The best abstracts all follow a specific formula. And it’s this formula that leads to a higher number of readers, which results in a higher number of citations. Often, the number of citations a paper receives determines the author’s status as an expert in his or her field.
What is the formula for an ideal abstract? One of the key components is search engine optimization (SEO). After all, how can your paper be cited if no one can find it? And nowadays people search for papers almost exclusively through search engines.
SEO words should not be confused with jargon. Ideal and rich SEO words are those you would type into a search engine; they should be specific to your field and your paper. These are also known as keywords. Jargon is similar in that the words are likely to be used within your industry or niche, but they are not as reader-friendly or search-engine optimized as keywords.
If you’re stuck when coming up with SEO words, consider researching similar papers in your field of study. What words would you use in your search? What words do the top-most cited documents use? In a sense, you are asking yourself what your material is about and how you can describe it in a single word or phrase. Never use an SEO word that isn’t relevant to your paper.
Search engines will rank your paper in the search results, so consider how your chosen words will rate. It is unlikely that a person will read past the first five search hits. You want to rank as high as possible in a search to gain the most exposure. Some SEO words are already dominated or overused, and it is unlikely that you will overtake the top search hit slots. Therefore, you may have to think a bit harder about what SEO words could describe your work and rank you in the top search results. For example, in the field of biology, “next-generation sequencing” is an overused SEO word. Instead, authors could focus on their specific type of sequencing. A keyword such as “metatranscriptome sequencing” is more likely to rank them at the top of a search result than the previous example.
You should use these SEO words efficiently, keeping in mind that your abstract should be concise and informative, make specific claims about your research, and draw at least one conclusion from your results. Your SEO words should flow naturally throughout the abstract. If you merely string together a bunch of SEO words, a search engine will find it, but no one will want to read your paper.
The point of SEO words is to make your material easy to search. The point of the abstract is to compel people to read your paper. Both of these elements are critical, and if one of them is missing, your summary will go undiscovered and your paper unread.
To write a better abstract–one that will be cited heavily–you must incorporate well-thought-out SEO words that relate to your paper. Weigh the quality of the words over quantity, trying to be as descriptive and specific as possible. Ideally, your main keyword will be in the first sentence of the abstract.
SEO optimization is becoming more and more critical when it comes to getting your paper cited and recognized. Your abstract and keywords are what search engines will use to help people find your work. So, if you want to become a highly cited expert within a given area, you will pay particular attention to your abstract and its SEO.