SEO Strategies for Writers

I recently caught up with Teresa Krauss, Senior Editor at Springer, at a quaint little restaurant in Siena, Italy. We were both in town for the ISTR conference and serendipitously stopped at the same café to enjoy a bite of Italian cuisine.  As we talked, I realized that Teresa had some great tips about publishing academic articles that would be rather handy for everyone, including nonacademics like nonprofits and bloggers.

Essentially, Teresa believes that every author – even those publishing exclusively in print – needs to be SEO savvy.   Even if it’s print, it’s being sold and searched for online.

SEO, as you may know, stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s what an author needs to do with their article, book or book chapter to be found at the top of the results of a search done in search engine like Google or Google Scholar. If someone searches for your name or the topics you write about, will they find you? In today’s web-based world, let’s hope they do.

There are simple strategies that can help your article to be found easily through Google and other online searches.

Here are a few tips I learned from Teresa:

1)      Be careful with your titles. It is best to write a short title which explicitly states what the article includes. Don’t be cutesy. Be concise and clear. For example: “Nonprofit Management Strategies” is far more SEO friendly than “Planning for the long term.”

2)      Get serious about key words. The key words are an important flag that directs potential readers to your article rather than the thousands of others out there. If you’re thoughtful and specific about your key words, you will increase the likelihood of being found. For ideas on what key words to use, Teresa suggests checking the articles of topics similar to yours. What words did those authors use? That might be a good starting point.

3)      Talk to your editor about other languages. Ask the journal editor if you can submit an abstract in a language other than English (presumably one you’re fluent in). If at all possible, Teresa highly recommends doing so. Not everybody is doing their searches in English –especially if you research is being done in a country where that language is spoken – having this other abstract would be ideal.

4)      Get online. Seriously. If you aren’t on social media by now, you’re missing out. Twitter and Facebook isn’t just about Perez Hilton gossip.  There are fabulous intellectual discussions happening on social media and YOU should be part of it, as should your research and/or message. There is wonderful networking amongst professional colleagues. There are tremendous opportunities to share your knowledge, ideas, passion with the world. And, there is the potential for generative connections. So get online. We’ll see you there!

Teresa talks about publishing in academic journals and books but you can see that the tips she shared apply to bloggers and nonprofit organizations.

For example, on this blog I think that I do a good job of using key word tags but I should probably take her advice on writing more concise titles. You can see from my blog list that I tend to go for cutesy. For example, my favorite titles are ones like: “social media policies as beach reading” . . . Fun title but not SEO optimized.

One quick note for nonprofits in regards to tip #3: You may be thinking, “I don’t write abstracts so this doesn’t apply to me.” To you I would offer a thought: – you may not have abstracts, but you do have websites. It’s important to think about what language you are using for your website. I know many nonprofits that have an English website but say they don’t have enough money for a website in the language their clients speak. That’s okay – you don’t need a whole new website. You can just add a couple of pages to the website you do have (using the language of your clients) and make sure that the key terms that describe your services are included on those pages. If those pages are in another language, it may increase the number of clients that can find you online.

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought. Now that I’m back in the states, I know there are things I’ll be doing differently as the result of this information.



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