A rookie in name only

Jerome Plantevin, winner of ComputerWorldCanada’s IT Rookie of the Year award in the Large Enterprise category, joinedLes Affaires publisher Transcontinental Media in Montreal just last year andwas put in charge of the LesAffaires.com Web site in June.

Although the portalhas been up and running for more than 10 years, he quickly realized there weremajor areas for improvement, particularly in terms of better measuring trafficand optimizing content so that it could be more easily discovered by searchengines like Google.

“The main goal was to change theorganization and the internal operation and planning process of LesAffaires.com in order to introduce anawareness of the need to have a realculture of SEO and Web analytics for running a Web site, and in order toincrease the traffic and the number of page views per month,” Plantevin said inhis nomination submission.

Rather than build a new online measurementtool or outsource measurement to a third party, Plantevin persuaded LesAffaires to standardize on Google Analytics, a service that generates detailedstatistics about the visitors to a Web site and which is used by approximately57 per cent of the 10,000 most popular Web sites. The online tool can trackvisitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising,pay-per-click networks, e-mail marketing and digital collateral such as linkswithin PDF documents. Plantevin also worked hard at the search engineoptimization (SEO) in the site metadata.

The results were dramatic. Shortly afterthe release of a new content management system to support LesAffaires.com, theportal saw an increase in search traffic of 18 per cent. From June 2009 to thispast March, there was a 20 per cent increase of unique visitors and a 10 percent increase in new visitors. Plantevin acknowledged there was a lot ofteamwork involved, including working with Transcontinental’s PHP developers,who helped him understand some server management issues,and the sales team, with whom he consulted on ad servers.

At the awards gala, Plantevin was overjoyedby his victory. “I want to thank my team who helped me to win. I could notobtain that prize otherwise. It’s a great honour,” he said. “The Web isbeginning to be a huge part of IT. In the past it was IT infrastructure, butthat’s changing.”

To attract more students to the field,Plantevin suggested Quebecuniversities and schools present more Canadian successstories of Web entrepreneurs, rather than traditional IT infrastructurestartups.

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