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High Rankings Advisor: Optimizing PDF Files - Issue No. 057

May 28, 2003


*Introductory Comments:
---->   The Big 20,000!

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Doorway Pages Again
---->   Using Phrases or Words

*This Week's Sponsor:
---->   Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines

*Guest Article:
---->   Optimizing PDF Files

*Other SEO News:
---->   ODP Public Abuse Report System
---->   A Little Bird Told Me

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Myths About Search Engine Optimization

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   Recap Again

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Off to London

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  This is a very special week -- the High Rankings
Advisor subscription list will be hitting 20,000 subscribers any
moment now!  Looking through some past issues, I noticed that when I
was on my way to the London SES conference last year I had just
reached 10,000 subscribers.  Now here I am on my way to this year's
London conference, and we've doubled the subscribers.  Pretty cool!

What's this mean to you?  Well, it means 20,000 potential people to
reach with your sponsor ad if you're interested.  I've got some
openings in the next few issues; just let me know if you want the

Got some great stuff for you today -- let's get right to the good
stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Doorway Pages Again++

From: Jodi Meromy

My question is regarding the idea of using search engine pages which
lead to your own website.  Is this what you mean by "cloaking"?  I
recently purchased WebPosition Gold and I am learning that they help
you design a page like that. I was all ready to start building the
page when I read that bit about cloaking.  What do you know about it?

Thanks for your answer.

Jodi Meromy

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Jodi,

Using search engine pages that lead to your "real" Web site isn't
necessarily cloaking, it's what's known as using doorway or gateway
pages.  Cloaking is actually much more complicated and I
daresay...sinister!  It involves knowing all sorts of technical things
about search engine spiders' IP addresses, and showing one thing to
them while showing users something altogether different.  I ran a
somewhat controversial article called "Why Cloaking Is Always a Bad
Idea" here: </issue041.htm#guest>.  I also
had a follow-up commentary here:
</issue042.htm#intro>.  Pretty interesting
stuff if you missed it.

On the other hand, creating doorway pages is pretty easy, which is why
they appeal to those who are just starting to learn search engine
optimization.  Software such as WebPosition Gold makes building these
even easier -- but this isn't necessarily a good thing.

Doorway and gateway pages are one of the oldest *tricks* in the book
and are something that the search engines have been fighting against
for years.  The days have long since passed when SEO was about
tricking the search engines.  If you're still in that mindset, you've
got to snap out of it.  Ironically, high rankings can be achieved very
easily by simply integrating all that same keyword-rich information
into your *real* site.  Why lead users to a page that makes them click
to another page for the meat?  If the information you're thinking
about putting on your doorway domain (or page) is actually relevant to
your business, you should be proudly featuring it on your real Web

The people who want to use these silly old-fashioned doorway
techniques claim that they *can't* change their actual Web site to
reflect the keyword phrases they want to rank highly with.  Huh?  Why
not?  Either your site is relevant to those keyword phrases, or it's
not. If it is, then write about them on your site.  If it isn't, then
why would you want to rank highly for them?  The only traffic your
site needs is relevant traffic, i.e., people who want what you're

I've discussed this subject a number of times in the past, so instead
of ranting further, let me point you in the right direction.  Feel
free to use these articles as ammunition when discussing this issue
with your boss or your client who is actually dumb enough to think
this is still a good strategy:


You may also be interested in reading my old "Myth of Gateway Pages"
article: </gatewaymyth.htm>.  When this
article was first written in May 2000, it caused a bit of a stir
because creating doorway and gateway pages was fairly common in
certain SEO circles.  Nowadays, I'd say more people than not would
agree with me.  Interesting how times change.

~~~Next SEO Question~~~

++Using Phrases or Words++

From: David Clark

Dear Jill,

I have exhaustively trawled through my site log files and people
hardly ever bother with quotes. In fact I can't ever find an instance
of where my most important two keywords were searched for as a genuine
phrase (i.e. put in quotes) although they are a natural combination. I
have tried searching for these two keywords, with and without quotes.
In the first case we are #1 in Google but as individual words we are
only #6.

The point I am trying to make is: Are phrases really important or
should we, because of the way people search, stick to optimising
individual words?

Thank you!

David Clark

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi David,

You are correct that most people *don't* search with quotes on.
Regardless of this, keyword phrases are absolutely, positively

The reason you need to use your keyword phrases in the exact order is
very simple: You'll have a better chance of ranking highly in the
engines for your phrases -- even when people search without quotes.

If you were a search engine, which page would you return first in the
results?  The one with the search phrase exactly as it was entered
into the search engine, or the one that uses the same words, but in
different ways?  It's really as simple as that.

Be sure to use every phrase in the exact order that people are
searching for them -- a number of times -- in your copy, in your Title
tags, plus in the links that point to your site.  (Don't forget to do
your Wordtracker </wordtracker> keyword
research first, or check out last week's "Stuff You Might Like"
section to learn about SEO Research Labs, an awesome new keyword
research service </issue056.htm#stuff>.)



Ding-dong!  Meta Keywords are DEAD!

So where do I place my pesky keyword phrases?

In the copy, silly!

Purchase the "Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines"
by High Rankings Advisor editor Jill Whalen.
Only $49 </nittyhra57>.

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Optimizing PDF Files++

Did you know that the major search engines are indexing the PDF files
that you link to from your Web site?  Shari Thurow, author of "Search
Engine Visibility"
</searchenginevisibility>, has written a
guest article with all you need to know about optimizing your PDF
files for high search engine rankings!

Optimizing PDF Files
By Shari Thurow

PDF stands for portable document format, which is a universal file
format that preserves fonts, colors, graphic images, and formatting of
any source document.  The main benefit of using PDF documents is font
and format preservation.  With HTML documents, the appearance can
change from browser to browser and computer to computer.  For example,
Cascading Style Sheet support is different on Netscape and Explorer.

Furthermore, if end users do not have a specific font installed on
their computers, then that font will not display on an HTML document.
With PDF, the fonts are embedded in the document.  So end users will
see the document displayed exactly as you intended.

PDF documents frequently appear at the top of search engine results
pages (SERPs) along with HTML documents, particularly in Google and
FAST Search. Because of this, I often optimize PDF documents for all
types of industries, particularly the following: medical, scientific
instrumentation, manufacturing, engineering, and marketing. The types
of PDF documents I typically see are technical and "how-to" manuals,
white papers, press/media kits, and spec sheets.

The most important thing to remember about optimizing PDF documents is
that they must contain keyword-rich text in order to rank highly in
the search engines, just like traditional HTML-page optimization.
Therefore, don't format PDF documents in Adobe Illustrator or
Photoshop, as search engines will be unable to read that text.
Rather, use software such as Adobe InDesign (previously known as
PageMaker), Quark Xpress, and Word.  When you export those files into
a PDF format, the search engines will be able to read the text that
you typed in the document.

One quick-and-dirty way to determine whether or not your PDF documents
contain text is to use the copy-and-paste method.  In a browser, open
up a PDF document and select Control-A (on a PC) to select "all," then
Control-C to copy.  Open up another text-based editor, such as NotePad
or SimpleText, in another window.  Paste the text into the text editor
by selecting Control-V.  That is the text the search engines can read.

When you create your PDF documents, use the same strategies that you
use to optimize an HTML document.  Create a title page with
keyword-rich text.  You can use that title throughout the document in
a header or a footer, which will help preserve keyword density
throughout the document. Use keywords in your section titles or
headlines. Create a Table of Contents if you create a long document
like a manual or a white paper.  That way, both the title page and
section titles/headlines can achieve "keyword prominence" (i.e., text
at the "top" of a document).

Keyword placement is only part of the equation.  You have to link to
your PDF documents, not only from your site map page but from other
important pages in your site as well.  Remember, search engines assume
that text contained in and around anchor text is important.  So when
you link to your PDF documents, make sure your anchor text contains

Another item to keep in mind is file size.  Even though search engines
will index an entire PDF, they will stop at a certain file size (to
determine relevancy).  Because PDF documents have embedded fonts,
among other things, they will be larger in file size than HTML

If you find that your file size is larger than 1 MB, create HTML
abstracts of PDF files, a recommendation specifically given by
representatives at Inktomi and FAST Search.  In your abstract, include
a keyword-rich title as the anchor text (text link) to the PDF file.
Below that, write a keyword-rich description, being careful not to
overdo it.  I try to keep my descriptions between 25 and 100 words. If
you feel that you need to write a longer description to truly
communicate the PDF's content, that's fine.  But remember -- it is
supposed to be an abstract, so the description should generally be a
short one.  Remember to link to your abstracts from your site map
page, too. Also, as a courtesy, I tend to let users know ahead of time
that if they click on a link that they will be opening up a PDF
document, and how large the PDF document's file size is.

With some types of PDF documents such as a press/media kit, having
both a PDF and HTML version is quite common.  If you have two versions
of the same content, place the Robots Exclusion Protocol on the PDF
version.  HTML format is better for the search engines because HTML
files tend to be smaller in file size, and people tend to link to the
HTML version of a document more often than the PDF version.

Why do I recommend placing the Robots Exclusion Protocol on some PDF
documents?  According to Tim Mayer, VP of Web Search at FAST, spam can
be defined as "pages created deliberately to trick the search engine
into offering inappropriate, redundant, or poor-quality search
results."  Having both a PDF and HTML version of a document is
redundant content.  Even though you may not be trying to trick the
search engines, you can play it safe by using the Robots Exclusion

PDF documents and their abstracts can be submitted through the normal
Submit-URL forms and the paid-inclusion programs at the major search

Shari Thurow
Grantastic Designs

~~~Other SEO News~~~

++ODP Public Abuse Report System++

We've all seen some pretty "spammy" sites over at (ODP).
Apparently, some of that spam is there because certain editors abuse
their position.  In an effort to provide the best directory possible,
they've just instituted an abuse report system.

The system is designed so that users of the ODP can report their
suspicions of abusive editors to DMOZ Meta editors and staff.  My ODP
contacts told me that all reports would be investigated expeditiously
and in complete confidence.  In fact, they went so far as to say, "If
abuse is found we will rectify it."

You can learn more here: <>.

Don't forget that you can also ask the DMOZ editors questions at the
ODP Public Forum here: <>.  It's a good place
to check on the status of your submissions.

++A Little Bird Told Me++

The other day I'm just sitting here minding my own business when
suddenly this little bird comes up to me and tells me that Andrew
Goodman's extremely popular "21 Techniques to Maximize your Profits on
Google AdWords" report
</issue006.htm#seonews2> will have a
dramatic price increase sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Apparently (according to the bird) the report is being revamped and
improved.  I believe there was something about the new price being
somewhere in the vicinity of $149 (up from the current $49).  It
actually makes sense for Andrew to do this when you consider the real
value of the report.  You'll actually save more than that the first
week you put the strategies into use if you're a heavy AdWords user.

I was always amazed that Andrew sold it at such a low price to begin
with, considering the value it provided.  But it's really hard to
figure out how to price things when you first put them out.  Now that
the report has been out for quite some time, its true value is much
more apparent.  Can't blame Andrew really.  I'd probably do the same
thing if I were in his position.

Anyway, I wanted to make sure you guys knew you could still get it at
the lower $49 price for the time being, so you don't miss out on it.
I don't have all the details since the bird flew away as quickly as it
came, but if you've been thinking about buying it, this would be the
time!  Tough decision...$49 or $149?  Hmm...

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Myths About Search Engine Optimization++


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Recap Again++

I'm in the process of reviewing some really great stuff, but I'm not
quite ready to write about them yet.  So for now, I'll just leave you
with a few of my past reviews:

* Sound Advice for Search Engine Optimization CD (US & CAN only):

* Step-By-Step Copywriting Course (revised and updated):

* Search Engine Marketing (all new 2nd edition) - The Essential Best
Practices Guide: </issue018.htm#stuff>

* Search Engine Optimization Fast Start:

* Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines:

* CloudMark's SpamNet:

* PayPal Companion:

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today!  I'm off to London next week and hope to meet
many of you at the Search Engine Strategies conference
<>.  I'm looking forward to
seeing many old friends, and meeting many new ones.  As I found out
last year, London is a really interesting place.  Even though I had
twisted my ankle right before I got there, and I had a terrible cold
with laryngitis, I still loved it!

My trip means that there will be no newsletter next week.  I'm still
working on finishing my Atlanta story on my blog site at
<>, so check there if you really miss me!  If
I can get an Internet connection, I may even try to post about London
while I'm there.

Catch you in two! - Jill
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