An independent news site covering breaking news, announcements, business news and events for the Dorset area. Community focused and independent, the aim of Dorset Online is to provide quality and trustworthy news from local reporters.
Being an online news site, Dorset Online required a WordPress website, speed optimisation and hosting for Dorset’s independent news, business and events website.
Being a community-focused independent online newspaper, it was vital that we created a space where Dorset Online’s readers could easily find the latest news and browse articles related to their area.
We devised a plan to split the website into a few main categories aimed at the three types of users: news, business and events.
The rest of the site structure is composed of tags, where articles are grouped around certain topics. Users can filter news stories by these tags to read similar articles, but this is also useful in suggesting similar articles once a visitor has read an article.
Further to this, we introduced an area filter. Similar to tags, however, allowing Dorset Online to group articles and reports by area. Therefore, if a reader wanted to only read news for one town (eg. Dorchester) they could. The addition of a tag or location automatically optimises that archive for search engines and submits the page to Google and Bing.
Even though Dorset Online readers are from Dorset and the surrounding counties, these features were vital in making the site relevant to specific users, which in turn improved reader retention and engagement.
The site is set up to automatically post to social media. There are several bi-hourly time slots set up throughout the day, and when an article is published, it automatically fills a spot and will be published to several social channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
The beauty of this feature is that it will automatically gather key information such as the image, title, link, and generate hashtags based on the category, location and topic. All while saving an average of 10 – 20 minutes of additional work per article.
Another integration provided on Dorset Online is automated SEO and readability features. These systems allow a reporter to easily create titles and descriptions for search engines and optimise articles to display in search results for certain searches.
We were also able to make the system automatically suggest internal linking between articles, which can offer a major SEO boost.
In terms of the readability aspect, the website will use several methods to check for sentence length, use of language and passive voice, to provide the writer excellent feedback and points to improve upon when writing their news story.
Dorset Online also utilises a technology created by Google called Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP allows for the creation of simplified pages, which Google then takes and saves in their system. As a result, when a user is browsing Google or Google News and an article is clicked, Google is able to instantly load this article with no page load times.
Google News was another integration we implemented on Dorset Online. We have adapted the site to meet Google Publisher technical guidelines and requested submission. The site has been approved in the system, and as soon as an article is published, it will immediately appear in Google News in the above-mentioned AMP format.
Although these were the main features, the site did, of course, come with the basics such as content scheduling, search, related posts, social media share buttons, comments and much more.
Further to these features, this news website also comes with plenty of behind the scenes optimisations.
For example, the site is hosted on a dedicated platform with range-topping speed optimisation technologies, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that keeps a version of the site on servers throughout the world and then serves users from their nearest destinations, as well as other features such as preloading of links on a page, so that when a user clicks on another article, this would have already been loaded in the background and the load will be near-instantaneously.
Later in the year, Dorset Online launched a Bristol business news website, Bristol Biz News.
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