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Naming your PDFs

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Sunday August 10, 2008 )

At the end of each week, I clean up my desktop as usually there’s no more room for any icons. I take a slash and burn approach – and sometimes good stuff gets deleted.

I download a ton of industry reports and white papers each week, often in PDF format. I’ve noticed that many authors and site owners go to a great deal of trouble to name their web pages using relevant terms, but not their PDF files. Often they’ll be named in such a way there’s no way to tell what’s in the file; e.g. report8797.pdf.

Come Friday afternoon, I’m in slash and burn mode; cleaning up detritus from the week’s efforts and having the short term memory of a Korsakoff’s sufferer after a week of information overload; I just don’t remember what’s in report8797.pdf.

Opening it while having a bunch of other stuff highlighted ready to be zapped doesn’t appeal to my lazy aspect, so into the recycle bin it goes and from there into the digital abyss. There’s been more than one occasion where I wish I hadn’t.

We name our web pages using relevant terms for a couple of good reasons:

a) it helps with search engine ranking
b) it helps people to identify the content

.. so why not do the same with your PDF’s? PDF files are spidered by search engines and you’ll often see them listed in the SERPs (search engine results pages). It seems to me that PDF optimization is as important as page optimization and just a part of good web site file base structure.


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