AdvisorOne, which is located at AdvisorOne.com, is a portal for investment advisers and designed to be a single comprehensive destination for news, analysis, opinion and market data. Summit plans to employ a similar portal strategy where it makes sense in other vertical markets, Haddock said.
Digital Directions: Why did you select the Drupal CMS?
Joseph Haddock: We are running a customized Drupal installation we developed using a combination of in-house and consultant resources. Open-source platforms have longer life cycles, innovate more rapidly than proprietary platforms and are proven to be scalable. Our previous CMS, Microsoft's SharePoint, was not scaling well. We chose Drupal because it represented best of breed for publishing. Although Drupal is the framework we've chosen, what's even more important to us is that we are developing in the cloud.
DD: )Why is Cloud computing (another term for using virtual servers available on the Internet) so important?
Haddock: We're using Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Web service, which is literally a replacement for the server; and with Amazon, it includes the operating system, so we're using Linux. This gives us a tremendous amount of scalability and flexibility with our hosting. With the cloud, we can scale up very easily and quickly when we have a burst of traffic and when we don't, we don't have to pay for it.
DD: What are some other advantages of the new CMS platform?
Haddock: Number one is that we're using semantic analysis to increase relevancy and organization. We're using a natural language processor that can identify people, companies and facts. Essentially, we're using natural-language rules to data mine our own content so that it can be found by the search engines and our own users. Now when we suggest related content to a user, we actually have the tools to adjust and make that content really relevant.
In a little over two weeks, we had just shy of 14,000 pages for AdvisorOne indexed by Google. Previously, the eight websites we migrated over had only 7,000 in total. It's exactly the same amount of content, but Google is accessing more of it because of the way we're structuring the content.
DD: Can't you also use that technology to improve ad targeting?
Haddock: Yes, we can do more targeted messaging around relevant content, and all of our numbers indicate that we will deliver far more traffic, too. And while we can do better targeting of ads, we think it's healthy to have a mix that includes branding messages as well. We can also support more ad types, such as takeover ads, than we could before.
DD: How have you improved the user experience?
Haddock: A big deal is speed. Google has added speed to its algorithms this year; so, if you're not fast, it will affect your ranking as an authority. We've improved our speed through the cloud and a combination of best practices and some open-source tools we have. We have also improved the search on our site. We're also working harder to make our online content richer. Some of it is very simple, like adding images and audio, but we're working on video and will have that soon.