SEO for the Scientist: Optimizing Scientific Content for Search Engine Success

By C&EN Media Group

When consumers want information on products, services or trends, their first stop is often a search engine. Scientists are no different.

General and academic search engines, such as Google, Google Scholar or PubMed, offer scientists and researchers a gateway to immense amounts of information and data. But because a simple search query can return multiple pages of results, the most widely read content is often towards the top of the list.

So how do you ensure that your content is turning up prominently in search results? That’s the question that underlies the art and science of search engine optimization, or SEO. There are many techniques that can help you gain authority on search engines. Here, we outline the basic SEO strategies you can utilize to increase your online visibility.

Incorporate Relevant Keywords

Every piece of content you produce, whether it’s a product web page or an abstract for a peer-reviewed article, should be optimized with relevant keywords. Tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find highly searched keywords that relate to your topic.

After deciding upon which keywords to target, look for places where they might fit into your content. Keywords are most effective in the title or subtitle, but should also be used in less obvious places, such as abstracts or author biographies.

Tip: Short, crisp headlines work best for search engines (and luckily, readers enjoy them too!).

Format for Search

A few formatting tweaks can go a long way in making your content search-engine accessible. Be sure the majority of your content is formatted in HTML and avoid excessive use of programs such as Flash or Java, which aren’t optimal for search.

If your content employs images or graphics, aim for text-based vector graphics – which can be indexed by search engines and used for additional keyword targeting. All other forms of rich media should be optimized with a description tag for further optimization.

Tip: Appropriately formatted infographics can be a great way to optimize scholarly articles presenting large amounts of data.

Never Forget the Reader

No amount of optimization can cover for low-quality content. Always write for humans first, search engines second. And avoid supposed short cuts, such as keyword stuffing, that hinder reader experience and destroy search engine credibility.

Search engines pay special attention when they see that your content is being read and passed around. Help increase shareability by promoting your content on relevant social media networks.

Tip: Topical, concise research articles are best for distribution on social channels.

Search engines were built to do one thing: help people find what they’re looking for. The best SEO strategy is to create high-quality content. Remember, you are already publishing information that creates value for other scientists or customers. SEO just makes it easy for these people to find it.

We want to hear from you: What SEO tips and tools have you found most effective?

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