Under the Radar

Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Under the Radar


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Alison McPartland

search manager, Questex

McPartland has created huge opportunities through a coherent SEO and analytics strategy.

Online data, the ability to collect it and, more importantly, analyze it for strategic gain, has become a huge opportunity for publishers over the last couple of years.

Yet many publishers, while proactive in collecting data on visitors and brand engagement, are slow to take the next step and actually form strategic initiatives around analytics. Alison McPartland, search manager at b-to-b publisher Questex, is not part of that group.

Using analytics from the company's Web products, McPartland has drawn each group--from publishers to editors to techies--into understanding the key tactics to growing the Web sites, down to assigning specific responsibilities to each. "The way the CMS was set up, a lot of editors created content then shipped it off to someone else rather than being hands-on with the site itself," she says.

McPartland created a Search Engine Optimization Task List with more than 100 functions but narrowed the list to five key responsibilities--indexability, linking, accessibility, keywords and meta tags--that can be weighed via an SEO Scorecard.

"Hundreds of factors go into a search engine's algorithms but we're looking at five main factors that can be tied to a specific role, whether that's editorial or the site manager or someone else," she says.

McPartland also started running reports against editorial identifying Web performance trends such as the Top 25 articles across all Questex sites, specific keywords that drove traffic and the author that the story is tied to. McPartland then makes sure to share the details with the editors. "It gets them competitive with each other and makes them proactive, rather than waiting to see what works."

This allows editors to adjust on the fly. "SEO results can take two or three months and by that time the ranking and indexing has lost the editor's interest. Now we're going to run quarterly SEO Scorecards for each site but also generate monthly reports on the top articles for that site, indicating who the author was and what keywords brought readers to that article."

VITAL STATS: McPartland has created an SEO task list that details 100 functions under five key responsibilities.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Eric Kammerzeli

IT director, Cygnus Business Media

Kammerzelt personifies the evolution of IT from support staff to strategy driver.

Eric Kammerzelt joined Cygnus in December of 1998 as the network administrator, after serving as a server administrator for Quad Graphics. He was promoted to corporate IT director in November of 2006.

"When I started at Cygnus we had very little network to speak of," he says. "I remember visiting one of our major offices and e-mail was little more than a shared AOL account on a single PC in a corner."

At the time, Cygnus was just starting to build Web sites and couldn't do that effectively without any internal framework. Kammerzelt oversaw the hiring and training of a help desk staff which eventually became a central part of the IT department Cygnus has today.

"Once infrastructure was well established, I began looking for other opportunities," says Kammerzelt. "One opened up at Cygnus to become more involved with business applications and publishing workflow."

In early 2007, Kammerzelt promoted one of the help desk staff most experienced with publishing workflow into a Web application development role. He also hired and cross-trained external talent to better align with Cygnus' interactive technology direction. The group started small but had immediate success with a digital rights management system that solved a number of problems the company had with tracking contributor agreements through print, digital, and third party licensing. …

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