Saturday, November 04, 2006

Web Presence for Internet Librarians

I am catching up with my notes from Internet Librarian 2006.

Thurow of Grantastic Designs Inc., who is an Internet marketing consultant and is now attending the University of Illinois Library School, spoke about how to design library websites to maximize search engine hits. She emphasized that she is not an evil marketing consulting that preaches high repletion of hot words to trick the search engines. She said the goal is NOT to get a high ranking on Google, though that will come on its own with good design. The goal is to design a user-friendly website to which library users will return.

Thurow’s five rules of basic web design are:

  • Make the website easy to read.
  • Make it easy to navigate.
  • Make it easy to find.
  • Have a consistent layout and design.
  • Make it quick to download.

She elaborated on the easy to find maxim:

  • Search engines and web directories should find the site easily.
  • Users should be able to go directly to relevant pages.
  • People should be able to see they will get their information, even if a couple of clicks away.
  • All the questions should be “above the fold” in an FAQ page.
  • All web pages should have contact information.

Thurow had several practical suggestions to increase search engine findability:

  • HTML title tags should include keywords.
  • Every page should have the “breadcrumb trail.” (“Reference services-Study Guides – Business” is an example.)
  • Page headings should be text and not text-in-images because the search engines can not read the images.
  • Pages should have introductory paragraphs with keywords.
  • If pages are long, they should have closing paragraphs with keywords.
  • Text links rank higher than image links in search engine algorithms.

Thurow said that contact information should be on every page because many Internet searchers use geographic place names in searches. Many web designers leave these out.

The speaker summed up saying that user-friendly design is the most critical factor. If the site is user-friendly, users will return. Since search engines all measure popularity and use it in rankings, the popular site will be the findable site.


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