Quite often, I receive new clients who come to Cazbah right after working with another marketing company.  In those situations, if they already have an existing website, I thoroughly review it to see what is and isn’t working. More often than not, I see remnants of a very rushed website build process, which typically leads to “low hanging fruit” opportunities that can have significant value.


What do I mean by “low hanging fruit”? I’m talking about easy content optimization opportunities that got overlooked before, particularly when it comes to website images and PDFs. 


How Google Reads an Image PDF


Many times, small businesses just don’t have the manpower or resources to dedicate to content creation and content marketing. However, optimizing your existing website content is an absolutely essential area that all businesses need to take advantage of. 


Optimizing your web content will help your pages rank better, increase your “trust score” and “authority” rankings with Google, and bring more traffic and revenue to your website. 


Many of the new clients we get at Cazbah come to us with a website full of images that aren’t always optimized properly. White papers, case studies, reports, product reviews, etc. in the form of PDFs is where the opportunity usually lies. These types of content are great to have on your website, and while they may benefit the end user, oftentimes Google can’t read them! 


I’m by no means saying that creating content for Google needs to be your number one priority, but I am saying you need to create and optimize your web content so your audience and search engines can understand it. 


Let’s get started!


How to Convert Your PDF into a Crawlable File for Google


With commercial and industrial companies, there are often hundreds to thousands of products, white papers, product specifications, etc. These take substantial time to integrate into a website through your ecommerce platform. What I have found is that many of these content items are just image PDFs. That’s the kind of PDF that has little to no value to Google, except maybe the filename and link. This is a great opportunity for crawlable, relevant and optimized web content! 


Additionally, it’s easier to just convert an existing content file than to create fresh content for many small businesses. 


Your first step in converting a PDF to a useful format for SEO (search engine optimization) is to determine if the PDF text is crawlable. This is the process I use for changing image PDFs or infographics into usable web page content: To determine if a PDF is only an image or has crawlable text, open it in your PDF viewer and then try to highlight an area of text. If you are able to do that, then this is most likely crawlable by Google bots already. There are ways to optimize those sorts of PDFs, but today we want to focus on the PDFs where you are not able to highlight any text. In this case, your document is an image saved as a PDF and is providing little (if any) search value to your website. 


Once you establish what you have to work with, then you can move onto how to convert the PDF into a crawlable file for Google. 


1. Organize Your Project


Create a new folder in Google Drive or on your desktop with the name of the company site, and then download the PDFs that you would like to convert and optimize.


2. Locate Your Conversion Tool


You will need to find an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) converter to change your pdf into a readable document. If you have the Adobe Professional package you can use that, but you can also go to https://www.onlineocr.net/ and utilize their free tool.


Just follow these simple steps:


    • Select the file in your folder that you’d like to convert


    • Click Submit


  • Wait a few seconds and voila! You’ve got text!


Pro Tip: There’s also a PDF tool that integrates with Google Chrome called “Kami”. It detects a scanned document and automatically converts it with it’s OCR capabilities.


3. Edit Your New Content


OCR is not a perfect process. There will be a few errors, but it will get you close. Copy and paste the text into your editor of choice (Google Docs, Microsoft Word etc.) and go through your document and fix the spelling and grammar errors.


4. Add to Your CMS of Choice


Once you have completed this process you will now add it to your website. I typically do this before I add images because it is more efficient to add images once it’s in the proper web page format. Optimize your images with title, Alt tag, and Description and publish your page.


How to Optimize Your Website PDFs for SEO


Once you convert your image PDF into crawlable PDF, you may think your work is done. Wrong! 


Now that your text is crawlable, you need to optimize it for SEO. Your website won’t get any traffic if you don’t optimize your web pages for valuable, long tail keywords. Google won’t rank you and your target audience won’t be able to find you. 


Optimizing your PDF content is exactly the same as optimizing regular page content. Assuming that you have done longtail keyword research, this will be a relatively quick process. Make sure to include your keywords and related terms in your PDF title, your headers, and your page content. Break up your content with a <H1> header tag, followed by <H2> header tags for subsequent topics. Finally, create backlinks to internal and outside sources where readers can get more information. 


PDF documents are able to rank in Google results on their own, so the better optimized it is, the better chance your have for the PDF (and your overall web page) to rank well in Google. 


In Conclusion


Converting and optimizing your website PDF documents may sound like it could be time consuming, but it is fairly quick and easy to do. And once you do, you’ll have great new content for your readers and search engines to index. This is by no means a substitute for well written, thought out content, but sometimes it’s just what’s needed to get busy clients started in the content building process.