Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2004
FirstPlace Software, creators of the popular web site marketing software WebPosition Gold, recently announced the forthcoming release of the long-awaited version 2 of their product. WPG v2.0 is already available in Beta format (see link below) and boasts an impressive number of new features to help web masters ensure their web sites are spider friendly, ranking highly and submitted to the most appropriate search engines and directories worldwide.
I decided to review the BETA version of the new software and share my findings via this article. I have limited my review to the new features and enhancements provided for the options I use, rather than concentrate on all features of the product. For ease of reference, I’ve also listed my analysis of the new features under the same headings used by WPG here: (http://www.webposition.com/wpg2upgrade.htm) .
1) More Engines
Support for an additional 60 search engines and directories is probably the most newsworthy feature of WebPosition Gold 2.0 and a major convincing factor influencing existing users to upgrade to version 2.0 and non-users to become customers. The added support for regional search engines in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Spain, Mexico, Latin America, Russia, Italy, China, Japan, Scandinavia and the Netherlands is a major selling point because it allows users to check their rankings on, submit to and design their web pages for search engines and directories in these countries.
Over time, WPG has probably lost significant market share to TopDog, reporting software that offers support for over 200 regional search engines. But this WPG enhancement, combined with existing features, makes WPG more attractive than ever before. A few observations: the BETA version of WPG v2.0 does not yet offer support for New Zealand or Mexican engines, despite the listing above. I’m hoping these will be added in time for the full release. Also the claim that the search engines of Spain and Latin America are covered is a bit misleading because the BETA version only covers three Spanish language engines under Spain/Latin America rather than country specific engines. Also there appears to be a Scandinavian engine Passagen lumped in with the Spain/Latin American engines - obviously a temporary glitch. Also, some countries are represented more fully than others, for example, 10 engines are listed for Germany, but only two for China and Russia. Hopefully these numbers will increase with future updates.
2) Easier Engine Management
Now you can quickly choose search engines based on location, importance or personal preference, thanks to new drop down lists. Search engines have been divided into global and regional sections, then categorized by country and importance - primary or secondary. You can also set up your own preferred list, selecting only those engines you consider important. This preferred list can then be quickly selected for multiple mission files. For someone like me, needing to run between 10 and 15 missions per week, this feature is very convenient.
3) Vital Statistics
Now when selecting which engines to include in your Reporter missions, a box appears listing important statistics about that engine, such as the URL, link popularity and a brief description.
4) Better Help
I haven’t had to use it lately, but FirstPlace Software claim their WPG help file has been greatly improved and expanded. Certainly the index seems at least twice as large in v2.0.
5) Better File Management
You can now define a default mission directory to make file management easier - a logical improvement.
6) Faster Downloads
Updates now tend to download extremely fast, meaning your mission is not interrupted and you get access to the latest WPG version almost immediately. While updates to the program may download faster, I did not notice any difference in time for report completion in the new version. I tested this twice by setting up identical Reporter missions and timing how long each took using WPG 1.60.5 and WPG v2.0 BETA. Each time I ran the test, the mission running on WPG v2.0 finished in 5 minutes, while the mission running on the older version finished in 4 minutes.
7) Powerful Multi-tasking
Another big feature of v2.0 is the ability to run more than one instance of WPG at a time. This means multiple reporter missions can run concurrently - a huge advantage for persons needing to run ranking reports for multiple clients. I haven’t used this feature very much in the BETA version, worried that running more than one mission at a time would overload my flimsy dialup connection. But the few times I’ve tried it (running two small missions together), it worked just fine, with both missions finishing within seconds of each other. The other nice thing about this feature is the ability to set up new missions while running others. You can also work with other parts of WPG, for example using PageRank in one WPG window while running one or more reporter missions in another. Perfect for those of us who are born multi-taskers.
1) Reduced Disk Space
A long awaited option in V2.0 BETA is the ability to conserve hard disk space by selecting the box marked 'delete actual results files after reports are generated to save disk space'. Selecting this box ensures detailed search pages downloaded by the program are automatically deleted once information from them has been extracted for your reports. This particular feature has already saved me countless hours spent deleting detailed search engine results that tended to eat up my free disk space via the old version. A very sensible (and much appreciated!) enhancement.
2) Advanced Browser Emulation
In response to a growing lack of support for automated querying software by some search engines, the new version of WPG includes an option to slow searches down. It is claimed that this makes it more difficult for engines to detect you are using automated software.
Although I can’t verify if the search engines are less likely to detect you if you use this option, I can tell you it results in fewer time-outs and dial up disconnections, something that would plague my use of previous WPG versions. I now use this option by default because of its ability to stabilize missions. Regardless, given Google’s extremely strong stance against automated software, I strongly recommend you do not include Google in any ranking missions you perform. In the past, Google has banned the IP addresses of heavy users of such software. Instead, do what I do and select Yahoo Pages instead. This will reveal your positions in the Web Page Matches of Yahoo, fed by Google, which is a fairly accurate representation how you rank on Google anyway.
3) Auto-Email Reports
Another handy function of WPG v2.0 (Pro Version) is the ability to automatically email generated reports. When setting up your Reporter missions, you can choose to have the Concise Report (with or without Visibility Statistics) sent to one or more email addresses as soon as the report is complete. The site URL is automatically included in the email body and you can even set up your own email template - a very nice feature if you are emailing clients their reports on a regular basis. Even if you prefer to publish the reports to a web site, now you can optionally auto email them to your clients as well. This, combined with the Scheduling tool, means once you set up your Reporter missions you can simply press a button and let the program do the rest.
4) Auto-Upload Reports
A new feature of the Pro Version gives you the ability to upload your ranking reports to a specific web site via FTP. The Upload Manager can either use WPG’s built-in FTP program or your own preferred FTP tool to upload the files. WPG recommends FrontPage users should use FrontPage to upload files instead, to avoid the common occurrence of FTP programs corrupting FrontPage server extensions. Yet another time-saving enhancement, this particular feature is ideal for SEO’s servicing multiple clients or people monitoring various web sites. It took me about 10 minutes to upload the latest WPG reports to five of my client’s sites; something that would normally take me about 15 minutes per client. Consequently, I would have to say this is one of my favourite features of WPG v2.0 BETA.
5) Filter Non-Ranking Keywords
A feature I understand the demand for but wouldn’t use very often is the ability to filter out non-ranking keywords from Reporter Missions. This enables you to email or publish ranking reports that only contain positive results (i.e. keywords that did not rank within your position search range can be excluded). Personally, I think this 'enhancement' opens up the program to abuse because it encourages the circulation of misleading reports and distorts the true performance of a search ranking campaign. If some search terms did not perform as well as others, in my opinion, clients should be aware of this so they can make decisions about which keywords to target in the future and about the success of the campaign in general. Keep in mind that if you remove non-ranking keywords from a report, your visibility percentage will always be 100%. This figure is therefore no longer meaningful and will be automatically removed from the report.
6) Auto-Import Keywords
Tired of cutting and pasting your keywords from your web site’s META keyword tag into Reporter? Well soon you won’t have to. The full release of WPG v2.0 will include a button that does this for you automatically. WPG v2.0 BETA does not yet include this function, just a note that 'this feature is currently in development' and will be available in a future update.
7) New Visibility Report
Another 'how did we ever do without it' feature is the new Visibility Statistics table which appears above each ranking report in the WPG v2.0 BETA. Now you can see, at a glance, how many top 30, top 20, top 10, top 5 and position 1 ranks you achieved, instead of having to manually count them.
8) Better Rank Tracking
The Visibility Report also tells you (or your client) how many positions you moved up or down since you last ran the report, your overall ranking gain or loss and it even provides an approximate visibility score for your campaign based on your existing search positions. For SEO’s or persons managing campaigns for multiple clients, this enhancement is a real gem, turning a seemingly complex report into an easy to read search performance indicator.
9) Greater Report Customization (Pro Version Only)
While users of older WPG versions could customize their reports by adding a logo and URL, WPG v2.0 allows you to customize the layout and colours of your reports as well. Using a drop down list of colour choices for each report area, you can change the look of your reports to match your company stationery, your client’s logo or your mood. The only annoying part of this feature is that there are no previews available of your colour choices. You need to run a report in order to see how it’s going to look. In future releases, it would be nice to see a thumbnail preview of how your chosen colours will look in a report layout, or even better, to have a range of colour templates available for selection. As well as changing the colour scheme, you can change the layout by creating your own custom template. You do this by altering the header and footer to include logos, URL’s, text and email addresses. This is another handy feature for persons preparing reports on behalf of multiple clients.
About the Author
Article by Kalena Jordan, CEO of Web Rank. Kalena was one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia and is well known and respected in the industry worldwide. For more of her articles on search engine ranking and online marketing, please visit (http://www.high-search-engine-ranking.com)