Welcome to 20 Days to Research Impact!
Over the next four weeks we are going to be setting up a number of professional web profiles. However, before we get to setting up, we need some great content. This content should make it easier to find you through a web search, present a professional face and engage a broad audience in the importance of your work.
The professional biography we create today can be used, in part or in full (depending on space available), across your web profiles, including your University of Newcastle (UON) profile and social media.
Firstly, to make it easy for search engines, such as Google, to find you, your web bio should be keyword optimised.
Make a list of your keywords. You may have used them in grant applications before. They would be: your broad discipline area, areas of specialisation, plus your name and your location are also important keywords.
You can do keyword research by Googling your name to see where you rank, who is above you and how you can differentiate yourself.
In the example below, you can see there are two ‘Jessie Reids’ above me, but my profile includes my main keywords: ‘Digital Communication’ as well as my location and contact details, and an image. This makes it very easy for anyone who I have met at a conference, etc., to find me online.
If there are lots of people with the same name as you, your research keywords become even more important. For example, they may not find the right ‘John Smith’ on the first 50 pages of Google – but if they know you are a sociologist or you work at Newcastle, they are likely to search those words also – and with your optimised bio they will find you immediately.
After you have had a search for yourself, Google your research keywords. For more commonly used words and phrases you will find some suggested keywords at the bottom of your search results, which may give insight into what people are searching for online.
Optional extra: There are also professional tools such as Google Keyword Planner, which is part of Google’s AdWords software. If you would like to use it, you need to sign up to a free Google AdWords account here: http://www.google.com.au/adwords. Then you can pop in your keywords, see how they perform in different geographic locations and get other suggestions that may be more popular in search.
This tool is not essential at this stage of building your profile as your research keywords will probably have a fairly niche market with low competition, but if you are trying to seriously compete for broader terms that have high competition from other websites, you may like to try it. There are tutorials available on the AdWords site.
Hopefully you have been able to identify a list of keywords that relate to you and your work and put them in order them from most to least important, for example:
Search Engine Optimisation
Web Content Management
Next, we will layout our profiles in the optimal way for search engines (and for the reader as well!).
Note: people looking through websites don’t read them top to bottom, they scan the information. For this reason it is important to write in short concise paragraphs, using subheads and images to break up long text. Keep this in mind when writing your web bio!
Search engine algorithms (such as the algorithm Google uses), which scan websites for matching search data, take the most important information from:
- Your URL. Your name is already included in your UON web profile, as it is laid out newcastle.edu.au/profile/firstname-lastname. However, remember this when you are setting up URLs for blogs, and handles for social media such as Twitter.
- Your page titles
- Words at the top of the page, the start of paragraphs and the start of sentences
So, to be found in a web search you need to put the most important information about you right at the start of your profile, which is:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Where you do it
For example: Jessie Reid is the Digital Communication Coordinator for the Faculty of Education and Arts Research Unit at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
All my most important keywords in the first sentence laid out in a clear and concise manner.
From here, you can write about your areas of specialisation, your current projects etc, and include your other research keywords. Your UON web profile should be a minimum of approx. 200 words. Three-to-five hundred is optimal. However, for some of your other web and social media profiles there may be text limits that mean you can only use 100 words, or maybe even just the first sentence.
Tips for communicating your research
If you were able to attend Barbara Kamler’s ‘Writing the 100 Word Summary’ workshop last year hosted by the FEDUA Research Unit, you will probably remember the gems she imparted for communicating your research in an effective way to an audience of people who may not be in your particular field.
Laying your bio out in a similar manner will also give you lots of opportunity to use your keywords throughout.
From my rough notes, this is what I picked up from Barbara:
Structure your bio as follows: locate, focus, significance, outcome/argument
- Firstly, locate your work in the broader context of an urgent issue, debate or current social problems.
- Secondly, focus – this means identifying the particular question, issue or kind of problem that your research will explore, examine and/or investigate. Be specific – here’s the gap, here’s what I am going to do.
- Thirdly, significance – so what? Stating importance, your work’s relevance or promise.
- And finally, your outcome/argument states specific results of project, effect, usefulness.
Finish off your optimised web bio and read it through to make sure you have:
- Included your research keywords throughout (remember to use your name and location as well).
- Used short concise paragraphs
- Broken up long text with subheads
- Made note of any relevant images you could use to break up text
- Given a broad audience a clear idea of the significance of your work.
If you have struggled with how to explain your work for a broad audience, sit down with a friend, family member or colleague who is not in your field and try to explain it to them in plain language. Get them to ask you questions if they don’t understand to quiz it out of you.
Once you have a draft of your bio ready, ask someone to proof read it for you and see if they understand clearly what you are trying to convey.
This exercise will be helpful to you when you are engaging the media. If you can clearly explain your work to someone outside your field you are less likely to be misinterpreted or have your work over-simplified by journalists.
Congrats! Day 1 challenge completed! If you have questions or want to share your experience of Day 1, please leave a reply.
See you tomorrow for our Day 2 challenge: The importance of a professional profile image