Friday, 17 October 2008

How to optimise your PDFs for SEO

Optimise PDFs for search engines, much as you would any other page on your site. PDFs are returned in Google search listings just like HTML pages.

Optimise PDFs for search engine results pagesHere is a simple guide to optimising PDFs, to summarise:
  • Keyword optimise, keep relevant, as you should any page on your site
  • Text can be indexed, images can't, keep it texty
  • Ensure PDF is not duplicate content
  • Set a reading order
  • Hyperlink to the PDF on your site with the PDF title
  • Hyperlink within the PDF with relevant anchor text
  • Include a company footer
  • Input meta data - a step by step guide to inputting PDF meta data
  • Ensure the file size is not to big
  • Relevant file name - although not mentioned in this guide, choosing a relevant, clear file name is also important. This will become the URL (i.e. so if it is obvious this may encourage clickthrough from search engines. It will also help you find the file in your back office and analytics!
Related posts
Tips to optimise videos - SEO
Growing strange cacti - a keyword optimisation test

Thursday, 16 October 2008

What does for SEO and keywords

I've just put through SEOQuake (a handy Firefox plugin that provides keyword density and meta information) as part of my previous post about page title tags. I wanted to see whether Google used the <meta name=title> tag or not (it doesn't).
Google Queen Elizabeth logo doodle
Search royalty

What i found was the following:

Title tag: "Google"
Meta keywords: None
Meta description: None

Keyword density
Number of words on 56
Just 3 words are repeated more than once and they are:
  • "Web"
  • "Search"
  • "Google" (and "Google" is also in the title tag)
It's that simple. Google's home page is very clear about its purposes and I am in no doubt that the fact the above three words are the only duplicated ones is not an accident.

I wouldn't recommend leaving out keywords or descriptions for any site, however i also wouldn't tell Pele how to play football. Google owns search, they can do what they want, and when it comes to their home page the content is all that matters. I'm sure they might have a couple of links to boost their search rankings too...

Related posts
Growing strange cacti - a keyword optimisation test

The difference between <title> and <meta name="title"> tags

Use the <title> tag for your page title. Don't bother with a <meta name="Title"> tag.

How i've got this far and not realised this is a mystery. It's only on the back of an email to one of my suppliers in which i asked them to change all the automated titles on my website that i discovered this. I asked them to change the "meta title tags" so they did. They took my word to the letter and so just changed the <meta name="title"> tag leaving the <title> tag as it was, not much help.

Thanks to a really helpful description here, i now know the difference.

The title tag appears in your HTML like this:
<title>Your page title</title>
The meta title tag appears in your HTML like this:
<meta name="title" content="Your page title">
The <title> tag is what feeds your browser title and is also what will appear in Google, see how i've subtely circled where the <title> tag appears in the two screenshots below.

screenshot of web browser page title

screenshot of a google search result with the page title highlighted

As far as i can tell from a wide number of forums, blogs, SEO advice sites the <meta name="title"> tag is pointless. It is possible that some search engines (but not Google, Yahoo, MSN) use it but i wouldn't bother with it all.

This point is further backed up by looking in the source code of the top sites on the web, the following sites do not contain the <meta name="title"> at all, they just have a <title> tag:

Saturday, 4 October 2008

What font / text size online and how to set it in the CSS

Setting website text sizes seems like a fairly straightforward subject. Yet I thoroughly confused myself for a good couple of hours while trying to figure out how to answer my friend's question. I finally found my simple answer - Set your font sizes in CSS and use percentages or em units.

In metal type, the em was the height of the metal body from which the letter rises
Colour by numbers
has never been this easy
This all came about as my friend sent me an email asking, "What's the appropriate text size for websites?" My first thought was, "Clearly I’ve received an email not destined for me, I’ll now redirect it to someone who actually knows something about building websites," but then realising all my techy friends would answer me in a language light years beyond my understanding I’d figure I’d try work it out myself.

Now as I’ve discovered this question is completely unnecessary once you understand how text size should be set in CSS.

You can set the size of your text in three ways:
  • Units: ems, points and pixels (I had no idea what em size was either, look it up on Wikipedia)
  • Pre-defined keywords (like small, medium, large)
  • Percentages
As far as I can tell most websites seem to use a combination of all 3 methods, indeed when it comes to using units some websites also seem to use a bizarre combination of ems, points, and pixels, effectively hacking text size into the web design.

Clearly this is not the way nature intended websites to be built. The W3C suggests you use a size of 1em (or 100%) and also states that you should never use point size or pixel size.

Changing text size in Internet ExplorerNow there's a reason not to use point or pixel size. The first and probably most important reason would be that by restricting yourself to an absolute length you are preventing people from changing text size themselves using the text size function in their browsers.

The second reason would be because a specific set size, ie.10pt or 5 pixels, may look good on your computer in Internet Explorer but open the same site in Firefox, Opera, Chrome or Safari and the size may look smaller or bigger as different browsers render text differently. The same may happen across different computers and operating systems.

As the W3C page says, if you want different sizes throughout your page - like a bigger heading, smaller footer text - then set the base text size to 1em (or 100%) and then adjust the other elements by a percent of the base. This means that regardless of your computer settings everything is in proportion. So to have your main text at 100% you may want your main heading (h1) to be a lot bigger so you set that to 150% for example.

Go to the W3C site for more information on CSS and specifically setting font sizes in CSS.

Related posts
SEO problems of white text on a dark background (Jul 2008)
Improve and check your website's readability (Mar 2009)
Check your web design in different browsers online (Jun 2009)