With a decentralized model for web maintenance at Michigan Tech, each department is responsible for creating and maintaining its own website within the University’s requirements. University Marketing and Communications provides a content management system (CMS) for many departments on campus along with several resources for using the CMS, web best practices and strategies, writing guidelines and standards, and brand management. There are also external sources available for further professional development.
Digital Services in University Marketing and Communications hosts a Digital Marketers Meeting every other month. Digital Marketers is a group for digital platform managers (digital ads, photo/video production, social media accounts, websites, etc) across campus. Our discussion is focused on digital content production and best practices. We also provide a great setting to stay informed and plug into recruitment and reputation initiatives spearheaded by University Relations and Enrollment.
To receive a Google Calendar invitation for the meetings that includes a Zoom link, the campus community can join our email list.
Many academic departments will link to a listing of departmental courses in Banner. The URL looks like:
The URL includes several parameters that can be customized for each department.
Michigan Tech has been using a tool called Siteimprove to find various issues on Omni CMS webpages. The system has the ability to send scheduled reports to people on a regular basis. UMC created a custom CMS Content Editors Dashboard listing several quality, accessibility, search engine optimization (SEO), and editorial issues in one place. While Siteimprove has many more reports available, the selected issues have been identified as within the control of departmental CMS editors. This Dashboard replaces the previously available separate Broken Links and Misspellings reports.
The CMS Content Editors Dashboard includes the following reports, subject to change at any time:
A dashboard for Google Analytics 4 (GA4) data and a Search Engine Optimization dashboard are now available for Omni CMS websites, Michigan Tech Blogs, and Michigan Tech Events Calendar in Looker Studio. In the GA4 dashboard, you will find charts with analytics for:
- Page traffic and users
- User demographics
- Device information
- 404 hits
- Vanity URLs
- Files and outbound links
- Anchor, call, and email links
- Buttons, cards, and touts
- Pop-ups, forms, and gift box shares
- Header media and image galleries
- Lightboxes (pop-up images)
- Search terms
The SEO dashboard provides details on traffic coming from Google Search and how that traffic converts to prospective student leads.
When using URLs on webpages, documents, or other files, it is important to pay attention to the first part of the URL—HTTP or HTTPS. This could apply to hyperlinks, iFrame code, embedded images and videos, etc.
The “s” in HTTPS means that the connection is secure. URLs that use HTTP are not secure and malicious parties could steal the data being sent. They may intercept usernames, passwords, or other information filled out in a form; credit card information; or other personal data. For details on how HTTP and HTTPS work, there’s an easy-to-understand article that explains it using a carrier pigeon example.
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.
Locations from the campus map can be embedded onto a webpage, similar to Google Maps, using static maps. You can also link to a specific location from your webpage. Using the campus map, rather than a generic Google Map can provide the user with more photos and details about the location, while still including useful features such as driving directions.
Depending on the content on any given page, the pages within the CMS can take a while to load. In order to speed up the load time, UMC has been implementing processes that may change the quality or accuracy of the view on the Edit tab only. For an accurate preview of the page, use the Preview tab. This preview will not be affected by the noted changes.
The following content may not display exactly as it would on the live page when viewing from the Edit tab:
UMC has a limited subscription to an analytics service called Crazy Egg. This is a great tool to use in conjunction with Google Analytics that can give visual information about user habits on a single page. The reports include a heatmap of user clicks, a scrollmap of how far down the page users are scrolling, confetti showing specific clicks with a secondary dimension, and an overlay option that provides even more details.
Since Crazy Egg is set up on a page-by-page basis it is better suited for your most important pages, such as homepages, and you do have to plan ahead as it must be set to begin gathering data and then runs for up to 60 days. It is a bit harder to use this tool for historical comparisons but is a great tool to use in advance of a site or homepage redesign.