Web sites have a new tool with which to rate and raise their visibility across the Internet--and gauge how rivals stack up.
Word of Net is a 4-year-old provider of Internet marketing services that's refocused to push its new Visibility Index, which provides a snapshot of a site's points of presence on the Web. Word of Net measures factors such as how often a site pops up with keyword queries on search engines; where it appears under category listings in online directories; how often it appears in Web ads, news releases and online news reports; and what other sites link to it.
Word of Net offers the Visibility Index free at (www.wordofnet.com), allowing companies to see how they rank against the Web universe. Sites also can see how they and rivals score in a particular industry. The highest but also impossible score of 1,000 would be "ultimate visibility," said CEO Eric Sanders.
COMPARED TO RIVALS
The company's paid services--from $2,000 for one report to $13,500 for three months and more extensive reports--provide a detailed look at rankings of five domains. A marketer might track five of its URLs, or scope its site vs. four rivals. Customers get a report showing where rivals have a presence that the customer does not have. Clients can see how a site stacks up against the Web universe or a particular industry, or how it ranks in a specific area, such as search engine keyword searches.
Word of Net provides an analysis that customers can take to specialists it has lined up to help businesses boost their index scores. Specialists provide services such as search engine optimization--making a site pop up when someone does a keyword search--and help in getting listed in online directories.
Word of Net scours the Web for mentions of a given site; the mention is weighted based on the prominence of the site where it's spotted and how high up the mention is on that site.
VISIBILITY IS KEY
Word of Net's premise is that online visibility is the key factor in explaining how much traffic a Web site receives. It backs up the premise with research it commissioned from two University of Southern California professors, who concluded online visibility explains 87% of what drives traffic.
To be sure, visibility is not necessarily good news. For example, a (ford.com) index measured last week was far above those of other automakers. But that might be related to the visibility Ford Motor Co. has because of the recall of Firestone tires on Ford Explorers; Ford has been steering Explorer owners to ford.com.
There are companies that track pieces of the data, such as how often a site pops up at search engines, but Word of Net claims to be unique in bundling services into one, Webwide score. Beta users of the index include Business.com, photo site Ofoto and Travelocity.com.
HELPFUL WITH RESEARCH
Also evaluating the service is MarketWatch.com, where VP Marketing Michele Chaboudy said the service appears helpful when combined with primary research.
"I think it's a very useful service as far as alerting you to keywords and where other people are linking to your site," Ms. Chaboudy said.
Astrid Van Dorst, senior analyst at tech consultancy Gartner Group, said Word of Net has an appealing concept, and said she hopes it can deliver on its promise.
At press time, Ms. Van Dorst had been briefed by Word of Net, but had not yet scrutinized its offering. Still, she said, "It seems like a very interesting and cool tool. It's going to highlight the hidden corners of the Web," helping sites track their and rivals' presence.
Word of Net raised $1.75 million from private investors. It was founded in 1996 by Tracy Grand, who remains on the board. Its chairman is Ms. Grand's husband, Paul Grand, CEO of AdExchange, an online media market site.
Copyright September 2000, Crain Communications Inc.