Frequently Asked Questions

On this page, you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Libre Online Promotional Suite. Click or tap a question to see its answer. You can also quickly navigate to individual sections by clicking the links below. If you have a question that isn't addressed here, contact us.

Libre Search FAQs

+ What does Google like about these pages?

There are over 200 ranking factors in the Google algorithm, and we work to appeal to all of them. That said, most of search engine optimization is about 4 key principles: structure, linking, content, and engagement. Libre Search is designed with these principles in mind.

Structure: One page for the same title in all U.S. public libraries. Linking: Tools and campaigns for authors and bloggers to link to library materials. Content: Fresh, original, and authoritative content created by librarians. Engagement: Libre is fast, attractive, and intuitive on desktop and mobile.

+ How is this different from linked data?

While linked data pages are visible to search results, they do not meet Google’s best practices for search engine optimization. Here are a few issues, in brief:

Structure: Google rewards original sites and penalizes copycats. By creating a new page for the same resource at each library, linked data makes all libraries after the first look like copycats. Linking: Google expects authoritative resources to have significantly more inbound links (people linking to them from other sites) than internal links (pages pointing to other pages on the same site). With linked data, it’s the opposite. Content: Google rewards content that is regularly updated, unique to a certain site, and deep. Linked data is a one-time conversion of a MARC record, which is too “thin” to appeal to Google. Engagement: Google rewards sites that use the same terms as the searcher. Linked data uses the language of FRBR, like “works,” “instances,” and “items” which confuses users and doesn’t match the way they search for books.

+ How much of my collection does this cover?

Libre Search currently promotes books, ebooks, and audiobooks. You can use Libre Ads to promote other resources in Google results including programs, services, and databases. We plan to add other types of physical and digital resources over time. If you have a particular priority, contact us to see where it is on the roadmap.

+ Where do these pages “live” online?

The strength of Libre in search results is that there is just one page for the same title in all libraries: for example, readlibre.com/book/thegreatgatsby. These pages are always hosted on readlibre.com.

+ If it’s just one page for all libraries, how do you know which library is the right one for a particular visitor?

When a new user visits Libre Search, the system matches their IP address to our database of library service areas and displays the local library’s information. If that fails, it asks the user: “Is Example Public Library your library?” On future visits, that library will be assigned automatically; however, users can manually change their library at any time.

+ Can we customize the appearance of Libre Search to match the library’s branding?

Yes! We’ll work with you to incorporate your library’s logo and colors.

+ How does Libre ensure data privacy?

Libre Search integrates with your current systems for authentication and fulfillment. We never handle patron usernames, passwords, card numbers, or holds, so there’s no personally identifiable information stored on our servers.

+ What exactly is “ongoing SEO”?

Improving your rank in search results requires a continuous process of adding new content, improving the site structure, and building links from other sites. Libre’s team of professional search engine optimizers and digital marketers do this for you, freeing you up to serve your community instead of algorithms.

+ Which Integrated Library Systems are compatible with Libre Search?

Libre Search works with all major ILSs, including Symphony, Polaris, Sierra, Horizon, Library.Solution, Koha, and Evergreen. Any ILS that can export your collection in a standard format like MARC can be used. Ask a Koios representative for more information on implementing with your particular ILS.

+ Why can’t I do this myself?

Google treats local queries (like events and restaurants) differently from global queries (like sports scores and general knowledge). Google treats products (including books and media) as global queries. That’s why massive sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble dominate the results. One library can’t compete alone--you need a platform that connects all libraries across the country like Libre Search.

+ When can I expect results?

A new web page is crawled by Google within 24 hours of being posted. However, SEO studies have shown that the page typically won’t rise in search results for at least 22 weeks. For immediate results, we recommend boosting your pages with Libre Ads.

+ How is this priced?

Libre Search is tiered based on service population. The lowest tier is less than 100,000 residents, and the highest is greater than 1 million.

+ How long does it take to implement this? What do my staff have to do?

Implementation typically takes 4 weeks or less. Koios will handle implementation. All we need from your IT staff is a means to access your catalog records. We prefer a bulk download of records up front in JSON and ongoing API access to check holdings and availability. However, MARC records delivered via FTP on a regular basis will also work.

+ Can I try Libre Search before I buy?

Yes. We’ll add a core collection of 100 items to Libre Search, then boost them to the top of local search results for 4 weeks using paid search. This trial allows you to judge the potential impact of organic search visibility for your entire collection.

 

Libre Ads FAQs

+ Do people really click on search ads?

Yes, clickthrough rates for our campaigns are between 4 and 8 percent. Being the top organic result is definitely more valuable, but for every 100 appearances in search results, you’ll see 4 to 8 new visitors. And unlike other marketing channels, you don’t pay anything unless someone clicks.

+ How do Google Ads work? Is it just the highest bidder?

Advertisers write an ad, then place a bid (usually $1-2) on a certain word or phrase (called a keyword). When the keyword is searched, Google looks at all the bids for that keyword and at the advertisers’ quality scores (1 to 10), based on relevance and trust. Google multiplies the bid by the quality score to get an Ad Rank for each ad. The Ad Rank determines who appears in search results and in what order. Because of the multiplication, a low-scoring advertiser would have to pay 10 times as much as a high-scoring advertiser for the same space!

+ What’s this Ad Grant program and how do I apply?

Google offers $10,000/month in advertising credit to qualifying nonprofits, including libraries and incorporated Friends organizations, with a program called Ad Grants. You can use this credit to appear in local Google search results tens of thousands of times per month.

+ How do I apply for Google Ad Grants?

The application is an automated process. To complete it, you will need a verification code from TechSoup, a Google for Nonprofits account, and a specially configured Google AdWords account. Koios can manage the application process on your behalf.

+ How long does the application process take?

Once a qualifying organization applies, Google will respond in 1-2 weeks with a positive or negative decision. A negative decision will include instructions on how to fix your application and reapply. Libraries working with us on the application have received a positive decision in less than 3 weeks.

+ How long does the grant last?

The Google Ad Grants program dates back to 2004 and shows no sign of being discontinued. As long as you follow their program guidelines, you can continue to receive the grant indefinitely.

+ What happens if we spend all the budget?

If you hit $10,000 in a given month, all of your campaigns will automatically pause until the following month. The library will not be charged for any overage or fees.

+ How much value does $10k/month in credit get me?

Paid search works on a pay-per-click model, meaning that you’ll only use your credit when someone clicks on one of your ads. We aim for an average cost-per-click of $1 and an average clickthrough rate of 5%.

Based on those numbers, you can receive 10,000 clicks and 250,000 views each month. Importantly, the targets are flexible: you can use these clicks to promote whichever resources you like and change them from month to month. They’ll also be seen not just by your patrons, but by anyone in the community who searches for a related term.

+ How would this work for materials?

To use Libre Ads for materials, you’ll first need to make your materials visible to search results. The easiest way to do this is with Libre Search and/or Libre Lists & Social, but some search-visible discovery layers (like Bibliocommons, Vufind, or Library.Link) can work too.

After this step, the Koios team will bid on Google search terms related to your materials including titles, authors, subjects, and series names. If you’re using Google Ad Grants, some restrictions apply. For more on using Libre Ads to promote materials, contact us.

+ How would this work for programs?

First, Koios will check your online calendar to ensure that it meets Google’s best practices. If not, we’ll help you develop high-quality landing pages for your programs. Then, the Koios team will research search trends in your area and set up campaigns that match local Google searches to relevant programs.

+ How would this work for databases?

Koios will check your website for high-quality, resource-specific landing pages. If you don’t have these yet, we’ll help you write them. After that, the Koios team will research search trends in your area and set up campaigns that match local Google searches to relevant databases.

+ How would this work for (insert service not previously listed)?

You can also use Libre Ads to promote a service or offering that doesn’t fit into the categories above. The same principles apply: high-quality landing pages, local research, and tailored campaigns. Contact us to discuss your unique goals and priorities. We’ll be happy to develop a campaign just for you.

+ Where does my resident “go” when they click on one of these ads?

Ads almost always point to a landing page on your domain, like examplelibrary.org/job-help. The Koios team will help you create effective landing pages based on digital marketing best practices.

+ When can I expect results?

Koios will spend 2-3 weeks setting up your campaigns and securing Google Ad Grants before submitting your ads to Google for final approval. After that, you should see your first clicks within 24 hours.

+ How can I tell what results come from search ads versus other marketing channels?

You can easily integrate your existing Google Analytics account with Google AdWords to see the amount of traffic coming from paid search and the specific pages your new visitors access. If you have goals set up in Analytics, you will also see conversion metrics from paid search.

+ How is this priced?

There are three tiers of Libre Ads. Ad Grants Basic promotes databases and ongoing services. Ad Grants Premium also includes programs. Ad Grants Complete also includes materials. Promoting materials via Ad Grants will require Libre Search, Libre Lists, or a search-visible discovery layer.

+ Can I promote my resources in more than one language?

Yes, you can promote resources in Spanish and other languages for an additional fee.

+ How long does it take to implement this? What do my staff have to do?

Koios starts every new engagement by consulting with you on your priorities, researching local search trends, and setting up tailored ad campaigns. During this 2-3 week period, we will also help you apply for Google Ad Grants. Your staff will be responsible for selecting your priority resources and creating or refining landing pages for them based on Koios’ recommendations.

+ What do you do to improve our performance over time?

Koios monitors your performance and works to get you more clicks within your budget. We do this by making monthly adjustments to campaigns including ad copy, keywords, and landing pages.

+ Can I try Libre Ads before I buy?

Yes. Choose 1 to 3 resources you wish to promote and Koios will place them at the top of local Google search results for 4 weeks. Your only cost will be the ad budget--we recommend $200-500, depending on the number of resources and service population. At the end of the trial period, you can evaluate the number of new views and clicks for your library and judge the potential impact of paid search visibility for all of your resources.

+ My service area is complicated. How can you make sure only my service population is seeing my ads?

Google AdWords offers highly sophisticated location targeting options. Using these, Koios can define custom geographic areas down to individual municipalities and zip codes. One library we work with serves 15 municipalities and 10 additional postal service locations within the county, but does not serve 6 municipalities and 9 postal service locations. We set them up without any trouble.

 

Libre Lists & Social FAQs

+ Where do these pages “live” online?

Libre Lists + Social (“Lists,” for short) integrates with your website directly, so a “Banned Books” list you create will be published at lists.yourpubliclibrary.org/banned-books.

+ Can I also add my e-resources to lists?

Lists currently support books, ebooks, and audiobooks by default. If you are interested in incorporating other resources, like journals or magazines, contact us to discuss a custom implementation.

+ When I add books, do I only see books from my catalog?

Currently, this feature is only available to libraries that subscribe to both Libre Lists and Libre Search.

+ I want to feature our awesome RA staff. Will this help?

Yes. We want lists to help you promote your collection, but more importantly, the skills of your staff. Individual creators can remain anonymous, or add their own personality to their lists with commentary and reviews.

+ Can I use this for one-on-one readers’ advisory?

Yes. There are two types of lists: public and private. Public lists are visible to everyone and shareable in social media. Private lists are hidden and can only be found by people who have the link. Private lists are great for one-on-one RA--just email or text the link to your patron.

+ What types of templates are there? Are they updated frequently?

There are templates for genres, readalikes, literary awards, seasonal/events, and more. We add new templates every month, but users can also create their own templates and share them with the entire lists community. Let your creativity shine!

+ How long does it take to make a list?

The thinking and planning can take as long as you like! Our goal for the time you spend in the list builder, though, is 5 minutes or less per list. Some templates, like award winners, already have the content built in, so you can publish it to your community in one click.

+ Can I embed these lists on my website? In a newsletter? In my catalog?

Any library can link to their Lists from their website, email newsletter, or social media. Pro tier libraries have the ability to embed their lists as well. Pro tier libraries also have access to the Lists API, which enables them full control over how and where they display their Lists, including as a catalog enhancement.

+ What can I do with Lists that I can’t do with LibraryAware?

LibraryAware is a great choice for print marketing, like flyers, bookmarks, and pamphlets. Lists is designed for digital marketing, so you can promote your collection in search results, on your site, and social media. LibraryAware exports static files like PDFs, but Lists creates live web pages. When patrons click on a book title or cover in a list you’ve created, they’re directed to your catalog for checkout.

+ What does a List look like when shared in social media?

Lists appear as rich cards, meaning they appear in your post with a title, description and image.