How can I optimize my libguides for search engines?
LibGuides was built with discoverability in mind, and many of our libraries are pleasantly surprised by the high hit counts that their guides generate. All of our clients benefit from a very high Google ranking for the content created in LibGuides (especially those on custom institution domains). We apply several SEO (search engine optimization) techniques behind the scenes, so even without doing any additional optimizations yourself, you should be pleasantly surprised by your institution's discoverability by search engines like Google.
That said, there are always things you can do to ensure your ranking remains high. Most of the items listed below fall under the category of "good web design" - in no particular order, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your LibGuides Domain Matters - institutions using a domain for their guides that ends in .edu, .gov, .us, etc. do benefit from search indexer's preference for content on these domains
- Content, as they say, is king - well written, targeted (but not too wordy!) text that contains important keywords is one of the best ways to ensure a high ranking. Keep in mind, search engines can't read images!
- BUT, connections also matter - particularly connections (links, widgets, etc.) *to* your guides *from* other index-able websites (like your library homepage, blog, campus/city/state websites, etc.)
- Great page titles & descriptions count - giving your pages meaningful, relevant names will net you a great return in search ranking
- Page load times count too - One way folks inadvertently lower their page ranking is by using L-A-R-G-E images, which tend to slow down page load times. To avoid this, it's best to use the .jpeg or .gif image format, and aim for files that are smaller than 100kb in size
- Follow Accessibility principles, particularly the ALT Tag for images - There are many users who surf the web with the graphics turned off. Placing ALT tags in your images allows those folks to see descriptions of your images, and are another opportunity to include a relevant keyword or two.
- Repair broken links - many search engines won't list your site if it contains broken links, so it's a good idea to check the Link Checker (in your system settings) occasionally to make sure all your links are live
- Your most relevant content belongs at the top of the page - search crawlers (like web users!) don't always read the content toward the bottom of your webpages. Keep the good stuff at the top.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have more suggestions please add them to the comments!