Search Engine Optimization for the Research Librarian: A Case Study Using the Bibliography of U.S. Latina Lesbian History and Culture * WINNER OF THE 2015 PRACTICAL ACADEMIC LIBRARIANSHIP AWARD *


  • Melissa Gasparotto


Search engine optimization, SEO, research dissemination, Google, webcrawlers, search engine algorithms, sexuality studies, Latino studies, lesbian studies





Higher website rank among search engine results is correlated with higher site visit numbers: studies have repeatedly demonstrated how important it is to a site’s visibility and popularity to appear in the first page of search results for a given query. Librarians and researchers, long seen as creators and providers of high-quality content, now see our own web-based materials in direct competition for the higher-ranked slots for many keyword searches. For certain areas of research, sexuality studies in particular, websites with relevant informational or scholarly content have been nudged out of the top rankings by content that is not only unrelated to a variety of search term combinations, but quite often consists of explicit pornography, and nowhere is this more obvious than in ethnic lesbian studies. It is therefore necessary for scholars and librarians who put ethnic lesbian sexuality studies content on the web to assign high quality metadata and to format their content appropriately in order to receive a visible rank in search engine results for these sexuality studies research keywords. This case study investigates how librarians and other researchers can prepare online bibliographies to take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and therefore see enhanced visibility for these resources in search engine results, using the author’s Bibliography of U.S. Latina Lesbian History and Culture as an example. Search engine optimization techniques were applied to the bibliography and significant improvements in site visibility in Google searches for targeted keywords were observed. The author recommends that all librarians who prepare content for the web learn about search engine optimization and take it into account when preparing material for the web.


Author Biography

Melissa Gasparotto

Area Studies Librarian (Librarian III)

Archibald S. Alexander Library

Rutgers University Libraries

New Brunswick, NJ