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March 2013 Newsletter
 
 
Vassar College Digital Newspaper Archives Sees Big Increase in Daily Site Visits
In May 2012 we published an article on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in an effort to help libraries understand how optimizing their digital collections can help Google and other major search engines find and deliver the rich content housed in the collections.  In the article titled Hi Google, let me introduce my digital library, we discussed how Google relies on site maps, a Robots.txt file, and descriptive page titles and heading tags to present the most relevant content for indexing. Digital collections are unlike other websites in that they comprise massive amounts of content on wide-ranging and disparate topics.  As we pointed out in the article this is an important difference to recognize because proper indexing is the only way to ensure that the content can be discovered by search engine crawlers.

Joanna DiPasquale, Digital Project Librarian at Vassar College, has been in charge of the Vassar College Digital Newspaper Archives project since 2011.  In her work with the collection she noticed that Google and other search engines were not discovering the site.  Joanna did some initial investigations and working with the team at DL Consulting determined that the site was not optimized for Google Indexing.  Within a few days the DL Consulting team enhanced the site for indexing through a Veridian software upgrade.  The results were impressive.

  3 months prior to indexing enhancements (source: Google Analytics) 3 months after indexing enhancements (source: Google Analytics)
Total Visits 447 (about 5 per day) 12,552 (about 140 per day)
Unique Visitors 250 10,610
Number originated from Google searches 65 of the 447 total visits 9,813 of the 12,552 total visits
 
With over 54,000 pages of rich content, the Vassar College Digital Newspaper Archives posed a significant challenge for the “Googlebot” crawler prior to indexing enhancements.  There was simply too much data to get through without the proper technical parameters in place.  Adding a site map and a Robots.txt file has the effect of directing the crawler through the content pages and preventing it from getting lost in pages with information that would be irrelevant in search queries.  As the crawler passes through the content pages it indexes the metadata which now informs Google search results, matching queries directly to the content within the collection. 

If you are interested in optimizing your collection for Google Indexing, please let us know.  We will be happy to include this as part of your next Veridian software upgrade.  <Contact Us>

Sources
Webmaster Tools:  Google Basics, Google 101:  How Google crawls, indexes, and serves the web (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=70897), October 17, 2012, Accessed: February 28, 2013


 
 
 
So You Have a Digital Newspaper Library…Now What?
There are many reasons institutions choose to digitize and display historical newspaper collections online but if you ask a collection owner to state the top two reasons, 9 times out of 10 you will hear these two words:  preservation and access.  The preservation goal is achieved through the digitization, OCR, and the text conversion process.  Once the physical pages are scanned and the images are converted to text, the content is safe from the ravages of temperature change, humidity, and wear over time.  Accessibility is accomplished in part by displaying this digitized text through software such as Veridian.  But how do you know if anyone is finding and using your digital library? 

The first step in improving accessibility could be the Google Indexing enhancements discussed in the previous article.  Beyond finding your collection we think greater accessibility comes down to patron engagement.  How much do you know about who is using your site and why?  If your answer is “Not much”, or “Very little” you may want to consider posting a short survey on your site to find out who is visiting your site, how they found you, and why they are there.  Once you know a bit about your patrons you can encourage them to keep using your site by featuring relevant content from your collection on the home page, for example.

You may also want to consider crowdsourcing activities such as User Text Correction, if you haven’t already done so.  User Text Correction is mutually beneficial to the collection itself and to the patrons who engage in the activity.  The quality of the collection is continually improved through the text correction work of those who register.  The patrons gain a sense of satisfaction that they are helping to improve a collection of historical papers they find meaningful and, possibly even more motivating, they can see their user names published on the text correction leader board on the home page of the collection.  These benefits might seem obvious, so it seems important to point out that as a collection owner you can also communicate with these registered users.  By talking to your patrons you might gain some insight on how to feature or promote the collection to others and you might even be able to encourage these advanced users to share their experiences with others through email or social media channels.

Did you know there is a Comments feature in Veridian?  Adding Comments to your Veridian collection could be another step toward greater accessibility and patron engagement.  With this feature users can attach comments to pages or articles.  Comments can be used as a method for registered users to communicate with the site administrator and with other patrons, cultivating a virtual community of users. They also empower users to enrich the collection by contributing their own knowledge.

If you would like to know more about User Text Correction, Comments, or marketing your collection, please contact us.
 
 
 
Behind the Scenes at DL Consulting
In this fast-paced, digital age, we are only too familiar with the mantra “climb aboard or get left behind.” So, we have been very busy in the last few months, improving our online presence.  Check out the new website at www.VeridianSoftware.com where you will find the latest product information, User Text Correction examples, and a new FAQ.  We are also participating in group discussions on www.LinkedIn.com. You can find us through your LinkedIn page under companies.  Search for DL Consulting. We’ll see you there.
 
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