Feb 28, 2011
Too often PDFs are overlooked in a pharma website SEO strategy.
If you’re like most pharma marketers, you’ve poured a lot of effort into developing PDF materials like treatment journals, patient brochures, self-assessment surveys, doctor discussion guides, and more. You’ve made these materials available for download via your website so that the appropriate audiences can access them, but it’s not enough to just put them out there and hope that the appropriate patients/caregivers and HCP audiences will stumble across them. Just like other valuable assets on your website, PDFs need to be optimized for search engine visibility.
Historically, PDFs have been a tough nut for search engines to crack, and because of this, extra care is needed to increase their visibility in search engine results pages.
An often overlooked method to help search engines understand the contents of a PDF is editing and optimizing the document properties. Document properties essentially function like metadata on an HTML page and are able to be read by search engines. This technique improves the likelihood that a PDF will be returned/displayed in search results for relevant queries, ultimately increasing the visibility of your content. Digital asset optimization is of increasing importance in today' search landscape where blended or mixed media search results are served up to meet the content preferences of various user types.
So now that you’ve got the ‘why’, here’s the how. Your PDF optimization checklist should include the following mandatories:
1. Search-friendly file names: Use keyword-rich names with individual words separated by hyphens.
2. Keyword-rich titles: Provide a keyword-rich title, similar to an SEO-friendly HTML page title (approx. 90 characters).
3. Informative descriptions: Add an informative but concise (approx. 180 characters) description, similar to how you would approach writing a meta description for an HTML page.
4. Keywords: Provide a list of relevant, comma-separated keywords, similar to how you would add meta keywords to an HTML page.
Here’s a cheatsheet you can use for making sure your PDF document properties are optimized:
For more pointers on optimizing PDFs for search, check out this great ‘how to’ guide from SEOmoz: http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/how-to-optimize-pdf-documents-for-search
There are additional opportunities for optimizing PDF assets for search visibility. PDFs can be hosted on platforms like Slideshare, Scribd or Docstock, a strategy we’ve talked about previously on this blog. The use of these ‘social media’ sites (I use that term lightly because I consider these to function more as content sharing services than true social media) bring about additional regulatory and technical considerations for pharma marketers. The PDF optimization technique which has been the focus of this post is not necessarily more effective, but rather can be thought of as a diamond in the rough – it’s a technique which, for most brands, is more immediately applicable in that it can be implemented in the absence of any new FDA guidelines.
By Arly Iampietro (@arlyi), Digital Campaign Strategist at Roska Healthcare Advertising
Feb 16, 2011
Last Friday, federal “Do Not Track” legislation was introduced in the House which, if passed, would require the FTC to create standards for a method of allowing consumers and patients to opt-out of online data collection used for behavioral ad targeting. While this is the first bill of this Congress to call for “Do Not Track” regulation, the FTC has previously spoken out in favor of a consumer choice mechanism that places control of online behavioral advertising in the hands of consumers.
So what does all of this mean for pharma? To answer the question, you have to first understand a bit about how behavioral ad targeting works.
A Word About Behavioral Ad Targeting
Behavioral advertising allows for segmentation based on clicks, cookies, and user behavior in an attempt to serve ads that are most relevant to the user and the information or product for which he or she is searching. In short, it allows advertisers to more effectively communicate with specific audiences (eg, HCPs, patients, consumers, caregivers, and care partners) about a specific product, disease state, or topic that is relevant to the information in which they are interested. For example, a patient or caregiver who had previously researched diabetes information may later be served a banner ad for a diabetes support program, additional disease information, or even relevant product information when viewing another website (eg, WebMD, news websites, etc.) which employs behavioral ad targeting.
3 Key Reasons “Do Not Track” May Not Be A Good Idea
While in theory I agree with the idea of privacy and consumer/patient protection, has anyone thought about the negative implications of implementing such a universal “Do Not Track” mechanism? Pharma marketers and industry take note. Below are just 3 implications you should take into consideration.
- This type of ad targeting can benefit HCPs and consumers/patients, and decrease the incidence of off-label or potentially inappropriate advertising by providing a greater degree of assurance that the right information will be presented and served up to the right (and intended) audience.The “Do Not Track” feature must be easy to understand and enable by consumers.
- Behavioral advertising is responsible for keeping most of the Internet services that we, including HCPs and patients, take for granted free of charge. If we over-regulate advertisers, we can expect to see fees charged for what are presently free services.
- Increasing government regulation of the Internet will limit growth in the fastest-growing sector of our struggling economy, potentially slowing the expansion of online healthcare information and services, at a time when they are so desperately needed.
Why “Do Not Track” May Not Work
Internet users already have the ability to stop this type of behaviorally-targeted advertising if they choose (can you find the features built-in to your present browser? If not, chances are most patients and consumers can’t either). And all future versions of the major web browsers offer or have proposed a next generation variety of ways to block ad targeting. Microsoft’s IE 9 allows users to manually manage which websites are allowed to track their browsing behavior. Mozilla’s Firefox 4 includes a feature which, if enabled, adds information to HTTP requests, letting websites know not to track that user. Google’s Chrome offers a “Keep My Opt-Outs” browser extension which, once installed, relies heavily on self-regulating efforts of the companies responsible for the tracking.
Without a universally agreed upon and browser-wide adoption of the approach, “Do Not Track” progression and adoption will continue to face challenges and move slowly.
What Patients and Consumers Really Need
The real question we need to answer is what do patients and consumers really need? What items should the “Do Not Track” bill include to guarantee advertisers can continue to work effectively while ensuring consumer privacy? As a first step in answering this question, we offer 3 key strategies that can get all parties to the end goal.
- A consortium should be assembled (think about when the W3 consortium, which was formed to provide some level of consistency to HTML and web standards) to create guidelines which are universal and consistent in terms of policy and functionality – across all browsers.
- The “Do Not Track” feature must be easy to understand and enable by consumers.
What other items should be included in this legislation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.