Effective application of metadata in South African HEI websites to enhance visibility to search engines.

Weideman, M.

Proceedings of the 4th Annual Conference on World Wide Web Applications. 4-6 September. Cape Town, South Africa.

Weideman, M. 2002. Effective application of metadata in South African HEI websites to enhance visibility to search engines. Proceedings of the 4th Annual Conference on World Wide Web Applications. 4-6 September. Cape Town, South Africa. Online: www.zaw3.co.za

ABSTRACT
It has been proven that, in general, it is difficult to find relevant information on the Internet. Many programs exist to assist the user in this process, but users have trouble in using them effectively, and in interpreting their results correctly. A variety of metadata systems exist, which could enhance the electronic visibility of any website. These include HTML metatags and the Dublin Core standard. Some search engines recognize metadata in webpage coding, and use it to properly categorize the webpage in its index. This should produce high quality answers when a user does a search. It was assumed that the websites of South African higher education institutes are considered important enough to warrant maximal exposure. An empirical experiment was done to determine the degree of effective usage of metadata systems on these websites. Three of the 36 websites could not be accessed after repeated attempts. None of the remaining 33 made any use of the Dublin Core standard in any way. In terms of the use of standard HTML metatags: 1 (3%) used no metatags at all, 19 (58%) used only the basic "TITLE" metatag, 4 (12%) made basic use of the relevant metatags while the remaining 9 (27%) made reasonable use of the relevant metatags. It is clear that electronic visibility has been neglected during the design of most of these websites.
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