SEO made simple

Help your research reach more readers

You’ve done the hard work of research and writing. How can you make sure your work reaches the right people?

More and more, researchers and other readers start by looking for articles online, especially using a general search engine like Google, or the academic equivalent, Google Scholar.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a technical term for techniques that help make your article as visible as possible on search engines. Good SEO starts with the principle of trying to understand what someone would be looking for – in technical terms, ‘the intent of search’.

In order to make sure your research is discoverable to researchers and other potential readers, you should:

  • Think about who your readers are
  • Consider what terms they would use to search for your article
  • Adapt your language (especially keywords and titles) to match
  • Share a link to your article through your networks


Keywords should clearly reflect the article’s content with search and discovery in mind. When selecting keywords, imagine what someone would search for to return your article as a top result. As a general rule, include 1-2 keywords in your title, 2-3 in the abstract, and 5-7 in keyword fields.


Titles should be concise and use primary keywords. Your title should clearly and succinctly state the key finding or result.


Where possible, put essential findings and keywords in the first two sentences of your abstract – this is the section that will most likely display in search engine results. Abstracts are highly visible on Google Scholar and on the Oxford Academic platform.


Build links back to your article. Google ranks pages more highly when they are linked to by other relevant and authoritative sites. It’s a kind of social proof: more links can be an indicator that the content is trusted, valuable, and useful. Share the link to your article, and encourage colleagues to share it as well.