This is the second post in our SEO series. Written by Anne-Marie Green, marketing manager at Wiley, this post is about the importance of keywords and how to use them effectively.
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In my last post, “The good news and bad news with SEO,” I mentioned keywords a lot. In fact, I was saying “keywords” so much that it was getting downright boring. I really wanted to stress their importance however. 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 this being said, search engine optimization (SEO) is a moving target. Google, which receives about 80 percent of online search that takes place, regularly changes its algorithms, leaving us sprinting to catch up. So, I want to clue you in on a couple more things beyond keywords as they relate to article SEO.
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 3 or 4 words that first pop into your head may be what you should lead your article title with.
- 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 that I mentioned 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.
We will be doing a series of posts on SEO. This installment is a general overview of the “good news and bad news” regarding Search Engine Optimization.
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For those who aren’t sure what SEO is, let’s take a minute to read to look at this great explanation by Jin Zhang and Alexandra Dimitroff (authors of “The Impact of Metadata Implementation on Webpage Visibility in Search Engine Results (Part II)” Information Processing & Management):
“Search Engine Optimization (SEO) … is the process of identifying factors in a webpage which would impact search engine accessibility to it and fine-tuning the many elements of a website so it can achieve the highest possible visibility when a search engine responds to a relevant query. Search engine optimization aims at achieving good search engine accessibility for webpages, high visibility in search engine results, and improvement of the chances the webpages are retrieved.”
When thinking about using this tool, there are some upsides and downsides you need to consider.
First, here’s the bad news about using search engine optimization for your paper: It’s going to be a bit more work.
As if it’s not enough that you hustled for funding, figured out who your co-authors would be, conducted the research, wrote the paper, decided where to submit it, hoped that it would be accepted, made necessary revisions, and waited anxiously for it go up online.
Plus, you may be asking yourself: “Isn’t that the journal’s (or publisher’s) job?” Well yes and no. Journals and publishers need to make sure they do everything they can to optimize online platforms so that search engines can easily crawl and index content. 58% of all traffic to Wiley’s online platform, Wiley Online Library, comes from search engines (predominantly Google and Google Scholar). However, they do not have ultimate control over the discoverability of content at the article level. You do.
Here’s the good news: It’s worth the effort.
Why would you bother to go to all the toil of authoring an article if your research is going to be buried on page 275 of Google or Google Scholar’s search results? Scholarly information is increasingly more accessible online, but not inherently more discoverable. Employing SEO can leverage a paper so that it has better odds of being at the top of search results, and, consequently, better odds of being read and even cited.
Moreover, if you are publishing open access, you may as well get the best value for your (or your funder’s) money by ensuring that your research is easily accessible via search engines.
So what do you need to do? We’ve created an SEO for Authors tips sheet to give authors an at-a-glance guide to optimizing their papers. Here are some highlights:
- Carefully select relevant keywords
- Lead with keywords in article title
- Repeat keywords 3-4 times throughout abstract
- Use headings throughout article
- Include at least 5 keywords and synonyms in keyword field
- Link to published article on social media, blogs and academic websites
The success of this tool boils down to selecting appropriate keywords (i.e. search terms) and using them frequently and appropriately. The more times a search term is used in the document, the more relevant the document is considered (according to Beel, Jran, Bela Gipp, and Erik Wilde “Academic Search Engine Optimization (ASEO): Optimizing Scholarly Literature for Google Scholar & Co.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing )
Once you grasp the concepts, the whole process really isn’t that daunting and won’t require that much additional work. It is really about being mindful as you are writing the paper of how users would search and find the published version online.
Earlier this month, Google announced a few changes and innovations to their SEO algorithms and webmaster relations.
In the video below, Matt Cutts lays out these changes. He talks about the prevalence of advertorial spam and how Google is taking steps decrease the success of these types of posts.
He also mentions that Google plans to solidify relationships with the “expert” webmasters. This will make sure their sites are ranked higher than “black hat” webmasters and protect against site hacking.
If you think of Google and just think of a search engine, you obviously haven’t been introduced to Google+. As an author, Google+ can be a multi-functional tool when building on interactions with your audience, and potential audiences.
After first becoming live in 2011 millions of users signed up, but unaware of some of Google+’s great functions, gave up and went back to the seemingly more exciting Facebook. But there are benefits to Google+ and they can benefit you as an author or contributor.
Without going into a social media overload on every last function Google+ can do, here’s a short summary of the three best reasons to use Google+, and what they can do for your work.
If the Dalai Lama is using Hang-outs to promote his work, then you should be too. In October last year the Dalai Lama had planned to visit South Africa to celebrate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Visa restrictions prevented him entering the country so he held a Hang-Out with the Archbishop on Google+ instead. As the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu joked and chatted with each other online, they had an audience of over 2 million hanging on their every word. Although the men primarily just interacted with each other, it was a perfect opportunity to imitate a lowering of barriers and to make other social media users feel involved.
So, what does this mean for us? Good question. Authors and contributors can use Hang-Outs to do book tours from their home. It makes interviews and collaborations easier than ever and it’s a great platform to meet with critique groups, writing groups, or just a team of like-minded people. Up to nine people can interact in a Hang-Out, but the amount of people who can view it is unlimited; that could build you up quite the crowd.
What is a circle? Google + knows that we all have relations/friends/associates that fit into different social ‘groups’ so this feature allows you to clump people together by their social circle. You can separate fans, family, friends, other writers and whoever else you want; this allows you to share as much or as little with different groups of people. You can chat, hang-out, and micro-publish your content with everyone, or only certain groups; it’s up to you.
If you’ve used Facebook you’ll know that when you ‘like’ something, Facebook automatically makes these items more visible within the site. Google’s +1 does one better and rather than just boosting your content inside Google+ as a social media network, it also helps rank content on Google as a search engine. The +1 feature can make a significant impact on your SEO.
To round up, it’s no good just signing up to Google+ (or any social media site for that matter) to really get the advantages of them you’ve got to use their features, and use them regularly. Use Hang-Outs and Circles and connect with your readers, micro-publish and interact with fans. Post content and encourage +1s and you’ll increase your SEO too.