MUST READ - The Most Important Site Setup Considerations
The Community Content Engine (CCE), the technology that powers your new site, was built with best practices for local publishers in mind. Therefore, there are a few things you need to understand about CCE as you begin to think about how to set up your site.
CCE is built on a template. That means there are certain things we can change easily such as colors, backgrounds, fonts, etc. but the general layout of the site is locked down to ensure you're following best practices. If there is something specific you'd like to address please contact us. You can learn how to customize
The Difference Between Articles and Pages
Put simply, articles are time-sensitive. They are synonymous with blog posts (although we hate calling them that), guides (see the Quick Start Guide for more info on guides), and announcements. Pages on the other hand are more static in nature. For example, your advertising, about, and contact pages. We intentionally try to separate out pages from the main menu. On CCE, your pages are shown in the upper nav and footer of your site as defined when you create the page.
The main menu on the other hand is all about helping readers discoverer articles! After the Home, Directory, and Calendar links, which are locked in place for prominence, the rest of the menu automatically displays all your categories as you define in the admin. Many publishers feel the need to put in links to pages here. We intentionally try to avoid that and put the focus on the content.
Categories vs. Tags vs. Topics
Categories, tags, and topics are about site structure and organizing content for readers. Categories should be sufficiently broad to encapsulate all articles on your site. Tags on the other hand can be a bit more specific but still need to be relevant to more than one article. They are meant to help group similar articles together and CCE will automatically create archive pages for each tag. Think of categories and tags as a filing cabinet where the categories are each of the drawers and tags are individual folders in each drawer.
An example of an appropriate tag would be if you plan to write a series of articles on a local event, you would tag each article on the series with something like "Hanover Street Fest" so if someone searches for Hanover Street Fest they will find an archive of all the related articles on your site. The category, in this case, might be something like Life+Leisure. Tags are NOT keywords and you should never include your publication name or town names as a tag as that would defeat the purpose of organizing content. Publication name and town keywords should be defined under SEO settings as outlined here.
Topics on the other hand are a special kind of tag that is slightly broader than a traditional tag. Following the example above, a topic a Hanover Street Fest article might be "Local Events". Topics, once defined, will show in the mega menu effectively creating a sub-category. You can find instructions on how to set up categories and topics here and here is an example of how to use categories and topics to create a good site structure:
Categories > Topics (comma seperated)
In-Print > Online Extras, 2015, 2014, 2013
Community > People, News, City+School, Local Guides, Local Events, Local Businesses
Food+Drink > Dining, Recipes, Grilling, Tailgating
Life+Leisure > Pets+Animals, Travel, Fashion+Style, Shopping, Arts+Culture, Entertainment, Real Estate, Family, Business, Crafts+Hobbies
Home+Garden > Home Life, Gardening, Home Design, Backyards
Health+Wellness > Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Safety, Fitness
Sports+Rec > Outdoors, Local Teams
[insert image from Hanover here]
Topics are also a great way to include more local terms in your navigation.
The Homepage Feed
The homepage is designed as a feed, i.e. a way to highlight relevant content. You can control your homepage in 2 ways.
- Use promoting and pinning tp decide what gets shown on the home page. Promoting an article ads it to the top of the page (feed) and bumps everything else down one spot like if you were posting to your Facebook news feed. The carousel on your homepage takes the first 3 spots of the feed and the rest of the articles show under the featured articles section below that. Pinning takes that article out of the normal feed flow and keeps it at the top of the page even when you promote something new in the future. Because of this, you don't want to pin more than 1 or 2 articles at any one time otherwise your carousel or worse your entire home page may appear to be static. The way CCE is designed you should never unpromote an article once it is promoted as it will automatically "fall off" the homepage as new things are promoted. Pins on the other hand should be removed when you are done with them. You should also note that if an article doesn't have a main image it will skip the carousel so you should always include a main image on every article. You can read more about promoting and pinning here.
- There are several pre-defined sections for the home page that allow you to show off other content. The most useful is what we call content widgets which allow you to feature content from categories and topics more prominently on the home page. Note though that they are smart enough not to show an article that is already promoted to the home page again so this is a great way to highlight older content more prominently. You can read more about how to set up the widgets here and how to order the homepage sections here.
SEO and Social Sharing Buttons
All SEO optimization and social sharing buttons are handled by CCE behind the scenes but there are things you need to do on your end to fully optimize your website. Check out the Quick Start Guide for more information.
Choosing the Right Social Networks
Choosing the right social networks to be on can be critical to your digital success and often times it just comes down to how much time you have to spend on it. That said, it has been our overwhelming experience that Facebook drives the most traffic and engagement for our publishers, and therefore it's our recommendation that you start only with Facebook and learn to do that really well adding other networks.