keep us backward when it comes to mobile e-commerce.

Article URL: news.stepforth.com/blog/2007/07/canadian-mobile-data-rates-are.php


Search Engines Tighten Privacy

Here's an interesting article from the Washington Post about Search engines and their privacy policies. In a nutshell, the major search engines are starting to reduce the the life of their cookie and the tracking of what terms you've been searching on.

This article is well worth the read for anyone concerned about Internet Privacy and search engines.

Read the article


WebTrends 8.1 Comming Soon

I just got word that WebTrends 8.1 is coming within the next 4 weeks to WebTrends on demand. I expect that it will be also available around the same time as an upgrade for people who have a local installation.

From the noticed I've received they are promoting better integration with the Marketing Lab 2 and WebTrends Dynamic Search. There is no mention of what enhancements or new features will be included in the analytics software upgrade.

Stay tuned for more information on this WebTrends upgrade as I get it.


An Amazing Web Site

This post is not about SEO, web analytics or WebTrends, but something truly amazing and still web related. Yesterday, I was introduced to an electronic hand held game an old kids and adult favourite - 20 Questions. While looking at the packaging, I noticed they had a web site www.20q.net.

Well today I checked out the web site and they have same game on-line. You can choose what language you want to think in including several different flavours of English (American, British and Canadian) then choose the version of the game. You can choose the classic version or one of several specialty versions like movies or Dr. Who, Harry Potter etc.

What is amazing about this web site is not only how often it guesses what you were thinking of, but that the site (OK the computer behind it) is learning at the same time. The goal if it guess in 20 questions or less it wins. If takes more than 20 questions, you win. Of course on the few times I stumped it, it shows me where my answers contradicted what was in its database as an excuse for losing. However, if enough people keep answering the same way it will learn and get even better.

So give it a try and try not to get addicted.


Monitoring Search Engine Traffic

One of the advantages of speaking at conferences is the chance to meet and socialize with other conference speakers. Recently at SES Toronto, I had the opportunity to go out for dinner with some 40 plus of these people.

During the dinner I had the chance to chat with someone from Google who actually works on the algorithm and I was able to get some very detailed information o the algorithm that almost contradicted what he had he said during his conference address. To be more specific, I got him to clarify his statement about coding valid HTML and its impact on SEO efforts, more on that another day.

The score of the evening was a chat with Richard Zwicky of Enquisite (www.enquisite.com). During our chat, he mentioned a beta product that his company had launched that allows any web site to get extremely detailed search engine traffic information that typically exceeds anything from all the web analytic products on the marketing (including WebTrends, Site Catalyst, etc.).

So we swapped business cards, and the next day I was given a personal demo of the Enquisite tool. I was impressed and immediately following the conference I registered for the beta. Ever since my account was activated, I've been enjoying rich detailed information on how people are finding my web site.

Features include:

  • Splitting paid from organic traffic;
  • Exact search phrases;
  • Data drilldown by country, region, city, search engine, paid vs. organic, search term or any combination of these elements;
  • Frequency of searches;
  • Which page of search results they had clicked on;

This tool is a must have for anyone doing search engine optimization or search engine marketing. If you're using Google Analytics or any other analytics tool that doesn't easily split paid from organic traffic, the value is even higher. The best news it's free. All you need to do is go to the Enquisite site (www.enquisite.com), register and typically within 24 hours your account will be activated and you'll be given a java script to add to the bottom of all your web pages. It's that simple.

Once the script is activated, you just need to do a tiny bit of configuration to define how you identified paid traffic and away you go. You can now easily and accurately extract valuable information from all your search traffic. With this information on hand you can use it to further enhance you SEO efforts or paid search campaigns.


SES Presentation - Follow-up

Just a quick note to all those who attended my presentation at the Search Engine Strategies conference here in Toronto on June 12.

I was thrilled with all the positive feedback you gave me after the presentation as I wandered the vendor area and hallways of the Toronto Convention Centre.

Many of you asked me for the name of the software that dynamically sets different phone numbers on your web site. The company is voicestar.com.

As I mentioned during the Q&A of the session, I've only seen the demo of this software and am not currently using it. From the demo it looks great. So if you give it a try let me know how it works out.


Which Analytic Tool Are They Using?

Ever wonder which of the many web analytics tool a specific web site is using? Maybe not, but rest assured that if you start getting more and more into web analytics the question will come up from one of your clients or even yourself.

To help answer this question, the folks at webanalyticsdemystified.com have made a free tool available called "Simple Vendor Discovery Tool". This tool can help determine which java script based web analytics tool a specific site is using. Unfortunately, and for obvious reasons, if a site is analyzing traditional log files, it won't be able to help.

So have some fun and check it out at http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/vendor_discovery_tool.asp


Search Engine Strategies - Toronto

For the third year in a row, I'll be speaking at Search Engine Strategies Toronto. While the search engine conference will run for two days (June 12-13), I will be speaking in the morning of June 12.

Look for me at the session entitled "Keyword Research: Purpose, Tools, and Tactics".

I'll be giving this topic a bit o
f twist by not talking usual SEO stuff, but about how to harvest data from your own log files. In essence using web analytics in support of search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Unfortunately, I'll only have 15 minutes to speak and I could easily devote several hours to this topic.

So if you're going to be in the Toronto area in June, keep this conference in mind. It is the only one of its kind to take place in Canada. If past experience is anything, it is well worth the cost of admission.

For more information visit the SES conference web site.


Paid Search and Spend Breakdown

Just read an interesting article based on a survey that was sponsored by WebTrends about paid search (SEM).

Some of the highlights from the article/survey include:
  • 22 percent saying they run 1,000 to 10,000 keywords
  • 31 percent stating they use 1-1,000 keywords
  • 21 percent indicated they are running over 10,000 to more than 200,000 keywords
Most respondents indicated that they use multiple metrics for measuring success:
  • "traffic" being the top choice at 44 percent
  • "conversion" at 34 percent
  • "cost per action" at 22 percent
What I found disturbing is that only 14 percent of marketers who responded indicated that they use "profit" to evaluate the success of their paid search campaigns. While I understand that measuring profit may not always be easy especially, when identifying web site conversion points is already difficult on most no e-commerce web site, however, not paying attention to profit or ROI means, that marketing mistakes will be repeated.

From a practical stand-point, I just believe it is laziness in configuring web analytic tools to measure conversions and assigning a value (profit) to these conversions. Followed by applying this revenue to the cost of the campaign for a clear indicator of ROI/profitability.

Read the full article
- it is well worth the read

SEO and Baby Naming

Here is a great article from the Wall Street Journal on how important it is for you to rank high in Google for your name. The article goes on to talk about how people are even choosing baby names on how competitive their name (first name last name) is in Google.

What is interesting this is the same exercise that SEO professionals do before recommending specific keyword phrases to target for a business.

For more details see the article on the web site.


Keyword Spy - A new Tool in my SEM Toolbox

A friend just forwarded a great new search engine marketing tool to my attention. After just a few minutes of evaluating it in the free mode, I've added to my arsenal of search engine marketing (SEM) and SEO tools. The tool is Internet Spy (http://www.keywordspy.com).

This tool allows you to easily see how different keyword terms you've purchased are performing plus look up the keyword terms your competition is bidding on a well.

So far I've only tried the free version of Internet Spy and perhaps I'll dig into the old wallet to give the paid version a try. My first thoughts on looking at the costs are that it is a bit steep. At $19 USD for a single day, they may be pricing themselves a bit too high and when you look at an annual subscription price of $99 per month ($1,188 per year) they are a lot more expensive then paid SEM and SEO tools that I'm currently using.

So I'll stick with the free version for now, but I'll keep in mind the competitor's information that you can't anywhere else. So let me know if you decided to give the paid version a try. I'd love hear from you.


WebTrends 8.0d Download Now Available

WebTrends as of last Friday released 8.0d. This version contains the batch for daylight savings time plus a few other minor bug fixes.

I'm in the process of downloading it and as usual either WebTrends is swamped with downloads (which I doubt) or they are once again throttling the download speed. I'm on a high speed connection and barely getting dial-up download speeds.

Oh well,

Here is the link for all of you: ftp://ftp.webtrends.com/WRC/80d/wt-windows.exe


WebTrends & Day Light Savings Time

Great article from WebTrends on what you need to do before this weekends change to Day Light Savings time here in North America.

Basically you don't need to do anything if you're running your profiles with the default settings. However, if you are using the custom time zone settings, you need to apply a patch.

The article references WebTrends 8.0d, but a check of their download site does not show a version 8.0d being available. My guess is that the patch is the equivalent, unfortunately the article is a bit vague on this.

What's interesting is that the patch became available on March 2, barely a week before needed. Yet given the formal policies in most organizations about applying patches to production servers, I expect many organizations won't have the patch in place on time.

I also find it surprising that WebTrends hasn't issued a notice of the patch and instead has relied on a message being displayed when you log into your WebTrends. Since many people ignore these WebTrends marketing messages I'm sure many organizations didn't even get the message that there is a patch available.


Search Engine Market Share Update

I want to thank Patrick G. an avid reader of my blog for pushing me to research and report on the latest market share for the different search engines.

Like you, I use this knowledge when concentrating my SEO efforts for specific search engines or for my ppc (Pay Per Click) search engine marketing efforts.

The last statistics I reported on were received from Google Canada itself. I haven't received an update lately, but I've found a few web sites that are reporting these numbers on a global basis.

So are some different latest snapshots:

Share of Online Searches by Engine
December 2006 - January 2007
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: comScore qSearch



Pt Chg vs. Previous Month

Total Internet Population




Google Sites




Yahoo! Sites




Microsoft Sites




Ask Network




Time Warner Network




If you're looking for global numer then take a look a these numbers from Netapplications.com (the numbers are based on traffic to the web sites they monitor).

Top 10 Search Engines and their market share for February 2007

Google 52.16%
Yahoo! Web Sites 10.43%
Google U.K. 10.20%
MSN 4.57%
Google Canada 3.39%
Google AdSense for Content 3.35%
AOL 1.59%
Google Germany 1.28%
Microsoft Live Search 0.99%
Yahoo! Web Sites U.K. 0.98%

Of course what we all really want to know is how this breaks down within the USA, Canada, UK, Germany etc. If I find this kind of details I'll post those numbers.

In the mean time, you can view the full details that are updated monthly at



Web Analytics & Daylight Savings Time

Much is being made about computers and switch this year to day light savings time happening two weeks earlier. Yes if you didn't download and install the appropriate patch, your personal computer will show the wrong time (off by an hour). So, what about your web analytics product?

As the clocks spring forward by an hour will you show an hour gap in your log reporting? The answer can be a bit complicated, but here goes the long and short of it.

If you're using a hosted web analytics tool like WebTrends OnDemand or Google Analytics, everything should be fine as I would expect these firms to have patched all their servers and planned for this change. If you're processing log files on your own server there are a couple of things to look out for.

First, is your web server or log data collection server patched and set to adjust automatically for the time change? If not, the entries in the log file will be off by an hour. Next, is your web analytics server and is it patched and ready for the time change. If either of these are not synchronized, then you'll have problems.

Just remember, the clocks are moving forward by one hour. So no matter what you do you'll see a gap as the clocks jump from 1:59:59 am to 3:00:00 am. The problem is if you don't see this event.

So plan and don't panic you still have a few days to prepare for it.


Podcamp Toronto - Review

On Saturday, I had the pleasure to attend the first day of Podcamp Toronto. Unfortunately, a scheduling conflict prevented me from attending day 2 of Podcamp Toronto. If I had known when I planned my schedule how exceptional Podcamp would be I would have made sure to have kept my Sunday open as well.

Attending Podcamp here in Toronto reminded me and many other attendees of the buzz that surround the web back in 1997 or 1998. I even took that feeling one level further and noted that the conference and speakers were truly throwbacks to the earliest days to the web, when like minded people would get together and share everything in order to spread the word and perhaps change the world.

Podcamp speakers were quick to share tips, code and techniques. All speakers made their slides publicly available via the conference Wiki. To my surprise, the whole event was broadcast live. I took advantage of this by tuning into a couple of the Podcamp presentations on Sunday when I couldn't attend in person. While I was able to get the info from the presentations, there is nothing like attending an event like this in person. As I always say about conference, you can separate a good conference from a great conference by what happens between sessions and in the hallways. On more then one occasion, I was late or missed an entire session because I was involved in great conversations in the hallways.

My how this technology has change over the years, while to me it seems like only yesterday that people were conceiving the idea of broadcasting events live over the Internet and when my wedding was the first wedding ever broadcast live 8.5 years ago, it seem just so radical. Now the cost and the technology to do live broadcasts is within virtually everyone's reach.

So I learnt a lot about podcasting. Sessions covered everything from hardware, to software, how to publish your podcast, how to market your podcast and much more. There were even a few sessions on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and your podcast. While these sessions covered the basics, for a seasoned SEO professional like me, I saw a lot more opportunity.

Absent from the conference however were speaker egos, copyright notices on slide presentations and costs. Yes Podcamp Toronto was free to attend. Thank you to all the volunteers, speakers and event sponsors for not only putting on an incrediable event, but for allowing everyone to attend regardless of their financial abilities. I can't say I got my money's worth, but I can say that Podcamp Toronto was worth investing my time in attending and I can't wait until the next Podcamp.


Google Loses Belgium Court Case

Several months back I posted an article on how a group of Belgium newspapers were suing Google over listing headlines and snippets of stories in Google News. Well the court has ruled and Google has lost.

It turns out that the bigger issue besides the headlines and content snippets (which in itself contradicts the Belgium copyright laws) was the storing of copies of articles in Google's cache. Like most newspapers they offer recent stories for free, but then place them in an archive and charge for access to the archive. By allowing searchers to access the articles through a cached copy, Google was taking away potential revenue from the newspapers.

As with all big law suits, it is never over until someone gives up. On that note, Google is planning on appealing.

Read the full story.


Checking Backlinks in Google

Checking Backlinks in Google

As all SEO professionals know, the back link checker offered by Google (link:yoururl), has been intentionally broken for some time now. While there have been many reasons discussed for why Google broke their own application, it has left SEO professional with a broken tool for checking backlinks on the most poplar search engine, until now.

As of last week, Google has added a new tool to its set of extremely helpful tools available as part of its Webmasters program. According to the Google post on its blog, "Now you can use webmaster tools to view a much larger sample of links to pages on your site that we found on the web. Unlike the link: operator, this data is much more comprehensive and can be classified, filtered, and downloaded".

The good news is that everything Google promised in its post is true. You can now check backlinks to every single page in your web site instead of just the domain. There is a treasure chest of information just waiting to be discovered with this new tool.

The tool does come with some limitations. First and most obvious, you need to sign-up for the Webmaster program (not a big deal and it is free) and secondly you need to verify yourself and the domain you want to check backlinks for. This second step isn’t a big deal either, but it does require that you publish some code to the web site that you are interested in.

So go on and register and check out all the free features of Google's Webmaster service at http://www.google.com/webmasters

Remember if you have questions about this or any other post you can contact me by simply clicking on the Bitwine Icon in the right-hand column.


Video Blogs - BlogTV.ca

For Canadians interested in taking blogs to the next level comes BlogTv.ca.

BlogTv is currently in beta and it allows anyone with a web cam to broadcast live and even record the broadcast for later streaming. This is a free service and for now restricted to user in Canada.

I've just registered with a test account and will give it a try. I can see the potential of this type of service and am currently trying to differentiate it from the already established world of Podcasts.

So far by poking around the site, I've yet been able to find how I can download these broadcasts to my personal computer or video iPod. I'd love to see a subscription service to specific individuals or channels, so I don't have to visit the site every day. Perhaps that is something that will be forth coming as BlogTV moves its way through the beta process, but for now they are relying on Shockwave for streaming the videos.

One nice feature is they allow you to link your video into your blog. So here is a link to my first very basic test.

If you've ever wanted your own TV show, but just couldn't break into the industry here is your chance.

More details about BlogTV can be found on CBC.ca at www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/01/31/tech-blogtv-20070131.html


Tracking Blogs & Bog Conversations

Along the lines of del.icio.us has come a new bookmaking tool called co.mments.com.

co.mments.com allows you to create bookmarks of specific blog conversations that you want to track. This tool can be used to monitor blogs where you have posted a comment and want to see if anyone has responded, or perhaps you just want to monitor a particular blog entry to see if others have added comments (started a blog conversation).

Personally, I think this is an interesting idea. On several occasions I've posted comments blogs, only to forget to check back for a response. It was only days later that I remembered the posting and had to try hard to remember the specific blog.

This tool allows you the option of having blog comments e-mailed directly to you. This is a great alternative if you don’t want to subscribe to the blogs RSS feed. As another option, you can share to co.mnents links with friends or the public at large.

Because I think this idea has merit, I'll be giving it a try. It appears very easy to use and you can even arrange to be e-mailed when comments are added. Only time will tell if co.ments.com catches on like del.icio.us.


New Marketing Guy at WebTrends

In case you haven't heard, WebTrends has appointed Tim Kopp as its new CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). Kopp is responsible for all the company's marketing and branding.

Kopp joins WebTrends with over 10 years of marketing experience including his most recent efforts at Coke where he has served as VP-global interactive marketing for just under the past two years. According to one article Kopps is best known for convincing Coke to embrace the Mentos-Diet Coke geyser video phenomenon by sponsoring video contests at EepyBird.com.

Makes you think what he'll have up his sleeve to help promote WebTrends.


A Cranky Way to Search

A new search engine launched this week called "cRANKy" (www.cranky.com). This new search engine is targeted at web users who are 50+ years old.

Beyond adjusting the search result to list pages that cRANKy thinks are more appropriate to this demographic, it also limits the total results significantly and places content search based ads (provided InterActiveCorp's Ask.com aka Google Adwords) at the bottom of the page as well creating a search experience that is less confusing.

The user interface uses a larger typeface then on most search engine. The use of the larger typeface is sure to please all of us who are 40+ years old.

So if you're over 50 or even if your not give a try. Who knows "Try it. You'll like it"


BitWine Advisor

Some of you may have noticed a new ad on the right side of my blog the past couple of weeks. This ad indicates that I'm a BitWine Advisor.knechtology@BitWine
So the question I've been asked is what is BitWine and what does it mean to be a BitWine Advisor.

First off let me state that BitWine is a Beta product that I found intriguing and wanted to explore further. It you go their web site http://www.bitwine.com you'll see a web site that looks a bit hooky and even a bit untrustworthy. Yet dig a little deeper and you’ll discover an interesting concept.

The concept is perfectly in line with the new Web 2.0 concept of a Mash-up (coming up with a good idea using API (application interface integration) with established web businesses) to develop it. In this case, they created a middle layer between Skype and PayPal.

First the BitWine middle layer is a database of people who have registered and defined a list of topics they consider themselves experts on. To find an expert on a specific topic say "WebTrends", you simply search on WebTrends and a list of those who claim to be WebTrends experts will appear along with a bio, links to their web sites/blogs and a per minute billing rate. Next, what BitWine does through Skype is monitor my on-line connection. So if I'm logged into Skype and available, they show me as available. You then have ability to simply click on my name and be connected immediately to me via my Skype connection. If I'm not on-line and you want to talk to me you can make an appointment using the BitWine calendaring service.

Of course you need to pay, so once you and I agree during our call that the billing should commence, I start the clock (you'll need to agree electronically) and BitWine calculates the charge on a per minute basis and handles the payment automatically via PayPal.

Sounds simple enough does it? BitWine has also taken a page from eBay and asks users to rate their advisor after the fact. Hence one method of building up creditability and proving you are the expert you claim to be. Well so far, no calls but the Christmas period have just ended and as business start to ramp-up again who knows. Of course, this all depends on BitWine actively promoting their service or for me to direct potential business there. This brings us full circle back to the new ad on the side of my blog.

So here is an offer to my blog readers. Just to help me test out this service, I'll give the first person who calls via BitWine and mentions this blog 10 minutes of advise no charge.


11th Annual Webby Awards

Webby AwardI'm happy to announce that I've been selected as judge for this years Webby Awards.

For those who don't know, the Webby is the Oscar of the web industry. If you haven't heard of the Webby Awards before, check it out at http://www.webbyawards.com/.

If you're interested in submitting a site, you have until January 26th. Full details available at http://www.webbyawards.com/