HalfEagle.com’s Blog

News about that “Scouting Blogs and News” website

New Site Pages (and a secret project)

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I’ve created a new type of page on HalfEagle, site pages!

In the main HalfEagle feed, there’s a small link at the end of each summary that says “From Site Name x hours ago” which now connects to that site’s page on HalfEagle. For example, here’s what Scoutmaster Jerry’s page looks.

Screen shot 2011-06-29 at 7.28.38 PM

As you’ll see, the most recent five posts are shown, along with some information about the site itself such as how frequently they post and how popular the site is on HalfEagle.

In some cases, recent tweets mentioning the site name will also be shown. Finally, there is also a new link labelled “Subscribe to feed” which is how you can subscribe directly to your favorite blogs and podcasts!

You may also notice a “Is this your site?” section in the sidebar. If you have your blog included on HalfEagle already, I’d love to link up your HalfEagle site page to your blog/podcast’s Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else you have! If you want your page to get the special treatment, just leave a comment below!

P.S. I also have a ::cough:: secret project ::cough:: that I am working on and I’d like about a half dozen HalfEagle bloggers to help with it. If you’d like to know more, please send an email to secret@halfeagle.com ;)

UPDATE! I’ve updated Scoutmaster Clarke Green’s site page. If you are a HalfEagle site owner, check it out and let me know if you want your page to get similar updates!

Screen shot 2011-08-11 at 8.34.24 PM

Written by Gregg

June 29th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Administrative

HalfEagle 2010 Year in Review

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Halfeagle 2010 Year In Review

Last year I put together a post of interesting HalfEagle Stats from 2009 and I want to continue the tradition!

I think this was HalfEagle’s sixth year online and clearly we’ve come a long way in that time. Let’s see if anything has changed since last year. :)

How do you get to HalfEagle?

HalfEagle 2010 Traffic Sources

HalfEagle 2010 Traffic Sources


About 40% the visitors to the site are either typing in the domain name or have the site bookmarked. While this is lower than last year when expressed as a percentage, the total number of people has actually gone up. The main reason the percentages have changed is because of a much greater increase in search engine traffic and referring sites.

Top Referring Sites

  1. BoyScoutTrail.com – Scouting resource site (2009 – #1)
  2. BoyAndGirlScouts.com – “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts under one roof… with proper supervision, of course.” (2009 #3)
  3. Troop 353 Eastchester, NY – Troop website (New!)
  4. The Scoutmaster Minute – Scoutmaster Jerry’s blog. (2009 #5)
  5. Scouting News – Just what it says. ;) (New!)

Top Search Engine Keywords

I’ve filtered out all the variations of “half eagle,” “halfeagle.com,” etc. and just included non-brand searches. Also, some similar keyword phrases I’ve filtered out and only included the most popular variation.

Clearly, there’s a ton of interest for Scouting related mobile apps! HalfEagle has an entire category for posts about that and there’s quite a few new one’s coming out in 2011. :)

  1. scouting iphone apps
  2. “eagle factory” boy scout
  3. “around the scouting campfire”
  4. cub scout leader uniform
  5. scouting blogs
  6. bsa 100th anniversary coin
  7. scouting apps
  8. scouting innovation engine
  9. 12th edition bsa® handbook
  10. scout blogs

Who visits HalfEagle?

HalfEagle 2010 U.S. Visitors Map (Darker means more visitors)

HalfEagle 2010 U.S. Visitors Map (Darker means more visitors)


Scouters, of course! ;) The geography didn’t change much from last year as far as the US goes, but the international audience really ramped up! Last year only 80 countries had visitors, but we added 30 more countries in 2010.

Top States

  1. California
  2. Minnesota
  3. Utah
  4. Florida
  5. Illinois (Texas dropped to position #9)

Browser Statistics

HalfEagle 2010 Browser Stats

HalfEagle 2010 Browser Stats


Both IE and Firefox dropped a couple points compared to 2009. Chrome definitely jumped up from 1.5% to 6% and Safari increased slightly as well.

Remember, you do have a choice when it comes to your browser. I encourage you to check out Firefox. :)

Visitor Loyalty

This is my favorite graph of all. Basically it shows that HalfEagle has a dedicated core of visitors that check out the site at least once a week. And we have some folks who check it almost every day! This chart shows just how great the Scouting blogs and podcasts are that HalfEagle includes.

Compared to last year, we have a lot more “single visits” but we’ve also increased our diehard fans who check every day by over 150%!

HalfEagle 2010 Visitor Loyalty

HalfEagle 2010 Visitor Loyalty

Most popular posts

HalfEagle tracks the most popular posts by tracking outbound clicks, both from the website, the twitter account, and the Facebook page. This is my favorite part of the year in review, because it really shows what was important to us during the last year. Out of over 50,000 clicks, these are the most clicked posts from 2010!

Most clicked posts from HalfEagle website

  1. 2010 Centennial Rank Advancement Badges – Scouting News
  2. Celebrating 100 Years With Historic Merit Badges – Lone Star Scouter
  3. Scouting and iPhone Apps – A Scoutmaster’s Blog
  4. BSA 100th Anniversary coin gets a release date – Scouting Magazine Blog
  5. President Obama’s Relationship with the BSA – Scouting News

Most clicked posts from @halfeaglebot

  1. Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program – USSSP
  2. Watch for the BSA car in Sunday’s Indy 500 – Scouting Magazine Blog
  3. Iraqi Boy Scouts Interact With American Forces – Scouting News
  4. BSA announces important changes to its Youth Protection policies – USSSP
  5. Obama Chooses “The View” over National Jamboree – Scouter’s Journey

Most clicked posts from Facebook.com/HalfEagle

  1. Boy Scouts of America Centennial Silver Dollar releases today – Scouting Magazine Blog
  2. Obama Chooses “The View” over National Jamboree – Scouter’s Journey
  3. Boy Scouts vs Philadelphia – A Scoutmaster’s Blog
  4. Members of Congress Call on BSA to End Its Discrimination against Gays and Lesbians – Scouting News
  5. Top 10 Useful Merit Badges – Scoutmaster Musings

The only post that even appears in more than one list is the the one about Obama choosing “The View” over National Jamboree. Otherwise, what piques people’s interests vary dramatically from one site to the next.

2011: What’s in store?

I’ve added the Facebook like button to every post and have a unique Facebook application in the works for 2011. This is working towards my 2009 goal of making the site more social.

But I want to hear from you! What else would you like to see from HalfEagle in 2011?

Written by Gregg

December 30th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Administrative

Show Your Thanks, Recommend a Scouting Blog!

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Clark Green recently published a great post on just how much work it is to be a great Scouting blogger or podcaster. He also shared some ways to support the Scouting blogs you love to read. Well, I have a third option. :)

If there’s a Scouting blog or podcast out there that you enjoy and it isn’t already on HalfEagle, take a couple minutes to post a link to that site in the comments below. Just today I discovered a Scouting blog I had overlooked, and I bet there are even more out there that deserve a spot on HalfEagle! So, comment below and your favorite Scouting blog could get added to this site. :)

Written by Gregg

November 29th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Administrative

New Scouting Search Engine, Blekko!

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I’ve recently heard a lot of buzz about a new search engine called blekko. I checked it out today and thought it was pretty cool. Since it’s still in beta, it feels a lot simpler and more straightforward than Google searches can be these days.

The coolest feature though? Slash tags. They’re kind of like a Google custom search engine, only way easier to setup. I went ahead and made a /scouting slash tag that anyone can use. What’s in it?

I’ve played around with this new search engine and I’m really digging it. I added all the same sites to the Google Custom Search engine I already had on the site, so you can do a search in each and compare which one provides better results. Give it a shot, I’d love to hear your opinion on “Blekko v. Google!” :)

Written by Gregg

November 16th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Administrative

HalfEagle is now International!

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After receiving a second request to add a Scouting blog from the UK, I decided to take a look at the state of Scout blogging in the country where Scouting got started. It didn’t surprise me at all to find quite a few great blogs about Scouting on the other side of the pond!

Because there are program differences in Scouting from country to country, I figured the easiest thing to do would be to create a section just for UK Scouting. If you visit the site today, you’ll see a couple flags next to the logo:

If you click the Union Flag, you’ll find yourself at HalfEagle.co.uk. Click the American Flag and you’ll be at HalfEagle.com.

For now, posts from both sites will all go to the Twitter account @halfeaglebot. It will be a multi-national twitter feed. ;)

If you are blogging about Scouting in the United Kingdom and want to add your blog to the site, just head over to this post and leave a comment!

Cheers,
Gregg

Written by Gregg

September 29th, 2010 at 7:54 am

Posted in Administrative

Topic Pages are back + Twitter bot fix!

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Dan at Scouting News let me know about a problem with the HalfEagle twitter bot. Those silly question marks are gone now. Thanks Dan! :)

I realized today that all the topic pages had gone missing. This was not intentional and they are all back now. There’s even a new feature. You can sort the topic posts by either recent posts (by default) or by popularity! This should be much more useful for folks who want to see new posts on a topic right away and it means you can filter for the “authoritative” posts for a particular subject.

If you have a topic to suggest, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Written by Gregg

June 7th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Administrative

Ongoing Site Maintenance

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Please bear with me while I give HalfEagle some much-needed attention. Expect some changes to appearance, functionality, and content based on the great feedback you’ve given me. :)

I also have a backlog of new blog submissions that need to be reviewed and (hopefully!) added to the site.

During these changes, entire sections of the site may go wonky or missing. Please wait a few days before reporting issues.

First update posted. :) Old design, then some evolutions to the new design:
HalfEagle 2009

HalfEagle 2010Now with Flickr!

Some stuff is missing from the new design, but I’m working on putting it back in. (So don’t worry if something of yours is missing, it’ll most likely be back sometime in the next few weeks.)

Written by Gregg

May 7th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Administrative

HalfEagle Survey Results (and winner!)

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In January, I asked the folks who visit HalfEagle to fill out a short survey. I even offered a $25 coupon for TrailStop.com to a random survey filler-outer. I’d like to share some of the insights from that survey as well as the winner of the coupon!

For each question on the survey, I’ll share the most important insights I gleaned from the results.

graph-1

My biggest insight from the first question on the survey was simply, over half of the folks who visit HalfEagle are parents of Scouts who volunteer their time as a leader with a Scouting unit. Good to know if I’m thinking about adding a new “Council Event Centennial Planning” topic. ;)

graph-2

This was rather surprising to me. If you anxiously read the BSA Annual Report each year like I do, you already know that there are almost twice as many Cub Scouts as Boy Scouts. I guess I failed to notice there are more Boy Scout adult leaders than Cub Scout adult leaders, but this gap is still surprising. I think this probably reflects that more of the blogs on HalfEagle are focused on Boy Scouts than Cub Scouts, and this is probably because of my bias as a Scoutmaster toward reading those blogs. I’ll try to add some more quality Cub Scouting and Venturing blogs. If you know of one, recommend it in the comments here. :D

graph-3

This was a really cool thing to discover. With over half of our readers being members of the OA, almost half having gone through Woodbadge Training, and over 1/3 are Eagle Scouts, HalfEagle’s audience (you!) are some of the most accomplished Scouters out there! This just begs for some way to tap into the knowledge and experience of our community to help folks who are just starting out.

graph-4

I’ve been itching to make HalfEagle just a lil’ bit wider. I was thinking one extra column of content would really help us all discover valuable new Scouting content. However, after asking you for your advice, it sounds like the status quo is favored. Since there was interest in a fluid layout though, that fluid layout may add a third column for folks with large windows open. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I make changes to the layout.

graph-5

This was the most “controversial” question of them all. By controversial, I mean that most of the responses were comments about the feature and most of the comments were negative. Your overall opinion of the feature could be summed up as “Yeah, that’s neat, but how does rating posts help me?” So, I’m probably going to remove this feature and replace it with something else. I want some way to know which posts are the “great” posts, but this wasn’t the best way to go about that.

graph-6

Yay! Thank you all so much for being a fan of HalfEagle on Facebook! For 14% of you, here’s a link so you can become a fan today. ;) Incidentally, I probably check the Facebook “version” of HalfEagle more than I check the “real” version, so I highly recommend it.

graph-7

This mostly jives with my own personal opinion about the different content. The bloggers featured on HalfEagle do a phenomenal job and they’re the entire reason why the site exists in the first place. So, it’s no shock that everyone agreed the blog posts were the best content on the site.

There were a couple surprises here for me. First, that Flickr images was the least awesome content. I would put that as the second best thing! Clearly, the least awesome content shouldn’t be taking up a primo spot at the top of the page.

The second thing that surprised me was that new Scouting Resources was almost as awesome as the blog posts. If you look at where they are on the page, they don’t exactly have a prime position on the page. So, just the fact that they were rated so highly speaks volumes to how hungry we are for new skits, songs, and program ideas.

The relative ranking here will definitely influence the next version of the site design.

graph-8

I want to repeat the disclaimer from the survey itself: these ideas were just some random things I came up with off the top of my head. I don’t even know if they are all possible, I just wanted to know what I should spend my time working on.

That said, I will not worry about adding a Girl Scout section to HalfEagle. ;) I definitely need to figure out three features though: a way to announce Scouting-related contests, a way to save favorite posts, and a way to separate content focused on specific program areas. If you other ideas for features on the site, please comment below!

Oh, and the winner of the $25 TrailStop.com coupon is… ::drum roll::

Kipp W. from Tennessee! If this is you, make sure you check the email address you used when you took the survey. Congratulations!

I’d also like to add a big thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey. HalfEagle cannot continue to be a success without the support and input of it’s loyal readers. Thank you.

Written by Gregg

February 23rd, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Administrative

HalfEagle Survey – Enter to win $25 off TrailStop coupon!

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I’d like to get an idea of where HalfEagle’s audience would like to see the site go!

Please take a few moments to fill out this survey and, if you’d like, register to win a $25 coupon for TrailStop.com.

Thanks! :)

Written by Gregg

January 13th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Administrative

HalfEagle 2009 Year in Review

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HalfEagle 2009 Year End Review

I really enjoyed reading Dan’s Out with 2009, In with 2010… blog entry over at Scouting News. It was so cool to see that HalfEagle was his #1 referrer in 2009. It’s exactly the kind of thing I was hoping HalfEagle would accomplish, sending lots of folks to check out the best Scouting blogs on the internet.

Since it was also very interesting to see the random stats he included, I thought I’d put together a similar post for HalfEagle. :)

How do you get to HalfEagle?

HalfEagle 2009 Traffic Sources

HalfEagle 2009 Traffic Sources

Over half the visitors to the site are either typing in the domain name or have the site bookmarked. This is great because it means there are a lot of people who are regularly checking the site for new posts.

The other half of visitors are split pretty evenly between referring sites and search engines.

Top Referring Sites

  1. BoyScoutTrail.com – Scouting resource site
  2. Kismif.wordpress.com – Cub Scout blog
  3. BoyAndGirlScouts.com – “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts under one roof… with proper supervision, of course.” (Which I would add to HalfEagle if there was an RSS feed of just the Boy Scout posts.)
  4. BuffaloEagle.wordpress.com – Troop 483 blog
  5. TheScoutmasterMinute.net – Scoutmaster Jerry’s blog. (Oh look, he recently interviewed me!)

Top Search Engine Keywords

I’ve filtered out all the variations of “half eagle,” “halfeagle.com,” etc. and just included non-brand searches. Also, some similar keyword phrases I’ve filtered out and only included the most popular variation.

  1. alvin townley eagle scout
  2. scouting blogs
  3. scout deaths at philmont
  4. “eagle factory” boy scout
  5. boy scout blogs
  6. free camp kitchen plans “patrol boxes”
  7. bechtel family scouting center
  8. embroidered centennial ring emblem
  9. subaru forester pinewood derby commercial
  10. boy scout centennial uniform guide

Who visits HalfEagle?

HalfEagle 2009 U.S. Visitors Map

HalfEagle 2009 U.S. Visitors Map (Darker means more visitors)

Scouters, duh. ;) But let’s see what Google Analytics has to say about the visitors to the site.

Top States

  1. California
  2. Minnesota
  3. Utah
  4. Florida (Yay, I’m not the person who visits the site the most!)
  5. Texas

Browser Statistics

HalfEagle 2009 Browser Stats

HalfEagle 2009 Browser Stats

I’m happy to see that over half of the folks who visit this site are using a browser other than Internet Explorer.

For the 44% of folks using IE, if you aren’t in a corporate/school environment and have a choice of browser, I highly encourage you to check out Firefox. :)

Connection Speeds

HalfEagle 2009 Connection Speeds

HalfEagle 2009 Connection Speeds

I’m pleasantly surprised to see that over 2/3 of HalfEagle’s visitors are on a FAST internet connection. I haven’t checked connection speed stats in a long time, so maybe this is common now.

If I ever have an idea for a feature that takes a lot of bandwidth, at least now I know it’s a possibility for the majority of visitors.

Visitor Loyalty

This is my favorite graph of all. Basically it shows that HalfEagle has a dedicated core of visitors that check out the site at least once a week. And we have some folks who check it almost every day! This chart shows just how great the Scouting blogs and podcasts are that HalfEagle includes.

HalfEagle 2009 Visitor Loyalty

HalfEagle 2009 Visitor Loyalty

What was the most popular stuff on HalfEagle?

I saved this bit for the end. Most sites on the internet have a separate URL for each bit of content, but not HalfEagle. HalfEagle is mostly just a single home page with the most recent posts from the best Scouting blogs on the internet. So how do we track the popularity of any particular item? Well, way back in January HalfEagle started tracking all outbound links so I could measure the most popular content here.

After nearly a year of tracking (and with over 28,000 clicks!), I am happy to share some of the results. :)

Most clicked posts from HalfEagle website

  1. Short Uniform Shirts – KISMIF
  2. Cub Scouter Uniform Answers – KISMIF
  3. Embroidered Centennial Ring Emblem – Scouting News
  4. BSA 100th Anniversary Emblem – KISMIF
  5. Are You Smarter Than A Boy Scout? – A Boy Scout’s Blog

Most clicked posts from @halfeaglebot

  1. Scouting with the iPod Touch – iBird Explorer – Scoutmaster
  2. Kevin Rose – Eagle Scout? – A Scoutmaster’s Blog
  3. Eagle Application Restrictions Coming Soon – Scouting News
  4. Photo Caption Contest!! – ClassB Blog
  5. 100th Anniversary Kickoff – Scouting Maniac

Most clicked sites from HalfEagle website

  1. Scouting News
  2. KISMIF
  3. Scouting Magazine
  4. The Scoutmaster Minute
  5. Scoutmaster

Most clicked sites from @halfeaglebot

  1. Scouting News
  2. KISMIF
  3. Scouting Maniac
  4. The Scoutmaster Minute
  5. Scouting Magazine

I find it fascinating that what gets clicked on Twitter is dramatically different than what gets clicked on the site itself.

2010: What’s in store?

HalfEagle has really reached a point of stability right now that I’m pretty happy with. If I had to describe how the site, the code and I are getting along, I’d say we’re at the “norming” stage of development. :)

That said, I don’t think HalfEagle is “done” by any definition of the word. I see a lot of opportunity with the site to make it more social by expanding on the existing Twitter integration for post rating. That hasn’t really caught on yet, probably because it was broken for so long. 2010 will see a new focus on getting folks to try that out.

Also, I have launched a HalfEagle Facebook fan page that will be yet another way to subscribe to new Scouting blog posts and give the HalfEagle community a place to talk. :)

What else would you like to see from HalfEagle in 2010?

Written by Gregg

January 2nd, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Administrative