Search engine optimization for academic articles

A researcher’s guide to 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 make sure that your research is discoverable on search engines and online journal platforms. Taylor & Francis Online has over 4 million articles available, so how do you make sure that your work can be easily found and read by interested and relevant researchers?

What is SEO?

SEO is simply the process of attempting to improve a web page’s search engine rankings.

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Google and other search engines prioritize content that it sees as interesting, high-quality, and relevant – displaying such content higher up on search engine results pages.

How can SEO help me as a researcher?

The higher the ranking of your article, the more you can encourage people to click, discover, read, and ultimately cite your research.

SEO helps you to be more discoverable. There is a strong correlation between online hits and subsequent citations for journal articles.

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How do I optimize my articles?

Here are our top 5 steps that you can follow to help improve the visibility of your research online.

Choose keywords

When you submit your research 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.

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 make sure the results fit with your article’s research area.

Narrow down your keywords to make sure they are as accurate as possible, and then be sure you also include them in your title and abstract (as some search engines only index these), whilst still making it readable. Also remember to include your keyword/s in the alternative text (alt text) of any images in your article. Alt text conveys the nature or contents of the image and is typically used by assistive technology to make the object accessible to people with a visual disability.

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Don’t be tempted by keyword stuffing – the practice of inputting your keywords many times over, resulting in an unreadable text.

Create a search-engine-friendly title

Don’t underestimate the power of an accurate and concise article title. We’ve already learned how important keywords are, so make sure that your title includes the keywords you’ve chosen, as well as other terms that 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 answer to these questions.

Build connections with external links

External links to content are widely considered to play a major role in influencing search rankings.

Once your article is published, link to it from your personal webpage, blog, via social networking sites, and from your departmental website. This 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.

Incorporate social media

Tweeting about your research or posting it on Facebook or LinkedIn can directly increase the number of people finding and reading your article. 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.

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Complete your SEO checklist each time your publish

Make sure to follow the steps to optimize your research article SEO each time you write a new paper. Treat the above as a checklist to work through.

For more help to increase your research discoverability, read our guides:

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