You’ve put in a huge amount of time and effort researching and writing your paper. You’ve been through peer review, revisions and copyediting, and now that your paper is finally published, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But will your hard work actually be found and read by your audience?
Veterinary Evidence (VE) helps authors through the publication process and promotes and shares published papers in many ways. However, there are some simple techniques you can do when writing your paper that will help increase its visibility so that your intended audience can find, read, share and cite it.
There are many ways to discover content: via social media, referral sites, databases, from searching the publisher’s website or from using search engines such as Google. For VE more than 58% of traffic arrives at the paper via search engines.
With such a high proportion of readers finding content this way, one of the best ways to maximise visibility is to make your paper search engine friendly.
Search engine optimisation
Search engines want to provide the best service for their users by displaying the most relevant and high-quality content on the first page. They achieve this by using algorithms to ‘crawl’ websites and content to determine where they rank on the results page. If you can optimise your paper so that it is high quality and relevant to what people search for, then you will give it a better chance of ranking highly in search results. This is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Below are some simple techniques you can employ during the writing process to increase your paper’s visibility on search engines, and thus make a bigger impact within your area of research.
By optimising your paper for your readers and for search engines, you ensure your paper maximises its visibility, reaches your intended audience and makes an impact within your area of research.
The first place to start is choosing your keywords. Keywords are so often an afterthought but they are such a valuable part of your paper’s metadata; they are how readers will find your paper, so choose them wisely.
To help decide what keywords you should include, begin by thinking how you would search for your article. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes: what vocabulary would your audience type into a search engine to find this evidence or research? Consider different phrasing, specialised and general vocabulary and acronyms. Also, look at relevant published papers; what keywords did those authors use?
Once you have a list of keywords, try searching with them; do they bring up relevant papers? Create a shortlist to ensure your chosen keywords are as accurate as possible. Once finalised, your keywords can be placed throughout your paper to help it become more discoverable.
Let’s start with your title...
A well written title is an invaluable tool to ensure your paper is as discoverable as possible.
Your title tells readers whether they should read on or not, so it should give the right first impression.
Some tips to writing a title:
What do you want to convey to potential readers? What is the main point or finding of your paper? Try and write a title that answers these questions in an informative and clear way.
We recommend that titles are around 15 words in length and that they contain keywords and/or phrases that both represent your topic and are attractive to your intended audience.
Titles over a certain length are not fully displayed in search engines. If a title is too long, the end of the title will be cut off, which may omit important keywords and context. Therefore, place important keywords near the beginning of your title. This will help improve the discoverability of your paper and make it more search engine friendly.
Depending on the type of paper you are writing you may need to include an abstract. Place essential findings and one or two keywords at the beginning of your abstract (the reason being that search engines tend to show the first few sentences of a paper’s abstract on the results page). Help your intended audience get a feel for your paper by writing an informative first few sentences.
Also, follow the format in the relevant Veterinary Evidence templates so that your abstract is formatted correctly and is a concise summary of your paper.
As well as including keywords within your title and abstract, you can place keywords and phrases in other places throughout your paper. Keep in mind that keywords should be used appropriately and in context, as search engines look unfavourably on content that tries to manipulate search rankings by stuffing the page full with keywords.
Where using tables or figures, provide a legend that accurately describes the results or findings displayed.
Headings are signposts that help readers, as well as search engines, understand the structure and content of your paper. Subheadings make a paper easy to read by humans and by bots, and so can have a positive effect on your paper, especially if they also contain keywords.
Make supplemental material available
Supplementary material is additional information that is relevant to your paper but not included in the article itself. This can include things like primary datasets, filesets, images and multimedia. Supplementary material not only enriches your content, but can help make your paper more discoverable, as readers may be lead to your paper from finding your supplementary material online. It can provide another route to your research.
Your name may change or be recorded slightly differently on the papers you publish: perhaps only initials and surname, or your full name or an abbreviation of your name, or they may even be misspelt. ORCID iD is a free, unique identifier assigned to you, which lets you keep track of your publications, and distinguishes you from every other researcher ensuring you receive credit for your work.
It is also becoming common for funding bodies to seek to account for their research investments, and so are starting to mandate that authors get ORCID profiles.
We collect ORCID iDs at the submission process. The iD becomes part of your paper’s metadata and is published alongside it. The published ORCID iD links to your ORCID profile and from there to your other publications, thus making you as well as your work even more discoverable.
Create inbound links
One of the biggest ways search engines determine page ranking is by looking at the number of inbound links going to that page. Inbound links to your paper will positively influence its search ranking, especially if those links are from respected and trusted websites. So, once your paper has been published, link to it from various places such as your personal webpage and institutional websites, add it to your email signature, and if you have one, link to it from your blog. Sharing the URL to your paper on social networking sites also helps – share your paper on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as reference management sites such as Mendeley and CiteUlike.
Encourage your colleagues and peers to share and link to your papers, and offer to do the same for them. This will help make your work discoverable within your area of research.
By optimising your paper for your readers and for search engines, you are ensuring your paper maximises its visibility, reaches your intended audience and makes an impact within your area of research.