Feature Article — Optimizing Research Articles for Search Engines
Internet search engines are commonly used to find research
articles. To increase the discoverability and impact of their research,
academics should make their articles more likely to be found on search
engines and read by the academic community. Optimizing your articles for
search engines not only enables them to be indexed by the engines but
also ranked higher in the search results, which helps to enhance the
visibility and citation rate of the articles.
The importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for academic visibility
SEO helps to enhance the visibility, accessibility and citability of
your publications by making them more discoverable online. More
specifically, in the context of academic publishing, academic search
engine optimization (ASEO) has become an important strategy for making
your research accessible by fellow researchers. ASEO is defined as ‘the
creation, publication, and modification of scholarly literature in a way
that makes it easier for academic search engines to both crawl it and
index it.’ (Beel, Gipp, & Wilde, 2010). With optimization of
articles in response to different search engines, researchers can
increase their usage and expand their readership, and so enhance the
overall impact of their research output.
How do you make your articles more discoverable?
Web search engines usually index all texts on websites. For searching
relevant documents, they detect how often a search term or keyword
occurs in the documents. In general, the more frequent the search term
occurs and the more it occurs in a heavily weighted document field, the
more a document is considered relevant (Beel et al., 2010).
Academic search engines have different ranking algorithms for displaying
the search results. Google Scholar, for example, focuses heavily on
document titles, meaning that a search term appearing in the title of a
document is more likely to increase your article’s ranking and
visibility in a search result than its appearance in the body of an
article. Also, academic search engines consider factors such as citation
count, authors’ names, and publication dates. Strategies are needed to
maximize your article’s searchability. With reference to the literature
on SEO (e.g. Beel et al., 2010; Elsevier Biggerbrains, 2012; SAGE
Publishing, n.d.; Shafer, n.d.; Wiley-Blackwell Author Services, n.d.),
various ways in which you may optimize your articles with search engines
on different criteria are suggested below.
|Choose a few (but not too |
many) relevant keywords or keyword phrases for your articles. Consider
using tools to help in making this decision, such as Google Trends,
Google Insights or Google AdWords, which help you to test the popularity
of the chosen keywords in search results. If the choices are too
popular or too general (i.e. yielding a large amount of search results),
you may choose or add another keyword with less competition.
Use keywords consistent with your field. However, you should also avoid
keyword stuffing — mechanical and excessive repetition of certain
keywords — in writing your abstracts, because search engines may
consequently remove your articles from the database.
|Keep your title short and |
relevant. Try to use one or more keywords in the title which ideally
describes your article in a concise manner.
|Put essential keywords in the|
first two or three sentences of your abstract, which may be the only
content that appears in search engines. Repeat the keywords a few times,
or use synonyms to highlight the gist of your research in your
|Citations are a crucially |
factor for the indexing and ranking of articles by academic search
engines, especially Google Scholars. Be sure to reference your own and
any co-authors’ previous relevant publications in your article,
providing links where those references can be downloaded as this helps
both the engines and readers to locate the full text. Refer to the names
and initials of authors consistently so that search engines can perform
|5.||Formats of graphics:|
|Make sure the tables and |
figures in your papers are machine readable. Vector graphics (e.g.
images in .svg, .ai, .eps, and .ps formats) containing font-based text
are preferable to image-based graphics, such as .tiff, .bmp, .jpeg,
.png, .pdf, .gif and .psd, which cannot be indexed by search engines.
|When choosing or considering |
journal submissions, authors should also consult the journal’s or
publisher’s policies on allowing authors themselves to share and
publicize their own work online. Open access articles have greater
visibility than journals that can be obtained only through purchase or
|After your article is published, share it in your academic and social networks on social platforms such as|
• Your academic institution's website or repository
• Your website or any website that you contribute to
• Wikipedia (as a reference link)
Beel, J., Gipp, B., & Wilde,
E. (2010). Academic search engine optimization (ASEO):
Optimizing scholarly literature for Google Scholar and
Co. Journal of Scholarly Publishing,
Elsevier Biggerbrains. (2012). Get found — optimize your
research articles for search engines. Retrieved from
SAGE Publishing. (n.d.).
find your article. Retrieved from
Wiley-Blackwell Author Services. (n.d.). Writing for
SEO. Retrieved from
Research Bulletin (Vol.3, Issue no.3)