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Best Seo Strategy For Pdf Files - Disagreement With Seo Consultant


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6 replies to this topic

#1 groundfresh

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 01:55 PM

So... we just finished a Joomla site that has many PDF publications included as links on various pages.

We did not take the content from the PDFs and create html pages from them due to budget constraints.

NOW, the SEO consultant wants the PDF files to help with the SEO efforts.

The SEO consultant is insisting that the PDF files have custom URLs, and made a suggestion to place each PDF within a "blank" page...i.e. - iframe or joomla wrapper.
THEN the URL for that "blank" page would get a custom URL, meta, title, etc.

This is total BUNK in my opinion, and my strategy would be to optimize the PDF itself, by inputting the title, description directly into the file, and naming the file according to a particular keyword. Then the PDF link will be indexed by google, and return any "relevant" results naturally based on content.

Thoughts from the gallery? What is the best way to treat PDF files, OTHER than recreate the content on a page within the site? (still cant do that because of budget)

thanks,
James



#2 Jill

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 03:10 PM

If you're categorizing things accurately, then you are correct. Having the pdf in an iframe on a URL won't add any value whatesoever.

You either want to have an html version or just link to the PDF version.



#3 Michael-F

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:47 PM

If someone gets to your PDF from the SERPS, how will they get to the rest of your site?

If you have your standard navigation built around the pdf, it'll help resolve some of the usability issues involved with using PDFs. It won't open in a separate window, and they'll have an easy way to navigate away from it (and to the rest of your site).

I don't know that it's the best way to handle it - I'm just looking for benefits to doing it that way.

#4 Jill

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 05:42 PM

QUOTE
If someone gets to your PDF from the SERPS, how will they get to the rest of your site?


It's a good idea to have links to your site within the PDF as well.

#5 Michael-F

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 06:07 PM

QUOTE(Jill @ Sep 2 2009, 04:42 PM) View Post
It's a good idea to have links to your site within the PDF as well.

Absolutely, but that's just one step. I've personally never clicked on a link to a webpage within a PDF (as far as I can remember), and even though I'm sure plenty of people would, you're likely missing out on a lot of the potential visitors who would use the site's navigation if it were available. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like a PDF in the SERPS is "in limbo" - an isolated document on some website I don't care about.

Also, people hate PDFs, as Jakob Nielsen has shown, and anything you can do to reduce the pain of opening a PDF in the first place is a good thing. Additionally, leaving the PDF to find more information is not only less harsh, but the customer is already in a place where they know they can find the sort of information they're after.

The more I look at this, the more I want to implement this on my own site, which uses PDFs extensively.

#6 2Clean

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 06:09 AM

Depends how it's done but having a pdf in a page will give you an extra level of optimization.

PDF link - optimization of PDF.
PDF in Page - optimization of PDF and page around theme.



#7 Michael-F

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 01:02 PM

QUOTE(2Clean @ Sep 3 2009, 05:09 AM) View Post
Depends how it's done but having a pdf in a page will give you an extra level of optimization.

PDF link - optimization of PDF.
PDF in Page - optimization of PDF and page around theme.

I am, of course, not looking at this from an SEO perspective. I honestly have no idea how Google handles PDFs, so someone else would have to cover that issue - it sounds to me like it wouldn't do much of anything for you SEO-wise.

For me personally, if I were to implement this (and it's looking very likely that I will in the future) it would be for the sole purpose of making my site easier to use for customers. I have no reason for optimizing my PDFs; in fact, I've got good reasons not to.

In a similar vein, I just finished a conversation with my boss about nofollowing the links to our PDFs on our site. We want the page that links to the PDF to be the search result when someone does a search. As it stands, the page that links to the PDF ranks higher than the PDF itself in every case I've tested; however, we have tens of thousands of these pages, so it's impractical to test all of them. Analytics isn't showing a single PDF as a landing page, but that doesn't really mean much since we don't have the tracking code in the PDFs.

I'm confident that our pages are ranked well enough to rank better than their PDFs at least 99% of the time, but I'm concerned about that 1%. I'd like to nofollow those PDF links to help guarantee that they don't show up in SERPS. My boss' concern is that we're getting credit for those PDFs, and that they might be helping us rank higher. The PDFs don't have any links to our site, and my argument is that they're isolated from the rest of the pages on our site and won't give us credit either way.

It's a minor issue either way - neither way will be gamebreaking for us, but we're always interested in improving the site in any way we can. If we were to start using the iFrame thing it would be a nonissue, but that's pretty far down the road. I guess the biggest question is this: Does having a ranked PDF on your domain which has no links back to the rest of your site help you in the long run? Since Google is indexing pages rather than entire sites, my argument would be no, but I'd love to be proven wrong.




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