How to...
Make your research easy to find with SEO

As an author, you want to know that your work is reaching the widest audience possible and is attracting those all-important views, downloads, citations or shares. 

But, how can you maximise the chances that readers find and read your content when the sea of literature published each year is rising rapidly?

Read our guide on how to make your research easy to find for search engines and how to optimise your content.

How to ensure your article has impact

In this video, we highlight three vital steps you can take during the writing stage to help optimise its visibility.

You will discover: 

  • Why it’s important to write a descriptive title (this also applies to chapter titles if you are writing a book)
  • How to choose the right keywords and key phrases
  • The role your abstract can play in optimising SEO (if you are writing an article)

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, describes the actions you can take to help search engines, like Google, understand and rank the content on a webpage. Search engines use complex algorithms to determine the order in which they list search results. And, with nearly half of the people that run a Google search choosing one of the top three results, you want to ensure your work ranks highly.

Optimising for search

Search engine algorithms consider a range of things. For example, they evaluate the links to, and from, other content (both onsite and offsite); how highly rated that content is; and the keywords and key phrases you have chosen. When writing your content, the more relevant the keywords and key phrases in your title, body text and abstract (if you have one), the higher your work will appear on search engine results lists.

Warning! Don't overuse keywords and damage the integrity of your content. Google and other search engines can detect when someone is overusing keywords or “keyword stuffing” in a bid to manipulate rankings. How much is too much? There are no set numbers - the key is to write in a natural, easy-to-read style and target people, not machines.

How to make your title & text SEO-friendly

Key tips on how to make your title and text SEO friendly; 

  • It should reflect the significance of your research or case study and include some of your most relevant keywords – lead with the most important ones. 
  • Use a title that is unambiguous and clear in both its meaning and its syntax.
  • Think about the length of your title – too long and the full title won’t show up in search results. SEO specialist Moz has a free title preview tool to help you determine the right length. 

Here are some examples 
"A framework for transportation decision making in an integrated supply chain"
"Consumer perception of organic food production and farm animal welfare"
These titles make sense as sentences; they introduce the content of the article and contain the main words and phrases that readers will search on.

Choosing the right keywords & key phrases

Keywords are the words or terms someone is likely to search for when seeking information on a topic. Choosing ones that are relevant to your field and the theme of your paper, case study or book will increase the chance that your work is found and read. The important word in the previous sentence is “relevant”; you need to find words or phrases that apply to your work specifically and we have a few tips to get you started.

  • What would you search for? Think of every likely angle that someone might search on, and make sure you’ve covered that angle with a keyword or key phrase.
  • Complete a search of those keywords to assess the competition. What keywords does it look like they are targeting? 
  • What supplementary terms and synonyms are they using?
  • Use keywords that might not appear in your title, for example, the wider subject areas, the sub-discipline, the methodology used.
  • Remember, keywords don't need to be single words, they can also be phrases; people may search on “business ethics” as well as “business”. In fact, the more descriptive the phrase you use, the better search engines will understand and rank your content and the more relevant the traffic you’ll receive.
  • Don't use jargon or invented keywords that people probably won't search on – keywords should reflect a collective understanding of the subject area.
  • Include, but don't overuse synonyms.
  • Think internationally, for example, “real estate” is a term used in the US while, in the UK, “property market” or ‘housing market' are more commonly used. 
  • Consider variations. For example, “CSR” and “Corporate Social Responsibility” or “United States”, “USA” and “US”. Make sure you cater for acronyms and other abbreviations of words.

 Stick with the tips listed above and you will be right on track.

Free websites to help you identify keywords

  • Google Trends - compare keyword search traffic and popularity. You can change the geographic location at the top of the page.
  • Answer the Public - find out what questions people are asking around keywords
  • Keyword Explorer - discover definitive search volumes and assess your competition

You can also look at the “searches related to <keyword/phrase>” list found at the bottom of most search engines’ results pages.

How to make an article abstract SEO-friendly

An abstract is one of the main manuscript elements a search engine will use to determine how highly an article should be ranked in its search results:

  • Including the keywords and key phrases in your abstract is one of the best ways to optimise your article for search engines. It allows Google and other search engines to assess your article’s relevance against certain search terms.
  • Consider the first sentence of your abstract – this is visible within the Google search results, so it should get straight to the point and include strong keywords. 
  • As well thinking about search engines, remember that abstracts are normally free to read online and will influence a reader’s decision to click through to the full article. Our guide to writing an article abstract contains some useful tips.
  • Consider a video abstract to complement your paper and get your key messages across.

Tips for book authors

  • Make sure you have an author central account on Amazon, and link your social media accounts to your author central account. This will help you rank higher on Amazon and improve your search engine visibility.
  • Just like your main title, chapter titles should be direct, require no further explanation, and include relevant keywords.

Related topics

Writing simply

Investing a little time in ensuring your regional manuscript or case study is easy to really help readers absorb your key messages. 

Tips on writing simply


In this guide, we explain what you should look for at the proofing stage.

Tips on proofreading

Tips for non-native English speakers

This guide provides general advice on writing articles and lists some useful resources, including editing services for non-native English speakers.

Read our tips