Promoting your research with SEO and social media

Search engine optimization

Authors are encouraged include all of the most relevant words and phrases from their manuscript in their abstract, title, and keywords to make their manuscript easy to find.

Think about what terms a person might enter into a search box to find articles related to your work. You can also use websites such as Google Trends ( to identify the most popular and trending terms being associated with your work.

Titles have the biggest impact, and the first 50 characters (~10 words) are the most important. Because more people are browsing on small, hand-held devices, the decision of whether to “click” is often based on just the first few words of a title.

Abstracts usually have strict word limits, but a well-crafted abstract will include all the key phrases that would typically be entered into a search box by someone seeking information on that subject. If possible, repeat the most important words or phrases multiple times in the abstract as this will increase the “hits” in a search engine, ranking it higher in the list of search results.

Keywords can attract a reader who might be generally or marginally interested in your paper. For example, you may have used a particular type of analysis or methodology that would broadly interest people in multiple fields of study. Or you may be publishing data about a geographic area that would be of interest outside your specialty. Well-selected key terms will link those readers to your paper.

References that are relevant and appropriate will help people find your paper. Many search engines (including Web of Knowledge) specifically offer searches of citation history, so someone interested in a particular published article can perform a search of all articles that have cited that paper.

More keyword tips:

  • Make the first two or three words of a title the specific subject of the manuscript.
  • Include keywords that are synonyms (e.g., use “alien” and “invasive”; use “folic acid” and “vitamin B9”).
  • Include blanket terms on the same topic (e.g., use “global warming” and “climate change.”).

Social media

In a digital world, it is easy to share work on online platforms. Two of the most popular social sites are, of course, Facebook and Twitter. Whenever possible, post to specific group pages on these sites where the post will be likely to be shared by others. Include links to the article on your personal blog, personal and institution webpages, and any relevant blog or social news websites, such as CiteULike (, and Reddit( 

Maintain professional accounts and CVs online. Professional research accounts, such as Academia, LinkedIn, ORCID, Mendeley, and ResearchGate are good places to maintain a list of your published articles. Authors interested in boosting visibility and citations should maintain profiles on such sites, or other sites that are popular in their discipline. Even if your papers are not open access, you can integrate keywords that reflect your research and articles into your site profiles. 

Create or add to Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia ( is an incredibly popular reference site that is crowd-managed, so anyone can contribute. Find a page that is relevant to your research and add your information and citation


There are several methods to analyze different measures of success of scientific documents. 

Bibliometrics (standard quantitative analyses of an author’s published work or a journal’s visibility) and altmetrics (alternative measures that incorporate social visibility) are key measures of the professional success of an author or a journal. The standard bibliometric for authors is the Hirsch index (h-index) and the standard bibliometric for journals is the impact factor (IF). However, several alternative indicators have emerged in recent decades that attempt to standardize scores by taking into account certain biases, such as patterns related to a journal’s subject field, author self-citations, and the visibility/importance of the journal. 


The Hirsch index (h-index or Hirsch number) is a measure of the impact of a scholar’s published work based on a distribution curve. Online tools and free software can be used to find an author’s h-index. Instead of using the total number of citations or a lifetime average, these sites quantify the impact of an author’s most-cited work. For example, if an author’s h-index = 5, that means that five papers by that author have been cited five or more times. A higher h-index indicates higher impact (authors with more citations). The h-index can also be applied to a journal or a group of researchers. 

Online sources to find an author’s h-index:

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