Objectives: Libraries excel at optimizing holdings metadata to appear in catalog searches. However, findability is not always prioritized when structuring library web content. By neglecting to properly structure the content found on most institutional sites, libraries miss reaching a wider audience. Does implementing search engine optimization techniques to optimize websites for Google impact health science library site visibility in search results?
Methods: The author conducted a technical audit on a sample of 25 randomly selected AHHSL library websites. Moz Keyword Explorer and Google trends were used to generate 65 target keywords for health science libraries. Wincher was used to evaluate how well each library ranked in Google for these key terms. Next, the author examined the link structure of each site using Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool. Using these tools, the author evaluated the efficacy of structuring content according to established SEO principles outlined in the Moz SEO checklist for improving library site rankings.
Results: The majority of the health library websites in the sample were not optimized according to SEO standards and had poor search engine visibility for health science topics. Those that ranked in the top 20 on search results pages met a larger percentage of the Moz checklist requirements. The highest ranking sites benefited from including well-structured XML sitemaps and original content created by librarians. Rather than providing simple lists of links and resources, successful libraries provided their own insight and analysis through subject guides and blog posts. This finding is in line with the SEO adage “content is king,” and demonstrates that libraries can improve their visibility in search engines without a high level of web development knowledge.
Conclusion: Libraries can increase the visibility of their products and services by implementing SEO standards. By creating useful content and uploading a well-structured XML sitemap to improve crawling, librarians can better demonstrate their expertise to researchers.
Clinical Informationist & Data Management Librarian
Emily is a clinical informationist at Dahlgren Memorial Library. She attends clinical rounds and provides assistance with literature searches, systematic reviews, and data management planning. She earned her Master’s Degree in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
Tuesday, May 30
3:20 PM – 3:35 PM
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