The good news and bad news with SEO
We will be doing a series of posts on SEO. This installment is a general overview of the “good news and bad news” regarding Search Engine Optimization.
+ + +
For those who aren’t sure what SEO is, let’s take a minute to read to look at this great explanation by Jin Zhang and Alexandra Dimitroff (authors of “The Impact of Metadata Implementation on Webpage Visibility in Search Engine Results (Part II)” Information Processing & Management):
“Search Engine Optimization (SEO) … is the process of identifying factors in a webpage which would impact search engine accessibility to it and fine-tuning the many elements of a website so it can achieve the highest possible visibility when a search engine responds to a relevant query. Search engine optimization aims at achieving good search engine accessibility for webpages, high visibility in search engine results, and improvement of the chances the webpages are retrieved.”
When thinking about using this tool, there are some upsides and downsides you need to consider.
First, here’s the bad news about using search engine optimization for your paper: It’s going to be a bit more work.
As if it’s not enough that you hustled for funding, figured out who your co-authors would be, conducted the research, wrote the paper, decided where to submit it, hoped that it would be accepted, made necessary revisions, and waited anxiously for it go up online.
Plus, you may be asking yourself: “Isn’t that the journal’s (or publisher’s) job?” Well yes and no. Journals and publishers need to make sure they do everything they can to optimize online platforms so that search engines can easily crawl and index content. 58% of all traffic to Wiley’s online platform, Wiley Online Library, comes from search engines (predominantly Google and Google Scholar). However, they do not have ultimate control over the discoverability of content at the article level. You do.
Here’s the good news: It’s worth the effort.
Why would you bother to go to all the toil of authoring an article if your research is going to be buried on page 275 of Google or Google Scholar’s search results? Scholarly information is increasingly more accessible online, but not inherently more discoverable. Employing SEO can leverage a paper so that it has better odds of being at the top of search results, and, consequently, better odds of being read and even cited.
Moreover, if you are publishing open access, you may as well get the best value for your (or your funder’s) money by ensuring that your research is easily accessible via search engines.
So what do you need to do? We’ve created an SEO for Authors tips sheet to give authors an at-a-glance guide to optimizing their papers. Here are some highlights:
- Carefully select relevant keywords
- Lead with keywords in article title
- Repeat keywords 3-4 times throughout abstract
- Use headings throughout article
- Include at least 5 keywords and synonyms in keyword field
- Link to published article on social media, blogs and academic websites
The success of this tool boils down to selecting appropriate keywords (i.e. search terms) and using them frequently and appropriately. The more times a search term is used in the document, the more relevant the document is considered (according to Beel, Jran, Bela Gipp, and Erik Wilde “Academic Search Engine Optimization (ASEO): Optimizing Scholarly Literature for Google Scholar & Co.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing )
Once you grasp the concepts, the whole process really isn’t that daunting and won’t require that much additional work. It is really about being mindful as you are writing the paper of how users would search and find the published version online.