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SEO Guidelines for Authors: Optimizing Your Article for Search Engines

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Optimizing your article for search engines will greatly increase its chance of being viewed and/or cited in another work. Citation indexes already figure in many disciplines as a measure of an article’s value; there is evidence that article views/downloads are also beginning to count in the same way. The crucial area for optimization is your article’s abstract and title, which are freely available to all online. We have compiled these guidelines to enable you to maximize the web-friendliness of the most public part of your article.

Understanding Search Engines:

Each search engine has its own algorithms for ranking a piece of content, such as a journal article. However, many search engines estimate the content’s relevancy and popularity as measured by links to the content from other websites. Most search engines attempt to identify the topic of the piece of content. To do this, some search engines still use metadata tags (invisible to the user) to assess relevant content, but most now scan a page for keyword phrases, giving extra weight to phrases in headings and to repeated phrases.

Make it Work for YOU:

Step 1: Construct a clear, descriptive title

In search engine terms, the title of your article is the most interesting element. The search engine assumes that the title contains all of the important words that define the topic of the piece and thus weights words appearing there most heavily. This is why it is crucial for you to choose a clear, accurate title. Think about the search terms that readers are likely to use when looking for articles on the same topic as yours, and help them by constructing your title to include those terms. In the days of print-only journals, it mattered far less if, for example, an author published an article on body dysmorphic disorder called, The Broken Mirror in a psychology journal because the context was clear. On the web, people search on mirror when they want an item for their house.

Step 2: Reiterate key phrases

The next most important field is the text of the abstract itself. You should reiterate the key words or phrases from the title within the abstract itself. You know the key phrases for your subject area, whether it is temporal lobe epilepsy or reconstruction in Iraq. Although we can never know exactly how search engines rank sites (their algorithms are closely-guarded secrets and frequently updated), the number of times that your key words and phrases appear on the page can have an important effect. Use the same key phrases, if possible in the title and abstract. Note of caution: unnecessary repetition will result in the page being rejected by search engines so don’t overdo it. The examples below illustrate the difference between an abstract which is well-optimized and one which is not.

Continue reading on how to optimize your articles for search engines and some examples to help you: Optimizing Your Article for Search Engines

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Also of interest:
Seven Deadly Sins in Modern Academic Research
Tips for Writing Better Science Papers: Titles
The Chinese Scholars Network – How to Survive the Review Process

Image source: Wikimedia Commons | Author: Matthew Bowden www.digitallyrefreshing.com | Source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/145972

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