Yesterday I talked about PDF documentation, and I hope it made you think about whether it’s always the most appropriate format in which to present your technical and sales material. Today I’d like to talk about search engine optimisation for PDF documentation. If you’re not presenting all of your information in web format (HTML), i.e if you’ve got any data at all which is only contained in PDF documents, then you’re wasting that data in search engine terms if you’re not presenting the documents to the search engines properly.
Search engines can index and catalogue most PDF documentation, but you’ll probably be aware of the unpredictable – and possibly unattractive – way in which they appear in the search engine results. Taming this requires the use of Adobe Acrobat, and it’s quite possible to improve retrospectively the way in which PDF documents appear. Just because you’ve been given a badly-set-up PDF document for your website by another manufacturer (or an ignorant designer), doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t make it work much harder for you. Just like a web page, it needs a title and other “meta data”, a topic I’ve covered before in How to make your PDFs look smarter in the Google results.
You wouldn’t let your web pages appear like this in the Google results, so why let your PDF documents appear so unhelpfully?