PS: This resignation letter is just footnotes integrated into the main body of the resignation letter. It has no link to actual events around me.
I would like to quit the services of this company effective from 9th of March ____. I am leaving to start my own venture. Since the websites are common ownership assets, with developer building on top of other’s works, I will be detailing about works done so that new guy coming after my resignation will be able to build on the platform that I have built, instead of starting from scratch. The common ownership also means a need for some established way of managing onboarding and relieving formalities, which I will detail in following sections.
1. Works done:
It’s been a wonderful ride, as much progress was made in getting the company gain – stronger SERP dominance. Apart from that huge strides happened in the field of analytics helping in getting finer details of site visitors. The social media assets were on autopilot mode and are working fine. The biggest progress of it was in getting the website on WordPress platform. These 4 things are interrelated to one another, and as a result, the current crop of growth is because of these strong interlinked synergies between them. The significance of each requires a section in itself, which is covered next – a section at a time.
1.1. Search Dominance
Search dominance of a website happens when the site is indexed by search engines also enjoys a good ranking in search results page. This process is not immediate and takes a lot of time. After index and feeds are submitted to site, the crawler from search engine needs to crawl the site and index all the pages.
For the HTML Site, new pages were not created automatically hence sitemap was generated by free tools. When I started the blog, the Blog was added separately to Google with its own sitemap and feed URLs. This sitemap of the blog was submitted to Google, as a result of that our articles were starting to get picked up in its search results. Also, later the site was put on SSL, This too aided in search dominance as its one of the ranking factors. The constant stream of success stories being published too helped as they were ones to get engaged a lot on social media.
1.1.2. Link Building
The search dominance takes time to show its results. Hence it becomes extremely important to develop site backlinks continually via external sites like AKMI, Mix Market etc. Sriram’s work was exemplary in this regard. This backlinking later proved to be a stronger upsurge in our site. As well as external links it’s important to build a web inside the site too, its called as internal links. Internal builds the content structure, one of the ranking factors in search. The social shares of the site also add backlinks. Twitter posts are public in nature and hence they increase backlink counts too.
(See Also: My 1month stand with SKDRDP)
In our website, Yoast is the go-to source for SEO works. The plugin helps us to have access to sitemap so that it can be submitted to Google. It’s the Yoast which played the important role in indexability of the site.
When I took over the site, I saw one analytics tag on the home page but was absent on other pages. The first thing I did was to get into google analytics. And put the tag on all the pages of the site. This is the core reason why I was able to calculate visitor dynamics. As the time passed I bought other solutions to manage this works of analytics. Tag Manager and Data Studio were the ones to arrive and help in managing the complexities.
(See Also: Decision Making and Google Analytics)
Initially, I was not much keen on the quality of data in analytics, hence the data had errors typical to the default installation of it. Once I started digging deeper, these errors became bothersome in analysis and I started taking much more control over the data. Also, I started out with an idea of conversion tracking and event tracking at the same time, these laid the need for tools like Google Tag Manager.
1.2.1. Tag Manager
1.2.2. Data Studio
The Data Studio helps in preparing the customizable report by pulling data from the data sources and putting it in various graphical formats of charts, single data, tables, etc. These reports can then be shared via google drive’s sharing module but open in data studio as its rich in features to display it. The search console keyword report details the keyword used for reaching the site(which is accessible in data studio report).
1.3 Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instant Articles
The next thing to arrive after installing analytics was our Facebook page. The page was also made verified later on. Then Twitter came in. There were also separate YouTube channels for all our subsidiaries coming in. I even wrote article rise of social era on my blog on this topic. All these made the biggest impact in generating awareness which also resulted in growth of the site in search rankings too.
These things were not with the intention of promoting the site, these assets were created to expand the awareness. The Site had Jetpack for automated sharing of articles to our social pages. Also, each article has rows of share buttons at top and bottom to increase frictionless sharing for visitors. All these things help in getting more traction to visitors.
The twitter account was created closely on the heels of the opening of the temple’s account. The reason Twitter is important because of, public nature of the tweets and engaging form of communication. Due to Jetpack, the articles on site were automatically shared on Twitter.
1.3.2. Instant Articles
The important part of Facebook was its instant articles platform. It a tech that makes the mobile users load articles quickly on their mobiles. This averts the bounce of visitors’ due sluggishness in site load. This was by far the important reason why our Facebook pages were stickier to visitors and also helped in pushing out the awareness further.
1.4 WordPress Site
This was by far the biggest thing done. It paved the way for lot many things to be. It also solved the problems we were facing due to caching of files. The WordPress was tested on my system for long before making it live on site. Since I was unsure about the competence of people to decide on this thing as it was a paradigm shift in site design, it was tested privately on my comp for long before making it live on the site.
(See Also: The dawn of new era in SKDRDP website)
This development proved to be biggest game changer as it opened the door for the whole host of things. Also, the whole host of plugins paved the way for search dominance as well as solved analytics problems. The AMP plugin by Google gives access to a prime real estate on mobile search results. The Facebook Instant Articles plugin helps in faster loading of success stories on mobile app of Facebook. There are many useful plugins for the gallery, for SEO, Backups, Caching etc. This cuts a lot of development time and helps in prioritizing on important things.
Plugins like W3 Total Cache, NexGen Gallery, BackWPUp, Jetpack add lots of features to WordPress installation. The benefits these plugins give to an installation is huge, as the site will be more robust and fast and secure. Caching plugins help in faster site loads. SEO helps in articles being picked up and served in search results. Backup plugin help in keeping a copy of the site in aftermath of disaster so that it can be restored. The Gallery plugin helps in managing the photos as galleries and albums. The WordPress ecosystem makes the management of these plugins easy.
After WordPress came onboard, I decided to implement the SSL for all our sites as security is paramount for both search engines and site. To enable SSL – the Certificate, Private Key, and CA Bundle need to be bought for the site. After that, its installed in the site from the cPanel. Once installed the URL of WordPress needs to be migrated to use the HTTPS by default. This disrupts the site for 24hrs during migration. It was at the peak at that time to screenshot mistakes and corner up in meetings. For this reason, I enabled SSL on Saturday, as nobody would be visiting the site then.
1.4.2. RSS, Newsletter
After SSL, the next thing was setting up of feeds. The email marketing system uses it to get updates for mailing. After deciding on permalink structure, the sitemap and feeds were also submitted to webmaster console. Feedreader like Feedly, Google Reader, Tiny Tiny RSS all uses this feed to display the article. Blogs view this populace as important as they are most savvy of all the users.
2. Significance of each decision
Each decision taken has its own significance. As the problem faced by me was multifaceted, so was need to solve it. During our first meeting itself, you said: ” our works are not reaching the general public”. And yes, the statement was true. When my classmate said – “there were openings at SKDRDP”. I was like “which company is this??” I got it only when he expanded the name. Since you showed the generosity of creating a department for the website and giving me charge of it, I too decided to make SKDRDP great example in the digital marketing arena.
It’s for this reason, I took much responsibility for things on myself and did all the technical decisions myself. Since all these decisions were highly technical in nature, I met you lot less as explaining each would have taken a lot of time.
I will be detailing significance various decisions I took below.
2.1 Google Search console, Sitemaps, and Yoast
Initially, the Search Console was called as Webmaster Tools and Bing’s was called as Webmaster Centre. It’s here one submits his site for review by Google, and Bing. When the crawler crawls the site, the sitemap submitted at those places helps in giving the proper guideposts to the crawler, which it can use to generate data for search results as well as navigate the site with ease. Suppose we don’t want crawler access some site components, they can be taken off from sitemap also robots.txt can be set to prevent the crawler from accessing restricted sections of the site.
Apart from that, we have AMP pages, those things will occupy prime real estate on google search results, making these things crawled too plays an important role. Here plugins like Yoast help in this regard. Yoast is SEO plugin, helps in indexability of the site. It also gives access to all the sitemaps of the website at one place so that they can be submitted to Google.
(See Also: My 1month stand with SKDRDP)
In case of the static HTML site, I used free tools to generate the sitemap for the site and submitted it. For WordPress, Yoast was used to accessing the sitemap and manage the SEO. The blogs need 2 things, a sitemap and RSS feeds. Both give meta information to the crawler. The feed is structured in chronological order, with the latest post first with its metadata, followed by its older sibling. This feed gives author, date info as well as categories and tags, which are site’s internal structural elements. It’s also one of the reasons why I was focused on categories and tags for articles on the site. The meta elements apart from giving prominence to authors also add to search dominance of authors and their organization. These meta-elements also gets picked up by email marketing systems as well as feed readers to show pertinent information.
The search engines and people rely on keywords to make sense of content, the category and tags of WordPress article help in this regard, apart from adding as meta info in the feed. These things help in the grouping of related content together and help in onsite navigation. The Yoast plugin also allows one to customize the keyword and search excerpt of the article, this thing shows up in google search results too. This feature is used extensively in my blog too.
2.1.2. Link Building
In case of search dominance If backlinks count suffer for a site, then it will have lesser content to fill up in search engines. Also not having any idea about a website visitors compounds this fact as one gets totally blind of what being searched as well as getting linked in. The search dominance takes time to show its results. Hence it becomes extremely important to develop site backlinks via external sites like AKMI, Mix Market etc.. as well as build a web inside too called as internal links. The social shares too add backlinks. Twitter posts are public in nature and hence they increase backlink counts.
The search console also gives some analytics information, like keywords used by people to reach the site, the landing pages of the site etc. These will be covered in next section.
2.2 Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Data Studio
My personal relationship with google analytics dates back to 2009 when I started blogging. The analytics is one of shadow craft of every successful web admins, as it gives data about visitor dynamics. It also reveals the problem points that may be happening on site. The first thing I did after taking control of the site was to get analytics on all the pages. The data capture started from 21st of March 2014. I even wrote an article on the dawn of Data era. It was this thing that laid the foundation for all the future development of the site.
(See Also: Decision Making and Google Analytics)
I took to bootstrap because I saw a higher bounce in mobile visitors of the site. My experience in using this tool for long also helped me in doing smaller workarounds on the site like see also sections. Whenever in the meeting, cornering on mobile visitors used to happen often, and I used to smile and keep quiet. It was so because, I knew how many mobile visitors were there, till where they scrolled in particular page and all other data. All this information was with me because of analytics, and no other had this information at all as it wasn’t shared with anyone. Later my hunger for information led me to event tracking. It started because I wanted to know actions on the site like scrolling to particular section etc… This led me to Tag Manager.
2.2.1. Tag Manager
I started to see value in tag manager only after I started the event tracking on site. Event tracking enables one to set events for scrolls and clicks at important junctions in the site. Even the analytics tag is loaded onto the site using these tags itself. The event tracking laid the foundation for tag management. With this, capabilities got further enhanced. On my personal blog, it made it easy to track events like the completion of article etc. I implemented similar measure on site too. This event tracking leads to goals like Article Read, News Scroll etc… These things are called as soft goals. This goal tracking tells the actual story of the website and its visitor dynamics.
Whenever in the meeting, discussion on visitors used to happen, I often used to smile and keep quiet. It was so because, I knew how many visitors scrolled to a particular section and where were they coming from, how they moving through the site. all this information was with me because of analytics. Essentially it meant, I always had the data about visitors to match up with data that used to be brandished in the meetings. My silence always meant I knew the truth all the time still lie was brandished like anything else.
2.2.2. Data Studio
I created the first Data Studio report of the site in August 2017. But didn’t bother to share it with any as it was too technical in nature and could have a demoralizing effect on people once the data starts getting understood. For example, the AUM share of index investor in the USA is 29%. Which means AUM of actively managed funds constitutes rest 71%. If this statistic is given to index investor, he will get demoralized in his abilities. As this kind of investors is known to tom-tom about their strategy and share of the market is superior to other mutual fund users. In a similar way, the data studio report too ha a chilling effect on people assuming MAU to be lakhs.
The report has data on site visitors, their location, the browsers and OS they used to visit the site, the keywords they used in the search, even retention ratio is also present. It’s a 2-page report covering the basics but goal tracking is not part of it as it’s a finer thing and useless to see it in isolation. Once an idea is obtained from data studio and its working, then only it’s easy.
2.3 Facebook for Business, Jetpack, Twitter
During our first meeting itself, you said: ” our works are not reaching the general public”. And yes, the statement was true. When my classmate said – “there were openings at SKDRDP”, I was like which company is this. I got it only when he expanded the name. The social media was the panacea for this thing. As search dominance takes time, social media is the source to get more reach. I started a separate account on Facebook for the SKDRDP, because of this reason.
With SKDRDP ID, I could operate the social media account as an official person of SKDRDP instead of a personal account, which have succession issues built into them (Ex: previous SIRI pages). Even the personal profile is not even added to any role on Facebook too. But my preference for Facebook is because of my historical relationship with this platform.
I joined Facebook in March 2008, on the invite of my colleague. Since It was the first platform to put me in google search results as well as have regularly used it for a long time, I knew lots of intricacies as well as the power of it. even the news feed came after me joining the platform. This familiarity with platform enabled me to gain visitor at a rapid pace for site as well as the page.
2.3.1. Ills of Bureaucratizing & Compartmentalizing
I joined on Twitter in 2011, linked in too was around the same time. So while joining the org in 2014, I already knew a lot about these platforms. Apart from that, I had also studied marketing under a teacher who was an alumnus of IIM, Ahmedabad. I very well knew the efforts of compartmentalizing the social media assets. Like creating SKDRDP Agri, SKDRDP CDP, SKDRDP Jnana Vikasa, SKDRDP Dharwad, SKDRDP Koppala, SKDRDP Udupi etc.
I knew compartmentalizing would hurt badly in gaining reach. It would also become a dampener in efforts to make page official too. If these were full-fledged brands, then it would have been a necessary thing to keep separate pages. (as brands don’t have crosstalk between them.) But since our aim was to create awareness in minds of people, a centralized page for SKDRDP with official identity was important. Also sharing from other pages would have resulted in post cacophony.(many of the unofficial pages suffered this) Apart from that presence of multiple pages of the same company also impedes in the efforts of getting a verified badge for the site. For this reason, I asked many of the page owners to delete their personal SKDRDP pages too.
“If people of organization come together and collectively try reaching more people then only they succeed.”
The reason I hopped on to Twitter, is because of platform’s ability to give better click-through rates for articles. One impediment to this! It was a dormant account of SKDRDP on twitter. It was causing authenticity problems too! later I had to delete the account created by me as the dormant account was revived. The email used to register was SKDRDP’s official mail ID.
Twitter did show its strength by helping us in spreading the word about seedball program. It does send traffic to our website, though not in significant amounts, if we become more engaging on Twitter, then we can definitely create more awareness too. The social shares of the article also add backlinks. Twitter posts are public in nature and hence they increase backlink counts.
The Jetpack plugin is important as it’s the one which sends the traffic to our website via automatic sharing to social networks. It needs an additional script which adds UTM parameters that help in tracking the referral source correctly in analytics. Once set up, its an invaluable tool in the arsenal of a site admin.
2.4 WordPress, SSL, RSS Feeds, Newsletter
The WordPress website was the last in the sequence, and it was the important binding agent in all the things. The reason it was selected because the ease it afforded in maintaining it. The plugin system of it was extensive, covering innumerable aspects of the site.
Also, the idea of uploading the files to the server via FTP is not a good idea as it requires modification time of the file as well as updating of sitemap to note the change. These mistakes have a penalty in SEO activities as search engines will not know of the change. In case of WordPress, the changes will be evident in the auto update to sitemap and RSS feeds. It’s because of such system as characteristics – the WP CMS system was adopted. As said, earlier, technical decisions like these were taken by me, as appropriate. Explaining it would have diluted the thing, hence was kept off.
(See Also: The dawn of new era in SKDRDP website)
The vast plugin system of WordPress afforded a great deal of flexibility. Especially in handling heavier workloads of caching, SEO, article management, user management, backups etc.
2.4.1. Significance of Authors
Since author name is not just a dummy thing and it had SEO implications too. CMS like WordPress played a great role in attribution. Apart from that Guruprasad and I were from industries with own heft of links to other web properties. It’s because of this and backlinks coming from us just due to our mere presence caused backlink count of our site to grow big.It’s also the reason why I picked it up.
Comparing SKDRDP with Jana Jagruthi we had more authors as well as articles. These things did add up in our strength in the google search. This was not so in other WordPress installations of Parishath and JJV as we hadn’t added ourselves as users. These caused limitations in search presence of those. Also, Absence of categories and other factors of navigation stunted a lot of things in those. Since search dominance was not the mandate for that, it was okay to deal with.
The RSS feed and sitemap submitted to google help the crawler keeping in touch with the new page added, and more pages indexed help in more display in search results. Also, RSS feeds are used by avid readers to keep track of articles in their feed readers like Feedly, etc. These individuals are silent readers but can be of help in social media debates where we are not the party. It’s for this reason, CMS system was adopted. The RSS feeds make it easy for search engines as well as avid readers to keep track of happenings in the field. Also, RSS help even the email marketing system to automate the mail delivery. RSS is present only on proper web 2.0 platforms, whereas HTML sites are all web 1.0 platforms. Its because of this RSS capabilities, WordPress made the cut.
The next big thing to be done on the site was of enabling the SSL. This had 2 advantages of making the site more secure and in getting higher ranking in SEO. The SSL requires disruptions to normal functioning of the site, for this reason, it was done on Saturdays. Presence of SSL was helped by CDN in tunneling of entire connection from site to the user. This major advantage of SSL – the tunneling each connection to the site, had increase site performance as images and other resources were loading faster on this dedicated channel.
This performance improvement was visible in Kammata Site as it had many of images to load. I decided to unilaterally use this tech for the site of Janajagruthi, Bhajan Parishath, and SKDRDP as security was paramount. And there were hacking attempts on non-HTTPS version sites almost daily. SEO boost from SSL also helped in increasing the penetration of our articles. And we also get huge amounts of search traffic to our site. Apart from that, the Keyword data was getting shared too.
You might have come across emails almost daily about a new article on our site. It’s part of the email marketing automation system and is called as RSS campaign. The system checks for the new article (published in our RSS feed.) and sends a preformatted mail to the mailing list. This thing falls under the topic of called email marketing. For sending out newsletters too this needs to be used. Each newsletter is called a campaign. Each campaign requires a mailing list to send and it has pre-existing formats to it too.
Since our newsletters were created in word docs, I used to add a link to download it. This obviously has the limitations. As busy people will not open the mail and download to read it. And on the internet, such kind of busy people are in abundance. The open rate as measured by these platform reveals this story. If these visitors click on the link to reach the site, then the data gets captured in google analytics as email source. In the hands of a good marketer, this system can give immense value as email are still the most engaging of all the digital advertising channels.
3. How to maintain the system
Since I will be leaving, and there will be repercussions of it on the site. I will be detailing all the maintenance works that need to be done to keep it running. As I have already covered the significance of each decision in previous sections. I will split this into 3 things of technicality, the repercussion of inaction and where to find the errors.
the system which is in place currently, as set up by me is very technical in nature. Also, the domain’s DNS records, the cPanel, and admin console of WordPress are 3 most important levers of the website. These 3 can simply make or break the entire gamut of operations social media accounts. Hence it’s imperative for these 3 things to be kept safe and under a competent team that understands the technicalities of it. It will be detailed in forthcoming sections.
3.1 Problems of incompetence and inaction
When I joined, the site was an HTML one and it had one analytics tag on the home page. And it was conspicuously absent from all other pages. I somehow ran it for long by integrating my analytics on it. I realized that site was useless. Also, the number of people looking at news feed and other things was also minimal. And it was not taking us anywhere too in awareness journey.
3.1.1. Horrors of backlinking mistakes
Sometime later – for a change I searched on google with keyword ‘SKDRDP’. Unfortunately, to my horror, the SERP had listed negative link instead of neutral links as expected. Since we didn’t have much of backlinks or other things to gain search real estate, the negative links were visible in the first page itself. I then immediately set out to build a new site and learned bootstrap to build one from scratch.
After digging deep, it was evident the negative SEO was a product of both incompetence and inaction for a long time.
If backlinks count suffers for a site, the site will have lesser content to fill up in search engine’s query. Also, not having any idea about website visitors, the queries compounds this fact. As one gets totally blinded of what being searched as well as linked. The search dominance takes time to show its results. Hence it becomes extremely important to develop site backlinks via external sites like AKMI, Mix Market etc… It’s also prudent to build a web inside too – called as internal links. The social shares also add backlinks. The twitter posts are public in nature, hence they increase backlink counts too.
3.1.2. Hiding the keyman
Also on the current site, the admin is not posting any articles as its necessary keep that accounts hidden from the prying eyes of attackers. In SKDRDP website, I had stripped powers of all other accounts to the editor and given permission to specific kind of role. Also, posts were auto-moderated to so that only admin can approve and publish the posts. If admin account is known, then attackers can attack the account with wrong passwords, locking out the admin, which would cripple the CMS functioning as admin cannot log in. It’s for this reason, admins are always under the shadow and their usernames are not regular usernames like admin, administrator, etc, nor they have any post on the site.
3.2 Where the errors are displayed
Coming to errors, there are varieties of them. errors in feeds cause trouble to email marketing program. Error in jetpack causes trouble in social sharing. DNS errors take the whole site down. The 500 series errors mean the problem is located on our hosting server. Knowing errors and where they are displayed is important. They are listed below.
- The CDN, the WordPress installation, all have their error reporting mechanism built right into them.
- The cPanel is one such source. If the site is behaving slowly for admin and users, then checking ports being blocked in cPanel helps.
- The jetpack plugin automatically reports the error if its unable to authenticate the social network to link.
- The instant article panel on Facebook tells about problems in the individual article.
- The analytics is hardest with errors. It doesn’t tell what is wrong with data. For this experience is required to know if something is off.
- The errors with security certificates are shown by the browser itself, but they need to rectify by cPanel.
- The DNS error is caused by CDN, they need to be rectified by the CDN administration panel.
- The Search Console tells about crawling errors. If lots of links are getting 404 errors it means, site’s link structure was updated but sitemap was not.
- Site’s loading performance is measured by google analytics. It reports if the site is loading too slow in site speed report.
All these errors, tell what is off with the site. Hence it’s better to involve a technical person while dealing with it. Their need will be explained in next section.
3.3 Technical person need
The complexity of things does need a technical person to handle the system I have built over this time. The need technical person is necessitated because an incompetent guy can easily wreak havoc with the system. It would have been great if Tech section were given total powers in this regard. As they will be having the necessary competence to run it efficiently.
3.3.1. Techie’s Advantages
I had blogged on my personal blog about 3 levers that control the website. The 3 levers were Domain, cPanel, and CMS Administration panel. These 3 play vital role in the entire gamut of web services a site might be using. The emails are also handled by these 3 things only.
When the SharePoint and Office guys were giving the presentation about exchange server, Our FD sir expressed his desire to have single mail ID domain for all the employees i.e. all mail IDs ending in skdrdpindia.org. Though it’s not possible for that license. But it’s not impossible either. As we have our own exchange server which is normally bundled with the database server. Also, every domain has a record called MX record, which tells the IP address of mail server. It can be made to point to our database server and mails handling will be redirected to that. In our hosting package the mail & web server are same – hence it redirects to the same comp. It’s for this kind of reasons why a technical person is needed to control the 3 things.
Also, please note that site is littered with small customization all through it. These things are another one to require a need for a techie to manage.
The email marketing is automated. But if the newsletter is revived then there will be a need to create campaigns. Also, change the file in saved template every month. This kind of works requires some technical hand too.
3.3.2. Advantages of WordPress
As for articles, it’s better if Nirantara team is tasked with this work. As they constantly have articles and news coming to them for publishing. WordPress makes it easy to publish the Unicode Kannada version of their articles. Also, WordPress takes off the technical heaviness of internet publishing. Not to mention, the most heavily accessed article on our site was written by Mamatha Rao madam. It was about govt facilities. Like her article, the Nirantara team can also follow her footsteps to get a much-needed boost to the website.
As I have explained, in previous sections – these things that can add more value to the site. Based on my very long experience in handling those things, SKDRDP is now well poised on the growth trajectory as I am on mine. I will be exiting SKDRDP 9th March which also marks the end of my 4yr career at SKDRDP. I am happy to share my experience in building the website of SKDRDP & lay the foundation for a new era. It’s been a wonderful journey together. Hoping that you would quickly arrange for my exit documents. Thanking you.