Optimizing Library Websites for Better Visibility


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Binghamton University Librarians have attempted to employ search engine optimization strategies to make their website more visible on search engine result pages. Search engine optimization is the practice of improving ranking on search engine result pages and also increasing targeted traffic to a website. The presenter will discuss the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of developing a “do it yourself” optimization strategy for library websites.

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Optimizing Library Websites for Better Visibility

  1. 1. Optimizing Library Websites for Better Visibility Erin E. Rushton erushton@binghamton.edu Binghamton University Libraries College and Research Libraries New England Chapter 2010 Spring Conference May 14 2010 Page 1
  2. 2. Acknowledgements • I would like to acknowledge the work Marcy Strong who helped develop an earlier version of this presentation and who participated in Binghamton University Libraries’ SEO Pilot Project. • I would also like to acknowledge Martha Kelehan who worked on the Pilot Project. Page 2
  3. 3. Agenda • How we became interested in optimization • Search engines and search engine optimization • SEO and the relationship to libraries • Our experiment in optimization…. • Challenges • SEO tools and resources Page 3
  4. 4. Where it began…. A trip to NYC • Conference series for webmasters, digital agencies, online marketers and corporate decision makers. • Presentations about: – designing search engine-friendly web pages – building links and their importance to rankings – building analytics package into websites and interpreting the results Page 4
  5. 5. Where it began…. Page 5
  6. 6. Search consultants and advertising agencies Page 6
  7. 7. ‘Ad Age’ Search Marketing Fact Pack Page 7 Charts from 'Ad Age' Search Marketing Fact Pack
  8. 8. Why the competition? Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skwishy/2048677231/ Page 8
  9. 9. Search is popular Pew Internet “Search Engine Use” August 6, 2008 Page 9 http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/pip_search_aug08.pdf
  10. 10. Competing for prime real estate Page 10
  11. 11. Paid Results Organic Results Page 11
  12. 12. Search Engine Optimization Activities that improve search engine visibility and increase targeted traffic to a website. Results in websites that: •are search engine (robot) friendly •are highly ranked •have successful conversions Page 12
  13. 13. How search engines work Page 13
  14. 14. Search Engine Optimization Techniques Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonpow/252312738/ Page 14
  15. 15. Disclaimer Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marciookabe/3102556540/ Page 15
  16. 16. Optimize with Keywords •Frequency of keywords •Weight of keywords •Keyword proximity Page 16
  17. 17. Optimize with keywords Understand what users are looking for and understand how they look for this information. Incorporating these words into the site Paradigm shift in how we provide access to our services and Page 17
  18. 18. Look for opportunities to use keywords Slide from “Search Engine Guide” http://www.searchengineguide.com/stoney- degeyter/seo-101-part-12-everything-you-need-to-k.php Page 18
  19. 19. Keyword prominence and location Page 19
  20. 20. metaDATA Page 20
  21. 21. Popularity • Quality and authority of incoming and out coming links (not quantity) • Number of visits AND time spent on site • Number of repeat visitors Page 21
  22. 22. Indexing of webpages Pages not indexed by spider will not appear in the search engine results Page 22
  23. 23. Why optimize the library? Image of Bartle Libraries from: http://www.hermanmiller.com/DotCom/jsp/research/caseStudiesDetail.jsp?csId=15 Page 23
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  28. 28. Are we even relevant anymore? Page 28
  29. 29. We are but…. …we need to make our services and resources more visible on the web because that is where are users are We can accomplish this through Search Engine Optimization Page 29
  30. 30. Page 30
  31. 31. Promote Library Content and Resources Special Library Guides Collections Ask a Librarian Subject Services Expertise Library Digitized Exhibits Collection Catalogues Newsletters s Databases Page 31
  32. 32. Other reasons to optimize • Better understanding of information seeking behaviours and needs • As users become independent searchers our role shifts to that of guide and educator • Good practice to have an optimized site • Knowledge gained from web analytics Page 32
  33. 33. Pilot Project Mission: Optimize selected pages on the Libraries’ web site with the goal of improving the ranking of these pages on major search engines. Pages included “Ask a Librarian” and pages related to Edwin A. Link (Special Collections) Page 33
  34. 34. Objectives • Increase: – # of successful conversions – # of referrals from search engines – # of page views – # of unique visitors – Page linkability with non-commercial sites • Achieve higher page rank than competitors • Identify problem areas with website in general Page 34
  35. 35. Phase 1: Pre-Optimization • Track web traffic and website activity • Set conversion goals • Reviewed keywords, metadata, html tags • Calculated number of indexed pages and inbound pages • Tested pages used free analyzers Page 35
  36. 36. Phase II: Optimization • Ask a Librarian link added to homepage • Added links to Wikipedia and other popular and quality websites • Title tags and html were rewritten to be more descriptive and include keywords • Broken links were repaired Page 36
  37. 37. Phase 2 (cont.) • Metadata title, description and keyword tags were added to webpages: Page 37
  38. 38. Phase 2 (cont.) • Text was rewritten when possible to include optimized keywords and phrases • Pages were validated using W3C • Alt text was added to several images • Images were resized • Robots.txt file configured for crawling • Sitemap.xml file created Page 38
  39. 39. Phase III: Post-optimization Testing and results • Some pages had increase visits after optimization • Some pages had a decrease in visits • Overall, refers from website and search engines went up • Keywords helped improve the ranking of the Special Collection pages (Edwin A. Link) • More pages indexed (pre optimization Page 39
  40. 40. Challanges • Our activity may have distorted results • Only few pages optimized • More time spent ensuring good keywords • Issues with Google Analytics Page 40
  41. 41. Next Steps Page 41
  42. 42. Continue with SEO • New website launched last year with some SEO “built in” • Produce a fully optimized Library website and to share SEO best practices with other BU departments. • Won a grant from the University which will help fund this project Page 42
  43. 43. Goals of SEO for Binghamton • Improved ROI on the millions of dollars spent annually on specialized research literature databases, journals and books. • Provide greater visibility of unique digital collections to students, faculty, the local community, alumni, prospective students and donors. • Better understand information seeking behaviours and needs of students, faculty and staff. Page 43
  44. 44. Goals • Create a Search Engine Optimization Task Force composed of library and university faculty and staff, utilizing skills in information technology, reference, instruction, public relations, marketing and web usability. • Establish baseline levels of typical web activity for the libraries’ website using Google Analytics. Page 44
  45. 45. More challenges… • Not experts • Lack of time • Measuring success Page 45
  46. 46. Websites about SEO • Delicious.com/novascotia32/seo • Search Engine Guide: The small business guide to search marketing • SEOmoz.org - http://www.seomoz.org/: serves as a hub for search marketers worldwide by providing education, tools, resources and paid services to help make every SEO the best they can be. • SEO tips index - http://www.seoconsultants.com/seo/tips/ • ClickZ - http://www.clickz.com/: News and expert advice for the digital marketer • Google Webmaster Central Blog - http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/: Official news on crawling and indexing sites for the Google index • Search engine optimization tips for libraries, from The Other Librarian - http://otherlibrarian.wordpress.com/2008/07/14/search-engine- optimization-seo-tips-for-libraries/ • Is SEO evil? http://www.slideshare.net/gleddy/is-seo-evil-web- directions-2007 Page 46
  47. 47. SEO Tools • Google AdWords - https://adwords.google.com/select/K eywordToolExternal: Keyword tool generates keyword ideas • 30 SEO Bookmarklets to Save You Time • Learn SEO in 30 Minutes a Day • 69 Free (or low cost) Tools to Improve Your Website Page 47
  48. 48. Bibliography • Beel, J., Gipp, B., & Eilde, E. (2010). Academic Search Engine Optimization (. Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 41(2), 176- 190. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.binghamton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=47198480&site=ehost-live • Black, E. L. (2009). Web Analytics: A Picture of the Academic Library Web Site User. Journal of Web Librarianship, 3(1), 3- 14. doi:10.1080/19322900802660292 • Cahill, K., & Chalut, R. (2009). Optimal Results: What Libraries Need to Know About Google and Search Engine Optimization. Reference Librarian, 50(3), 234. doi:10.1080/02763870902961969 • Griffiths, J. R., & Brophy, P. (2005). Student Searching Behavior and the Web: Use of Academic Resources and Google. Library Trends, 53(4), 539-554. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.binghamton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=16811207&site=ehost-live • Houghton-Jan, S. (2007). Twenty Steps to Marketing Your Library Online. Journal of Web Librarianship, 1(4), 89-90. doi:10.1080/19322900802111445 • Hsieh-Yee, I. (2001). Research on Web search behavior. Library & Information Science Research, 23(2), 167-185. doi:DOI: 10.1016/S0740-8188(01)00069-X • Jansen, B. J., & Spink, A. (2006). How are we searching the World Wide Web? A comparison of nine search engine transaction logs. Information Processing & Management, 42(1), 248-263. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.ipm.2004.10.007 • Kim, J. (2009). Describing and predicting information-seeking behavior on the Web. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(4), 679-693. doi:10.1002/asi.21035 • Liaw, S., & Huang, H. (2003). An investigation of user attitudes toward search engines as an information retrieval tool. Computers in Human Behavior, 19(6), 751-765. doi:DOI: 10.1016/S0747-5632(03)00009-8 • Liu, S. (2008). Engaging Users: The Future of Academic Library Web Sites. College & Research Libraries, 69(1), 6-27. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.binghamton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=28789040&site=ehost-live • Malaga, R. A. (2009). Web 2.0 Techniques for Search Engine Optimization: Two Case Studies. Review of Business Research, 9(1), 132-139. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.binghamton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=44231928&site=ehost-live • Riley-Huff, D. A. (2009). Web Services As Public Services: Are We Supporting Our Busiest Service Point? The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(1), 65-74. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2008.10.004 Page 48
  49. 49. Bibliography cont… • Rushton, E. E., Kelehan, M. D., & Strong, M. A. (2008). Searching for a New Way to Reach Patrons: A Search Engine Optimization Pilot Project at Binghamton University Libraries. Journal of Web Librarianship, 2(4), 525-547. doi:10.1080/19322900802484248 • Smith, J. A., & Nelson, M. L. (2008). Site Design Impact on Robots. D-Lib Magazine, 14(3/4), 1082-9873. • Sorensen, C., & Dahl, C. (2008). Google in the Research and Teaching of Instruction Librarians. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(6), 482-488. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2008.09.015 • Sweeny, M. (2007). Information Architecture and Search Optimization: Beginning a Beautiful Friendship. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 34(1), 36- 38. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.binghamton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=2874 2079&site=ehost-live • Watry, M. (2006). Increasing awareness and access to special collections and archives at the University of Liverpool. SCONUL Focus, (38), 93-94. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.binghamton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=235932 29&site=ehost-live • Welch, J. M. (2005). The Electronic Welcome Mat: The Academic Library Web Site as a Marketing and Public Relations Tool. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31(3), 225-228. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.binghamton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=173198 78&site=ehost-live • Whang, M. (2007). Measuring the Success of the Academic Library Website Using Banner Advertisements and Web Conversion Rates: A Case Study. Journal of Web Librarianship, 1(1), 93. doi:10.1300/J502v01n01• 07 • Zhang, J., & Dimitroff, A. (2005). The impact of webpage content characteristics on webpage visibility in search engine results (Part I). Information Processing & Management, 41(3), 665- 690. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.ipm.2003.12.001 Page 49