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

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.


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.


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

What You Need to Know About Google Symptom Search

The search world is buzzing with the release of Google’s newest feature, symptom search. Currently available on mobile devices, this feature provides users with general information and a selection of possible conditions that fit the symptom. The intent is to make it easier for users, and help them “quickly get to the point where you can do more in-depth research on the web or talk to a health professional.”

What Does This Mean for Organic Search?
Since this feature just rolled out, it is not yet known what the impact is on SEO. For healthcare provider’s websites, this has the potential to be a favorable development.

Consider this: Your child wakes in the morning with stomach pains. Rather than spending time searching through sites laden with medical terminology and driving you to terrifying possibilities, you search in Google for an individual symptom such as “stomach pain” brings up a brief summary of the symptom.Google Symptom Search

Scroll down a little further and you will find the symptom cards with possible conditions that may be causing this. As you look through the cards, you hit upon one that fits your child’s complaints. Clicking upon the symptom card brings up the health conditions knowledge graph with more detailed information, followed by organic search results related to the condition.

Narrowing things down in this manner can lead a user more quickly to a physician or hospital website where treatment is offered. While this change does affect the visibility of organic search results, it provides a better user experience which has been a primary focus for Google over the past year or more. For website owners, the positive aspect is that users who follow this path to arrive at their website will be more qualified and engaged.

Filtering out individuals conducting top of funnel research (think students writing a research paper), visitors arriving at your site after completing a symptom search are more likely to request an appointment or contact you for additional information.

For individual websites, there is not much that can be done to influence the symptom search results. However, ensuring that your site ranks well through use of structured markup, relevant content, and clear user paths to make an appointment and gather additional information will help attract these qualified visitors.

Interested in learning more in SEO trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
How Does the New Google Ad Layout Impact SEO?
SEO Tactics that work for Pharmaceutical Companies

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

Google’s Expanded Health Conditions Knowledge Graph – What Does it Mean for SEO?

We’ve done it. You have done it. So have a lot of other people we all know.

What is it?

Searched for information about a health condition online. As of February 2015, Google made it easier to find this type of information with a knowledge graph containing details for more than 400 medical conditions. And in early September, they more than doubled the number of conditions and enhanced the visual appearance of the health conditions knowledge graph, and added a downloadable PDF with the information. So now, when you search for a common condition such as “asthma”, you will see a page that looks like this:

Health Conditions Knowledge Graph


I’m sure you’re thinking, “This is great – I get information about the condition, including symptoms and treatments. I don’t see any problems.” The problem is what if you are a hospital or medical facility with an asthma treatment program, and you have just spent time optimizing your web pages to rank in one of the top positions for the term?  Now you are not only competing with health information sites such as WebMD as well as other hospitals, but you need to drag the searcher’s attention away from the bold visual.

All is not hopeless with this development. There are opportunities for hospitals and health care providers, including:

  • Users that will scroll past the knowledge graph to organic results are likely to be more qualified leads. Students and casual browsers who are simply looking for definitions and general information will have no need to look further. Patients and families truly looking for care for a condition will be seeking additional information.
  • Long-tail queries are (at least for now) not displaying the knowledge graph. So although phrases such as “exercise induced asthma” and “pediatric asthma” have less search volume than the broad term “asthma”, organic search results have better visibility and thus better click-throughs.

Beyond this, the question that remains for hospitals and healthcare providers is whether there is any benefit for them in maintaining pages on their site about medical conditions. For users that are seeking care for a condition, there is still value in gaining a ranking position in that space as the knowledge graph does not provide direction for treatment. Bottom line – perhaps there is a silver lining in the knowledge graph in allowing hospitals to do what they do best, provide treatment.