Google Search

The search functionality on the Michigan Tech website is powered by Google. It works the same way as a search on google.com, except it only searches within the mtu.edu domain, subdomains, and sites that we manually tell Google are also owned by Michigan Tech (such as superiorideas.org or michigantechhuskies.com).

Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking

In order for webpages to show up in search results, they must be crawled by the search engine’s bot. The bot navigates pages it has already crawled and follows links to find new pages. The new pages found are added to an index that the search engine pulls results from.

Update: Google Analytics 4 Implementation

Google has announced their next-generation analytics platform: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). GA4 is significantly different than the previous version of Google Analytics—known as Universal Analytics (UA). Google is beginning to sunset UA in 2023. All standard (free) UA properties will stop processing new data on July 1, 2023.

Upgrade Process and Updates

University Marketing and Communications (UMC) has been working on upgrading from UA to GA4 for the past several months. We have learned several things since our previous blog post:

How to Collect Good Student Testimonials

Student testimonials are vital to university marketing content. When prospective students learn about the Michigan Tech experience directly from the source, it creates a deeper emotional connection. Students getting their hands dirty, doing the work, and sharing their experiences and excitement drives potential students to see themselves doing the same thing. They really want to be at our university doing what they love to do.

How do you grab those moments to share with prospective students? Ask current students to highlight the access, opportunities, experiences, and self-improvement they’re engaged in at Michigan Tech. You can capture their perspectives in person, virtually, or even by email.

Google Analytics 4 Upgrade

Please read our GA4 implementation update posted in November 2022.


Google has announced their next-generation analytics platform: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). GA4 is significantly different than the previous version of Google Analytics—known as Universal Analytics (UA). Google has decided to begin sunsetting UA next year. All standard UA properties will stop processing new data on July 1, 2023.

Upgrade Process

University Marketing and Communications (UMC) is taking on the task of upgrading campus from UA to GA4. The process is complex, but the end result will be better data for our strategic recruitment and reputation initiatives. No immediate actions are needed from CMS liaisons and other website managers. Additional training may be needed in the future.

New analytics properties and views are required to be created through the upgrade process. As we restructure our setup, we will be able to plan for Google’s total views limit and make improvements.

UTM Tracking Codes and Digital Marketing

What do UTM tracking codes (also called UTM tracking parameters) have to do with digital marketing? Let’s define what UTMs are, where UTMs came from, and how you can strategically use them to understand the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts.

What are UTM Tracking Parameters?

UTM stands for Urchin Traffic Monitor. UTM tracking codes were invented by a web analytics company named Urchin. Urchin was acquired by Google in 2005, which helped lead to the creation of the analytics platform Google Analytics. As a result, UTM tracking codes are a key part of Google Analytics and have become the standard for tracking digital marketing effectiveness across different traffic sources and distribution channels. Other analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, such as Adobe Analytics and Slate CRM, understand UTM tracking parameters as well and can create reports around them.

UTM tracking codes are attached to the end of webpage URLs. When used correctly, these codes help digital marketers understand where their website traffic is coming from and how different groups of audiences perform key actions. Using UTM tracking codes helps digital marketers identify top-performing platforms and content in the pursuit of reaching our marketing goals.

A History of Decentralization

I started working in University Marketing and Communications (UMC) as a student web content specialist in 2003. At that time, every department, college, group, etc across campus managed their own website. Server space was provided by Central IT. If you knew how to code, you could have a website and you could make it look however you wanted.

It didn’t take long for UMC to realize that this would cause problems. How can you have any semblance of brand standards, a cohesive user experience, search engine optimization, or web accessibility under such a wild and unwieldy setup? A history of failed attempts to centralize web maintenance followed and left us with a realization that “influence without authority” was our best path forward to make Michigan Tech’s websites the best they can be.

Technical SEO

Programmer working with technical seo code

There are two big parts to search engine optimization (SEO): content SEO and technical SEO. Content creators spend the bulk of their time—if not all of their time—thinking about content. That is what a writer sees. That is what the user sees. They say content is king and the content is always right in front of us. Web managers also need to consider how technical metrics can affect SEO.

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO refers to measurable metrics which affect search engine optimization and search engine rankings that web developers, programmers, and infrastructure managers can influence. One important example is page speed. The faster a page loads, the better the experience is for the user. Search engines, such as Google, factor in your page load times when determining how to rank your webpages because search engines know that faster loading webpages provide a better experience to visitors.

User Experience

This post about user experience goes hand-in-hand with a previous post I wrote about user intent. Once you know your audience and figure out what they need and when, you need to create the content on your website in a meaningful way. According to usability.gov,

User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations.  It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of your product and any related services.

User Intent

Once you know your audience, the next step is to understand them a little more and figure out what they want and need. User intent is an important concept when designing and building webpages to help increase both search rankings and the value of your pages to your audience. This should be the cornerstone of building and editing your webpages.

According to Wikipedia, user intent, also known as query intent or search intent, is what a user intended or wanted to find when they did their search. These intentions are often categorized into three goals:

  • Navigation: getting to a specific site (Go)
  • Information: getting more information about a particular topic (Know)
  • Transaction: performing an action, such as purchasing or applying (Do)

Google Analytics Data Updates

Digital Services manages the University’s Google Analytics implementation. We have a couple of updates for anyone in the campus community who reviews or reports analytics for their CMS website(s).

Please note: Google is converting to Google Analytics 4 with some changes to metrics and information. This post will be updated or removed in the future. UMC has GA4 implementation updates available.

Pageviews

During the fall semester, we made some adjustments to our tracking code to better attribute digital advertising conversions between Google AdWords and Slate CRM.