NetIQ Buys Search Software Firm, Improves WebTrends

NetIQ Corporation has agreed to acquire FirstPlace Software, the maker of the WebPosition Gold search engine optimization product, and has released a new version of its own WebTrends software.

WebPosition Gold helps companies optimize their Web pages so they appear more prominently in search engines. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. It’s expected to close later this week.

“Our aim is to surround the marketer with all of the tools required to achieve accelerated ROI on any Web initiative,” said Greg Drew, senior vice president and general manager of the WebTrends business unit at NetIQ.

Besides staking a claim in the search marketing realm this week, NetIQ has beefed up its core software offering. In the latest 7.0 version of WebTrends, the company has combined Web analytics with high-powered graphics and a easy-to-understand Excel spreadsheet.

The new features, for the Professional and Enterprise editions, are designed to let even the least technically proficient departments interpret the results.

The new release follows recent improvements announced by competitors ClickTracks, WebSideStory and Coremetrics.

Drew explains that the Excel “SmartReports” can be scheduled and delivered across multiple departments, bringing automation to an industry-standard application.

In addition to the Excel-ability, all the new versions of WebTrends – Small Business, Professional, and Enterprise – include Visual Analytics, a diagram system that acts as an alternative to complex reporting and tables. “Graphical formats eliminate data overwhelm,” says Drew. Visual Analytics reveals the routes users take through the Web site, displaying the paths where leakage occurs, causing customers to leave the site.

All the versions also include the new “Scenario Analysis” feature that allows users to create in-depth reporting of customized groups. For example, users can drill down into how easily AOL users moved through the site, analyzing their paths or conversion rates. Geotrend analysis can also identify key regions and produce extensive reporting.

Available as software or “On Demand” – the hosted service – WebTrends’ product line boasts Small Business, Professional, and Enterprise versions. There are also add-on packs available, whereby small business users with high page views can augment their existing version with additional features.

WebTrends 7 is expected to be available later this month.

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