While it's true that a lot of PDF content isn't the greatest SEO content, it's not true that PDF documents are bad to have on your site if there are good reasons for PDFs to be there. An article at Search Engine Land details the pros and cons of PDFs for SEO.
What's A Good Reason For A PDF?
If you can add spec sheets, forms, manuals, and other types of easily loaded content that users will want to download or print, it's logical to do it in PDF format. Think about your customers and do what works for them. You can put your PDF on the site in ways that still work with the search engines if you do it the right way:
- Use text. Scanned documents are pictures of words and not the same thing to a search engine, but they are getting better at processing images.
- Set the title in the document properties using keywords in that title. You want a URL/filename that makes sense and is SEO-rich.
- Link your PDF to other pages where appropriate.
- Write-protect your document so it can't be uploaded & edited by bad guys.
- Save it in an older version of Acrobat. Yeah, I know there are new versions, but many of your readers are not going to renew their version just to get your PDF.
- Be careful about duplicate content when you are updating documents. It's easy to do if you are changing things around.
Practice Good SEO
When it comes down to it, good SEO is a good idea for everything on your site no matter what format it's in because good SEO is user-friendly. You should be doing an online health checkup regularly and monitor what's working and what needs to be adjusted. PDFs and SEO work fine together as long as the PDF is optimized for SEO.
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