By Kalena Jordan
As you would have heard, FirstPlace Software™,
creators of the hugely popular
WebPosition Gold ™ search engine marketing software, recently
forthcoming release of the long-awaited version 2 of their product. WPG v2.0
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 recently took the opportunity to interview President
of FirstPlace Software™
Brent Winters about their new product and also about his views on the increasing
crackdown on automatic reporting tools by some of the major search engines.
Below is a transcript of
= Web Rank, (BW) = Brent Winters
Question 1 (WR) - Why has it taken so long for
FirstPlace Software to release a new (BETA) version of WebPosition Gold™?
(BW) A couple of factors contributed to the delay.
We under-estimated the
amount of work to keep the current version up to date with the continuous
changes at the search engines, while still contributing resources to version
2. We ended up
spending time adding and removing engines in the
existing product, adding new
features, etc. so we were not standing still since
version 1.0. In fact, we are on
version 1.60.5 now.
We eventually added new developers to accelerate
work on version 2. In
addition, version 2 includes a tremendous number of
new features and engines. In retrospect, we should have scaled back the number
of features for version 2
and saved more for version 3.
Fortunately, our customers will benefit from
getting a lot of bang for their buck when they upgrade.
2 (WR) - In your opinion, what is the most important or significant
feature of the new version?
There are so many important features it is difficult to boil it down to a
most important feature. Every customer will have their favorite
on how they tend to use the product. Certainly
the support for new
specific engines is a big one. Unlike
other products, this support
beyond just submission and reporting. The
Page Critic also provides
advice for how to improve your rankings in over 75 major engines.
(although not exhaustive) list of new features can be found at:
3 (WR) - The BETA version of WPG v2 includes regional search
engines – something your customers have been asking about for years. Why did
it take so long to include these?
4 (WR) - Only a handful of countries were included in the regional
engines. Do you plan to include other country search engines (e.g. New Zealand
and more Asian countries) in future releases?
Please keep in mind that you are looking at a beta version right now.
hard to add new engines to fill any significant gaps and are listening
customer feedback. For example,
you mentioned Asian countries. We already
support for some Japanese and Chinese engines and are working on adding
We support a dozen different regions currently: Global/US, Canada,
Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain/Latin America, Russia, Italy,
China, Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
countries like the UK have support for eight or more engines already (or
very shortly). Others have only a
few. How many they have depends
popular engines we are able to locate for that region, and how far along
are in the development of that region. Even
after we release the product we
continue to add more engines (or remove engines) as things change and we
feedback from customers. We may
add support for entirely new regions
5 (WR) - The major search engines, most noticeably Google, have
recently been taking a stand against the use of rank reporting software and
even banning the IP addresses of persons using it. How has this impacted WPG
sales and how will it affect future releases? Can you confidently say it is
safe for customers to use WPG right now to check their ranks?
A very small percentage of customers had their IP blocked by Google in early
I've heard of no one having their IP blocked for using WebPosition on
search engines for over six months since we released updates to more
emulate a browser. Version 2 includes an additional safety feature
slow down searches to a user-definable amount.
That way you can be more
to the search engines while maintaining a lower profile.
encourage customers to keep their queries to a minimum with the search
(For example, there's generally no reason to run reports every single
or for hundreds of keywords). You
should also run reports at night
far as our sales, they remain strong and demand for the product remains
Businesses with an on-line presence have a significant need to track
improve their search rankings. That
is not a need that is likely to change
soon. Only the methodology and
techniques to improve visibility on the
have changed over the years and will continue to change.
to update the product to accommodate that.
6 (WR) - Is there any scope for arrangements with search engines
that allow your software limited access to their servers in a restricted
reporting capacity, similar to Overture's recent 3rd Party provider agreement
with Bid Management Software companies?
We already have formal affiliate agreements with many major engines
including Overture, FindWhat, Looksmart, Bay9, Ah-Ha, About.com, and
It is our goal to work with the search engines whenever possible and reach
mutually beneficial agreements. We
approached Google last year, sending
over half a dozen letters and faxes to various VP's in their organization.
offered practical proposals to create a more mutually beneficial relationship.
Eventually we gave up on the matter when their VP continued to fail to get
us as promised. It does not
appear to be a high priority issue at Google
now from what I can tell.
7 (WR) - Do you have any exciting new features you plan to add to
future WPG releases?
We always have many features we'd like to add.
However, we're focusing
our efforts right now on finishing the long-anticipated version 2 and making
the features included in it work really well.
We may not bang out a major
upgrade every six months because we focus a great deal of effort to
the product to work as advertised. Many
companies focus on including
bell and whistle under the sun, whether it has value or
not, and then
invest little time to fixing bugs reported by
customers. This can be maddening
as a consumer and a huge time-waster if you buy a
whiz-bang great product and
then do nothing but waste time trying to battle
crashes, lock ups, etc.
In our case, we are so serious about producing a
quality product that we offer
up to $50 bug bounties to customers for being the first
to find and report a
problem. (These are credits good for the purchase of an
upgrade, knowledge base subscription, or other product).
It should also be kept in mind that we update the product weekly if not
more often so our technology is never standing still between major upgrades.
We also prefer to give customers new features and updates for free
rather than trying to stick them with a new paid upgrade every six to eight
With version 2, we'll be continuing our policy of
free product support. Much
of our competition offers no phone support, or charges
$50 or more per call.
We're also striving to maintain average e-mail
response times at 24 hours or
less. This has always been a priority issue for me
since I've personally been
on the receiving end of bad customer support many
times. I promised myself to
run things differently when I founded this company
ten years ago.
Web Rank would like to thank Brent Winters for
taking the time to respond to our
questions. If you have additional questions about WebPosition Gold™
as a result
of reading this interview, please visit the links below, or email WebPosition
staff via firstname.lastname@example.org. If
you’d like to trial the Beta version of WPG v2.0
please download it from the link below.
(outline of v2.0 features)
The above article may be
re-published as long as the content remains unchanged and the following
paragraph is included at the end of the article, including the URL links:
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia and New Zealand, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running her own SEO business Web Rank, Kalena manages Search Engine College, an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing subjects.
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