Categories: GIS Data

New Guide for Improving How Geospatial Data is Discovered With Search Engines

Making GIS data easily discoverable is an essential aspect of connecting potential users with available geospatial datasets. Most users turn to common search engines like Google and Bing in order to locate GIS data they can download. In 2018 Google launched Dataset Search (which recently beta) as one of its strategy for making geographic data more easily discoverable using its search engine. Other organizations use federated geoportals to promote discoverability of GIS data.


The United Kingdom’s Geospatial Commission recently published a guidebook for GIS data publishers to consult in order to make metadata and the associated geospatial datasets easier to classify and find using common search engines. The guidebook (in PDF format) is based on research performed by the Geo6 (British Geological Survey, The Coal Authority, HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, UK Hydrographic Office, and the Valuation Office Agency). The resulting guidelines are based on search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Contained within the guidebook are 12 focus areas that need to be considered when crafting metadata and what tools to use to understand how users search and find data.

By implementing these recommendations data publishers stand to benefit from increased visibility of their data among a wider audience, while people wanting to use geospatial data are more likely to find what they are looking for. For example, by using this guide the Scottish Government has already identified that its webpages are not being optimally indexed by search engines because they are not tagged using the industry-standard markup language By making this change the Scottish Government

Shona Nicol, Head of Data Standards, Scottish Government

Visit: Search engine optimisation for publishers: Best practice guide


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