Vilify them as you might, search engines drive traffic. Time and again, I read how most users locate information by search. In fact, they frequently search for a trusted site rather than typing in its URL or bookmarking it. Search has become the gateway to information for the vast majority of digital content consumers. Even within organizations, where information professionals carefully amass vetted (and pricy) collections of the finest works, they often find their users out trolling the open web to find what they want, then coming to them with a request to purchase access if that must-have piece of info is fee-based.
So if you can’t be searched, you can’t be found. The very finest content in all the land will not find its way to a perfect union with an eligible content user if it sits idling away behind castle walls.
This is more than a theory. Today, I learned that Life-sciences publisher CABI and Semantico, a provider of services and technology for online publishing, announced the completion of a project to open a large number of CAB Direct’s life sciences abstracts to the Google search engine. The immediate effect has been to more than double the usage of the CAB Direct platform.
Google can now fully search and index the abstracts, making them findable for millions more readers. The platform recognizes when a user has accessed the site via Google and will allow them to view a defined amount of content for free before prompting them to log in, if their institution already has a subscription to the site, or suggesting that they register as an individual user for access to the full content.
Andrea Powell, Executive Director, Publishing, CABI said that “Usage levels on CAB Direct have already more than doubled, and we expect that we will shortly see an increase in subscriptions.” Playing well with search has attracted the attention of new customers and also increased usage by existing ones.
Sure, every publisher (and info pro) who invests in the creation and curation of great content wants to believe that the masses will beat a path to their door, and only enter there-lest they be denied the glory of what lies locked within. But the road to content commerce is in large part travelled by search and building models based on this reality—not digital revisionist fairy tales.