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Optimize PDF's for SEO

Posted on 2.19.2008

Document sharing service Scribd launched a new platform called iPaper that allows for the uploading and embedding of PDF documents to Web pages. It's a pretty interesting concept sure to be appealing to many, but unfortunately, those engaged in optimizing their PDF's for placement in search engines could lose some value along the way. iPaper utilizes Adobe Flash which presents some pretty serious indexing issues for search engines. While certainly a visually attractive solution (see below), webmasters using the iPaper solution from Scribd should also consider offering a standard link to their traditional PDF which will allow search engines to index the valuable content contained within those documents.

How do you optimize PDF's for SEO?  Much the same way HTML documents are optimized for placement in search engines, PDF's by all accounts work the same way. For example, if you are creating a buyers guide or white paper for a product at your ecommerce store, you could create a Word document and optimize the copy (keywords, key phrases) in the body text and focus on descriptive headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) where necessary. After creating a PDF from the Word document, adding descriptive meta-data within the PDF is pretty simple. If you have access to Adobe 6, open the PDF, select Advanced from the menu and open the Document Metadata option. You will be able to enter information for the title, author, description, keywords and even copyright information.

While Google and Yahoo often ignore available meta information in PDFs (just as they do with traditional Web content), focusing on the body content will be the best use of your time. Entering metadata within PDF's however will ensure optimal click-through's if properly indexed by the search engines.

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