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Getting Your Paper Noticed

Learn how to make your paper stand out through strong titling, graphical abstracts, search engine optimization, and academic networking.

Search engine optimization

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in the context of academic publishing is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to an article from search engines or databases. SEO can help researchers drive usage, increase readership, and increase the citations counts of their published articles. An article being indexed by the academic search engines or databases is important, but it is also important where an article lands in the ranked search results list. Items high on the list are more likely to be read than those lower on the list or in subsequent pages. 

Researchers should do their best to select publishers and journals with policies that cooperate with Google Scholar (and other academic search engines) because it makes their published research articles available to more readers and facilitates more citations, which are a significant factor in rankings in a search result. 

  1. Find the keywords and search phrases to optimize your document
    • Think about the most important words that are relevant to the article.
    • Consider looking up specific keywords on Google Trends or a free keyword tool to find out which search terms are popular.
    • Try out your keywords in Google Scholar, etc. and if too many results are returned, it may be better to consider a keyword with less competition.
  2. Make sure you have a SEO-friendly title for your article
    • The title needs to be descriptive and must contain a key phrase related to your topic.
    • Put your keywords within the first 65 characters of the title.  Google Scholar considers the length of a title.  In a search for the phrase ‘SEO for Authors: A How-to Guide’ would be ranked higher than one titled ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Authors: Ranking Information and Publishing Tips’. 
  3. Write your abstract using keywords, phrases and synonyms
    • Include the keywords and phrases in your abstract that a researcher might use to find your article. Provide additional relevant keywords and synonyms for those keywords as they relate to your article keeping in mind those keywords are also used by the abstracting and indexing services as a method to tag the research content. 
  4. Stay consistent
    • Refer to authors' names and initials in a consistent manner throughout the paper and in the same way they’ve been referred to in past online publications.  If names are used inconsistently, search engines may not be able to identify articles or citations correctly; as a consequence, citations may be assigned incorrectly, and articles will not be as highly ranked as they should be.  For instance, Jöran, Joeran, and Joran are all correct spellings of the same name (given different transcription rules), but Google Scholar sees them as three different names. Obtain an ORCID ID and use it when submitting works to publishers to aid disambiguation.
  5. Use headings
    • Headings for the various sections of your article tip off search engines to the structure and content of your article.  Incorporate your keywords and phrases in these headings wherever it’s appropriate.
  6. Cite your own, or your co-authors, previous publications
    • Academic search engines, and especially Google Scholar, assign significant weight to citation counts. Citations influence whether articles are indexed at all, and they also influence the ranking of articles. When referencing your own published work, it is important to include a link where that work can be downloaded. This helps readers to find your article and helps academic search engines to index the referenced articles’ full text. 
  7. Text in figures and tables should be machine-readable
    • Vector graphics containing font-based text should be used instead of rasterized images so it can be indexed by academic search engines.  Graphics stored as JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, or PNG files are not vector graphics.
    • When documents are converted to PDF, all metadata should be correct (especially author and title). Some search engines use PDF metadata to identify the file or to display information about the article on the search engine results page.
  1. Publish the article on your home page and upload it to ERAU Scholarly Commons so it can be indexed by Google Scholar and other academic search engines. However, it is important to determine that posting or uploading the article does not constitute a violation of the author’s agreement with the publisher. Remember to save your final drafts (pre-publication) so you can submit them to the repository.
  2. An article that includes outdated words might be replaced by either updating the existing article or publishing a new version on the author’s home page as Google Scholar considers all versions of an article available on the web. Updated articles should be clearly labeled as such so a reader is aware it is a modified version. This procedure may be a violation of an author’s publisher copyright policy so be sure to check first.
  3. It is important to create meaningful parent web pages for PDF files. This means that web pages that link to the PDF files should mention the most important keywords and the PDFs metadata (title, author, and abstract).
  4. External links to content are widely considered to play a major role in influencing search rankings. Once it’s published, linking to your article from your personal webpage, blog, via social networking sites, and from your departmental website will help to make it more discoverable on search engines. Don’t forget to encourage your colleagues and peers to link to your article from their sites too. The more inbound links to your research from other sites, the better.

Tip: Did you know YouTube is the second most widely used search engine in the world? If you or your co-authors are keen vloggers, try creating video content and promoting your research in video comments.

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