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Optimising metadata to make high-value content more accessible to Google users

Dawson, Alan and Hamilton, Val (2006) Optimising metadata to make high-value content more accessible to Google users. Journal of Documentation, 62 (3). pp. 307-327. ISSN 0022-0418

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Abstract

Purpose: This paper shows how information in digital collections that have been catalogued using high-quality metadata can be retrieved more easily by users of search engines such as Google. Methodology/approach: The research and proposals described arose from an investigation into the observed phenomenon that pages from the Glasgow Digital Library (gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk) were regularly appearing near the top of Google search results shortly after publication, without any deliberate effort to achieve this. The reasons for this phenomenon are now well understood and are described in the second part of the paper. The first part provides context with a review of the impact of Google and a summary of recent initiatives by commercial publishers to make their content more visible to search engines. Findings/practical implications: The literature research provides firm evidence of a trend amongst publishers to ensure that their online content is indexed by Google, in recognition of its popularity with Internet users. The practical research demonstrates how search engine accessibility can be compatible with use of established collection management principles and high-quality metadata. Originality/value: The concept of data shoogling is introduced, involving some simple techniques for metadata optimisation. Details of its practical application are given, to illustrate how those working in academic, cultural and public-sector organisations could make their digital collections more easily accessible via search engines, without compromising any existing standards and practices.