Organising PDF Files in WordPress

Just finished tidying up some pdf files on our Fastsms website and thought I might as well share the method I used with the outside world.

First thing to say is the “normal” way of adding pdf files is to use the “Add Media” option at the top left of the Edit Post or Edit Page window. This is nice and quick and easy. You browse to the file on your PC, upload it and insert in the page. Why do anything different?

What I dislike about this method is that it puts the file in the /wp-content/uploads folder. Depending on how you are configured this can produce a very deep file structure. So your file could be uploaded as:


So your pdf full of great SEO content could be SIX levels down in the file structure. Now we suspect that Google rarely ventures more than three levels down so it is unlikely to gain much or any visibility.

Clearly if the document is your returns policy or data protection policy it doesn’t matter much, but if it’s a product brochure or user guide you’re missing an opportunity.

Secondly you might want to exclude search engines from your /wp-content folders. Maybe there are huge numbers of meaningless images there, in which case you might want to stop Google wasting its limited time indexing these rather than the more important stuff. If your pdf files are in there you can’t do that.

So I prefer to create a separate directory, just one level down, with a meaningful name, and upload files using FTP. And of course you can have several of these – /sms-guides/ or /user-manuals/ or /terms-and-conditions/ would be good examples. Here’s one I prepared earlier (as they say):

Compare this with:

Nuff said on that one !

The other issue relates to file naming. The name of a file has a bit of influence on its ranking but I have a feeling that if the file name is really wacky it might stop it getting indexed at all, especially if very long and full of odd characters and spaces.

So I prefer file names to use only lower case a-z, 0-9 and the hyphen (-). No capitals, no spaces, no underscores (_), no punctuation marks or non-English characters.

In our business we have three main brands:

Now each of these has user manuals, terms and conditions, and so forth so we prefix the pdf with ns- or fs- or ps- to identify which of our brands it belongs to. Avoids any issues of loading a file to the wrong site!

Finally when naming the site keep it down to a few words, not more than 4 or 5. Don’t include “stop” words such as “the”, “and”, “it”, etc. Just use meaningful keywords that relate to the contents of the document.

Now you might think this is a lot of trouble to go to and it will be for many people. But if you are trying to wring out every bit of SEO juice from your content it can be worth it.

Up to you!

One thought on “Organising PDF Files in WordPress

  1. David

    Nice straight to the point writeup. It’d be good in the future if WordPress integrated the ability to store special files outside the wp-content structure for sites to make the process easier.


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