White Paper SEO: How Important are Keywords in Your White Paper?

By Apryl Parcher

By now we all know that search engine optimization (SEO) is a key factor in getting visibility for your website. SEO includes strategic placement of keywords and phrases in your web copy, as well as in the HTML code.

But what about the documents you have available for download from your website, such as white papers and case studies? Can you optimize those for search engines as well?

Yes, you can! Most white papers are distributed as PDF documents, and just like other pages on a website, these can be optimized for search in two places: the visible content that your readers see and the “metadata” in the document properties they don’t see.

Optimizing your copy

The standard rules for SEO on website copy also apply to your white paper or other content.

The first step is to have your list of primary keywords handy when writing the paper, and to use them in certain strategic places:
* Title and subtitle
* Paragraph headings
* The first 100 or so words of text

Try to use your keywords in the beginnings of sentences when possible. But don’t overdo it or try to stuff in too many keywords just for the sake of optimization. First and foremost, your copy should be compelling and useful to the reader. Your logic should flow naturally. Boring your reader with stilted, awkward prose is a sure-fire way to lose them!

Optimizing your document properties

Here is a short screen-capture video that takes you step-by-step through optimizing your PDF document properties using Adobe Acrobat.
As you can see, it’s not at all difficult to insert your keywords into a PDF, and it only takes a few moments.

Click here to watch the video on how to do this.

If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat (versions 6 and up can do this) and you’re working with a graphic designer, they may be able to insert this metadata for you.

What about registration pages?

If you would rather your white paper was NOT indexed–because you want people to register for it–you can protect it from the search engines with a robot.txt file as explained in the video. However, you’ll want to make sure to optimize your registration page and any “teaser” copy from your white paper that you use to generate interest. Always optimize for readability

So how important is SEO in the grand scheme?

While optimizing your white papers is a good way to make it easier for people to find them online, it’s really more important to produce a well-crafted, informative paper that’s easy for humans to read and absorb.

A paper that resonates with your audience will get results. So don’t stress about getting all the SEO exactly right. Keep keywords in mind for your titles and headings, and give it a try. And since Adobe makes it fairly simple to add metadata to a PDF, you can experiment to see what kind of results you get.

About the Author: Apryl Parcher was handpicked by Michael Stelzner out of 100 writers to work with him as his apprentice. A veteran marketing writer and certified social media strategist, she helps businesses blend traditional and social marketing content strategies. Learn more at her website and blog at http://www.whitepaperresults.com as well as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.