Category: At Michigan Tech

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:

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.

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.

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.

Common Errors on Webpages

There are many common issues you can watch for on your webpages to help increase the quality and search engine optimization (SEO) of your pages, make them more accessible, and follow Michigan Tech’s editorial standards.

Specific instructions that may be included below are for Michigan Tech’s Omni CMS.

Misspellings

It only takes a few misspellings to affect a user’s impression of your website. Be sure to use the spell checking options within Omni CMS before publishing your pages. The system does not check spelling as you go. Within the editor you can use the Spell Check icon Spell Check icon to check the existing text and underline spelling errors. Before publishing you should always run the Final Checks, which includes a spelling check.

Communicating on COVID-19

Many areas of Michigan Tech are in charge of various guidelines, protocols, resources, frequently asked questions, and other information resulting from COVID-19. What is the best way to get this content onto your CMS website?

Documents or Webpages?

If your department is generating or receiving new content, you generally have a couple options for posting it online:

  1. Add to an existing webpage
  2. Create a new webpage
  3. Upload as a Word Document or PDF

If you have a small amount of content, like a status update, that relates to an existing webpage, we recommend adding a message box to that existing page. See the COVID-19 message box at the top of the Current Students webpage for an example.

My Michigan Tech (Student Testimonial) Initiative

We have been busy launching a student testimonial initiative called My Michigan Tech over the past few months. This is really neat project that has allowed us to talk to a bunch of our students and learn about their Michigan Tech experiences.

Project Motivation

In August, an admissions and enrollment consultant came to campus. One great idea shared was to prioritize letting prospective students learn about Michigan Tech through storytelling by our current students. This could be accomplished through quotes and stories in text and video forms.

Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool. More importantly, though, it is a genuine way to share great information about Michigan Tech. Our students are our story, after all. Why not hear from them?

Improving Our YouTube Channel

Video screenshot example.

We have been working on reorganizing our YouTube channel and reprioritizing the type of video projects that we take on. This process involved benchmarking YouTube channels from over two dozen other universities, creating and updating playlists on our channel, and reorganizing our existing videos.

Our writing team has helped us craft our video titles, descriptions, and, tags. We have started outsourcing closed captions (and open captions where needed). We have explored which videos should be public (triggers a push notification to our subscribers) versus unlisted (great when you need to embed on a website, but don’t need the video to otherwise be publicly available). And UMC’s change in focus has allowed us to pursue high-impact projects.

Through all this, our efforts have been paying off.

A Better Footer for All

The Digital Services team is developing an upgraded global footer design for our CMS websites. The upgrade puts a strategic focus on marketing and recruitment in line with our mission to increase enrollment.

Customization

We are excited to introduce some new, customizable options. In addition to customizing your contact information, you will now be able to add call-to-action (CTA) buttons and social media icons to your CMS website’s footer. Options include:

  1. No CTA buttons or social media icons (base footer only)
  2. Add social media icons linking to the social media channels of your choice
  3. Add a “Give” button, linking to the giving page of your choice
  4. Add three recruitment buttons, letting users Request Information, Schedule a Visit, or Apply

You can also use any combination of option #2, #3, and #4.