USEFUL: How we got MANY more users this summer. HAPPY: A 10 year first, I (dan) didn't do the newsletter. This issue is done because Barbara Kayajan (who is looking for a entry level writing job) did a HUGE chunk of the work. see: http://www.linkedin.com/in/barbarakayajan FUTURE NEWSLETTERS Will talk about office politics, gossip, Debian packages, re-factoring, database independence, IRC and the other good work that Emaad, Ferhat, Jeff and Roger did this summer. This newsletter is all about Sean. SEAN IMPROVES MVHUB.COM AND NORTHSHOREPORT.ORG GOOGLE VISIBILITY This summer, Sean Cronin improved our search ranking and increased the number of visits to our sites (mvhub.com and northshoreport.org), specifically: * People visiting our sites increased 37% from May to July. * Google page impressions increased from 8,400/week to 13,800/week (+60%). A Google page impression is each time users see your page in search results on Google's site. SEAN USED TRAFFIC DATA TO MAKE DECISIONS Sean used Google Analytics to find the following: * About 80% of our traffic comes from external search engines. * Only 7% of visits use our internal site search. * Traffic reports we used prior to Google Analytics grossly overstated our traffic. Therefore, we should be nicer to external search engines than to ourselves: doubling 80% is better than 7%. SEAN REMOVES HUNDREDS OF BORING DUPLICATE PAGE TITLES Page titles appear at the top of a browser window. Before Sean, our 900+ page titles said ‘Nonprofit Services Directory’. According to external search engines,all the pages were the same. Sean changed our code so page titles reflected page contents. There is a difference between 'Chelmsford Stamp Club' and a 'Food Stamp Eligibility Calculator'. Now, we rank higher because we are not punished for duplicate content. SEAN TELLS GOOGLE WHAT'S CHANGED Search engines index and summarize website content to improve searchability. A sitemap file gives search engines the modification date for each page on the website. Reading one file is faster than reading the entire site. Sitemap files let search engines quickly find changed pages, and the time saved is used to reindex more often. Sean wrote 212 lines of Perl (not counting unit tests) to query the database and to find the modification dates for 900+ pages. Now, the external search engines (Google) have fresher content, which ranks higher. MOUSETRACKING TO MEASURE USER BEHAVIOR Sean expects to apply the web analytics package Mouseflow to log user clicks and view additional user patterns. OTHER STUFF SEAN'S DONE * Changed anchor text from 'read more...' to the agency or program name (helped us as much as renaming boring title tags) * Set up IRC with Roger: http://thecsl.org/go/irc * Wrote other useful code: https://code.launchpad.net/~seancron/+branches?field.lifecycle=ALL THE REST OF SEAN'S SUMMER * Add Facebook, Twitter, Google LIKE buttons to all pages * Improve ad placement * Add canonical tags LIKE buttons create links back to our sites. This is important because the more people that link to us, the higher we rank in the search engines. More importantly, they let people share bits of our content they find useful. For a year or two, we've run Google ads on the bottom of MVHub.com pages. So far, the ads have been relevant and nothing we're ashamed of. The problem: on the bottom of the page, the click rate is 1 in 1000 people. Sean is moving the ads to the right side of the page, where they are more visible. If we are not ashamed of the ads, we should not be ashamed to put them where people can see them. Search engines punish sites for duplicate pages. If you have one page, it ranks higher than 5 duplicate pages. Sometimes, we show people the same page with different urls. For example, we include the search phrase in the url so they can edit the search phrase and re-do their searches. A canonical tag lets us tell external search engines to mark duplicates to preserve our search ranking.