Thursday, 16 April 2009

PageRank and Repositories

I commented before on the big impact of Google on repositories, and the way that overwhelms all other form of access to repository contents. Today I've had a look at the log files for our EPrints server to find all the web requests referred by Google (for any kind of page - abstract or full text or collection list). As a result of a conversation with someone on the topic of search, I wanted to check the "tenacity" of the Google enquirers. Since before the advent of the Web it's been common knowledge in the Hypertext research community that people tend not to scroll and click more than they have to when navigating an information system.

It would be nice to think that repository users (whoever they are) carefully looked through all the relevant and useful results returned by Google; but practical considerations mean that their investigations are more limited. In fact, 78% of our Google referrals came from the FIRST results page of a Google query.

This means that it is really important to make sure that your repository pages get a good PageRank - there are only ten opportunities for your content to appear in front of most Google users. If your paper happens to fall in at position 11 you have a much reduced chance of being found.

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