SEO for Academic Research: Making your Article Discoverable

Learn how article publishers boost their discoverability on search engines with the help of screenshots

Researchers put their heart and soul into their research but can't rely on content alone in the digital age. So academic Search Engine Optimization (ASEO) becomes vital to make scholarly articles stand out from millions of others on the internet.

ASEO is there to help researchers get the best possible results for their work. It provides more visibility on articles, improving their ranking on academic search engines like Google Scholar, BASE, or Microsoft academy. This strategy helps authors avoid relying solely on publishers to promote their scholarly articles. 

In this article, we have curated tips and tricks to boost scholarly article readership, optimize research to get effortlessly indexed and promote a substantial web presence.

Does my research need SEO?

Amidst an ever-increasing publication rate and intense scholarly research competition, mere content doesn't suffice to make your research article stand out. Instead, optimizing your work to meet search engine standards would be best.

Doing so amplifies the chances of your work being discovered and therefore read, cited, and downloaded. 

Besides getting articles ranked on top and making them discoverable, SEO for academic research also contributes to:

  • Future funding: A popular scholarly article indicates that users find it helpful. That contributes to future research funding. Therefore, well-optimized research articles have more chances of being discovered and becoming famous, making a strong case for future funding.
  • Helping the reader understand the topic quickly: Optimizing the title and abstract is key to presenting the article. It's a long read, so readers should know what they're getting into beforehand. When you optimize your scholarly article for SEO, users easily get what the article is about, and the whole reading experience improves.
  • Getting cited: A well-optimized article can be discoverable and visible. That provides more chances for it to be cited in other sources (which also helps boost your SEO ranking!).

In addition, when you submit your work to a publisher, you know there'll be some SEO work involved—they want the content they share to be famous too! However, it's best to incorporate it during production to ensure the desired results.

Academic search engines

Turning to academic search engines makes sense when positioning scholarly articles and research papers. While many databases like Web of Science limit their reach to only paid members, several others come to the rescue. Some of the noted ones are: 

Google Scholar

Like all things Google, this is one of the most popular scholarly literature databases. Google Scholar provides access to more than 200 million articles free of cost. Interestingly, the same Google algorithm is applied here but is limited to research papers and parents. In addition, this platform offers links to entire research papers, references, related articles, and citations. 

It features articles from all fields. According to the US National Library of Medicine, "it appears to be strongest in the sciences, particularly medicine, and secondarily in the social sciences." Google Scholar is the perfect place to start searching or preparing your work for ASEO.

CORE

Its name stands for "Connecting Repositories" and is backed by The Open University of the United Kingdom. CORE aims to aggregate all open-access research papers from repositories and journals, making it the world's largest aggregator of this nature.

Besides its content discovery functionality, it allows you to access raw data, download it in bulk, and manage and enhance your repository's discoverability.

Crossref

The organization behind this platform is a not-for-profit that "exists to improve scholarly communications." Crossref greets you with a big search bar where you can enter the metadata you want to find scholarly work, like title, author, or digital object identifier (DOI).

They also feature other types of search, like Simple Text Query or FundRef. Whichever you choose, it's hard not to find what you're looking for on Crossref.

Suppose your work is more specific, or you'd like to tailor a particular, reduced audience. In that case, there are many specialized academic research databases available. They vary from industry to industry, including:

  • PubMed, backed by the US National Library of Medicine
  • Astrophysics Data System, backed by Harvard
  • Westlaw, backed by Thomson Reuters
  • EconBiz, backed by the German National Library of Economics.

Tips for academic SEO

SEO basics apply to all industries, but looking into academic SEO, we've highlighted some key aspects for you to consider when editing your work. 

Rethink your title

When coming up with a name, think in search terms: how would people look your article up?

Your title should be precise, descriptive, and contain keywords related to your topic. Make it short so that snippets and citations don't cut it. Try to incorporate the main keyword at the beginning. 

Also, ensure that the title appeals to the related field. For example, sciences like significant results, while humanities like creative titles.

Optimize your abstract

That shows people what you will offer in your article, so the abstract should be clear and to the point. The essential ideas and keywords go first.

Speaking of keywords, it's a good idea to give them priority here. You can even repeat the most important keywords twice for a stronger ranking but avoid keyword spamming. Search engines don't like that. So instead, use synonyms as additional keywords.

Make use of keywords in the body

Still on the keywords train! Strategically embed keywords all over the article in place of haphazardly stuffing them. 

Choose long-tail, descriptive, field-specific keywords that best suit your work and make it easier to be found. For this, you can use thesauri. Also, test keywords with the most preferred academic search engine to ensure returning only the most relevant works.  

Afterward, aim to incorporate some popular synonyms and abbreviations in your article.

Build backlinks

A backlink is a link from another site that redirects to yours. Backlinks are essential for SEO because they show people liked your content and are using it as a reference. They indicate your content is trusted and help towards building authority.

A way to generate backlinks is to share your work on social media. You can go further by generating connections who would like to mention you on their sites, like other scholars, field publications, and directories. This way, you'll get higher chances at a better ranking.

Review your metadata

In simple words, metadata is the basic information about data. It's a more technical aspect of SEO that helps search engines understand the content on a website, so it can determine its relevance to rank on different result pages. 

Basic metadata includes the author's name, date of creation and modification, and size. This information is structured inside a site's code, but don't panic! For most researchers, this info can be edited from a PDF reader. Just look at the "Settings" part of the program of your choice and see where you can edit this information before uploading it online.

Don't forget about images

When it comes to SEO, everybody thinks about the text. However, images play a significant role in how search engines position articles. 

You're probably using charts and graphs to illustrate your work. And guess what? They can be optimized too. So when you're done reviewing these tips, feel free to check out our image search engine optimization guide.

Extra ASEO tips

  • Be consistent when citing authors: refer to them in the same way throughout the paper. Ensure you mention authors like they've been referred to in past online publications. Cite your previous work as appropriate, as citations of your past work affect how search engines rank your current and future work. To avoid confusion, you can request an ORCID ID.
  • Choose open access: submitting your work to open access means more words are available. Therefore you have higher chances of discoverability than with a private access source.
  • Choose your publishers carefully: the SEO of the journal your work is published on also counts. Ensure to carry out a little research on your options before making a choice.

How can you support your ASEO strategy using screenshots?

After putting time and effort into optimizing your work, it's time to track its performance on search engines. However, manually monitoring indexation and ranking in all your desired search engines can be tedious. So why not trust screenshots to do it for you?

With an app like Stillio, you can easily set up automatic SERP captures on research paper search engines and for different keywords at your desired interval. Furthermore, you can select a folder or cloud-based storage to save the captured data automatically. That means you can access your article rankings directly onto your personal account at any time!

Are you looking to track performance around the world? Stillio also offers GEO IP locations, which enable you to capture SERPs as if you were overseas. In addition, you can use those SERPs to keep an eye on your competition!

Besides tracking results, screenshots are a great way to keep track of the journals of your interest. Instead of going manually through each publication, select your favorite ones and automate screenshots to get all the info in one place. 

Conclusion

In this era, you have to go digital to mark your presence. Scholars and researchers are no exception. 

You can get your article at the top of search engines with simple efforts, leading to broader reach and more citations. Automated captures are one of the best options to monitor the performance of your articles at regular intervals. Feel free to book a demo with us to clear all your questions before embarking on your screenshotting journey!

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