community software lab computer icon
Community Software Lab on Facebook

Sites running our code

MVHub.com NorthShorePort.org

 

Blog

Small Funding A/B tests
domestic violence
packaged divorce
more happy users
small success
It has been a year
management by objective not for me
not open jobs/ 10 year pre
2 page accademic paper
usability
mission
micro pair programming parking
other people's poverty
marathon dental work
matching funds
Life Support Tech Tip
party (good) downtime (bad)
<insert something clever here>
finished
rant: stupid children
Parker 2007
Services for Paul Hansen
FYI CSL audit
MVHub.com ZIP code sort
status: quo
finance fiduciary responsibility
goofy pile
on time for once
prodigal update
embrace failure and anxiety
new yearhelpW
better late than never.t
boomer grant funded for $20,000
VOTE
simple and laughing at failure
$20,000
Fransico franco still dead
drunken master
PARTY !!! planning utec monks festival IRS
coffee lunch irs spam utec
control panel | bonuses | spam | virtual
money|virtual|downtime|database
We're People People Too

Valid XHTML 1.0!

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.