April 13, 2005

H&R Block and TurboTax Lead in Search Engine Visibility this Tax Season, According to WebTrends

With the tax season reaching its crescendo, WebTrends, the web analytics market share leader and a business unit of NetIQ Corporation (NASDAQ: NTIQ), today unveiled results from its WebPosition® Search Ranking study of how ten popular tax web sites are using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies to attract visitors who are preparing or filing their taxes online.


Press Release

SAN JOSE, Calif.

With the tax season reaching its crescendo, WebTrends, the web analytics market share leader and a business unit of NetIQ Corporation (NASDAQ: NTIQ), today unveiled results from its WebPosition® Search Ranking study of how ten popular tax web sites are using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies to attract visitors who are preparing or filing their taxes online.

WebPosition top-level findings indicate that TurboTax and H&R Block are leading the pack in search engine visibility, achieving the highest search positions in both natural and paid search listings for the targed keywords, among the ten tax web sites.

The search positions of CompleteTax, eSmartTax, ExpressTaxRefund, H&R Block, H&R Block's TaxCut, TaxFreedom, TaxSlayer, TurboTax and two other tax web sites were analyzed using WebPosition. WebPosition examined the visibility each web site achieved in both natural and paid search results on Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN and Yahoo! Web Results for the category's most popular terms, as identified by Wordtracker, including: "electronic filing," "tax return," "efile," "taxes," "tax filing," "tax preparation," "tax refund," "tax information," "income taxes," and "tax help."

Tax Site Tip: Natural Search Offers Opportunity

As a group, the ten tax sites have a natural Visibility Percentage* of 59.08% but when analysis also includes paid listings that visibility rises to nearly 90%. This indicates a strong presence for these sites within the first three pages of search results, particularly if paid listings are included.

  • TurboTax and H&R Block were the most visible sites in natural search listings with a natural Visibility Percentage of 42.17% and 32.33%, respectively.
  • TurboTax and H&R Block were also the most visible sites when analysis included both paid and natural search listings coming in at 68.17% and 60.42%.
  • The next most visible sites in natural search listings for the targeted keywords were TaxCut at 19%, CompleteTax at 11.83%, TaxSlayer and eSmartTax tied at 7.67%, TaxFreedom at 4.25% and ExpressTaxRefund at 1.33%.
  • The next most visible sites when analysis included both paid and natural search listings were ExpressTaxRefund at 50.75%, CompleteTax at 43.83%, eSmartTax at 6.83% and TaxFreedom and TaxSlayer tied at 1.92%.

"H&R Block and TurboTax obviously have focused efforts to attain high search positions through paid keyword listings and through web site content optimized to rank higher in natural search listings, said Jason Palmer, vice president of products, WebTrends. "Both of these sites have a distinct competitive advantage in being able to reach more visitors through search engines."

Two out of the ten web sites examined have an overall Visibility Percentage of zero, precluding their mention in this study. While there are a variety of factors that may impact search engine visibility, one site had very few external sites linking to its domain, and the other site's homepage employed a redirect, which, depending on the type of redirect, could cause a site to be penalized by certain search engines.

Methodology

This study shows how ten tax web sites are using SEO and SEM techniques for ten popular keywords identified using Wordtracker, the leading keyword research service integrated with WebPosition. WebPosition produced search rankings for the ten keywords for each of the sites examined using the manual query setting in its Reporter module.

*Visibility Percentage reflects a site's visibility within the first three pages of search results for all the keywords and search engines examined. The first 30 search positions are weighted to calculate the Visibility Percentage and a site that has number one positions for all of the targeted keywords on each of the search engines examined, would have a Visibility Percentage of 100%. A data snapshot was taken on April 5, 2005 to compile these findings.

About WebPosition

WebPosition 3.5 optimizes a web site's relevancy, visibility and overall performance with search engines, by enabling businesses to understand how their sites perform for various keywords and what they can do to achieve higher search positions on each of the major search engines. With WebPosition 3.5, WebTrends offers organizations solutions for managing the entire Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process: organizations can conduct keyword research through the integrated Wordtracker service, increase visibility and improve search engine positions with WebPosition, and understand conversions and revenue from paid and natural search terms with WebTrends® On Demand and software solutions.

About WebTrends

Thousands of web-smart organizations worldwide, including more than half of the Fortune and Global 500, rely on WebTrends to improve their web site conversions and optimize their marketing performance for maximum return on investment. As the worldwide market leader for web analytics, WebTrends has become the trusted standard not only for award-winning technology, but also for a full range of consulting services and unmatched industry expertise. By delivering accurate and actionable metrics through both on-demand and software options, WebTrends ensures that its customers are positioned for both immediate and long-term success with a solution that can adapt to ever-changing business and technical requirements. WebTrends is a business unit of NetIQ Corporation. For more information, visit www.WebTrends.com.

About NetIQ

NetIQ (NASDAQ: NTIQ) is a leading provider of integrated systems and security management solutions that empower IT with the knowledge to assure service. NetIQ offers integrated, modular products that give users the ability to ensure operational integrity, better manage services and risk and ensure policy compliance. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with offices and development facilities in 16 countries worldwide, NetIQ employs 1,200 people and has more than 3,000 enterprise customers. For more information, please visit the company's web site at www.netiq.com or call (888) 323-6768.

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