The power of an SEO strategy for academic journals
Hello, and thanks for listening to SEO tips today.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working with professional journals who are in Google Scholar but need to improve their Google Search visibility. My focus has been to ensure that I don’t recommend changes that impact their Google Scholar visibility but enhance their discoverability in Google search.
It turns out that documentation on the difference in those crawlers and algorithms is hard to find. So after a ton of research, I pulled together a “cheat sheet,” – which I am going to share with you today.
Let’s start with what Google Scholar is
Google scholar is a sub-search engine of Google that solely focuses on scholarly literature. It includes literature like articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities, and other web sites.
If you personally have published academic articles, your profile is eligible for Google scholar. Here’s my profile in Google scholar. To be included as an institution, Google recommends having your website hosted by one of their 6-10 Google Scholar partners.
Let’s walk through the difference between Google Search and Google Scholar
Google Scholar only focuses on the scholarly literature available on the Internet.
Google Search has a broader scope and retrieves all sorts of resources, regardless of whether they are academic or not.
The other big difference is that the estimated searches per month.
- There are 3 million searches on Google Scholar each month.
- Google Search (Google.com) has 201 million searches per month.
Optimizing for Google search traffic will definitely result in more traffic to your site.
Google Scholar crawl frequency
Unlike Googlebot which can visit a site multiple times a day depending on the frequency of the content change, Google Scholar only crawls new sites/content every 6-9 months!
And if Googlebot can not crawl or view the articles that cite your work in Scholar, they would not be able to add them to your citation count.
With a slow crawl schedule, it’s more critical than ever that journal sites intensely focus on ensuring that Googlebot can find their information as that bot crawls more frequently. In many ways, this should mirror your Bing SEO strategy, as they are also limited in their crawl frequency. If you’re curious as to how often Googlebot is visiting your site, I would recommend looking in your log files.
Duplication doesn’t matter on Google Scholar
Google Scholar can group files together based on DOI (Digital Object Identifier) – and this includes .pdf, image pages, etc. that are a part of the same article if you have provided proper references in the metadata in the root file – and all variants combine to increase the citation count.
However, Googlebot works differently. It sees all of those files as individual objects. Distinct URLs that are not grouped, from Googlebot’s perspective, don’t acquire a “group ranking” metric. To ensure that Googlebot sees those variants as a part of the whole, you would need to do the following (based on Googlebot/Google Webmaster Help files best practices):
Add a rel=canonical tag from the .pdf version (and other versions) to the main article.
Here’s how Google Scholar is the same as Google Search/Googlebot
Google Scholar needs to crawl your site like Googlebot to discover the content, and that means that crawling issues can impact your visibility in Scholar as well.
It also means that you need to ensure that you are using 301 redirects when moving content.
Impact of Crawl Errors and Page Speed
Slow crawl speed or crawl errors hurt every aspect of the crawl, and in this case, it will delay Google Scholar finding updates to existing papers:
Also, keep in mind that changes you make on your website will usually not be reflected in Google Scholar search results for some time..
If you’re looking for additional guidance on Google Scholar, check out Darcy Depra
Darcy is the previous Partner Manager for Google Scholar, so she’s a fantastic resource on such matters. In the presentations found online, she specifically mentions one-to-one 301 redirects for each URL when migration/changing URLs. She also mentions following the recommendations in Google Webmaster Help related to site moves.
So that’s your tip for today – academic sites can optimize their site for Google Search to increase their organic traffic without impacting their visibility in Google Scholar, and most of the time those improvements should help the number of citations referenced in Google scholar for their articles.
Thanks for listening. Come back tomorrow for another SEO tip.
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