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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 28, 2003

Hardin MD Is UI Libraries' Most Frequently Visited Web Site

Hardin MD, now in its eighth year of connecting Internet users to health information, became the most frequently visited section of the UI Libraries' Web site in January with more than 1 million visitors during the month.The website is located at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md.

"If it continues to grow at the same rate, it's going to go way beyond 1 million," said Eric Rumsey, a staff librarian at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. Rumsey oversees Hardin MD, a meta directory that connects people looking for health answers to hundreds of thousands of health information sites around the world.

Rumsey said the increased use of the site is because its developers have worked to make it as useful as possible to people who are looking for health care related information.

"We have better tools to determine what people are looking for and choose the subjects that people are looking for, so it's really just an issue of supply and demand," Rumsey said. "Without those tools it's difficult to know if anyone is interested in a Web site."

He said the key is to categorize each part of the Web site so that it has as few competitors as possible and achieves a higher rank on search engines like Google. General subject pages, such as cancer, do not get a high ranking in search engines because there are millions of other sites that have pages on the same subjects. More specific subjects that have recently been added to Hardin MD, however, such as strep throat, staph infection, and heart pictures, are ranked higher. By tailoring its pages to specific, high-interest health topics, Hardin MD becomes more conspicuous in the search results, making it more likely the searcher will click to visit.

"You have to make it a subject where there's not 3 million other pages on the same topic," he said.

He said more and more picture links are also being added to the site, which helps increase its usage because people want to see pictures.

The site also makes itself more useful for visitors by adding internal links to related categories.

"For instance, the flu category also includes links to other sites about bronchitis and sinusitis so people can find related subjects that might not be so obvious," he said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu; Eric Rumsey, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, 319-335-9875.