Blackwell Publishing

Optimizing Your Article for Search Engines

Help Readers Find YOU:

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. 

Example of Well-Optimized Title/Abstract: 

Genocide and Holocaust Consciousness in Australia

Ever since the British colonists in Australia became aware of the disappearance of the indigenous peoples in the 1830s, they have contrived to excuse themselves by pointing to the effects of disease and displacement. Yet although genocide was not a term used in the nineteenth century, extermination was, and many colonists called for the extermination of Aborigines when they impeded settlement by offering resistance. Consciousness of genocide was suppressed during the twentieth century until the later 1960s, when a critical school of historians began serious investigations of frontier violence. Their efforts received official endorsement in the 1990s, but profound cultural barriers prevent the development of a general genocide consciousness. One of these is Holocaust consciousness, which is used by conservative and right-wing figures to play down the gravity of what transpired in Australia. These two aspects of Australian public memory are central to the political humanisation of the country. 

This article appears on the first page of results on Google for holocaust consciousness + Australia and for genocide + Australia. 

Poorly Optimized Title/Abstract: 

Australia's Forgotten Victims

Ever since the British colonists in Australia became aware of the disappearance of the indigenous peoples in the 1830s, they have contrived to excuse themselves by pointing to the effects of disease and displacement. Many colonists called for the extermination of Aborigines when they impeded settlement by offering resistance, yet there was no widespread public acknowledgement of this as a policy until the later 1960s, when a critical school of historians began serious investigations of frontier violence. Their efforts received official endorsement in the 1990s, but profound cultural barriers prevent the development of a general awareness of this. Conservative and right-wing figures continue to play down the gravity of what transpired. These two aspects of Australian public memory are central to the political humanisation of the country. 

Well-Optimized Abstract: 

False Remembering in the Aged

Researchers studying human memory have increasingly focused on memory accuracy in aging populations. In this article we briefly review the literature on memory accuracy in healthy older adults. The prevailing evidence indicates that, compared to younger adults, older adults exhibit both diminished memory accuracy and greater susceptibility to misinformation. In addition, older adults demonstrate high levels of confidence in their false memories. We suggest an explanatory framework for the high level of false memories observed in older adults, a framework based on the theory that consciously controlled uses of memory decline with age, making older adults more susceptible to false memories that rely on automatic processes. We also point to future research that may remedy such deficits in accuracy. 

This article appears on the first page of results in Google for false+memory+aged. 

Poorly Optimized Abstract: 

False Remembering in the Senior Population

Researchers studying human memory have increasingly focused on its accuracy in senior populations. In this article we briefly review the literature on such accuracy in healthy older adults. The prevailing evidence indicates that, compared to younger adults, older adults exhibit both diminished accuracy and greater susceptibility to misinformation. In addition, older adults demonstrate high levels of confidence in their false memories. We suggest an explanatory framework for the high levels observed in older adults, a framework based on the theory that consciously controlled uses of memory decline in later life, making older adults more susceptible to false memories that rely on automatic processes. We also point to future research that may remedy such deficits in accuracy. 

Well-Optimized Abstract: 

Differential Glutamate Dehydrogenase (GDH) Activity Profile in Patients with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Summary: Purpose: Pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) are still poorly understood. One major hypothesis links alterations in energy metabolism to glutamate excitotoxicity associated with seizures in TLE. The purpose of this study was to determine whether changes in the activities of enzymes critical in energy and neurotransmitter metabolism contributed to the alterations in metabolic status leading to the excitotoxic effects of glutamate. 
Methods: Activities of four key enzymes involved in energy metabolism and glutamate cycling in the brain [aspartate aminotransferase (AAT), citrate synthase (CS), glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)] were measured in anterolateral temporal neocortical and hippocampal tissues obtained from three different groups of medically intractable epilepsy patients having either mesial, paradoxical, or mass lesionassociated temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE, PTLE, MaTLE), respectively. 
Results: We found that GDH activity was significantly decreased in the temporal cortex mainly in the MTLE group. A similar trend was recognized in the hippocampus of the MTLE. In all three patient groups, GDH activity was considerably lower, and AAT and LDH activities were higher in cortex of MTLE as compared with the corresponding activities in hippocampus (p < 0.05). In the MTLE cortex and hippocampus, GDH activities were negatively correlated with the duration since the first intractable seizure. 
Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis suggesting major alteration in GDH activity mainly in the MTLE group. It is proposed that significant alterations in the enzyme activities may be contributing to decreased metabolism of glutamate, leading to its accumulation. 

This abstract appears on the first page of results in Google for GDH+epilepsy. 

Poorly Optimized Abstract: 

Differential Glutamate Dehydrogenase Activity Profile in Patients with TLE

Summary: Purpose: Pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying TLE are still poorly understood. One major hypothesis links alterations in energy metabolism to glutamate excitotoxicity associated with seizures in TLE. The purpose of this study was to determine whether changes in the activities of enzymes critical in energy and neurotransmitter metabolism contributed to the alterations in metabolic status leading to the excitotoxic effects of glutamate. 
Methods: Activities of four key enzymes involved in energy metabolism and glutamate cycling in the brain [aspartate aminotransferase (AAT), citrate synthase (CS), glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)] were measured in anterolateral temporal neocortical and hippocampal tissues obtained from three different groups of medically intractable epilepsy patients having either MTLE, PTLE, or MaTLE, respectively. 
Results: We found that activity was significantly decreased in the temporal cortex mainly in the MTLE group. A similar trend was recognized in the hippocampus of the MTLE. In all three patient groups, this activity was considerably lower, and AAT and LDH activities were higher in cortex of MTLE as compared with the corresponding activities in hippocampus (p < 0.05). In the MTLE cortex and hippocampus, GDH activities were negatively correlated with the duration since the first intractable seizure. 
Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis suggesting major alteration in activity mainly in the MTLE group. It is proposed that significant alterations in the enzyme activities may be contributing to decreased metabolism of glutamate, leading to its accumulation. 


Important Points To Remember:

  • People tend to search for specifics, not just one word e.g. women's fiction not fiction.
  • Ensure that the title contains the most important words that relate to the topic.
  • Key phrases need to make sense within the title and abstract and flow well.
  • It is best to focus on a maximum of three or four different keyword phrases in an abstract rather than try to get across too many points.
  • Finally, always check that the abstract reads well, remember the primary audience is still the researcher not a search engine, so write for readers not robots.  

If you would like to provide feedback on these guidelines or ask a question about optimizing your article abstract or title you may contact Lorna Berrett

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Guidelines by Journal

If you are interested in submitting a manuscript, view the author guidelines for each journal by selecting the journal title below (the guidelines will appear in a new browser window):