5 Tips on Optimizing your PDFs for Search

optimize PDFs for search

The PDF is the world’s favorite format for sharing documents like reports, studies, survey results, guides and tutorials, manuals and more. As a website owner, you probably want to showcase documents relevant to your business and make them publicly available for download and use.

If you share PDFs on your website, you definitely want people to find them easily. Not just on your website, but through search engines like Google as well. For example, let’s say that you’re offering free Excel cheatsheets for download in PDF on your website. You’ll want people searching online for Excel keyboard shortcuts or Excel formula cheatsheets to easily find your handy freebies through search engines like Google.

To help people to find your PDFs, you first need to make it easy for search engines to discover and understand them, so they can include them in their index and then show them as high as possible in their SERPs (search engine result pages) for relevant queries.  

Now, the question is, how to optimize your PDFs for search engines? Fortunately, it isn’t rocket science and we have some easy tweaks for making your PDFs more search engine friendly.  

How To SEO Your PDFs

Follow these five tips to make your PDFs easy on the eyes of search engines:

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Emailing PDFs – Best Practices

PDFs as Email Attachments

Sending files and documents via email is an everyday activity for most people today. When these correspondences are casual, you don’t need to put too much thought into the type of files you’re attaching and emailing to your recipients. However, if the email is professional or academic in nature, you need to think a bit more about how to best present the information you’re sending.

For example, if you’re sending a resume or CV to a potential employer, proposals to clients, or samples of your work for acceptance into an academic program, then there should be a higher level of professionalism associated with your attachments. The first thing to consider when sending business, school or career-related documents is the file format.

In this post, we’ll guide you through the basics of why you should email files as PDF and we’ll even cover a list of some of the most common methods for emailing PDF documents.  

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5 PDF Tasks You Didn’t Know Could Be Done Through A Web Browser

Web browsers have come a long way. There was a time when finally being able to view a PDF natively inside Firefox or Chrome got everyone excited. Now, viewing PDFs is the most basic PDF task you can perform.

Aside from viewing PDFs in your browser, you now know more than a handful of PDF tasks you can accomplish online. But we’ll bet that there are still a few PDF web tricks you didn’t know about. Here are 5 you probably didn’t know about.

1. Translate PDF Text

Because you know that PDFs are hard to edit, it’s natural that you wouldn’t peg the format as one you could translate into different languages. However, it is possible to do so without converting your file and manually translating it word for word with Google Translate.

The online translator  is a popular tool for anyone who needs a quick reference. But in case you didn’t notice, it also has an option where you can upload a document to be translated–PDFs included! Obviously, just as the translations for manual text entries may not be 100%, the translations for documents can be slightly inaccurate, as well. So use this tool with that caveat in mind.

2. Convert PDF to JPEG, Excel and PowerPoint

You’re strapped for time. You need to make some final analysis on tabular data. You need to prep approved images for publication.  You need to make some tweaks to a presentation you’re giving in a few hours. Any of these sound familiar? These scenarios are all too common, and in each case, a PDF file can be involved, making that single PDF task even tougher.

Convert PDF To JPG Online

In cases like these, online conversion tools can be a lifesaver. We know the constraints of time, money and resources. That’s why we’ve made it easy for you to get that PDF to JPEG, PDF to Excel and PDF to PowerPoint conversion done. No installation needed. No registration required. Just upload your file, enter your email and click on Convert. Your file will be emailed to you, free of charge.

3. Read a PDF File Out Loud 

Anyone who needs to review, research or do some reading can especially hate the task if it involves doing so with a PDF document and a busy schedule. Not only does it mean having to read a screen, but, if you’re on the go, it also means having to do it on a mobile device. Something a bit cumbersome for a 5-7 inch gadget. And that’s why SpokenText  makes this list.

This tool is an online text to audio converter that comes with the ability to convert text in documents to audio files (.mp3, .m4b) you can take with you. You literally turn your reading task into a listening one. It can convert Word documents, plain text files and PDF documents, just to name a few. This online tool has paid and trial accounts with a few customizable features that makes it worth checking out.

4. Bookmark Your Page In A PDF

Reading lengthy PDF files in Chrome is common and it can be pretty frustrating at times.  You close your PDF, lose your page and then open the file later on, only to scroll through the entire PDF  to find the one place where you left off.

The Chrome extension, Additor allows you to quickly bookmark the PDF you’re reading.

5. Sign PDF Documents

Signing PDFs is one of those tasks that you don’t want to do. It sounds tedious and difficult. So it may surprise you that it can accomplished online and with Chrome, no less. Of course, this capability is done through a Chrome extension: HelloSign.

Selecting Signature Type

HelloSign will let you add form fields and signatures to PDFs that are uploaded to Google Drive. Signed documents come with an audit trail to keep track of them, email notifications to all parties, and the ability to share the signed form. Read our tutorial on how to sign PDF documents. We feature a step by step look at how to use this extension to add a signature to your PDF documents.

With just a few of these tips, you can further enhance how you work with PDF files online. Give them a try and let us know how they work out for you.

How To Sign PDF Documents & Word Forms With Google Docs

The business world is now a digital one. Professionals and users are looking to do and keep everything digital–even signing documents. Users are turning to access a quick way to deal with e-signatures without having to print, sign, and re-scan the form.

There are a ton of services that can help you sign documents. But if you’re looking for a quick sign-and-go tool, you can use Google Docs in conjunction with the add-ons available.  In this tutorial, we show you how to digitally sign forms with Google Docs.

Signing PDFs and Forms with Google Docs

The best part is that you can essentially sign uncomplicated PDF documents if you upload them as MS Word documents first.  So if you have simple PDF documents that only need a signature to complete it, convert your PDF to Word first.

Once you’ve converted it, follow these steps:

1. Upload and open your Word document in GoogleDocs.

2. Click on the Add-ons tab and add the HelloSign Add-on.

Google Docs Addon

The HelloSign Add-on will give you the most direct way to add signature and other signing fields to your documents. All you have to do is click and drag.

This Add-on also ensures that the signatures, themselves, are legally binding. One limitation, though, is that you only get 3 free signed documents per month. For more, you’ll need to upgrade your account.

3. With the form document opened, go to Add-ons>HelloSign>Sign Document.

Selecting Sign Document Option

4. In the side bar, select the number of people who need to sign. We selected Me and Others for this tutorial.

Setting Up Document

5. Click on Continue in the next dialog to prep your document for signing. You‘ll then be directed to the HelloSign website where you can designate signers as well as yourself.

6. Once you’ve added the signers in the Who needs to sign? screen, click on Continue and the HelloSign editor interface will appear.

 Adding Signers To Document

7. Select the signing fields you need and drag them into place.

Adding Signature Fields

8. To sign the document, click on the drop down menu listing (under “Who signs here?”). Select Me (Now).

9. Decide how to sign the document. We opted to draw in a signature as the manager and clicked on Next to review it.

10. When satisfied, click on Insert or Save and Insert Signature.

 Selecting Signature Type

11. Click on Continue to send the document to the other signers with a message.  On the other end, your recipients will be able to simply click on the Review & Sign button from their notification email.

Reviewing Signature

Once they sign it, they can click on I agree and the document will be confirmed as signed. HelloSign will send a copy of the document to their inbox.

Finalizing Signature Agreement

When you receive notices that the document is viewed and signed, you can view the form itself. It will come with an audit trail attached at the end. Then from the viewing window, you can Share, Download, and check in with other signed or pending forms. When you download your form, you can export it as a PDF.

This is a great workaround for companies or individuals looking to sign PDF files digitally.  There are many ways to use Google Docs in your everyday work, whether you’re signing contracts digitally or writing papers online.  How do you use them?

PDF Usability And The Web: Is The Format Still “Unfit For Human Consumption”?

Portable document format

There has always been a well-documented love-hate relationship between users and the PDF format. You either love it when things go right or hate it when it doesn’t co-operate.

Yet for better or worse, the PDF document is in our daily lives. We convert and create PDFs, always emailing and reading them no matter how much we may complain about the format.

But think about what it was like before. Back in 2003, authoritative web usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, criticized the usability of the PDF on the web in his article PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption, in which he catalogs what he calls  the format’s “usability crimes.”

If you were an early PDF adopter in the late 90’s or early 2000’s, then you could probably relate very strongly to the article.  But would you still agree with it after more than 10 years? Probably not. You can’t deny the format’s improvement since then.

Despite the misgivings we have about the PDF, we can’t do without it. Because of large scale adoption, ISO standardization, and third party tools, the PDF format is a heck of a lot easier to work with. But it’s also due in large part, to the Internet itself and how it’s been shaping our user habits.

The State Of Our Online Behavior

Today we live in a highly technological world that co-exists hand in hand with the Internet. And whether we like it or not, our compulsion to stay connected online greatly influences our need to edit and work with documents on the web, including ones that weren’t meant to be edited.

We connect and communicate online.  Blogs, social media, and forums are endlessly engaged in discussion. Social networks are highly public, yet personal.  We need to access and do things online, to create an individual work space which we can control.

Connecting With The Internet
Photo Credit: Justin Marty via photopin cc

It’s no surprise then that because of this necessity, the digital documents we use daily are following this trend.  Our files have become part of the interactive and streamlined user experience.

Developers have been giving digital documents like the PDF a lot of integrated support.  Online app services like Google Drive, for instance, allow us to upload PDF documents for viewing, commenting, and sharing, all with a simple URL.  Desktop tools are also extending document sharing to real time collaboration over the web.

We can log in from anywhere and check in with our files on-screen.  Whether a professional on a tablet or a student enrolled in an online class, we can always connect with PDF contracts and research papers.  And on top of this, we can read and download PDF e-books from the web onto our mobile devices.

Using The Internet As A PDF Tool

Let’s not forget that Google has been able to index PDF files since 2001. Since then, the popularity of PDFs online has grown to such an extent that by 2013, 80% of non-html documents posted online were PDF files.

Admittedly, web browsers back in 2003 didn’t support PDF viewing very well.  However, browsers like Chrome and Firefox have begun including native PDF viewers. Add to that the ability to create a PDF for fast web viewing and your PDF documents are easier to go through than ever.

What’s interesting to note is that this online PDF viewing and sharing has gradually changed the role of the format itself.  Before, the PDF was considered only a final print format. But thanks to online services and advanced PDF creation and editing tools, it can be manipulated at any point in the workflow.

PDF In Document Workflows

Photo Credit: Saad Faruque via photopin cc

Consider how and when you’ve used online converters and web apps, or social networks and document search engines for a PDF. What did they do to help you with the file? Given the right utilities and extensions, we can interact with PDFs in our browser or annotate, highlight, and merge them instantly.

Truth is, it isn’t as hard to work with PDF files online as it used to be. In fact, presenting PDF content online is now perhaps the most basic thing you can do.

But what do you think? Is the PDF still hard for you to consume online–viewing, handling, or otherwise? It seems that with the way the Internet and the format are developing, there’s no better time to be a PDF user than now.