Increasing libraries' content findability on the web with search engine optimization

Daniel Onaifo, Diane Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The aim of this paper is to examine the phenomenon of search engine optimization (SEO) as a mechanism for improving libraries' digital content findability on the web. Design/methodology/approach – The study applies web analytical tools, such as, in the collection of data about Canadian libraries' visibility performance in the ranking of search engine results. Concepts from the Integrated IS&R Research Framework are applied to analyze SEO as an element within the Framework. Findings – The results show that certain websites' characteristics do have an effect on how well libraries' websites are ranked by search engines. Notably, the reputation of a library's website and the number of its search engine indexed webpages increase its ranking on SERPs as well as the findability of its digital content. Originality/value – Most of the existing works on SEO have been confined to popular literature, outside of scholarly academic research in library and information science. Only few studies with a focus on libraries' application of SEO exist. No known study has applied an empirical approach to the examination of relevant libraries' website characteristics to determine their visibility performance on search engine result pages (SERPs). This study identified several website characteristics that can be optimized for higher SERP rankings. It also analyzed the impact of external links, as well as that of the number of indexed webpages by search engines on higher SERP rankings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-108
Number of pages22
JournalLibrary Hi Tech
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • academic libraries
  • Canada
  • content findability
  • information retrieval
  • information seeking
  • public libraries
  • search engine optimization
  • social media optimization


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