How to Choose Effective Keywords for Your Article

June 8, 2017 Helen Eassom


You just wrote an awesome article for a scientific journal. Whether it's your first published piece or your 100th, you deserve kudos. After you do the hard work, you have to take into consideration how a search engine indexes your article. Discover how to choose effective keywords for your article with a few practical tips.Twin Design Shutterstock.jpg

Importance of Indexing

Indexing for search engines is important for two reasons. Effective keywords for your article portray an accurate representation of what you publish. When someone searches for an article on the latest nutritional studies pertaining to apples, they don't want to see an article about the relationship between tectonic activity and volcanoes. That's an extreme example, but if enough keywords about nutrition and apples end up in an article about tectonics and volcanoes, search engines may think the article is about apples.

Indexing also catches the attention of search engines. Best practices for SEO include mentioning the keywords every 100 to 200 words, in subheadings, in your title, at the beginning of the piece, and towards the end of your article. Effective keywords for your article start with the title.

Title Creation

A title catches the attention of readers, but it also serves as a way to introduce the main point of your article. Consider the introductory paragraph of your article and create a title from there. Your title shouldn't be bland, but it can't be misleading or outrageous, either.

Back to the example about apples, consider the differences between "An Apple a Day Keeps Colon Cancer Away" and "Research Indicates Apples May Prevent Colon Cancer." Both titles contain the keywords "apple" and "colon cancer," but the first one sounds more colloquial and better-suited for popular reading. Once you have your title, filter your keywords throughout the piece using the best practices mentioned earlier. Examine how the article looks after you add more keywords or change verbiage around to accommodate your keyword choices.

Word Clusters or Word Clouds

Several online sources create word clusters or word clouds. Word clusters count the words in your article and give you a visual snapshot of the most prominent words in the article. This can point to how you should select a keyword, even before you select a title. All of these work by copy and pasting text into a text box.

Examine a few word cluster analysis tools to see which one works best for you.

  • Jason Davies Word Cloud Generator creates a graphic of your word cloud on the page above a text box. Larger words figure more prominently.
  • Wordle creates a word cloud, and its analysis tools show you which words show up the most.
  • Tag Crowd customizes your word cluster analysis with drop-down menus to limit your parameters.
  • Tagxedo performs a word cloud analysis on a URL or link.

Your published material can add keywords to search engines in other ways aside from using tools to find the most effective keywords for your article.


Academic papers and long articles require an abstract, which is a short summary of your work. Use keywords in your abstract as an extra boost to your SEO practices. Abstracts are usually just a few hundred words, so putting the keywords in two or three times makes sense when you input the keywords naturally.

Natural Language

Your keywords should employ natural language and blend seamlessly into your article. Simply saying "apples colon cancer" doesn't make sense. Search engines recognize that keywords can be a few words apart to remain relevant to a search engine's algorithm. For instance, compare how "Studies show apples prevent colon cancer," and "Patients with a predisposition for colon cancer might eat apples to prevent this disease" both use the keywords properly in terms of indexing for search engines.

Google AdWords

Marketing gurus use Google Adwords to find keywords that get the most traffic from searches. Utilize this free tool to choose effective keywords for your article. Input the keywords into the program and look for their popularity. Google AdWords suggests alternative keywords if you want to add more robust selections to your article through secondary keywords that augment your main choices.

Great keywords capture the attention of search engines while also accurately conveying the content of your article The correct keywords may give your article better circulation among internet searches, which, in turn, could elevate your expertise in your chosen subject.

Image Credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock

About the Author

Helen Eassom

Author Marketing, Wiley // Helen is a Marketing Coordinator working within the Author Marketing team for Wiley's Global Research division.

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