Posting to Autocat

On 12/01/2015 16.43, Dan Scott wrote:

As a demonstration, a search for “heart of darkness laurentian” in Google turns up two of the top three hits in our Evergreen catalogue. (I ran this through a network proxy in a different country using a clean Firefox profile to try to ensure no tracking cookies or personalization, but can’t guarantee that something isn’t getting through.) In any case, adding “laurentian” to the keywords is a stand-in for the kind of relevancy boost that search engines could give to results based on context, personalization, location, etc, if there’s enough critical mass to make it worth their while.

Again, I want to repeat that I am all for adding our records to the Googles, Yahoos, and whatever else there may be out there, but when we put our records in modern search engines, it is important to understand that we will be entering waters we have never experienced before. Catalogers (and other librarians) have been used to adding records to the catalog and pretty much forgetting them–other than updating an occasional heading–and for “findability,” they put the onus on traditional practices and the proviso that any users should be trained.

This is completely different in the search engines where you absolutely must continue to nurture the links to make sure that the items you want will come to the top of the search results. And to do so at the same time as others are trying to get their books (and anything else) to come to the top (SEO). It’s like a titanic game of “King of the Mountain” where some players follow no rules at all. This game is not quite as terrible as “Game of Thrones” but it’s similar! For instance, if an SEO manager for a book store would discover that there are lots and lots and lots of people adding “laurentian” to their searches, I guarantee he/she would try to “get those eyeballs” to come to the book store site. It’s not that anyone is being bad–it is the purpose of the job. These people can be incredibly clever and can justify almost anything. (I think it is a fascinating development since there are not really any “laws” governing any of it. Right now, the enforcement comes from the Googles who will downgrade sites for behavior they have deemed to be “bad”. For those who are interested and want more on this, search for “black hat SEO” or “SEO dirty tricks”. There’s a lot)

Of course, you don’t have to play this game, but then you lose and your sites just get lower and lower in the results. So, getting the records into the Googles is not the end and will demand a huge effort in caring and nurturing if they are to be findable–and stay findable.