Page rank

We are very pleased to announce that we have released a set of improvements for our onCourse website. Our most crucial goal was to improve SEO (google ranking), particularly after an update of the Google search indexer engine called “Panda”. You can read more here. In a nutshell, Google has started applying much more onerous penalties on your website for duplicate content.

onCourse shows the same content in a number of places. For example, all these pages show much the same content:

/course/ABC /class/ABC-123 /course/abc

We have dealt with the uppercase/lowercase thing and the class references by creating a ‘canonical link’ back to the course. So if any students link to /class/abc-123 in their blog (that’s great for your page rank!) then the extra scoring bonus Google gives that page is now automatically transferred to /course/ABC.

Likewise, we deal with /courses/arts?date=2012 and transfer any Google score across to /courses/arts.

You don’t have to do anything to make this happen, it is all handled by the onCourse engine. But as always, please talk to us about SEO before engaging that dodgy company that promised you the world if only you added some keywords to your page. SEO is complex and nuanced, but some simple things you can do with content will help a lot.

We have also improved the page titles shown on some of the pages (Google pays a lot of attention to these).

Page speed

We are also very chuffed that our system admin and developer team have managed to shave a few more milliseconds off the page load speeds. We removed some unneeded javascript, adding more caching in the web server and in the application. We can get a page loaded in a user’s browser in under 1 second most of the time.

This is terribly important in mobile website usage, and also helps you Google page ranking. In fact, onCourse websites now score higher on Google’s PageSpeed tool than Google’s own home page!

This additional performance means that even if you release a large marketing campaign, our servers are under even less stress coping. We recently noticed a large college (not using onCourse) release a brochure into a major newspaper and their website crumpled under the load. Even several days later, their front page has a 30 second load time. You can imagine what that does for their conversation rates.

Anyhow, enjoy the new changes. There is nothing for you to do other than watch your page ranking go up through google webmaster tools (absolutely essential viewing for anyone who cares about web enrolments) and Google Analytics.