Required Technical Configuration

Last Updated: 10 January 2019

The goal of this document is to describe the ideal way of delivering digital content on social media, and help you get the most out of your Echobox. This technical configuration also greatly benefits the performance of your content on search engines, recommendation tools and social platforms.

Please note: If you are unable to accommodate all of these requirements, please discuss this with your Echobox sales representative to see how Echobox might be able to help mitigate the problem.

The following sections discuss various parts of digital content delivery, in order of priority, starting with the most important.

Semantic Tags

When sharing to social media, various platforms use different semantic tag protocols to extract article meta content such as title, description, images etc. Echobox uses this information as part of the algorithm and to help prepopulate share information, saving you a lot of time. The tags also ensure that everyone in your social audience who shares or reshares your content on their private accounts always gets the best share information. Echobox requires that these protocols are implemented as thoroughly as possible at the moment of publication. In order of importance, please implement:

  1. Facebook: Open Graph Protocol - http://ogp.me/
  2. Twitter: Twitter Cards - https://dev.twitter.com/cards/markup
  3. Google: Structured Data - http://schema.org/ (optional)

Media Content Feeds

The majority of your content will arrive in Echobox via a media content feed. Your feeds must be valid (i.e. conform to either the RSS, ATOM or XML sitemap standard) and contain articles as soon as they are publicly available on your website. Echobox checks each media content feed once per minute.

To ensure your feeds are valid you can enter them into the following tool, https://validator.w3.org/feed/. You will be unable to connect invalid feeds to Echobox.

For Echobox to always get articles as quickly as possible, please ensure the feeds you connect to Echobox do not use any caching.

In order for your new content to be processed more quickly, you can further reduce the size of your media content feeds to only include content published within the last few hours.

Google Analytics

Echobox gains powerful insights from your traffic data. Typically, data on Google Analytics is sampled but Echobox has access to the raw unsampled data set. It is important to ensure the following so that Echobox can maximise the use of this data:

  1. The URLs recorded by Google Analytics (GA), and visible within your GA dashboard, must exactly match that of the article when viewing in a web browser. This is the default behaviour of GA unless the GA tracking code has been manually edited or your website configuration is unusual.
  2. Echobox requires a single GA view that contains the traffic for all articles that you wish to share on social media, including but not limited to any associated mobile and social page views.

Mobile Experience

To provide a seamless experiences to mobile website visitors, all content should be made available from a single URL/domain using responsive design (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design).

The more classical technical implementation involves redirecting mobile visitors to a different page or domain, e.g. www.domain.com -> mobile.domain.com. Whilst not ideal, please ensure the following if you have such an implementation:

  1. The mobile version of the article must include an embedded canonical reference tag to the desktop version (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?hl=en).
  2. The mobile version of the website must redirect non-mobile visitors back to the full desktop version. On social, this ensures that any reshares made by visitors who land on the mobile version will display normally to viewers on a desktop.
  3. Traffic for these mobile visitors must be included in the same Google Analytics view that has been configured to provide Echobox with desktop pageviews. If Echobox does not receive all traffic the algorithm cannot function optimally.

URL Structure

Your URLs should contain all essential hierarchical information within the URL path. It’s not possible to optimise articles that use query parameters (?) or fragment parameters (#) for the purposes of identification due to constraints with Google Analytics.

A common structure followed by publishers is as follows: https://domain.com/section/article12345678/headline-of-article

For more information about URL standards, please see here: https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3986.txt

Republishing Articles & Duplicate Content

Republished content. Content is considered republished if the article reappears in a media feed with a newer publish time and the same URL.

Duplicate content. Content is considered duplicated if two versions of an article (possibly with the same or modified content) are published on different URLs.

It is important that when you wish to change the content of an article, for example, to modify the title, correct a grammatical error etc., that the URL of the article remain unchanged. This ensures that any existing shares and traffic associated with the original content are easily associated with the updated content. If you duplicate your content (i.e. different URL) when making changes, it becomes more difficult to detect this relationship.

Content must not be duplicated on your website, i.e. published more than once on different URLs or domains. Duplicating content also has a significant negative impact on the engagement and visibility of the article on both search and social.

Echobox can provide some support to help minimise the effect of duplicate content. For the best possible results, however, content must only ever be available via a single URL/domain.

In cases where duplicate content cannot be avoided, Echobox strongly recommends the correct implementation of canonical URL tags (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?hl=en). A canonical reference is defined as:

  1. “A canonical link element is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the "canonical" or "preferred" version of a web page as part of search engine optimization. It is described in RFC 6596, which went live in April 2012.” - Wikipedia

Some common invalid implementations of canonical references are given in the following figures:





Examples of valid implementations of canonical references:





You can use the following tool to validate your configuration here: http://seositecheckup.com/tools/url-canonicalization-test

Website Performance

There is a direct link between website load times and visitor bounce rate, https://econsultancy.com/blog/10936-site-speed-case-studies-tips-and-tools-for-improving-your-conversion-rate/: “A one second delay in page-load can cause 7% loss in customer conversions.”

Echobox strongly recommends that your articles can all be loaded in under 1 second. This not only ensures you keep visitors on your website as long as possible, but it also ensures that Echobox can react as quickly as possible to changes on your website. There are many free tools available online that help asses your website performance, such as:

  1. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights
  2. https://gtmetrix.com/

Facebook Instant Articles

It is important that visitors are tracked on Facebook Instant Articles in the same way that they would be on your website. Please ensure the same Google Analytics tracker you use on your website is configured on your Instant Articles. Please see https://developers.facebook.com/docs/instant-articles/analytics.

HTTP(S) Redirects

When a URL is redirected to another URL, for example because an article has been republished elsewhere (see section 6) or because the URL is now being provided via https:// rather than http://, it is necessary to ensure all tracking parameters are preserved, i.e. utm_source, utm_campaign & utm_medium. If these tracking parameters are removed or altered it will severely inhibit Echobox from creating a valid optimisation strategy.

Useful Tools Appendix

Website Performance Summary: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights

Website Performance Summary: https://gtmetrix.com/

RSS Feed Validator: https://validator.w3.org/feed/

Facebook Object Debugger: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/og/object/

Canonical Reference Validator: http://seositecheckup.com/tools/url-canonicalization-test