Why it’s really worth the time to port your PDF documents over to HTML.
 by Casey Markee

Why it's really worth the time to port your PDF documents over to HTML.

  • I've got a website that has lots of PDF files containing important information, such as product descriptions and specifications. Should I transfer these PDF files to HTML files to optimize my site? ...and do search engines understand the content of those PDF files as they are now?

Answer: Search engines do index and rank PDF files, but in general they just don't do a great job of it. You rarely ever see a PDF file in a top ranking position for a competitive keyword.

But even more importantly, search engine users have strong tendency not to click on PDF files in the search results. That's because PDF files tend to crash most browsers. So not only can switching to HTML increase your ability to rank for a greater number of phrases, but you're likely to also significantly increase the number of people willing to click on your listings in the search results.

We've worked with clients who had several educational books available for free online as PDFs. It took awhile, but once they ported all that content over to easily-indexable HTML the amount of traffic they got from the search engines increased dramatically.

If large chunks of your product catalog is in PDF and not available as HTML pages, then you're really limiting your site and would likely pick up a big increase in traffic by porting the content over to HTML.

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