I just noticed last week that Google is now ranking pages from the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Health encyclopedia at the top of search results for disease words (accompanied by an attention-getting red icon) as shown at left for asthma. Other disease examples putting NLM at the top of search results are diabetes, migraine, lupus, and chickenpox. So, Congratulations, NLM! — A great new opportunity to lead people to the wealth of information at your site!

There are questions though — I was surprised to find this prominent placement for NLM (which replaces less prominent placement in the Health OneBox group of links at the top of Google searches that I wrote about in 2009). There apparently has been no announcement of the change, either from NLM or from Google, as far as I can find in searching. Beyond that, I also can’t find that NLM has announced the launching of the PubMed Health (PMH) encyclopedia that’s linked from Google. It was mentioned as being in development in summer, 2010, but there’s been nothing since saying that it was completed and ready to use.

There are also questions about the PubMed Health pages that are linked from Google (first screenshot below). These are from the ADAM Health Encyclopedia, and the same content is also part of NLM’s MedlinePlus (second screenshot below) — Why is NLM maintaining two different versions of the same content? Also, the PMH page that’s linked from Google (in the first screenshot below) has no link to MedlinePlus (MLP). The MLP version of the ADAM content, on the other hand (in the second screenshot below), is tightly integrated into the wealth of other information in NLM’s flagship MLP resource.

Below is the PubMed Health page that’s linked at the top of the Google search for asthma. This page has no link to MedlinePlus, in contrast to the MLP version of ADAM content, in the second screenshot below.

Here’s the MLP page for asthma, that’s well-integrated into other resources in MLP. So, NLM, how about asking Google to link to MLP instead of PMH? Otherwise, if the Google link continues to go to PMH pages, make a link from those to MLP!

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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