Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for associations is ensuring that your association’s content is found when your audience searches for your brand and your content. It’s an ongoing process that includes a strong technical foundation, well-written content matched to your searcher’s pain points, and a great user experience. The end goal should be to increase the online footprint and visibility of your association brand, journal articles, meetings, and other offerings.
SEO for Academic Journals
More members will use your website than any of your other program offerings and members want to contribute to journals that have high impact scores – where their articles will be seen and recognized. It’s not enough to just publish anymore when in 2022, Google doesn’t index everything.
Having an SEO who understands academic journals on board during moments of transition (web migrations, new designs, etc) is critical to academic journal success. Being on a Google Scholar platform is not enough, you need an SEO who understands the interplay between Google Scholar and Google Search.
With Google Search’s algorithm changing nine times a day, an SEO consultant can help you build your organic traffic strategy, train your staff, develop implementation plans, and ultimately ensure that you’re confident in running your own SEO strategy.
Why technical SEO is critical for academic journals
For associations with academic journals, technical SEO is a foundational element that can sink or boost the impact factor of your journals. While associations should be natural thought leaders in their topic, top rankings on Google are not guaranteed no matter who you are (and I’ve worked with three federal .gov websites, and three academic journals so I know this first hand). Often technical issues can limit your organic visibility traffic, and your impact factor score (the calculation of all incoming citations — divided by the number of regular research articles).
Being discovered in Google Scholar is not the same as Google Search – Google Search is more competitive and your indexing and ranking are not guaranteed.
Citations are Inbound Links
A citation is a link from another website linking to your article or front matter. And I’m not about to suggest that you should engage in any sort of non-natural way of building your citations (as “citation stacking” can negatively affect your impact factor) but, when moving web platforms I’ve seen most journals lose traffic and rankings due to a lack of 301 redirect mapping and testing those redirects to make sure they work.
They lose those citations because Google Search sees EACH URL individually in all of its glorious format (uppercase, lowercase, dashes, protocol, etc), and applies those inbound links accordingly. This often gets missed if the publisher of that article changes the URL. For instance, if you moved from HTTP to HTTPS (new URL due to the new protocol) or combined subdomains into the main domain (also, a change of URL).
📌 Here’s the kicker – best practice SEO can save your citations:
If an SEO consultant was on board, there would be a 301 redirect for each of these valuable URLs to the new destination, it would be tested to be accurate and functioning, and organic rankings and traffic would stay the same.
What does a loss of citations look like? Here’s an example of an association site that lost citations due to technical issues (possibly a migration) where redirects were not executed.
The power of technical SEO fixes for journal sites
Conversely, here’s an example of how technical SEO alone can directly improve your journal’s rankings, traffic, and eventually citations/impact factor.
Here’s the traffic impact of fixing a technical issue – a crawl trap – on a journal – the crawl was infinite and no 404 page (or status) was triggered. We fixed the relative link issue and ensured a 404 page was generated, and this is what happened with just that fix – 40K additional keywords (1,500 on Google page one) just one month later.
SEO can enhance a journal’s online footprint
All associations and journals have an opportunity to create strategic content for ranking purposes based on Google’s understanding of the domain’s authority and the brand’s subject expertise. With an SEO on board during a web migration, journal managers can limit the organic traffic impact, and become savvier about how to manage their presence in Google search, as well as enhance their own professional development.
Academic Journals’ additional content & ranking opportunity
Beyond the migration moment, if the journal has collection pages, blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos — those can be strategically created with search rankings and traffic in mind.
That strategic content involves more than just meta tags and keywords “sprinkled” throughout the text. Creating great content is based on answering your audience’s questions, and creating something that is better than what is already ranking.
We not only help journals with the technical SEO consulting services above (which includes technical SEO training) but also with the content strategy to even further expand their organic traffic footprint.