A long time ago in an office far away, I spent weeks and weeks optimizing nearly 2000 PDF files for the company where I worked. That was more than five years ago and I'm surprised to hear how many small business owners have no idea that you can optimize a PDF file for search. If you're one of the many, you'd be well served by reading Galen DeYoung's "Eleven Tips for Optimizing PDFs For Search Engines" at Search Engine Land today.
In it, he offers up some concrete suggestions to sites that use PDFs for content. Before you get all up in arms about the idea of including content in PDFs, keep in mind that there are quite a few good reasons to use PDFs.
1. White Papers
3. Data sheets for manufacturers
4. Brochures and Menus
Basically, any content that needs to be kept in a specific format for easy printing does well in PDF format.
While each tip goes into more depth in the full article, here's a quick round-up of what Galen suggestions:
1. Make sure your PDFs are text based.
2. Complete the document properties.
3. Optimize the copy.
4. Build links into PDFs.
5. Pay attention to the version.
6. Optimize the file size for search.
7. Pay attention to placement.
8. Influence meta descriptions for PDFs.
9. Specify the reading order.
10. Tag your PDFs
11. Pay attention.
As with anything in SEO, it's important to keep in mind that you don't have to tackle it all at once. If your site has dozens, hundreds or even thousands of PDF files, it's not realistic to optimize them all this weekend. Instead, set a goal to optimize a certain number each week. While it may take awhile to get them all updated, every week will give you more optimized PDFs and more opportunities to rank.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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