Optimize those PDFs

In our effort to master the marketing and media relations universe through Marketing PR and SEO, we came across an interesting blog posting entitled Optimizing PDFs for SEO (by Matt McGee at Small Business SEM).

We’ve been talking so much about optimizing your press releases and Web page content, it makes sense to optimize all the downloadable documents (PDF files).

Here are Matt’s tips:
  1. All three major engines can crawl and index text-based PDFs. If you need proof, just do a search on each SE with [PDF] in the query.
  2. PDF optimization is similar to optimization for a regular content page. Try this: good use of keywords/phrases, appropriate headlines and sub-headlines, solid content that reads well to a human eye, etc. If the PDF will include images, a caption underneath each image would be a good idea, especially if the caption includes a targeted keyword/phrase.
  3. The most important thing where PDFs and SEO is concerned is how the PDF is created. Don’t use Photoshop to make your PDF, because when you do that, you’re actually making a big image file, not a true PDF — and the spiders cannot crawl or “read” the text from that image file. The PDF should be created with a text-based program, like MS Word or Adobe Pagemaker, so that the final product is text-based and can be crawled (although we found that you have to purchase a Word to PDF conversion tool).
  4. Your PDF can reside anywhere on your site, but the same rule about spiders not being likely to crawl content that’s too deep applies. The safest thing to do is to put it as close to the root directory as possible.
  5. When publishing a PDF on your site, you should very visibly link to the PDF from the home page, or from some page that gets crawled regularly. You have to lead the crawler along so it finds the new content as quickly as possible. Don’t just post the PDF and then cross your fingers that it gets crawled.
  6. It’s probably a good idea to use a keyword when naming the files, such as keyword.pdf. I haven’t done any serious investigation on what impact this has, but it would seem to be a good idea to use a keyword when naming the file — to be safe, in case there’s a little boost to be had.