6 Easy Steps to PDF Optimization

Gone are the days of posting your PDF brochure that matches the content on your web page. Now, many of the PDF documents posted online contain rich, detailed information that serves as a supplement to the website content. And just as you would like users to find your website in search, you want them to find these PDFs that you have created.

Follow the steps outlined below and you will be well on your way to getting your PDF documents indexed and found in search.

Creating Your PDF

  • Make it text-based – Images have their place, however text-based PDFs are able to be crawled and understood by search engines. For lengthy documents with multiple sections, include a table of contents with keyword optimized headings.
  • Incorporate links – Wherever applicable, embed links back to your site. This includes your logo. If your PDF ends up on another site, these will count as backlinks, which are considered an important ranking factor.
  • Use image alt text – Make alt text relevant to each image and use keywords as applicable.

Saving Your PDF

  • Include optimized file properties – Add a title no longer than 60 characters including spaces with keywords toward the beginning. This is what will be seen in the search results, so make sure it conveys the topic clearly.
  • Use an SEO-friendly file name – Sometimes the title is not shown in search results, and what is seen is the file name instead. Make sure it is SEO and user friendly – use dashes rather than underscores to improve readability.
  • Minimize the file size – Nothing is worse than having users leave because it takes too long for a file to download. When creating a PDF from Microsoft Word, choose Minimum Size, and deselect ISO 19005-1 compliant (PDF/A) and Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded under Options.

PDF Compression Graphic

Keep these steps in mind when creating PDF documents for your website, and you will help optimize them for users as well as search engines.

Interested in learning more about industry trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

The Google Ad 4-pack and Organic User 
Data Capture Tips for Digital Marketers

Revealing Valentine’s Day Search Trends

With the rise of social and mobile, the Internet is rapidly evolving into an integrated multi-dimensional platform facilitating many of our daily transactions and interactions. Never is this trend more evident than on a major holiday such as Valentine’s Day. Last year alone, according to National Retail Federation, American’s spent over $19B on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is now No. 2 behind Christmas as the year’s premier gift-giving holiday. Those who celebrate Valentine’s Day are marking the occasion by exchanging tokens of their affection with a widening circle of friends and family members including their children, parents, and pets.

Each year women anxiously await flowers, chocolates, jewelry and romantic dinner plans from their significant other to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But what they don’t know are the details and preparation that go on behind the scenes, to make Valentine’s Day a romantic, love-filled special day.

As a SEO Strategist at CRI, I’ve had the opportunity to watch Valentine’s trends for search queries being used to help make current or future Valentine’s Day preparations smooth and easy, making it an enjoyable day for not only the gift recipient, but the buyer as well!

As you scurry to buy your Valentine’s Day gifts, here are a few  Valentine’s Day queries that may save you some time and money.

Q: Flower prices skyrocket during this holiday; how can you save a few bucks and still produce an awe-striking bouquet?

A: Users were looking for the best deal to get their loved ones’ flowers.  Using the following Search Queries:

flower delivery coupon; flower delivery free shipping; flower delivery promo code

Q: Want to outdo your past Valentine’s Days and make this one extra special?

A: The simplest word can change your results. Users are using “best” to maximize their search results.

Q: You and your loved one have a sweet tooth? What sweet treats are being sent your way?

A: 1.5 M users were more interested in finding a way to get chocolates delivered to their Valentines than Cookies or Candies.

Q: It’s been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. What are searchers planning?

A: 4M users are looking to plan a romantic dinner with their special someone, whether it’s to cook themselves or a nice restaurant.

Not only is it a day for couples, but singles are also looking to pamper and celebrate the love they for themselves.

Q: Treating yourself to a special Valentine’s Day and looking for things to do? You’re not alone!

A: Don’t be discouraged to spend Valentine’s Day alone, there are 20.3M other users who are also looking to spend Valentine’s Day single and looking to pamper themselves.

 

So do whatever your heart desires this February 14th; buy roses on the cheap, dine out, indulge in some chocolate, or be a bit more unconventional and find a way to pamper yourself.

Interested in learning about additional industry trends?   Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

Data Capture Tips for Digital Marketers

The Google Ad 4-Pack and Organic User Intent

The Google Ad 4-pack and Organic User Intent

As SEOs, we’re used to Google changing things up on us on the fly. Google’s most recent search algorithm update makes it clear that the way to the top of Page 1 is a total focus on your user and their intent.

SEOs for years have cited industry-standard click-through rates based on the position on a search engine results page (SERP).

Advance Web Rankings Graph

Organic click-through rates for searches coming from 1,708,342 keywords for 48,280 websites.

Recently, however, Google increased the number of ads displayed at the top of a SERP. It is now up to SEOs to find a way to maintain organic traffic to our sites as we lose even more real estate on Page 1 SERPs. Here’s how CRI has done just that.

AdWords’ Manifest Destiny Approach to SERPs

Click-through rates—even for the #1 overall position in an organic search—will be lower than previously. Users may not care that they’re clicking on an ad. This is especially true for branded searches, where the user may pause only to make sure the link they’re about to click belongs to the brand they searched.

In effect, we’re dealing with a new normal—where organic as a channel is able to claim a smaller share of the overall traffic mix.

But there is hope! The expanded ad pack is visible on simple keyword searches. A branded search, or a top-of-funnel search, will likely return multiple ads at the top of the SERP. To see organic search results uncolored by the expanded reach of PPC, requires you move down funnel, to the targeted searches typical of a user who’s well into their purchasing decision.

Long-tail keywords: A New Hope

Google encourages SEOs and digital marketers to focus on meeting the information needs and expectations of their users. This focus on search intent has often been yada yada-ed by marketers to read as, “Well you obviously need to start with great content that your users want to engage with.”

Advising our clients to focus only on producing great content would be missing the point. What Google is really telling SEOs with these most recent changes to their SERPs is that a focus on long-tail keywords based on user intent is no longer an option, but a requirement. This leads to a three-step process to ensure your SEO and content strategy are working together to achieve results:

Step 1: Identify high-volume keyword ‘slugs’. Traditional keyword research will continue to play a role in effective SEO. But going forward, identifying and optimizing around high-volume keywords will occur as a byproduct of an increased emphasis on user intent, and won’t be itself an end goal.

Step 2: Understand the problem your product solves. The surest way to incorporate your high-volume keywords into relevant long-tail keyphrases is to contextualize those terms to the problems your potential customers are trying to solve. So, while your desired keyword might be, say, “charity donation”, knowing that donation efficiency is the top consideration for a significant cohort of your donors will help you identify and build out a matrix of relevant long-tail keyphrases that incorporate that keyword ‘slug’.

Step 3: Craft your keyphrase strategy to incorporate your slugs into natural language queries. Knowing your target demographics primary concerns will inform the long-tail keyphrases you target. Continuing the example from Step 2, you might optimize around, say, “best charity to donate to for [x]”, or “most efficient charity to donate to”—queries that give weight to the objections, concerns and interests your target users may hold.

A More Robust Keyphrase Strategy for the New Search Landscape

In recent months, CRI has worked with clients to develop new keyphrase strategies. It might seem like a small bit of semantic gymnastics, but the migration from keywords to keyphrases—in other words, to long-tail keywords—has allowed us to make more elegant and effective recommendations that better understand and speak to our clients’ target customers.

Implementing our updated SEO strategy has baked in a user focus to our SEO strategy that is already benefiting our clients in the form of increased search visibility and more—and more qualified—traffic.

Interested in learning more about SEO and content marketing? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
How Does the New Google Ad Layout Impact SEO?
Finding Trends in Your Bounce Rates

Want more information? Get more details on Charles River Interactive’s SEO service offerings or contact us today.

The Importance of Implementation for SEO Success

Implementation is one of the toughest challenges any SEO consultant faces. That’s because making many of the key changes we recommend takes an investment of time, resources and planning from the client.

The most successful client engagements develop from a true partnership among teams, including the SEO consultants and account managers working closely with client-side project managers, developers and key stakeholders.

We make customized recommendations based on your product, target audience and marketing goals, and then continue to support you throughout implementation as needed. In some cases, the CRI team can even implement the recommendations for you.

Roadblocks to SEO Implementation

However, as client managers, it’s important for us to understand that it’s not always an easy process.

There are a number of reasons that could prevent clients from implementing SEO recommendations:

  • The CMS may not be as easily customizable as the client team initially believed.
  • There may be a lengthy approval process that recommendations need to go through first.
  • The website may be in line for a redesign and the webmaster is pushing back with making any updates before the refresh launches.

Often, it’s simply a resource issue that puts SEO recommendations on the back-burner.

The Importance of Prioritizing SEO Implementation

While all of these are valid, keep in mind the following:

  • Without making any major updates to the site, you can’t expect the results that you’re trying to accomplish. It’s very important to understand that implementing recommendations is crucial to any SEO program success.
  • It does take time with search engines to register your site’s updates. So, the sooner you implement the SEO recommendations, the sooner you will see a boost in performance.
  • Testing things out can lead to more effective strategy and tactics. What makes paid search so flexible and powerful is the ability to constantly test the ad copy to determine what brings the highest click-through rate at the lowest cost. Of course, organic optimization is completely different and you won’t be able to see the same results in the same timeframe as with a PPC campaign. However, implementing SEO recommendations quickly, monitoring performance and adjusting tactics as needed can significantly boost organic results.

Troubleshooting SEO Challenges

Here at CRI, we perform implementations for a number of clients and have seen great success.

When this method is not possible, educating clients on the importance of SEO implementation, explaining potential results and providing competitive examples help the most.

What helps you to make sure the SEO recommendations get implemented? How do you overcome obstacles on this front if there are limitations as to what can be done?

Interested in learning more about trends and developments with Google? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
What You Need to Know about Google Symptom Search
Make Google Alerts Work for You

Choosing the right domain for your microsite.

We have all seen them – a site that is part of a larger brand, yet looks different and acts as its own entity. This is referred to as a microsite, used by organizations to present information that is separate from the main website and perhaps present a different or co-branded concept. The most common uses of a microsite include:

• Raising brand awareness
• Promoting offshoot brands
• Raising awareness for an event or promotion
• Launching a new product or service
• Building a subscriber list

Options for Microsite Creation

Common thinking is that a microsite needs to be its own domain, however other options for a microsite include use of a subdomain or a subdirectory of the main site. Depending upon the goals for the microsite, there are pros and cons associated with each of these methods.

Separate Domain

Creation of a separate domain such as thisisamicrosite.com would provide brand independence and establish the legitimacy of the brand, separate from that of the parent. As a new domain, the site will not gain any authority value from the parent, and beginning with domain authority and page rank of 1/100 will require time for search engines to connect the relevance of the content with search queries. If, and only if, there is sufficient unique content and time for the site to gain value with the search engines should this method be used. In other words, if launching a limited three-month campaign, this is not the ideal method.

Subdomain

Use of a subdomain such as thisisamicrosite.parentsite.com will provide the connection for users between the new brand and the parent. While Google has made improvements in discerning the connection between the sites, the subdomain is still considered a new domain and will not inherit any of the parent’s authority. The potentially lengthened domain name can also be cumbersome and difficult for users to remember.

Subdirectory

Creating the microsite as a subdirectory of the parent site, e.g., parentsite.com/thisisamicrosite/ is the ideal option for SEO value. This provides a strong brand connection and inheritance of the parent site domain authority.

The bottom line

Creating a microsite can be a valuable move for an organization. In doing so, attention needs to be paid to the goals for the site and method utilized to create the microsite, especially when it comes to SEO.

Subdomain Names Pros Cons


Interested in learning more about microsites and SEO?
Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

Location does matter – when it comes to organic search results
What You Need to Know About Google Symptom Search

How to Write Effective Meta Descriptions

The well-written meta description: It’s one of those oft-forgotten but incredibly important digital writing and SEO tools that can make your brand’s content look polished, professional and complete.  How can a single sentence hold so much power? Let’s discuss the meta description and how it can help you attract user click-throughs to your page.

What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is a sentence – no longer than 155 characters – that appears in search engine result pages (SERPs) under the title and URL of your web content. Take a look at how it appears in Google when you search for “Charles River Interactive”:

Charles River Interactive Meta Description Example

Why are Meta Descriptions Important?

It’s an over-used cliché to describe websites as the virtual front door to your company or organization. But if we piggyback on this metaphor, a well-written meta description is part of the on-page optimization package that forms your attractive façade or catchy signage.

Key points to keep in mind:

Meta descriptions improve site visits
The meta description tells users what content they will find on your page, and whether it is worth their time to click. Most importantly, they persuade users to choose your page over your SERP competitors.

Because many sites still neglect to write meta descriptions – or write sloppy, keyword-stuffed versions that make them look desperate for clicks – a strong, clean meta description can improve click-throughs to your copy.

Meta descriptions and social sharing
Many social sites – such as Facebook – also pull the meta description to auto-fill comment fields when users share your content. If you don’t have one, they will grab the first text they find.

Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions

  1. Size matters: Google will cut you at approximately 155 characters (letters, symbols, numbers, punctuation AND spaces). If you go over, you’ll have a dangling fragment that may not make sense.
  2. Be in control: If you don’t write a meta description, this space won’t go blank. Search engines will pick text – typically the first 160 characters that appear on your page – and it could appear as a mangled string of page title, section head and sentence fragment.
  3. Don’t take liberties: Accurately describe the content on your page. Don’t overstate or mislead users. This technique can actually negatively impact your bounce rate by leading to frustrating users.
  4. Use call to actions: It’s always a good approach to talk TO your audience, not about them. “Learn more about …” or “Find out why …” are examples of strong call-to-action language that invites users to click through.
  5. Keywords still count: They may not directly affect rankings, but incorporating relevant keywords is important for two reasons:

• They appear in bold in SERPs
• They communicate relevance of page to search query

Interested in learning more about trends and developments with Google? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

What You Need to Know about Google Symptom Search
Make Google Alerts Work for You
The 2nd Phase of Google’s “Mobilegeddon” Has Been Officially Released