Some remarks to the From Laboratory Niche Website to Authority Laboratory Website article
This article has been written specifically for Annals of Diagnostic Pathology as a continuation of already published material on this subject (Dimenstein IB, Dimenstein SI: Development of a Laboratory Niche Website. Annals of Diagnostic Pathology, 17 (2013) 448-456. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2013.05.002. The journal could not publish this article, deeming it out-of-scope for its readership. Eventually this article has been partially published in Dimenstein IB: Laboratory Educational Authority Website Development. International Journal of Education and Information Technology Volume 2, Issue 2, April 2016, pages 8-13 and Dimenstein IB: Technical Note: Experience of maintaining laboratory educational website’s sustainability. J Pathol Inform 2016, 7:37 (1 September 2016)DOI:10.4103/2153-3539.189702 www.jpathinformatics.org/article.asp?issn=2153-3539;year=2016.
However, I would like to share with the potential developers of their own laboratory educational websites my observations and experience in maintaining more than a decade an educational, noncommercial website.
If the website had for one year around 100,000 views, keeping in mind the limited amount of professionals interested in the narrow website’s subject, it means that visitors return to it on multiple occasions. Perhaps, this is some evidence of a laboratory educational website’s sustainability.
WordPress provides daily statistics of views (free!), as well as very useful data about what topics were opened and topics the visitors were interested in.The latter is very useful, but there is a physical/temporal/topic/experience/knowledge limitation to satisfy the interests of all visitors.
Unfortunately, the program does not always allow illustrating from the computer screen with high quality examples. We did our best. It looks that the illustrations are satisfactory legible. Without them the article is meaningless. Perhaps this technical problem will be fixed later. Every article on the website is and should be work in progress. This is one of the main advantages of a website, but the concern for the website’s host of being in permanent time and efforts consuming state of changes.
Again, this article is intended for a scholarly journal. The composition violates the rules of presenting the material on the website (too long, without fragmentation, scarcity of illustrations), which the article is propagating. Some other articles on the website also have this deficiency, but sometimes it is useful to have a comprehensive approach, although we, as consumers demanding TV images, are in contempt with such presentation.
Laboratory methodology websites are specialized niche websites. The visibility of a niche website transforms it into an authority website on a particular “niche of knowledge.” The article presents some ways by which a laboratory methodology website can be maintained as a reputed source of specific online information.
For the Internet sustainability of a laboratory niche website, the search engine’s work should be taken into account in the background design of a website in general and web pages in particular. Apart from informative content, which is paramount, formulation of key phrases and the strategic use of keywords on pages can enhance the visibility of the site. The experience of marketing niche websites can be applied, but after it is adjusted to suit the relatively rigid laboratory methodology and standardization requirements. Hyperlinks open a chain reaction of additional links and draw attention to previous posts. This article includes experimenting with “influencing” search engine query result page, as well as personal observations and recommendations on laboratory niche website sustainability. Publications in printed edition and periodic update of the site’s pages are substantial part of the website’s visibility on the Internet.
Although the article explores a laboratory niche website on the basis of our hands-on expertise of maintaining the” Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” (www.grossing-technology.com) website, the methodology for developing a specialized authority website presented here can be applied to other professional niche websites. This article is a continuation of previously published article “Development of a Laboratory Niche Website” in Annals of Diagnostic Pathology http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2013.05.002
The definition of a niche website originated from Internet marketing when a small portion of a much larger market is targeted. Now, every website that is designed to present a specialized topic can be termed a niche website. Niche websites encompass a wide variety of incomparable subject such as selling embroiled napkins or grassroots political statements.
Laboratory niche website reflects the precise goals of a methodology website where procedural details are predominant. However, In contrast to niche marketing websites, which exhibit the tendency of narrowing the scope of products to maximize earnings by avoiding competition with the mainstream market, the laboratory niche website addresses a narrow area of technological interest in the context of a broad general methodology approach.
Specialized laboratory niche websites can be likened to a platoon in the military, but unlike platoons, niche websites can be stand-alone entities on the World Wide Web. However, if a niche website stays alone, it translates to failure because the goal of such websites is to reach out to target audiences. The challenge lies in how to create a voice for a site that is audible in the overcrowded with millions of websites Internet wilderness with its millions of websites.
Numerous books 1-5 and online materials provide recommendations on how a website can secure a place on the Internet. However, these materials have predominantly commercial orientation or discuss general website design issues with minimal presentation of professional, especially methodology niche websites.
This technical note explores the methods of maintaining a laboratory niche website’s sustainability on the Internet. Our goal is considerably modest: we want to presents some personal experience that is definitely limited but supported by the Internet longevity and visibility of our “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” (GTSP) website which is used as an example. The site developed an evolution from a static to a dynamic website by using WordPress platform. There are particularities in the design of a laboratory website. The principles of the development a laboratory niche website are discussed in the article “Development of a Laboratory Niche Website.” 6 This technical note is a logic continuation of the article. There has been no similar work in the accessible literature.
Methods of developing an authority laboratory website
A laboratory methods niche website is made ‘alive’ through a slate of visitors with relatively narrow specific interests. It must be findable by search engines. Visibility is the key. Ideally, if the topic were placed in the search engine query box (bar), the niche website should appear on the first line of the first result page or at least on the first three pages. If not, it does not exist for the “Internet market”. At the risk of sounding boastful, we can say that GTSP has almost always been on the first page of search results on ‘grossing technology’ or ‘grossing techniques’ topics with an average traffic rank more than 100K.
The definition of an authority website reflects the visibility of a niche website. On this subject, a website development blogger posted: “In layman’s terms, it is a popular site that people frequent, that gets linked to on the basis of its merit, or that others willingly refer to when the topic of that site comes into play.”7 The dispute between niche website vs. authority website is analogous to whether it is better to be rich and healthy or poor and ill. The problem is how to transform a niche website into an authority website.
A niche laboratory website can follow the methods for marketing niche websites in order to gain visibility on the Web and to attract the desirable attention of laboratory practitioners. Unfortunately, many formal methods of building a marketing authority website cannot be applied to a laboratory niche website due to the relatively rigid laboratory methodology and the standardization requirements.
Authority websites have a ranking promotion from major search engines, which stack them up on the basis of ranked query results through their algorithms. One of the methods of search engines optimization (SEO) is through strategic, though tactful, or “ethical”, placement of key words at the beginning, body, and end of articles and posts. Other methods include the use of tags, trust rank, backlink profiles, and links to well-established, preferably indexed publications.
Due to the discrete characteristics of laboratory procedures, a reasonable fragmentation of the material, such as differentiation or reorganization of online content, would be a specific method in the laboratory niche website design (the “nested doll principle).6 It can provide additional leverage of key words placement for search engines.
The pages and posts of niche websites ostensibly differ from papers in peer-reviewed journals. While constructing the initial fragmented files, it must be noted that apart from the hopefully numerous visitors (peer review experts in the field) to the website, a robot will scan through the text. In the fragmented articles/pages and posts, hyperlinks enhance the “link juice” (PageRank) of the niche website material. This opens a chain reaction of additional links, drags attention to previous articles that inevitably age and wane from attention. Thus, the laboratory niche website can maintain its authority through the life cycle of its archives. Without informative content, however, which generates visitor’s interest, all the efforts of search engine optimization are useless. A golden cage cannot make the canary sing.
Although Web crawlers(e.g. spiders, crawlers, web walkers, robots, webbots, and simply bots in computer science lingo) are a central part of search engines (in common perceptions synonymous with them), details on their algorithms and architecture are kept as business secrets or discussed in high-level computer science literature 8, although Google placed online very useful Webmaster Guidelines to help search engine to find, index, and rank a site.9The major search engine companies (Google, Yahoo, Bing- Big Three) and others use their own spiders for identification of the wide range online content. In a broader approach, web pages should be designed with the aim of maximizing the extraction of relevant information by a specialized Web crawler, e.g., academia-focused crawlers, which work according to specific algorithms.
Diagram 1 presents the work pattern of a search engine on the background of the modified “A simple spider” diagram in the Michael Schenk’s book (p.174).8 The diagram is accompanied with GTSP website illustrations. The diagram displays the Web crawlers work as a perpetual process when the maximum penetration is only a transitional step to the next maximum penetration. This understanding opens opportunities for tactical considerations in the placement of material on the site (see Recycling and Updating below.)
Actually, this is only a part of how search engines work as they incorporate harvested information into databases through indexing. Then they analyze such information through complex algorithms on link ranks and relevance to the search keywords. The diagram illustrates the multistep process of a Web spider’s work to highlight the issue that although designing different parts of a laboratory website (home page and its components) necessitates individual approaches, these elements are permanently interconnected. The ultimate goal is for the website to land on query results pages.
Ideally, a clear understanding of how Web crawler screen pages should exist. How do spiders harvesting links? When do they reach the maximum penetration level after download links from URL’s and web pages? How often do Web crawlers return to previously screened material? How do changes in the page/post influence the search engine ranking of a website? These questions are very important because they give answers to practical actions: when keywords should be placed and what is the most effective way of making hyperlinks work. Anyway as a practical recommendation, when a new page/post is placed on the website, all provisions for search engines (structure of the file, key phrases, and key words) should be ready and included simultaneously with its first appearance on the web, just in case. The URL (domain address) should be discrete and easily recognizable by a spider at the first penetration level. This is the first page that the spider downloads. Additional pages are then downloaded until the spider reaches the maximum penetration level (see diagram 1).
Many components of search engines work are obscure and beyond the realm of the host of a laboratory niche website. We should, at the least, use recommendations that we understand. The question of how to leverage the website authority is described in more detail in many online materials (see, for example, an excellent post on this subject.)7
Examples of search engine optimization (SEO) for a laboratory niche website
This article includes experimentation on “influencing”, or “manipulating”, search engine query result page to enhance website visibility. Perhaps, this experience and personal observations may be beneficial for website’s hosts and website’s users for better understanding how a laboratory website can be maintained on the Web without proficiency in the computer science. More sophisticated methods are the realm of website design professionals.
Key words and sentences
It is useful to periodically review your website’s short descriptions ( “annotations”) on the query results page of Google or other search engines, which somehow characterize or highlight the topic (query keywords). Indeed, these couple sentences have been obtained from the page/post text. They can sometimes be out of context and are often irrelevant to the main subject (text obtained by a crawler) but it is important to see what is extracted from the page’s text by the Web crawler.
Let’s take a simple example. If Google were searched for “orientation sampling surgical pathology,” relevant results from our GTSP entities would be provided on the first lines on the first page (Figure 1.)
Figure 1. Google’s query result page on ‘orientation sampling surgical pathology’ topic.
The rest of the search results would follow. However, it missed the logical procedural page “‘Embedding Follow-up,” which was also on the website (Figure 2). This was a deficiency in the visibility of the website as a methodological entity.
Figure 2. Google’s query results list on the topic ‘Embedding Follow-up in Surgical Pathology’
After a vague initial sentence “The following-up of embedded sampled specimens is becoming less common…” (Figure 2, in yellow circle) was replaced with “Embedding follow up is part of sampling orientation in the processing cassette” (Figure 3 in yellow circle) the page “Embedding follow-up in Surgical Pathology Laboratory” appeared below the page “Orientation during Sampling in Surgical Pathology” (Figure 4.) on the same (!) day . When these web pages are presented together on Google’s query result page, they represent the laboratory website methodology fragmentation principle: separate but together. Now both topics are always together on the search engine’s result list (Figure 5), if it is possible, however, for anything to remain always the same on the Internet,
This example, which was an experiment from our practice, shows how a formal page structuring exercise can allow the host to enhance informational or methodological value of the site. This may be a minor detail bur methodology is about details. This is also an illustration of how formulation of key sentences and words on a website’s page can influence (“manipulate”) the query results of a search engine.
Figure 3. The changed first sentence in the page
Figure 4. Google’s query result page on ‘orientation sampling surgical pathology’ topic after changes in wording of the first sentence.
Figure 5. Google’s query result page on ‘embedding follow up surgical pathology’ topic after changes in wording of the first sentence.
Keyword placement is a considerably delicate task. Both extremes should be avoided: one must not neglect tactical use of key words or provide an excessively long list of them. There is a notion that the keywords list has outlived its usefulness.1 The main advantage of key words tool, however, is its relevance to topics and texts. Presented illustrations demonstrate it. In a laboratory methodological website, simply crafted sentences that include related keywords are sufficient to stabilize identification by a search engines. The simplicity of the website’s language is not a disadvantage in this situation, but enables single-minded robotic Web crawlers. Numerous editing agencies such as Scribendi should identify materials intended to be published as a niche professional website keeping in mind the Web crawlers as one of the potential “readers” of the material. The style of these materials should be different from that of articles to be published in journals or magazines.
Publications in preferably peer-reviewed periodicals are a significant part of transforming a laboratory niche website into an authority laboratory website. Peer-reviewed publications, indexed by some online entities, such as PubMed and ScienceDirect, provide links to the website and other related publications. Printed publications are by definition less fragile and more or less permanent, as opposed to websites, which are a dynamic but fluent part of the information media. Here are some examples from “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” website experience.
For example, on the query topic “biopsy grossing techniques,” the first three results on the first page of Google’s search engine are followed by two results of an article published in Annals Diagnostic Pathology in 200810 (Figure 6.)
Figure 6. An example of Google’s query results page on ‘biopsy grossing techniques’ topic.
Another example would be if the “bone grossing surgical pathology” topic were placed in Google’s query box. Perhaps if our website occupies more than one page for the query topic “bones grossing surgical pathology” on Google, a peer-reviewed publication in Annals of Diagnostic Pathology might contribute to the search engines’ “appreciation.”11 A publication in CAP TODAY’s Innovation in Pathology could also be beneficial.12 Some comprehensiveness of the “bones grossing surgical pathology” topic on the website, when even the CPT coding (see the line circled in blue on the Figure 7) and safety (see arrow on Figure 8.) are presented, might also be useful for search engines’ results pages “generosity,” because these materials were also published.13, 14
Figure 7. Page 1 of Google’s query result page for ‘bone grossing surgical pathology ‘topic.
Figure 8. Continuation of Page 1 of Google’s result page on the ‘bones grossing surgical pathology’ topic.
Figure 9. Page 2 Google’s query results page on ‘bones grossing surgical pathology’ topic.
It looks that publications preferably should precede the placement of website’s materials (articles/pages, posts and others.) The latter are increasingly disregarded by Web crawlers; unfortunately, website materials are fading fast. The synchronization is important. It is understandable that publications are not manageable by the host, but posts are. Publications often generate some leftovers which for many reasons do not correspond with the printed material. They can be placed as posts on the website with appropriate links.
Links are the lifeline of website sustainability. Real estate’s “location, location, location“ corresponds to website visibility advanced by “links, links, links.” Internet spiders download and harvest links from web pages referenced by links harvested during perpetual crawling on the Web (see the diagram 1).
Google (represent around 70 percent of search traffic) determines the value of a website through links to it from other websites. The search engine ranks the website by using its PageRank algorithm. The higher the number of links to the website, the more accurate the ranking, although an excessive number of links is discouraged because this will dilute PageRank. However, a laboratory methodological website cannot have too many links given that relevance to the website’s topic is a stringent criterion. Internal links can be used for better query results page outcome.
An example from our website can be an illustration. Despite our website’s diverse presentation of bone grossing topic on result pages , search engines, however, had ignored for some reasons three article: “Bones which do not fit the cassette”, “Fragile bones on the grossing table”, “The third hand immobilization principle in bone gross section .” These pages are on important topics which touch the most difficult part of bone grossing. Perhaps, they are solely contributions to the bone sampling methodology by this website. We have to admit that all formal attempts to draw search engines’ attention to these “jewels” of our website by reshuffling key words and sentences failed. More, they were presented on the website’s slide show in full, but it seems that spiders do not have modern people TV mind set.
These articles appeared on the Google’s search engines query results page on the ‘grossing small bones’ topic only when more internal links were added (Figure 10).
Figure 10. Google’s query result list for ‘grossing small bones’ topic.
As a general observation, it is reasonable to place some fragmented pages on the website simultaneously with each other, in clusters that would provide internal links to enhance the website’s visibility. In particular, this provision should be followed when the website is launched or in the early stages of its existence.
Maximization of internal links is completely reasonable and justified for increasing the visibility of the site while comprehensively presenting of the topic. It is not a link scheme that Google warns to avoid in the Webmaster Guide, when some marketing niche websites practice to enhance their PageRank through link exchange.9
By the way at the same time, when the Bing search engine was queried with the same words, ‘grossing small bones’, it was “generous” only for one “Fragile bones on the grossing table” (Figure 11). However, when the topic in the query box was changed to “small bones grossing,” Bing was able to recognize at least two entries (Figure 12.).
Figure 12. Bing’s search engine result page on ‘small bones grossing’ topic
As it is well known, sometimes even a change in the sequence of the same words in the query box elicits different results. Web spiders are not the smartest creatures in the room, but they cannot be outsmarted either. We can only try.
Recycling and updating
Recycling is the favorite concept for environmentalists, and is acceptable in fashion. In the intellectual sphere, however, the same term is considered negative, especially in the arts. Recycling is, however, a necessity to maintain visibility on a laboratory methodological website that is considered to be an authority website. Website’s pages and posts should be dynamic, but changes may be too minimal to be visible to Web crawlers. Sometimes, these changes are only adjustments in approach, which cannot be recognized by crawlers. The sad truth is that pages fade from visibility with age. The best methods to refresh these pages would be by connecting through links on a particular topic. However, these links need not necessarily be available or even exist.
One option is to recycle the page by using a new title or a different set of words. Web crawlers will forgive, as well as the old friends of the site, but it is a way to bring in acquaintances who may become friends of the site in the future. Are we satisfied with our articles, pages, and posts? Of course not. Recycling is an opportunity to revisit these pages and make changes to the posts. Updating can be incremental, but is significant both in terms of making the site more relevant to current trends in methodology and contributing to visibility on the Internet. This is the advantage of a website. Why not use this opportunity? By the way, changing only the title “Bones which do not Fit the Processing Cassette” to “Grossing Small Bones” was appreciated by web crawlers, although the first title was more informative and concrete. Sometimes and too often our mind set and the logic of procedure differ from the web spider’s algorithm.
Composition of a laboratory niche website
The composition of the laboratory niche website itself is also important to make it an authority website. Three optimal components of a laboratory methodological website, namely, the basic component, the blog, and the ancillary component, can contribute to the sustainability of the website.
Diagram 2. Interaction among the components of a laboratory niche website. See the article Laboratory Educational Website’s Components for details.
These three components can overlap like in a Venn diagram, and they share a dynamic relationship. The interaction of the internal links of the basic component’s pages and the blog posts are a definite advantage for the laboratory niche website (Diagram 2.) When the blog links to your Web site’s basic component, and vice versa, traffic flows to both, and visibility increases. The internal links provide methodological comprehension of information without interfering with the logical presentation of the material. On the other hand, they add to the visibility of the site by repetition of key words.
The internal links in the basic component’s pages are the most obvious and easily accessible, while the interaction of links between the basic component and the blog are the most valuable. Both the basic component and the blog can provide relevant links to ancillary component.
The blog allows the website to react to current events and discussions as well as respond immediately to comments posted on the website. Visitors with real expertise in the field can be part of the website as peer-reviewers. This exchange can transform the laboratory niche website into a panel discussion on a particular topic or even on general issues. As previously stated, the repeat visits are always a reward for a website. Every website wants to have a reference group. This is not,however,what in the popular website design lingo is called a sticky site.
The ancillary component of the website can include several categories, including links to different websites, publications, and manufacturer’s advertisements. All the three components enhance visibility, increasing its authority.
A website is not created for eternity although everything that is published on the Web remains there; a cached copy can be obtained from Google. A website is a dynamic, actually transitional, intellectual entity that exists on the Internet at the mercy of powers that are beyond the site host’s ability to completely influence. Without visibility to the targeted audience, a website is an exercise in futility. A methodology niche website intends to be an authority website, a popular site in a specific area, e.g., the “niche of knowledge.”
A marketing niche website and laboratory niche website emerge on the Internet from different standpoints. Due to fierce competition, the former aims to stand out from the crowd of similar websites as being unique, literally a niche that can give an edge. In contrast, the laboratory niche website, as a specialized entity, is empowered when it is part of a group of similar websites that confirm its relevance in the field. The laboratory methodological website’s lifespan is different also from marketing niche website. The latter need permanent changes, “refreshing”, but a laboratory website requires updates. Both, however, converge on the way to being authority websites by following the rules of Internet existence: the requirement of informative content, relevant keywords optimization, and link interconnections. Ignoring these rules would cause both types of websites to fade into oblivion. A marketing niche website resembles a flower: short bright blooming followed by inevitable fading. In contrast, a laboratory niche website grows stronger with age like a tree, especially when it is part of a portal, like a manmade forest. Although for most marketing niche websites, link building with other websites in the same field is part of achieving a better page rank (as it was already mentioned, Google disapproves, actually warns off, the practice “Link to me and I’ll link to you” as a link scheme)9, links between portals are evidence of the stability and importance of a laboratory niche website. The development of a laboratory methodology portal/s requires a special discussion.
Publications of laboratory niche materials fully or in part in printed editions are substantial parts of the website’s visibility on the Internet and contribute toward transforming it into an authority laboratory website. Despite their shortcomings, peer-reviewed publications are useful for of external link. These backlinks are the most valuable for laboratory website sustainability, although they are apparently less manageable than internal links.
Workshops, seminars, lectures, and poster presentations related to the topic can be used to promote the website. Printed abstracts should include the website’s URL as an additional source of backlinks. These types of publications are very short lived on search engines’ result pages, but everything is transitional on the Web. This is also a way of testing the website’s materials. The website’s visibility can be promoted by transforming word of mouth into mouse clicks.
Participation in a professional discussion group (e.g., HistoNet) can be a type of partially induced external link; when a question relevant to a website’s subject is answered, a reference link to the website is placed. This approach promotes the website with the creation of a website reference group. A laboratory website, however, does not “suffer” from the ‘traffic virus’ that proliferates on popular social or marketing sites, because the potential audience is for understandable reasons limited.
The structure of the website’s basic component (the categories template) can have some influence on Web crawlers’ attention. It has been shown that search engines “prefer” sites that are structured wide rather than deep.15 However, the design of laboratory methodological website tends to exhibit hierarchy fragmentation (the “nested doll” principle) of material that requires a deep structure of the basic component’s pages. 6
The website’s content and structure should also take into consideration modern, multi-device Web development, as information can now be accessed not only from desktop and laptop computers, but also from smart phones and tablets. These web-enabled devices open more opportunities for individual use of methodology websites; this can translate into changes in laboratory methodology websites’ content to include more quick reference material. The popularity of the StainsFile website reflects the need for systematic reference sources. This website is designed completely differently than GTSP, giving evidence that diversity is beneficial for the distribution online information.
When creating a page, one should visualize the multiple legs of robotic spiders on the body of text to be included on the site. In contrast to an article in peer-reviewed journal, there is less of pressure by skeptical editor/ reviewer eye, but more display, or visibility, concerns. We have to realize as a fact of our Internet life, that a Web crawler is unappreciative of attempts to embellishing the page/post but is appreciative of redundancies, and partial to formal language. Sometimes the Web crawlers are stubbornly rigid, and all attempts to grab their attention are in vain. But, changing the well known proverb: If the mountain won’t come to us then we must go to the mountain, a professional niche websites should always try to maximize their exposure to search engines by making efforts to be crawler-friendly. Our article structuring experiments showed that a search engine’s result page can be influenced. It is not about how to trick the system but how to work with the Web by understanding its rules.
Of course, different search engines provide different queries. Even the Google search in Apple’s Safari differs from the Google search in Internet Explorer. Each search engine exhibits different behavior and crawl persistence.1 By the way, all attempts to “deceive” search engine systems (e.g., inputting a fake number of keywords on hidden text, providing “ghost” pages irrelevant to a website) are not worth the effort. As Google’s Webmaster Guidelines advise: “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”9
While the basic component of the website is the main informational body, other components, especially the blog and the ancillary component are intrinsic parts of a viable laboratory methodology website. The presence of advertisements, sometimes irrelevant to the website’s subject, might seem like commercialization in the eyes of science purists. However, the first, compulsory advertisements are the “charge” that search engines (Google and others) impose on the site for providing the website with Internet visibility, and thus sustainability. The second, most important, despite the possibility of bias and conflict of interest, manufacturers’ advertisements, especially when they are in accordance with the website’s topics, can combine theory, methodology, and everyday practice. Actually, most laboratory methodology websites are a “labor of love.” They are open access sources of information in the direct meaning of these words.
Advertisement interaction is the return to the initial idea of a niche website. Visitors are attracted by the content of a specialized topic. Inadvertently, visitors pay attention to the advertisements (this is the principle of Internet ads). If they click on them or buy their products, the commission generated, albeit often symbolic, is governed by standing agreements. There is nothing wrong with this. The maintenance of a niche website requires time, effort, and money. Maintaining an authority methodological laboratory website with a good level of activity is therefore like a part-time job. Actually, most laboratory methodology websites are, as I’m repeating, a “labor of love.” They are open access source of information in the direct meaning of these words.
Finally, the methodological laboratory website’s materials are too precious to leave their presentation only to amateur self design. Periodic consultation, if not permanent care by a website structuring professional is desirable if not mandatory. Professionals have a strategy of timely placement of key words or fresh links due to experience collected in marketing niche websites. They can develop a search engine friendly sitemap that invisible for visitors but accepted by the major Web crawler’s protocols (Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask). The most important point is that building an informative authority website depends on a solid content structure with semantic richness that helps search engines to crawl and comprehend the page data more easily.16 The tactic of launching new materials (pages, posts, photos, etc.) also requires some professional experience. However, the website’s host must have control over the website components, especially web page structure.
These materials present predominately our personal experience in maintaining GTSP website for more than a decade. The site developed an evolution from a static to a dynamic website by using WordPress platform, a desirable though always not completely attainable goal. Many deficiencies are apparent, but it is more difficult to fix them than to do right from the beginning. One of the goals of this technical note is to help the readers to avoid our mistakes in building a visible and sustainable website by leaving space to make mistakes by themselves.
While the informative content of the laboratory niche website is the priority, the principles of the World Wide Web should be followed to maintain the site as an authority website.A professional authority website is like a garden. You cannot plant it and go away. Both require nurturing, pruning, and watering by avoiding a flood of words. You have to make the website visible and sustainable. A methodological laboratory site has to secure its place under the Internet’s sun.
1. MacDonald Matthew: Creating a Website the Missing Manual. 3rd Edition, O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2011
2. Bell Mark: Build a Website for Free. Third Edition, Person Education Inc., 2013
3. Thurow Shari: Search Engine Visibility. 2nd Edition, New Riders, 2008
4. McNeil Patrick: The Designer’s Web Handbook (What You Need to Know to Create for the Web) How Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012
5. Parker Scott: The Web Designer’s 101 Most Important Decisions: Professional Secrets for A Winning Website. F+W Media 2012
6. Dimenstein IB, Dimenstein SI: Development of a Laboratory Niche Web site. Ann Diagn Pathol (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2013.05.002
7. “Authority Site Building” and Leveraging Website Authority. http://www.seodesignsolutions.com/blog/how-to-reference-material/authority-site-building-and-leveraging-website-authority/ (accessed July 26, 2013).
8. Schrenk Michael: Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers. A Guide to developing Internet Agents with PHP/CURL. 2ed; No Starch Press San Francisco. 2012; p.174.
9. Google. Webmaster Guidelines. <http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769>. (accessed July 26, 2013)
10. Dimenstein IB:Bone grossing techniques: helpful hints and procedures. Annals of Diagnostic Pathology 2008; 12:191-198
11. Dimenstein IB: Grossing biopsies: an introduction to general principles and techniques. Annals of Diagnostic Pathology2009; 13: 106-113
12. CAP TODAY – In Seth L. Haber’s column “Innovation in Pathology”: Handling bones and other calcified tissue –September 2003; December 2003; March 2004
13. Dimenstein IB: Principles and Controversies in CPT Coding in Surgical Pathology. LabMedicine 2011; 42: 242-249
14. Dimenstein IB: A Pragmatic Approach to Formalin Safety in Anatomical Pathology. LabMedicine 2009 Vol. 40 (12):740-746
15. Smith JA and Nelson ML: Site Design Impact on Robots. An Evaluation of Search Engine Crawler Behavior at Deep and Wide Websites. D-Lib Magazine Volume 14, Number ¾.2008.
17. StainsFile.Inf.http://stainsfile.info/StainsFile/jindex.html (accessed July 26, 2013)
This post suggests the content- oriented terms website’s stationary and stationary website for educational professional niche websites, as an addition to the traditional static/dynamic website definitions. It is an attempt to adjust the terminology to recent changes in website design methodology. The “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” (www.grossing-technology.com) niche website is used as an example of the implementation of these terms.
With an apology for superficiality, some words about the well- known aspects in the computer science in order to bring the readers closer to the subject of this post.
In the past twenty years since Tim Berners-Lee introduced the first- ever website, actually the web page, more than half a billion websites have become ubiquitous in the civilized world, like running water. Although not so long ago the word blog had an undulating red line in a computer spell check, there are now, according to the Wikipedia, more than 172 million identified blogs around the world.
What is the difference between a website and a blog? Although the definition of blog has been significantly diluted and blurred, the immediate answer is that a blog IS a website. Usually, this answer is followed by an explanation that there are static websites and dynamic websites. The latter are blogs. The background of this separation is that a blog has build in editing tools and the content can be manageable by a user, while a static website employs content management system (CMS) which requires professional development.
For me, the word static has a visual appearance of a green duckweed pond. Unfortunately, this was very much justified by my website experience. The original website, “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology”, was the embodiment of a static website in the depth of this adjective’s meaning. Depending on the webmaster, I could not change even a comma in the content by myself. But most importantly, the visitors could communicate with me only through my email address. I had to fish them out from the junk mail, which was not easy when the email’s subject was not distinct. Who knows how many good e-mails sank in the sea of unopened junk mail. During the time when this website was quietly decaying in its initial design, the revolution was brewing that culminated in the development of WordPress like software platforms.
Now nothing prevents a former static website from being dynamic by making changes easily and engaging in interactions with visitors in the same way as dynamic blog websites. In the case of the WordPress platform, you can immediately change everything on the page or post, save the changes, and with the refresh key (F5) see the corrected page on the screen for common World Wide Web consumption. Moreover, web pages can be generated on the fly upon the topic’s request from the website’s pages content.
With an unfortunate delay, the website was redesigned by using the WordPress development. Now it is completely different and has multiple components. As a consumer of this transformation, while lacking a deep understanding of the computer science technology, I want to have distinct terminology definitions of the website’s parts. This is the subject of this post.
Static and dynamic are descriptive adjectives that only reflect the process of the website’s formation. How can the location of the website’s content be defined? And what this type of content-oriented multi component website can be called?
I think that the website’s stationary would be an appropriate term for the website’s main informational media (articles, photos, videos, etc.). Yes, stationary as a noun (see below the explanation). This type of websites can be called a stationary website. It is synonymous with static, but different in connotation and usage. This is not an exercise in semantics, but an attempt to define the informational entity that arrived and formed with new software technology in a better way.
For me, the website’s stationary term has more visualization than other descriptions such as main (too vague, and diminishes the other content), basic component (right, but of what, and two words), core (too laboratorial), permanent (actually not, because it is removable, and changeable), traditional (too vague), editorial (in general, correct, but with a newspaper allusion), and, at last, static. For full disclosure, this website’s webmaster prefers the basic component.
The word stationary, an adjective, stems from the Latin stationarius, which means unmovable. Unlike the adjective static, which stems from the Greek word statos (also unmovable), the word stationary can be used as a noun more conveniently (The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary: n. 5. a person or a thing that is stationary.) In our example, the stationary of the website. The word stationary is not in common use as a noun in US English, especially in British English. (My high school sophomore grandchild does not like it.) However, this is not necessarily a disadvantage. To the contrary, it can be a specific computer science term in general and a description of the website design in particular, at least for professional educational niche websites. By the way, the nouns browse, browser, and definitely web browser have become ubiquitous not long ago. Static as a noun is used more rarely and only in a negative connotation (static or atmospheric electricity, electrical disturbance noise, criticism, trouble). Of course, the confusion with stationery (paper and office supplies) ought to be avoided. Unfortunately in many occasions, companies offer office supplies using both words interchangeably. As a blogger recently wrote: “I’m surprised at how many people still confuse the correct spelling of stationery- the paper kind with stationary- the parked kind.” Search engines almost always suggest in the results pages stationery if you type in stationary in the query bar.
By the etymology and meaning, the website’s stationary is closer to a station, for example a railroad station. Trains come and go, the station stays. The analogy can be broadened to the depot where the trains are cleaned, repaired, and assembled, like a stationary website that shelters and updates the content using modern software. By the way, in Latin statio means residency, abode. The website’s stationary is the place where the informational entities (pages, photos, videos, etc.) “reside” for a more or less prolonged sojourn.
As a medical analogy, the website’s stationary resembles a hospital with a definite set of beds and services. A blog is like a hospital’s emergency department, the “fast responders.” The ancillary parts of a website (host, affiliations, etc.) are like clinics affiliated with the hospital. In Russia, a hospital is called the stationary.
Here is a practical application of using the website’s stationary term for our “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” website. It is an educational methodological laboratory niche website by intention, design, and content. Contrary to a hybrid website, it is monothematic. In composition, the website includes three main parts.
The first part contains articles of different sizes and forms with relevant illustrations in subdivisions/ sections/ categories (Perspectives in Grossing Technology; Grossing Case Studies; Grossing Techniques; Equipment, Instruments, Gadgets; Grossing in Dermatopathology Manual; Safety; CPT Coding in Surgical Pathology). This is the core informational body. This part is the website’s stationary. It can be updated, changed, and discussed. Without the website’s stationary the entire laboratory educational methodological website would be meaningless as an informational entity. A stationary website can be a characterization of the type of website with certain content even if some changes have been made. Actually, the word stationary can be used alone as a shorthand noun by omitting the word website in a phrase: “these materials are in the stationary.”
The second part is the Grossing Technology & Beyond blog. It functions according to the rules of blog composition (posts are posted in the chronological order, they are shorter than stationary’s articles, sometimes they respond to current events or comments). Some posts can be sent to the website’s stationary in order to make the subject of a page’s article more comprehensive. Some fragments of the website’s stationary can be placed in the blog posts, if necessary, for a special attention.
The third part includes ancillary components such as Meet the Site’s Host, and affiliates (links, advertisements). The site is planning to open Guest Corner and Odds and Ends sections.
Finishing the description of the parts of the stationary website, I want to present an allusion to a station wagon car or a van with rows of seats, like articles/pages/photos etc., where kids are sitting, shouting, and changing places, but the car stays on the road. In the back, food and beverage are stored for fast consumption, like blogs, and other luggage items are stashed, like the ancillary components of the website.
There is nothing unchangeable now on a website, even the front page, but the definitions of the static and dynamic websites should not be abandoned. For example, themes in WordPress, page templates, the “About” and Contacts pages are usually unchanging and technically can be called static. Perhaps, it would be reasonable to maintain the division on static and dynamic websites at the level of the formation of a web page, especially for simple websites (information, entertainment, etc.).
Stationary websites are intellectual content net stations
where encoded information stashed in the media software units
stays there until statutory browsers
start its recovery from the website’s stationary.
This terminology essay rendered by a layperson in computer science and linguistics is an attempt of an Internet consumer to define in terms understandable for me the design of the website where I dwell. I have the usual excuse in my paraphrase: “’My webhome is my castle” the old British might have said if they had known the Internet.’ Sometimes, an outside perspective might be useful.
Annals of Diagnostic Pathology published our article “Development of a Laboratory Niche Website” http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2013.05.002. After the proofs were sent to us, we regrettably realized that the laboratory niche website had not been defined sufficiently. This post tries to clarify this term better.
Niche websites were introduced to the Internet as marketing entities. If you type the term “niche website” into a search engine’s query box, this is the only meaning that appears in the list of results. Now, however, every specialized elementary, or basic, website can be defined as a niche website. There are numerous niche websites in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from craft to politics.
A laboratory website can be a niche website due to the definite specialization of procedures. However, in contrast to the marketing niche websites’ tendency to narrow the scope of the website to avoid competition with the mainstream market products, the laboratory niche website presents a narrow area of technological interest in the context of the general methodological aspect.
At any given moment, laboratory niche websites seek a slate of visitors with highly specific interests. The website must have features that attract visitors by distinguishing itself from other sources of information. There are certain specifics involved in the design of a laboratory website. The principles of the development a laboratory niche website are presented in the Annals of Diagnostic Pathology article by using our “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” website (www.grossing-technology.com) as an example.
Every niche website host aims to achieve maximum visibility through search engines “service” transforming it into an authority website. This is a current term for a popular website in a specific area, e.g. the “niche of knowledge.”
A laboratory niche website has a specific presentation style. Reasonable fragmentation of the material most adequately reflects the discrete character of laboratory procedures. The fragmentation principle can be applied not only in the structuring of pages but also in the composition of the website itself.
Keeping in mind that nothing can substitute an informative content, formal methods of attracting search engines attention should be used. Marketing niche websites have collected useful experience in this regard that cannot be reasonably ignored. The initial fragmented pages of the website should be constructed with the clear awareness of the search engine robot spiders that “crawl” the Internet. When a niche website material on a particular subject is being presented, the strategic use of keywords in pages and posts will enhance the page rank of the website. Hyperlinks open a chain reaction of additional links, attracting attention to previous articles, which inevitably wane from attention over time. Thus, the laboratory niche website maintains its authority through its archives life cycle.
These are the additional comments to the article “Development of a Laboratory Niche Website” in the Annals of Diagnostic Pathology journal. The details of the methodological material fragmentation and methods of leveraging the laboratory niche website into an authority website require additional discussion, which will be presented in separate articles.
Websites are now so ubiquitous that if a pizza shop does not have one, people may suspect it does not have dough, either. Laboratories have informational websites, even though they may look like clones of one another. However, this is not necessarily bad because uniformity allows them to present themselves in a standard, easily accessible way.
Laboratory educational websites are a rarity, but each of them is different. Although diversity is generally good, this kind of diversity reflects the absence of a concept or multiple concepts of laboratory website design. In the article ”Development of a Laboratory Niche Website” (Annals of Diagnostic Pathology, 2013, 17, pp. 448-456) we tried to provide some understanding of a laboratory niche website design—a grass roots specialized professional informational source—by using our “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” (grossing-technology.com) website as an example. Recognition by the Internet visitors, experience in maintaining an educational niche website, and critical evaluation of our mistakes allow us to discuss principles of laboratory website design as a whole and web pages in particular. This technical note provides some methodological background in building a laboratory educational website.
Without going into the details of website building that requires too much printing space and is more appropriate for a workshop, we would like to touch on only one basic aspect of professional laboratory educational website design, namely, the composition of the site. The content of laboratory educational websites requires a design different from the design of informational websites. Modern computer technology provides this opportunity.
Since 1991, when the first web page was introduced, billions of web pages have been generated. The World Wide Web became a dominant part if the Internet. Not so long ago, a new player arrived: the blog. Just recently, spell-checker functions on computers would flag blog as a misspelled word. Today, however, a blogger can be an occupation.
What is the difference between a website and a blog? The immediate answer is that a blog IS a website. Usually, the answer is followed by an explanation that there are static websites and dynamic websites, the latter of which are blogs. The basis of the distinction is the way a file document is transformed into the web’s readable and accessible product; a static website uses the relatively more complicated HyperText Markup Language (HTML)-type transformation tools of Content Management Systems (CMS).
There are some formal differences. For instance, static website entries are called pages, whereas blog entries are called posts. Pages in a static website are placed in subject nests, or menus, but in a blog the material is posted in chronological order as if in a diary, with the latest post listed first. Also, there are technical differences in the appearance of the pages /articles, which typically are more comprehensive and longer than a blog’s post, though this is not true in every case.
A blog is a particular website. To use an analogy, whereas a static website is a book or journal, a dynamic blog is a newspaper or flyer. Within the context of a remote medical analogy: the website is a hospital, but a blog would be a hospital’s emergency department. Personally, I distinguish websites and blogs in the following manner: if the subject can be divided into distinct independent information categories, then you have a website. I am using the word category in its conventional meaning as a group of things that have similar qualities, although in website design terminology blogs use the terms category and tag for groups of related posts when static websites use for them menus and ubermenus terms. In my understanding, if the material is “a hodgepodge”, a jumble that is difficult to classify, it is better to go with a blog. Of course, this is a very approximate distinction.
The main difference is that a blog is more versatile by contents; it includes short remarks to immediate problems and situations. A blog is more controversial and more personal. It is the voice of the proprietor more than that of an academic lecturer. Incorporation of blogs in the World Wide Web environment opens some opportunities in the website diversity. With the arrival of WordPress and other software platforms, the line between static and dynamic websites became blurred. Now a static website can become “bloggish.”
I have clarified this terminology to come closer to the concept of the laboratory educational website composition. New developments in website design technology open opportunities to build a dynamic source of information for laboratory professionals in addition to the other more traditional forms.
Although, of course, the composition of a website definitely depends on the subject, there can be a common pattern in the design of laboratory educational websites. Keeping in mind that they are all specialized niche websites, laboratory educational websites can be divided into approximately two main website groups: general methodological and narrowly specialized. The latter, for example, can discuss only stains for histotechnology (StainsFile) or the methodology of undeminerlized bone processing (Ratliff Histology Consultants). Our “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” website that I mentioned earlier tends to be in the first group, though it has a relatively narrow concentration on a surgical pathology laboratory subject, such as grossing technology. Independent of this approximate division, it seems that the optimal composition for all laboratory educational websites would be three main components, which can be tentatively defined as the basic content, the blog, and the ancillary part (Figures 1 and 2).The basic contents can be fragmented into menu categories or other subdivisions, if any, depending on the material that they represent. Even a narrowly specialized website can be presented by using this design.
Figure 1. Diagram of the optimal laboratory educational website composition
Figure 2. The illustration of the website composition
Basic content should reflect the subject—in other words, the general content—of the website. This is the main set of preferably short articles/pages. Definitely, the basic contents should contain different aspects presented by the template in the menu and ubermenus (for example, Grossing Techniques, Equipment, Safety, etc.) Although the website’s host may offer the general idea of the menu/ubermenus, website-building professionals should handle the concrete design and experimentation with the most appropriate choice of variants. Their tailoring of the website with testing menus would provide accessibility of the contents for visitors’ easy navigation. Naturally, the importance of the informational quality of the basic contents is assumed. This part of the website traditionally is called static; however, this definition has lost its computer orthodoxy meaning because modern software platforms such as WordPress provide some dynamism in presentation. Although the basic contents of a website are the main informational body, other components, especially the blog and the ancillary part, are intrinsic sections of a viable laboratory educational website.
As already noted, the blog is the real dynamic part of a laboratory educational website. It allows the host to react to current events in laboratory life beyond the narrow subject of the website and to respond with short or sometimes longer additions to issues presented in the basic contents. If a “hot” problem is discussed in a professional community, the blog can respond with an opinion (for example CPT Technical cod 88805 on this website). As the voice of the host, a blog can facilitate conditions for discussion and eventually form a reference e group. (The latter scenario may be a dream, but it is not a full-blown fantasy.)
The ancillary part is the most fluent and perhaps controversial. Besides including the traditional presentation of the host (Meet the Site’s Host in our example), the contact addresses, and a picture (perhaps even a baby picture), this section might also include a variety of links and even advertisements. The presence of advertisements, though sometimes irrelevant to the website’s subject, might be seen as commercialization in the eyes of science purists.Compulsory advertisements, which can be suspended, are the “charge” that search engines such as Google impose on the site for providing the website with Internet visibility and, thus, sustainability. However, elective and sometimes selective advertisement of products or equipment can be a vehicle to connect different sides of the laboratory process. Despite the possibility of bias and conflict of interest, this part can be an intellectually honest dissemination of manufacturers’ messages. Their advertisements, especially when they are in accordance with the website’s topics, can combine theory, methodology, and everyday practice. They are open-access sources of information in the direct meaning of these words. For example, this website definitely endorses the advertised manufacturers (TBJ, Inc. and Milestone.)
These three components— basic contents, blog, and ancillary part—can share a dynamic relationship. The interaction of the internal links (hyperlinks) of the basic-contents pages and the blog posts is a definite advantage for laboratory educational websites. When the blog links to your website’s basic contents (and vice versa), traffic flows to both, and visibility increases. The internal links provide methodological comprehension of information without interfering with the logical presentation of the material (Figure 3.) Additionally, they add to the visibility of the site by repeating key words.
Figure 3. Interaction between website’s components.
The internal links in the basic-contents pages are the most obvious and easily accessible, whereas the interacting links between the basic contents and the blog are the most valuable. Both the basic contents and the blog can provide relevant links to the ancillary part.
Perhaps a website with these three components would be a “full service” website that is optimal for a laboratory educational website. However, other forms are completely acceptable depending on the material, the host’s interests, and circumstances of building and maintaining the website.
The laboratory educational niche website is the obligatory first step in creating a network of related sites combined in portals. The latter can be maintained, supported, and managed by a professional organization (e.g., by AAPA or NSH or ASCP, or… endless options), but that subject requires a separate discussion.
These notes have been written specifically to encourage laboratory professionals to build their own websites. In fact, laboratory educational websites are begging for their attention. Pathologists’ assistants or histotechnologists have the blend of a high theoretical background and tangible, photogenic, impressive material ready for a relatively easy display.
A professional laboratory educational website has a limited audience; it is not about cooking or music. When you take a look at the daily statistics and see that your website averages 350 views per day, you feel that your efforts are not in vain (Figures 4 and 5). Actually, most laboratory educational websites are a “labor of love.”
Figure 4. The “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” website’s daily statistic.
Almost 100,000 views during one year might be evidence that the website is of interest to a limited pool of potential visitors who return for further exploration. (Figure 5.)
Figure 5. The “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” website’s daily statistic.
The “Grossing Technology in Surgical Pathology” website’s daily statistic three years later. Decline in activity, lees visitors but for this time the number of views was almost half of a million (Figure 6,)
(Too low resolution, but WordPress doe not allow higher at this time.)