Posts Tagged ‘dotnetnuke’

Dec 01
2008

Here at E-Nor, we recently completed a project for the The Learning Community (TLC), which happens to be a collection of links to informational websites, articles, and videos based on different subjects that affect child development.  Their mission – to provide that “children’s manual” parents never seem to receive with the baby!

The project initially started in December of 2007 as a conversion of their original pure HTML site to Dotnetnuke (open-source Content Management System), but ended up turning into a significant redesign and restructuring project.

The services we provided were:

  • Basic online marketing consultation
  • Creating a new, brighter aesthetic look.
  • Implementing a different site-structure based on our understanding of their users flow.  (We also took some tips from their more successful and professional competitors, such as the commercial magazine www.parenting.com)
  • Improving their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by cleaning up their meta tags and recommending some content enhancements. Their site is now on the first page of Google for some keywords when previously it was nowhere to be found.
  • Helping promote their videos on Youtube.
  • Cleaning up their Google Analytics setup to properly track where visitors are coming from, which external sites they are going to, and which PDFs they are downloading.

Oh yah, I forgot to mention the project was done PRO BONO. We had a great working relationship with the client, in that any work we recommended, if they could find volunteers to implement, they did, which saved us time.  Any technical implementation we could throw in, we did, and they practically understood that since the work was pro bono, it would take priority accordingly with respect to our other projects.

E-Nor encourages our clients, partners, and blog readers to support non-profits.  Though altruism may already be inline with your corporate and personal values, a year’s worth of pro-bono work may scare even the most giving of companies and people.  However, here are some benefits you may not have considered (in no particular order):

  1. Necessity is the mother of innovation. The nature of non-profits is that their revenue is limited yet they provide great services to the community. Thus, they may require strong functions for their site. You’ll be forced to learn valuable work-arounds when their budget may not cover high end modules or spending, giving you great ideas for options when you need to close a sale with those paying clients who are a little tighter with their money.
  2. Practice makes perfect. Just like anything you do in life, the more you do it the better you will get. You can chalk this pro bono run as practice. For us, TLC being a year project, it strengthened and even expanded our research on techniques, functions, modules, etc, that we can now apply to all our sites!
  3. A non-profit “word-of-mouth” could still lead to profit. We know that as technology evolves, so does marketing. If Google has taught us anything, free services and products actually go a long way in branding and exposure, and could result in lucrative opportunities in the future. Non-profits do have friends that could end up being your paying clients with the right referral. And because your existing relationship had no financial motives, the trust and rapport has already been built.
  4. Had a bad day? They’ll pick you up. For all those clients who didn’t see the extra work you did for them and who complained instead of showing gratitude, you could expect the opposite for your non-profit pro bono clients. They can’t help but see the void you filled for them and be grateful for it.
  5. Testimonials. Along the same lines as the above, a testimonial will virtually be an everyday occurrence if you’re doing your job right.
  6. Pat yourself on the back.  You did a good deed! Because of the site you provided for a parenting non-profit or a domestic violence shelter, a lost parent now has a little bit of direction or a helpless victim is a little bit safer.
  7. Experimentation (with the permission of the client). Since your client doesn’t have dollars riding on this project, they are more likely to allow you to do light experimentation on it, within reason of course. Not only are they more comfortable since no hard earned grant money is at risk, but that also means there’s a more flexible timeline for you to play with the site. For example, if you see a new module you wanted to try or your organization is new to analytics and you need a site to try it on, especially if the end result could possibly benefit your client, non-profit free sites may in fact welcome experimentation. Don’t forget to back up, though!

Apr 10
2007

A colleague of mine recently mentioned that he wasn’t able to get his Business Edge (DNN) based site to be indexed by search engines. The concern was that since pages are written virtually within the database and no real pages exist in the file structure, search engines would be prevented from indexing your site.

Actually this is a very common misconception. Business Edge builds URL’s that are virtual in nature and not representative of the underlying file structure. This is common amongst many Content Management Systems and doesn’t present any problems from a search engine perspective.

Whether you use the default friendly URL convention (static, but long and confusing) or the the much more elegant “human friendly” URL convention, the search engines should have no problem with virtual URL schemes.

Search engines see your Business Edge site (or any other site for that matter) in the same way that normal users see it – as a set of links and structured content – the rest is just presentation which the search engine doesn’t care about. The search engine has zero visibility into the underlying file structure and literally has no way of knowing whether the URL being shown to the search engine is real or virtual. It only cares that it works or doesn’t (in other words, is a page visible or not). Technically speaking, if a search engine gets back a status code of “200 OK” when it requests a page then the page is as real as a static html page.

In most cases though, you might have difficulty getting internal pages (pages that aren’t on the top level navigation menu) to be indexed by Google (or other search engines) for a couple of reasons:

  • the top level pages are indexed because they are direct links from your home page. As search engines come to your site, they see these links on your home page and “crawls” to them, resulting in those pages being indexed.
  • pages that exist in the site drop-down menu or what you refer to as “inside pages” aren’t being indexed because they aren’t main links off the home page. They are in the drop-down menu, but this menu is built using javascript which the search engine can’t interpret. Due to this, it is unable to navigate to those pages and thinks they don’t exist.

To get around this problem, there are a couple of possibilities:

  • One very easy method is to create a SiteMap link on the home page. This allows the search engine to “see” the link to the sitemap on the home page, which in turn brings all the inside pages into the search engine’s view. We’ve done this on www.noblelimo.com (see the top right corner).
  • Another method is to replace the out-of-box dropdown menu in Business Edge with a search engine friendly CSS based menu. A CSS menu will look and feel the same as a javascript menu, but is built using code that a search engine can parse and interpret, resulting in inside pages being visible. We are in the process of implementing this solution on several sites. Send me an email (shiraz at e-nor.com) and I’ll be happy to provide more information.

Hope that helps!    My thanks to Rehan Asif, one of my colleagues here at E-Nor, for the SEO knowledge that went into this post.