In my last blog post on “Search Engine Optimization and Your Journal Article” I mentioned keywords a lot. I really wanted to stress their importance, however, and in this post I want to give you more hands-on advice on how to choose keywords for your article title, your abstract, and the keywords section of your article.
With that being said, search engine optimization is a moving target. Google, which receives about 80% of online search that takes place, regularly changes its algorithms, leaving us sprinting to catch up. So, I want to clue you in on how to employ keywords in light of these changes.
Do you ever browse ebay or etsy? If so, surely you’ve come across something like this:
I’m not saying you’re browsing for Lady Gaga-style sunglasses (and no judgment if you are), but you’ve probably seen these strings of somewhat unrelated keywords stuffed into product descriptions. Sometimes they’re downright funny. Well, Google has made updates recently to try to see beyond these strings of keyword bait. Nowadays, Google is looking for natural connections between keywords and the page (or article’s) content. So, how best to choose keywords?
- Think about what someone might search on to find your article. The phrase or first three or four words that first pop into your head may be what you should lead your article title with. A couple of good examples of optimized articles from Wiley’s portfolio include: “Ocean Acidification and Its Potential Effects on Marine Ecosystems” and “Nanomaterials in the environment: Behavior, fate, bioavailability, and effects.” You can see from both of these titles that the keywords lead the title and you can even hear the search terms in the titles.
- Use a tool to help. You can easily use Google’s Keyword Planner or RankChecker (you’ll have to sign up for a free registration for these) to find out which terms related to your article’s subject matter are popular keywords or search terms.
- Make sure the keywords you choose accurately reflect the content of your article. This is a no-brainer, but you don’t want to plug in keywords that have really strayed from your article’s content. Remember those “natural connections” to your content I mentioned that Google is looking for when crawling webpages.
- Use the keywords field to your advantage. Make sure you use this field to your advantage when submitting your paper. You not only need your keywords from the article title and abstract, but also synonyms. Is there another name or acronym for a concept, study, compound, etc, that you’re featuring in your research? Include it here!
- Repeat keywords in your abstract in ways that make sense. It’s important to repeat your keywords in your article abstract of course but, once again, make sure they are still used in a way that achieves your primary objective, which should be to briefly communicate the content of your article.
I hope this is useful (and, if you’re interested in the sunglasses, check in with ebay).