Re: Search Engine Optimization, Google’s Algorithm, and Library Selection

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 01/11/2011 13:33, Dave Caroline wrote:

To me Google is the solution, I have a private holding but publish the catalogue, without google I would get no email requests, proper SEO is about sensible data on ones web page rather than understanding Googles algorithms.
I use the webmaster tools they provide and I do notice a steady rise with occasional jumps when either I do something or Google changes its algorithm.

Thinking that the librarian is some how the answer misses the most important points,
why should the user come to you,
how does the user find you have the content,
who is the internet’s librarian (possibly the +1 button on websites will make us ALL the internet librarian)
if your collection is not catalogued (box of letters is is a terrible description/title) and published how do you expect to get users at all.

It is the article and Google itself that are questioning the usefulness of the traditional Google algorithm, and this is based on companies utilizing SEO. The purpose of a company on the web is to drive as much web traffic to their pages as possible, but this is not the searcher’s purpose. The searchers want to see resources that are as closely aligned to their searches as possible. These are different ideas and purposes. I can’t blame websites for trying to get as much traffic as possible, using whatever tools they can because they are all about revenue. But from the searcher’s viewpoint, I don’t want to see a bunch of junk, such as the pages in the eHow site from Demand Media, as discussed in the article from Tech Republic.

Library selection is designed to avoid the waste of time for the searchers by hiring experts to pre-select useful and reliable resources. The entire process is open with Collection Development policies and so on. Library selection certainly has its own problems, but in any case its underlying purposes are totally different from sites such as Google.

You ask some great practical questions, e.g. why should the user come to us in the first place? Libraries should have been dealing with these issues from a long time back, but unfortunately, it seems to me as if they have continued to concentrate on printed resources. I understand why, since they are already dealing with overwhelming numbers of materials and adding on more seems impossible. Libraries already have catalogs online and these should be revamped to become more useful for all kinds of people. Still, I think librarians offer services that are found nowhere else and these could be leveraged somehow. One part of that is selection, although it would have to be adapted to web-scale.

The problem with everyone becoming the “internet librarian” is spam. For instance, click spam, where people are hired into sweatshops to click on ads all day(! Called Click Fraud in Wikipedia can lead to huge profits. I do not see why trusting the +1 button would be any different.

My own opinion is that we are still at the very beginning of the internet and web and it is very difficult to see what will happen. Some things that seem absolutely impossible today will be enacted–somehow. This is just like at the very beginnings of printing, nobody foresaw the changes that would happen in the future: either the incredible societal changes that took place, or the huge number of people employed in all the various aspects of bibliography: from authors to editors to publishers to printers to distributors to libraries and bookstores, plus all of the spinoffs: increased paper making, transportation, storage and on and on. It is practically impossible to predict what will happen in the future of the web.