IL2006: Keynote – Web Presence for Internet Librarians

Shari Thurow

Webmaster/Marketing Director

Grantastic Designs


“I. Love. Librarians.  When I was a kid and in trouble, they punished me by taking away my library card.”

There are a lot of evil search engine marketers and I’m not one of them.  I choose to work with the search engines. 

What is a search-engine friendly website, or a search-friendly website?  Once you have a foundation it’s really easy to maintain a web presence.

Why should you care about the search engines?  Because people search.  Search means berry-picking.  All of them think they know how to search.  Why do people search?  Researching topics, getting directions and maps, looking for news, shopping, etc.

Search engine friendly design is NOT a design created primarily for getting a number one position in Google.  It is a user-friendly website that can easily be found on both the crawler based and human based search engines (web directories.)  Design code for your primary audience.  However, the number 1 was people find information on the web is through search engines.

How you place words and graphic images communicates the content that you feel is most important. 

5 basic rules of web design:

  1. easy to read
  2. easy to navigate.  Sense of place.  Scent of information. If people get lost, they should be able to get to the home page easily.
  3. easy to find.
  4. consistent in layout and design.  White space.  Navigational elements.  Fonts, typefaces, and color.  Communicates trust, reliability.
  5. quick to download.  General rule is should download in 30 seconds or less on a 56K modem.

What is easy to find?  On search engines, web directories, and industry-related sites.  Go directly to the relevant page.  Within 7-8 clicks, preferable less as long as  they believe they’re making progress.  Most important information should be above the fold.  Contact information. 

FAQs page – put the questions at the top of the page.  Also has keyword density.  Advantage is that information is at the top of the page.

Search engines do three things: index text, follow links, and measure popularity.  All crawlers do the first two.  If you do not place text on your web pages and create a site navigation scheme that crawlers can follow, your library site will not rank well in the search engines.  Search engines don’t do well with AJAX and flash.

Do your web pages:

         contain words and phrases that match what your target audience types into search queries?

         Provide easy access to keyword-focused text, with site navigation and URL structure that the search engine spiders can easily follow?

Successful optimization depends on:

         text component (index text)

         link component (follow links)

         popularity componenr

What kind of text?

         the words your target audience is typing into search engines – keywords or query words

         when visitors view a web page, does the content appear to be focused?

o       Every web page should have a unique title tag

o       Breadcrumb link’

o       Headings

o       Introductory paragraph

o       Calls-to-action

o       Conclusion paragraph

o       Graphic images

Whenever you create the title tag, use hyphens and not underscores. 

Breadcrumb links are very search engine friendly.

Search engines don’t read the text inside graphic images anymore.

Text component

Primary text vs. secondary text.

Primary – title tags, visible <body>copy, text at the top of a web page, in and around hypertext links.  If you want to know what the search engines are seeing, copy and paste into notepad – that’s the text the search engines are seeing.

Use words that people type into search queries.  Make sure yourmost important keywords in titles, visible body text, anchor text, meta tags, and alternative text.  Remember to focus most of your efforts on primary text.

Link Component

Site navigation, cross-linking, typw of web page, page layout, URL structure


         text links (most friendly)

         navigation buttons

         image maps

         menus (form and DHTML)  Search engines do not fill out forms.

         flash (least search-engine friendly)

Always have two forms of navigation on our web site: one for your target audience and one for the search engines.  They often complement each other.

Types of text links:

         navigation links

         contextual links – breadcrumb links

         embedded links – very search-engine friendly.  MPABS – most people are basically stupid.  You have to tell people what to do.  Get people to the information they’re looking for.  Search engines love embedded text links.

         site map – you should have, but don’t make it a collection of link.  Write an introductory paragraph; add city, state, country.

Informational pages:

         contains info your target audience is interested in

         do not contain a lot of sales hype or industry jargon, but info in the user’s language

         are spider-friendly pages

         match the rest of your web site

         always reside on your web server

         end user and search engines see the same page

Bottom of page – great place for related links

To get keyword phrases – keep asking “what kind of?” 

Cross-linking:  in addition to a spider-friendly navigation scheme and a site map, all sites should have related, relevant text links

Incredibly fast-paced presentation with a wealth of information.  As soon as I find her presentation, I’ll link to it.  Really great information and tips.


1 Comment

Filed under IL2006

One response to “IL2006: Keynote – Web Presence for Internet Librarians

  1. Thank you for your strong information that confirms what I’ve been learning and consolidating since 1997 about search engines and how to ‘stay in their good algos’ while being readable and navigable for human searchers. Thanks.

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