SEO Optimization Tips for PDFs

Search Engine Optimization Strategies Tutorial for PDF Files

I’m working with a client who has a plethora of PDFs and wanted to make sure we did a bang up job on the SEO for the files because their packed with great content for users. In doing my background research this article from Matt ranked high in the Google SERPS and I think three of his tips were particularly helpful from an SEO perspective:

1. 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. (Of course, don’t overdo it.)

Also, take advantage of the document meta data that PDF-creation software or Adobe Reader itself offers.

2. 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.

Matt also suggests using a keyword friendly title. Additionally (although Matt talked about it in #1) you will want to pepper your key phase such as “improving search engine results” in various forms throughout the document. Equally important, remember to focus on longtail keywords as per Aaron Wall’s advice for search engine optimization:

Longtail keywords are easier to rank for. If you can pick off mid-tier phrases and rank at the top of the search results then you can build a revenue stream from them, which can be reinvested to further buy marketshare and distribution.

There is more value in…

* using your core pages (and link anchor text) to target lower competition variations of your core keywords (like best credit cards or compare credit cards) rather than targeting just the core competitive keyword credit cards
* ensuring that each particular deep page is well optimized and can pull in relevant traffic

than there is *almost* ranking for credit cards.

Core keywords require domain age, good anchor text, trusted links from a variety of sources, and perhaps links from within your topical community. It takes time to build all those external signals of quality. You can rank for longtail keywords much faster, because you control your on page optimization.

I think Aaron’s right on 95% of the time, especially when starting out a website. At the very least it helps the ego when you rank for a couple of key terms instead of just floundering on page 2 or 2,000 on the search engine results pages. Its also critical to keep in mind the other SEO link factors Aaron talks about in the second paragraph. An SEO strategist who forgets those will likely have their business strategy crushed, at least in the short run.

How do you find long tail keywords and how do you determine which ones are best? That is a discussion for another day. Feel free to add your tips about SEO for PDFs and long tail keywords in the comments.


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