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Research Visibility

How to raise the visiblity of your research and establish your name in an academic field.

SEO for Authors: A How-to Guide

Search Engine Optimization can help researchers who publish drive usage, readership and citations of their articles to raise the visibility of their research. Whether an article is being indexed by the academic search engines is crucial, but it is also important where an article lands in the ranked search results list as that ranking will greatly impact the visibility of an author’s research. Items high on the list are more likely to be read.

Access and Citations

Is your article being indexed by academic search engines like Google Scholar, IEEE Xplore and PubMed or is it only accessible via subscription databases the search robots can’t access to index so the contents do not show in academic search engines?

When submitting an article for publication, authors should consider how easily discoverable their research will be to their audience and enhance opportunities for citation. Open-access articles receive more citations than articles accessible only by purchase or subscription.

Authors will benefit from selecting publishers and journals with policies that cooperate with Google Scholar (and other search academic engines) because it makes their published research articles available to more readers and facilitates more citations. Citations are a significant factor in determining rank in results pages of Google Scholar and many other academic search engines. If a journal is not online, authors should favor those who allow authors to put their articles on their or their institutions’ home pages and/ or repositories.

Top Tips to make Your Article Discoverable

  1. Find the Keywords and search phrase to optimize your document
    1. Think about the most important words that are relevant to the article.
    2. Consider looking up specific keywords on Google Trends or the Google Adwords Keywords tool to find out which search terms are popular.
    3. 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
    1. The title needs to be descriptive and must contain a key phrase related to your topic.
    2. 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’.   Although in general titles should be fairly short, we suggest choosing a longer title if there are many relevant keywords.
  3. Write your abstract using keywords, phrases and synonyms
    1. Include the keywords and phrases in your abstract that a researcher might search on 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
    1. Refer to authors names and initials in a consistent manner throughout the paper and in the same way they’ve been referred to in the past online publications.  If names are used inconsistently, search engines may not be able to id 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 and use it when submitting works to publishers to aid dissambiguation.
  5. Use headings
    1. 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
    1. 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
    1. 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.
    2. 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.

Three Ways to Optimize Articles after Publication

  1. Publish article on the author’s home page and upload it to eScholarship (if author is a UC Faculty it will most likely be harvested via the Publication Management System and then presented to the author for inclusion in the eScholarship repository) 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 it 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).

Promoting your Article Using the Internet and Social Media

Once your article is published, employ social media to enhance visibility of the research.  Update everyone in your academic and social networks about your published article.  The number of in-bound links is a factor in search engine ranking.  Share your article within the following social media tools (as appropriate for the research topic):

  • LinkedIn 
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Your blog or websites that you contribute to
  • Your institution's repository (eScholarship University of Califormia)
  • Mendeley
  • ResearchGate
  • Your website
  • Your academic  institution's website
  • Wikipeadia (as an appropriate external link)

References

This guide is a compilation of three documents: