Friday, October 22, 2010

WebTrends Engage London 2010 - I was there!

WebTrends held the 2nd edition of its European Engage conference in London on the 19th and 20th of October with as main theme: “Art & science”. Luckily, this year I was able to attend – no conflicting agenda this time. I was really looking forward for the event with some expectations in mind:
  • Learn more about practical applications of the several new features that offers WebTrends Analytics 9 as On Premises, the software version that was released in August 2010.
  • Get more insights about the other WebTrends products and also about what’s come next.
  • Networking: meet the people behind WebTrends products but also Web Analytics peers I haven’t seen for a while or never met in the offline world. It is always an enjoyable moment, to chat & share experiences with other practitioners.

So, did WebTrends deliver? Did the conference meet my expectations?

Day One – plenary sessions & the party!
I have to admit that, yes WebTrends did, mostly! When I arrived at the conference, I must say that the first thing that struck me was the size of the audience. Wow! Hundreds of people, from all across Europe: UK but also from other the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and more.

Day one offered plenary sessions – with some very good ones. I really enjoyed the presentation from David Rowan from Wired UK, on the top digital trends that disrupting the business landscape. Interesting and pretty well delivered. It kicked off with a fantastic video from 1999 AD movie (1967)! Classic!

In the afternoon, Casey Carey & Bruce Kenny from WebTrends spoke about the product vision & strategy. They presented what will come next regarding the different products and main direction WebTrends will be taking – seamless integration was a common denominator and their idea of a Web-Wide-Analytics platform sounds very promising. During the Q&A, I had the opportunity to ask Casey Carey if segmentation will be available one day in Analytics. The answer was yes – but not timing yet. Any, one of my goals was reached – get more insights on WebTrends product strategy. Cool!

Other presentations were neither especially bad nor uninteresting but it was a kind of “déjà-vu” – nothing really new to be honest.

Heston Blumenthal, chef at the Fat Duck (a 3-Michelin star restaurant) and culinary alchemist closed the day. He took us through his journey at The Fat Duck, explaining in a passionate way how he merges art & science (the conference theme) in his profession. He also shared the creation process of some of his amazing recipes. Impressive and very interesting.

Oh, there was also a party to end of day one but I can’t tell much about it – memories are a bit blurry, go figure why? :-)

Day Two – here comes the break-out sessions
Day two agenda looked very promising with plenty of break-outs session to choose from: social media (no surprise!), website optimization, visitor behaviour, Web analytics, tip’n’tricks and marketing optimization. Maybe it was a bit too much in one single day because, to be honest it was very difficult to make a choice. There were few dilemmas and I felt a bit of frustration to have to drop one or two sessions. But that’s life…

I mostly attended sessions about the Analytics features like Insights, the data extraction and collection API’s, mobile tracking… There were some very cool stuff, especially about the data collection API and how it can be used to feed in external data in the analytics platform. Very promising! This definitely got me even more impatient to have Analytics 9 at work.

Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice sessions on Facebook analytics and I didn’t really have the time to see other products like Optimize. I guess that will be for another time. That is my main regret about the event. The fact that there were not more practical sessions on first day and that break outs sessions were not split over the two days – allowing people to choose between plenary sessions and practical ones.

Aside the break out sessions, I enlisted myself for a paper prototype testing of the coming Campaign Analytics product. The test was lead by Justin Garrity from the WebTrends User Experience (UX) team. It was really interesting – the future product looks very promising and it will bring some great awaited features – I guess that my excitement is far to be over. It was a funny experience to do such testing and to be on the “tester” side. Thanks to Derek Fine for the opportunity – I hope that I have been a useful tester.

I was also happy to finally meet Web Analytics “rockstar” Jacques Warren in the offline world! He’s really good and a very nice chap!

Great job from WebTrends – top-class organisation and content overall. Very insightful and fun at the same time. I am looking forward for London Engage 2011.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Improved search queries dashboard in Google Webmaster tools

Over the last few days, I have been working on a search engine optimization (SEO) project - digging into Google Webmaster tools great dashboard that is the search queries dashboard. It was significantly improved earlier this year in April and it is one of the most useful tools for SEO. There are so many things you can do with it, including measuring your organic clickthrough ratio.

This morning I logged in and what a surprise! The dashboard format has been enhanced and it now displays change percentages (vs. previous period) for all key metrics that are available. And because change values are displayed in appropriate colours (red if going down, green if going up), it gives a visual clue for what to look at. You can quickly see what keywords significantly changed - whether in term of impressions (increasing customer interest?), clicks, clickthrough rate (CTR) or average position (do your SEO efforts are paying?). In the screenshot below, I can see that impressions for one of the keywords went up by 174% and clicks by 212% - knowing there is a lot of promotion at the moment around this product, it is an encouraging indication of increasing interest.
Google Webmaster tools - Improved search queries dashboard
To make your life easier, you can order the search queries by change percentage of any of the displayed metrics to quickly find out terms with high increase or those going down.

Really cool! Great work Google! If you have not yet checked your Google Webmaster tools account, do it know. It worth it! :-)

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