Search Engine Optimisation had officially entered into academia when publishers started to provide guides to SEO (here’s example of such guide from Wiley). Of course, authors of scholarly literature have used SEO (often under other names) for much longer, although now it’s official and almost recommended.
I’m interested in SEO for more than 10 years, often experimenting with various techniques (for example, if you look for CLANS, Java software for clustering of protein sequences, my blog post describing the software ranks in Google higher than CLANS’ homepage for majority of keywords). Most of the tricks people use, like the ones described in the Wiley’s guide, are pretty trivial. Scientists are usually smarter than that.
I wonder what will be the level of sophistication of techniques developed by researchers to make their research more visible? Traditional way of getting published in the most prominent journals isn’t for everyone (getting in does not depend on the quality of one’s research, that’s clear). Alternative metrics relying on the clicks, visits, downloads are easy to manipulate, however rarely anyone uses them to reach for a paper. There are few other things to try but ultimately artificial hype has the most potential.
There are already a few examples of people that have built their high position in academia using smart marketing strategy in addition to quite good research output. As much as I can say, in all these cases it was rather catching the opportunity of already growing hype, than engineering it from the scratch. I haven’t seen anyone in science building a hype from the scratch, but there are already examples from industry. But it will happen eventually. Open Science will help in that ;).