How Scientists Search

Mary FollinI came across an interesting metaphor for Search Engine Optimization the other day in Marios Alexandrou’s blog. Marios provides SEO services to companies, and—for kicks, I suppose—he was trying to come up with a “sports” analogy for SEO.  And since SEO requires a creative flair, is HIGHLY competitive and doesn’t involve direct combat between opponents, Marios concluded that figure-skating was the closest match.

skatesGood choice, but I would add one more element to the mix. Imagine a figure-skating competition where the audience chooses the winner, American Idol style. In which case, it would be good to know how the populace “votes.”

While scientists use a variety of search combinations when looking for product information via the Internet, “application” and “technique” are always part of three most commonly conducted search strategies. Interestingly, “product name” is more common than “vendor name” when executing these searches. This finding suggests that while vendor name recognition may be an important function of advertising, it is product awareness that will help cement the name of specific products in a scientist’s mind and influence the parameters of Internet searches. Vendors should thus try to ensure that their advertising—both print and online—helps scientists recall the name of their product(s).

Common Internet Search Term Combinations (n=1,215)


From Advertising to Life Scientists: Resolving the Print vs. Online Dilemma.