A researcher’s guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Getting to grips with Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as it is commonly known, can seem a difficult task at first. We all know it is important to ensure that your research is discoverable on search engines and online journal platforms. Taylor & Francis Online has over 3.7 million articles available, so how do you make sure that your work can be easily found and read by interested and relevant researchers?
Here, we share five quick and easy steps you can follow to help improve the visibility of your research online…
But first, what actually is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is simply the process of attempting to improve a web page’s search engine rankings. Google and other search engines prioritize content that it sees as interesting, high-quality, and relevant – displaying such content higher up on search rankings.
What does this mean for researchers? Well, the higher the ranking of your article, the more people will discover, read, and ultimately cite your research. There are several simple ways you can optimize your article for search engine rankings – here are just a few…
Step One: Choose a search engine-friendly title.
Don’t underestimate the power of an accurate and concise article title. Researchers use keywords (sometimes known as search terms) to find relevant articles on search engines. Ensure that your title includes keywords and terms which are commonly used within your research discipline. Remember to always keep in mind the audience of your article. What are they researching? What are they looking for? Make sure your title provides an easily discoverable solution to these questions. More on keywords in step two…
Step Two: Keywords, keywords…and more keywords!
When you submit your article you’ll need to include keywords. These will be used to index your article on Taylor & Francis Online and on search engines such as Google Scholar™. These keywords will help others find your research quickly and accurately, so think of them as the labels for your article. What’s more, a strong correlation exists between online hits and subsequent citations for journal articles.
But how do you choose your keywords? Think about how you search for articles, and what words or phrases you put in. Then consider your own article, and what keywords are most relevant to the focus of your work. Once you’ve drawn up a shortlist, try searching for them to ensure the results fit with your article’s research area. Narrow down your keywords to ensure they are as accurate as possible, and then ensure you also include them in your title and abstract (as some search engines only index these), whilst still making it readable.
Step Three: Build connections with links.
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 in-bound links to your research, the better!
Step Four: Don’t forget social media.
Tweeting about your research or posting it on Facebook can directly increase the number of people finding and reading your article. By helping search engines to make a connection between the link to your research and the search queries they are attempting to fulfill, this can help to place your research yet higher up in search rankings. So, why not see who is talking about your research by following your Altmetric Attention Score, and engaging in some social media conversations?
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.
Step Five: Keep doing it.
Continue to keep in mind what other researchers are searching for online, make your keywords relevant and accurate, shout about your research, and make it easy for others to find and read your work.