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Legal Content: What Impact Does a PDF Document Have on Search Engine Optimization?

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SEOWeighting the SEO merits of uploading a PDF or creating a new blawg post or web page

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

I love working with my clients. Every week there’s a new press release, content writing project or verdict and settlement report to prepare. There are reporters to reach out to and interviews to schedule. In the course of getting all of this done, questions inevitably arise. One recent one revolved around PDF documents and search engine optimization.

It’s a great question.

Even before addressing the question, I was thrilled that my client was thinking a step ahead and focusing on showcasing the information on the law firm’s website. As I’ve noted in previous posts, legal public relations must be leveraged across platforms. A press release isn’t just for the press: It is content for your website. It is a Twitter post. It is a link to be highlighted in Facebook. It is a status update on LinkedIn.

In short, a search engine optimized press release is another opportunity for potential clients and referring lawyers to find you.

But is it better to upload the information as a PDF or to create a new web page or blog post? I had a pretty good idea about the answer, but I decided to ask programmer and designer Enrique Serrano to weigh in.

(If you’ve ever watched Pickers or Pawn Stars on the History Channel, you’re familiar with the practice of calling in an expert to offer an opinion. With regard to all things SEO, programming and design, Enrique Serrano is our expert. Questions about word usage, grammar, copy editing and all questions related to the Associated Press Stylebook fall under the purview of copy editor Kerry Bailey.)

And so, this being the Internet rather than television, I e-mailed Enrique and asked his opinion. Here’s what he said:

A PDF is actually indexed by Google, but standard web pages are given a higher priority in search results. Search results pointing to PDF files are usually shown only when there are no search results on standard web pages using those words.

In other words, for the best search engine results you’ll want to create an actual web page or blog post rather than upload a PDF document. The search engine spiders prefer the HTML code to the PDF document.

But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice visual impact for SEO. You can still upload logos as JPEG files and arrange them within you blog post or on your web page. At Legal Media Matters, that is the practice we adhere to when posting our clients’ press releases.

Do you have a question about legal PR, content writing, law firm branding or word usage? If so, contact us at and we’ll try to tackle your question in a blog post similar to our recent entry A Reader Asks: How Do You Find the Best Legal Keywords to Attract CEOs and CFOs?

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At Legal Media Matters, we provide legal public relations, law firm marketing and attorney website content writing services.

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