By Kenning Arlitsch
Kenning Arlitsch, dean of the library at Montana State University, coauthored this blog with Patrick O’Brien, semantic web research director at Montana State University.
A new toolkit that helps libraries measure and monitor the search engine optimization (SEO) performance of their digital repositories is one of the products of research funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.* The Getting Found (GF) Cookbook includes everything necessary to implement a preconfigured Google Analytics dashboard that continuously monitors SEO performance metrics relevant to digital repositories. The GF Cookbook is freely available at https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub165.
Web analytics are useful tools that can help administrators and staff demonstrate the value of library services to external stakeholders as well as make informed decisions about internal resource allocations. The GF Cookbook guides the correct implementation of web analytics tools for accurate overview and long-term monitoring of digital repository performance.
Google Analytics (GA) and Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) are powerful and freely available software tools that are most commonly used by libraries in the United States. While the GF Cookbook has been created for use with GA, the principles and practices used in the Cookbook can be applied to any page tagging analytics software.
The GF Cookbook offers a process and tools designed for a single person who is responsible for establishing and maintaining GA for their library organization. This includes a survey to inventory and coordinate hardware systems, online services such as institutional social media accounts, and web properties including digital repositories or collections. It also helps identify stakeholders as well as the roles people play and the skills required to implement and maintain a library SEO effort.
Based on Google Analytics, the preconfigured dashboard allows library staff and administrators to monitor common baseline performance metrics relevant to library repositories. The dashboard is hosted in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery where it is titled “Getting Found SEO Dashboard.”
It empowers administrators to ask pertinent questions when changes are observed. For instance, a sudden drop in the number of items indexed by Google in a given collection could prompt an administrator to question the appropriate manager or staff person responsible for that collection.
The GF Cookbook provides a series of basic video tutorials to integrate the necessary analytics for consistent evaluation and monitoring of library objectives. The videos describe the steps and information necessary to implement baseline SEO metrics relevant to library administrators and collection managers.
The first video describes the reasons for an institutionalized SEO program and provides graphic data demonstrating the authors’ achievements in improving use of digital libraries.
Integrating SEO into the library strategic plan is discussed in this second video, as well as the reasons for failure or ineffectiveness of many SEO programs.
This video begins the planning process for inventorying existing web properties. It describes the roles of various stakeholders in the organization and their roles in an SEO program.
Part of the difficulty in establishing a comprehensive and integrated SEO program is that various people in the organization tend to manage different accounts. This video demonstrates the process for establishing a single master account to maintain organizational continuity and to administer all Google Web Service accounts owned by the library organization.
The final video describes how to install the preconfigured Getting Found Google Analytics dashboard and its features.
The Getting Found Cookbook is designed to help libraries implement web analytics tools so that they may monitor and measure the effectiveness of their SEO programs. In a time when Internet search engines have become the default discovery layer for the vast majority of users, it is crucial that libraries are able to report that their websites and digital repositories are discoverable through those search engines as well. Assessment begins with accurate baseline measurements and the ability to track performance and react to changes. The GF Cookbook will help empower libraries to tell stories with the support of data.
* The “Getting Found: Search Engine Optimization for Digital Repositories” grant came to a close in late 2014