New Way To Access HalfEagle: Twitter!

My Troop got back from a weekend campout today a little after 12. By the time all the Scouts were picked up and the Troop gear had been dropped off, I was pretty tired but also pretty excited. We have a lot of really great things happening in our Troop and a lot of cool activities coming up. So, instead of going home, showering and napping, I decided to pop into work and do a bit of Scout “work.” Hi, my name is Gregg andΒ I’m a scouterholic. πŸ˜‰

Once that was done one thing led to another, and here I am reporting a brand new feature for HalfEagle! The live Twitter stream of Scouting posts is just *so* cool to me, I figured HalfEagle could do something on Twitter as well. A few tutorials (and hours) later and HalfEagle now retweets every blog post that hits the home page here.

What’s this mean? A couple things. First, if you enjoy reading HalfEagle and have a Twitter account, it’s even easier for you to be notified when new posts show up. Just follow HalfEagle and updates show up on your Twitter home page! Second, every Scout blogger on HalfEagle is now getting their blog posts directly promoted on Twitter. That should mean more visitors and more people exposed to Scouting. Win, win! πŸ˜€

Now, when you go to HalfEagle’s Twitter page you may say, “Whoa! Why are all the links to halfeagle.comβ€½ Are you stealing my visitors?”

The short answer: Twitter limits each post to 140 characters including the URL and the easiest way to fit more of each post title and the blog name was to make a shortened version of each URL. That URL does an immediate redirect to the actual URL so the visitor never even sees a HalfEagle page.

The slightly longer answer: There are a lot of URL-shortening services out there, especially for Twitter. Rather than try to dynamically create short links using one of those services, I thought it’d be faster to just do it on HalfEagle. As it turned out it was really easy and saved me the time of having to integrate HalfEagle with *two* sites in order to post to Twitter. About that 301 redirect, it should preserve any search engine “link power” that those redirect links garner. So if someone links to one of HalfEagle Bot’s status pages, that link power will “flow” through to the actual blog post page, not to HalfEagle.

One more thing…

When I set up the redirect links for Twitter, I realized it might help to track how many clicks the different posts get. I realized that setting up a redirect for all the links on HalfEagle would allow me to generate a pretty good idea of which blog posts are the most interesting to HalfEagle’s visitors. Traffic isn’t the best way of measuring quality — it’s not even that good of a way — but HalfEagle needs some way to recognize the best work of our bloggers. Hopefully in a month or so, that data will be helpful in improving the popular posts page. If that data doesn’t improve HalfEagle for everyone, then I’ll turn off the tracking, plain and simple. πŸ™‚

If you are a blogger and worried about search engines, please know that both redirects, the full url “/*/” redirects and the short url “/r/” redirects are 301 redirects. A 301 redirect passes along all of the “link power” that comes through HalfEagle. So there’s nothing to worry about there. πŸ™‚

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and your bug reports! πŸ˜€

7 responses

  1. Great site! I’m in the 2nd year of a 4 year Webelos commitment as Den Leader. If I put you on my Bloglines, will you automatically update your Cub Scout sites, or do I need to come back regularly and check myself?

    Thanks…my Dad was an Eagle too!
    Ms. V.

  2. Thanks Ms. V! I’m not familiar with the Bloglines service, but pretty much everything here automatically updates at least once per hour.

    So, if you put HalfEagle in your Bloglines, it should pick up on those udpates! If it doesn’t, just let me know and I’ll look into it. πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks, Dan. πŸ™‚

    I would have expected twitter integration to be easy for you since you’re on WP. Which plug-in did you have trouble with?

  4. Gregg, I am using Twitter Tools by Alex King. It works fine for posts where I just hit publish, however I tend to schedule posts in advance which it doesn’t seem to like.

    I haven’t spent the time to look around at other options yet. I’m pretty sure I could use twitterfeed like @shoemoney since he schedules out his posts, however I would rather rely on a plug-in than a third party site.

    I’ve been slow to really work on some of the new features I want to implement since what I really need to do is develop a new theme that is compliant and more user friendly.

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