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Beta Content Test: Search Optimization


In addition to the LibGuides homepage, users may also search for guides in Primo where matches will show up in either the resource recommender or in the results list as a resource type of "LibGuide."

It is important to understand how giving your guide the right Title, Description, and Tags can help your guide surface during a search.

Note that only the LibGuides search on the LibGuides homepage will conduct a full content search.

Each search platform and the metadata it uses are described below:

LibGuides Search:

  • Guide Suggestions: Title, description, tags, and subject names
  • Librarian Suggestions: Name, subject names
  • Database Suggestions: Name, description, subject names
  • Full Search: Title, description, tags, page content

LibGuides Homepage: Tab Filters

  • Subject Tab: Name of subject
  • Other Tabs: Title, description, tag, subject names


  • Resource Recommender: Title, description, and tags filtered by course number (LIBX201 or LIBX 201).
  • Search Results: Title, description, metadata

Library Help in Canvas and any future linking to courses:

  • Tags with the course number (LIBX201)

Tips for Optimization

To receive the optimal search-ability, be sure you fill out the Title, Description, and Tags. Also make sure your guide is assigned to applicable subjects. Put in as many keywords as possible without overloading, making it hard to read, or seem unnatural. Titles and Descriptions MUST remain human-readable.

Avoid keyword stuffing. Beware of over-optimization! You do not want your guide to show up in searches that are not relevant. We are not trying to make a profit and beat out competitors. Don't let your guide overpower other, more relevant, guides in search.

As you write, use different variations of keywords. Though overly broad, I'll use the keyword "library" as an example. A search for "library" will not turn up any guides that only use the keyword "libraries" as our platforms are very literal. (It would in Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, but not in most of the platforms we have available.)

Note how the following text varies its use of certain keywords:

ECON101: Economy of Tea - Sally Thomas

Resources to explore the economic effects of butterflies on tea production half-way across the world. What is the economical impact of a butterfly?

Guide Title

Course Guides

We asked St. Thomas students and they said they were more likely to do a keyword search for course number and instructor. (Some said course title but admitted they didn't know the exact title).

Therefore, it is recommended that course guides contain the department code/course number, name of the course, and instructor.

  • Course number should go first in all caps, no spaces (ECON101). This helps when sorting in a Course Guide listing as the departments will be grouped together. If the page is for a department then you can use the department code (ECON).
  • Course title should go second
  • Course instructor (at least last name) should go last
  • If you wanted to add any additional clarifying information you can (probably in parenthesis)

While you can use whatever format you wish (separation by colon, hyphen, and parenthesis), the recommended practice to make it computer and human readable is:

ECON101: The Economy of Tea - Sally Thomas (DFC)

All Other Guides

Use standard SEO for titles. For example, load important keywords first.

Instead of "Guide on Systemic Racism" title it "Systemic Racism"

Guide Description

It is okay to repeat some of the information found in the title, however if you need to keep things short note that typically the title AND description are both used together to determine keyword matches. So, the description is your chance to add more information.

As in the previous example, keep it short, utilize variations of the same keyword. If it is not a course guide then try to think of different keywords people may use to search. For example: Genealogy, ancestry, family tree, census. Feel free to pose questions in the text.

Looking to discover your ancestors and piece together your family tree? Learn how to conduct research and access recommended genealogy and ancestry databases.

Guide Tags

Tags are a delicate balancing act. You don't need to repeat what you put in the title and description, but you also want to make sure the tag based searches pick up. However, most search platforms that are solely looking at tags (i.e. Library Help in Canvas ) are filtering out anything that is not a course number.

So, the recommended practice is to let the title and the description do the talking. If you need to add additional variations of a keyword that wouldn't otherwise feel natural in the title and description (e.g. "ancestor" "ancestry") then put them in tags.

However, most tags are actually for the benefit of our integrated systems (Library Help) and are looked at as CODES. Library Help can only scan tags, not titles or descriptions for the Course Number, therefore it is imperative that you tag guides with the relevant course codes. (LIBX201, THEO500)


Unfortunately in LibGuides, Subjects have very little metadata associated with them, in fact, they only have what is present in their title.

While "Theology and Religion" covers two keywords, it is unable to come to the surface for searches specific to a religion such as "Judaism," "Christianity," "Hinduism," or "Islam."

However, in future development we could enhance Subject metadata by utilizing Guide Titles that fall under it. Therefore it is again important to name guides descriptively for future expansion.

Your Librarian

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Chad Kluck
O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library | LIB 207