Academic SEO: The future of research citations

Academic SEo
Using SEO principles to increase research citations

As academics we spend countless hours, days and weeks developing papers which we hope will one day make a difference in the world. One metric that is often used to measure this difference is article citations. The more citations a paper can gather the higher the impact this can have on the career of an academic. However for many academics once they submit their paper and it has been has accepted for publishing they sit on their laurels and expect citations to come rolling in.

In the brave new world of the internet this is no longer the case. With so much data and information out there, getting your paper seen is becoming increasingly difficult. Academics need to understand that they are competing for citations in a global marketplace, the competition is fierce. Hence this blog post looks at the process of Academic SEO, which is the application of marketing principles to rank your research higher in the popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), and hence increasing the chances of your research being found and cited.

The basic premise of Academic SEO is that if your papers are easier to find then you will receive higher citations. There is a  tentative tool called Kudos which does attempt to help academics develop citations through social media, however it does have its limitations which I have discussed here. The other advantage of Academic SEO is that within the online environment through a process of analytics there are tools which can help academics measure their citation rate. One such tools is Google Scholar.

In order to investigate this further the contents of this blog aim to outline the key issues, techniques and tools in developing Academic SEO for your research articles, conference papers and posters. Below are the key Academic SEO issues and concepts that every academic should consider as part of creating, maintaining and their online presence. It is important to remember Academic SEO is a lot more complex than the five tips I discuss below but if you are new to this process then the following are essential.

1. Create a google scholar profile.

This tool is essential in helping you measure your citations. It trawls the web with its ever so clever spider and finds instances where your work has been cited. This includes books, Journals, conference papers etc. I have notice that it does overmeasure in some cases, but I always say you cant have to much of a good thing! Here is an example of what a personal Google Scholar page looks like. Note the citation indices on the right hand side of the page.

2. Join the most popular Academic Social media sites.

For maximum reach, as a rule of thumb you should aim to have a presence on Twitter, Google +, Researchgate or For examples have a look at my profiles on the right of this page. This is not just a good way of interacting or collaborating with other academics or researchers within your field, but also about giving your work the best possible chance of making an impact. For me personally, social media has been a positive force in helping to  find co-authors for journal articles and conference papers.

3. Be very careful about how you structure and write your copy.

Google works on keywords so be very careful about how you write, what you write and how this is structured. Copy should be written so that it gives maximum coverage in a few words as possible. Remember content is king, your work should be unique and different adding value to your field of research.

4. Setup a Blog.

First and foremost this is a commitment, not something to be done lightly. However it can add a lot of value to your work and really help you to develop a professional and efficient platform which can help you to discuss and publisize your research to a wider audience and to multiple fields. A blog is easy enough to setup, the two most popular platforms are WordPress and Blogger, both have free options and are very easy to use and setup. For details on when to publish check out my blog post.

5. Engage. 

Finally think about engagement. Remember the online environment is all about engagement. To develop your profile and to create an online presence engage with other academics, students and researchers. Sites such as Academia.Edu and Researchgate or Slideshare allow for the discussion of your work in a online collegiate environment. This is a good chance to build an online personal learning network but also to gain feedback and support on your work.

Those are my five top tips. Just remember when you are developing your online profile that you make a clear distinction between your online digital professional identity and your private offline identity. Don’t mix the two.

I hoped this post has helped you in getting to grips with some of the key issues that all academics need to be aware off online. If you liked this post or feel that someone else can benefit please give me a follow on Twitter, or share this post within your networks.



3 thoughts on “Academic SEO: The future of research citations”

  1. Thanks for your article! We help public libraries to promote their resources with SEO, but I’d never thought to engage researchers directly. Perhaps there’s a good opportunity there.

    In our experience, academic libraries are primarily concerned about discoverability in the context of local digital repositories or cataloging systems. Could you comment briefly on the relative importance? Do you have any comparative data between your SEO/social efforts and the traditional means of discovery through research databases?


    1. Hey trey,

      Thanks for the feedback. You make a very interesting point about engaging researchers directly. Many researchers like myself spend years developing papers but after publication they can sometimes disappear into the ether. Hence, SEO for me has been essential in developing my profile but increasing my citations. There is a method and you need to understand googles algorithm to do this.

      I don’t have any specific data unfortunately but now you mention it there is scope for some type of research int his area.


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