Search engines are frequently people’s first port of call for answering questions. But what about finding academic research? And how can you make sure that the research published in your journal is at the top of the list?
With the advent of improvements to search engine algorithms being more geared towards the individual user and retrieving the most appropriate answer for the user, discoverability is a continually growing challenge. However, using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to help search engines categorize the research published in your journal effectively can mean that the papers are placed in a more prominent position in the list of results for relevant search queries.
Taylor & Francis is constantly working to ensure that Taylor & Francis Online is search-engine-optimized at site level and to improve discoverability of the articles published in our journals. We allow all search engines to crawl Taylor & Francis Online in order to accurately index our articles and provide more accurate search results for users. The following tips for you and your authors are intended as a complement to the work that we are doing to ensure your journal is as widely read and discoverable as possible.
Check your title, abstract, and keywords
Using a clever title that references popular culture or following the ever-increasing trend for “clickbait” may well increase the number of visits to individual article pages but you have a much lower chance of attracting the readers who are ultimately going to download and cite the articles published in your journal. Instead, encourage your authors to use titles, abstracts, and keywords that accurately describe their research. Consider your target audience; are they likely to be entering search queries that match the article title? Will they recognize the relevance of the article to their research from the title?
Ask your authors to make sure that they provide an accurate set of keywords to add to their articles, as this will make their paper more discoverable on Taylor & Francis Online and also help to increase the standing of their paper in search results.
Tip: If you’ve got a Google account, you can use Google Adwords to research keywords with high levels of search results for free. Visit the AdWords Keyword Planner.
Remember: Titles must be in “natural language” and must accurately describe the content. Filling titles and abstracts with keywords to improve search engine rankings is likely to get you blacklisted and the article could be removed from all search results.
Build connections with external links
External links to content are widely considered to play a major role in influencing search rankings. Many experts believe that search engines will rank content, or the research published in your journal, higher up the search rankings if it is linked to from other sources.
Search engines will assess many factors in determining the quality of the links to the research published in your journal based on the page with the links, including trustworthiness, traffic, relevance, and link text among others.
What can you do about this? Add the journal to your departmental website, blog, or personal webpage and encourage your authors to do the same.
Better still, if you know someone who writes a blog in your area, ask them to write a blog post about research in your journal or write a guest post for their site. Don’t forget to add a link to the research and use the link text to your advantage – hyperlink phrases like “Read my article on cats” instead of “click here.”
Frequently referenced as the social network for Google employees, it’s worth recommending that your authors set up a Google+ account and post links to their research. Google is more likely to place links that have been posted on Google+ higher up the search rankings, and the more people you can get to “+1” the posts, the better. Make sure those users are relevant – getting your friends to +1 your post to push it up the search rankings will not help you!
YouTube is the second most widely used search engine in the world: if you or your authors are keen vloggers, link to the journal articles in your video comments. Remember that as with article titles, this must look like natural language, e.g., “Read my article on cats online: www.tandfonline.com.”
Tweeting or posting on Facebook about research published in your journal can directly increase the number of downloads for individual articles through direct clicks and by helping search engines to make another connection between the link to your research and the search queries they are attempting to fulfill, help to place your research yet higher up the search rankings.
See who’s talking about the research in your journal – look at the Altmetric data on the article pages on Taylor & Francis Online.
Tip: Read Leila Jones’ article on making the most of Twitter to publicize your journal and research.
Talk to your marketing contact
Do you think that the research published in your journal could be of wider interest to the general public?
News stories linked to academic research can significantly increase discoverability of individual articles and raise public awareness of your journal. Research published in Taylor & Francis journals has been featured on television, in print, and online and led to worldwide recognition of key academic research.
If you spot an article that you think would make a good news story, get in touch with your marketing contact about whether they think there is potential for a press release or suggest that the authors contact their university press office.
See Matthew Peck’s article about the power of the press release.