Optimizing Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Documents for Search

2010-03-25 - In a previous related article about SEO for PDFs, I outlined the procedures for Optimizing PDF for Search, this is a natural extension of that article.

When working with Microsoft Office Documents, the File > Properties will reveal the dialog window required to input your optimized data for search, I've found this applies to most publishing software.

I've provided screenshots from three of the most popular Microsoft Office Document Formats; Microsoft Word (.doc), Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt), and Microsoft Excel (.xls).

It is best practice for authors to specify the Properties for ALL documents. These Properties may be used by search engine crawlers, document indexing services on protected Intranets, etc., the Properties provides Machine Readable Content for those crawlers.

Also keep in mind that if these Office Document Formats are converted to PDF, the original Document Properties are transferred over to the PDF Document Properties maintaining metadata integrity from the originating source.

Table of Contents

  1. Microsoft Word
  2. Microsoft PowerPoint
  3. Microsoft Excel
  4. SEO for Office Documents Summary
  5. SEO for PDFs - Optimizing PDF for Search
  6. Community Comments

Microsoft Word

I've produced three documents all based off the original PDF, Google Quality Raters Guidelines, used as an example in the SEO for PDFs article. I wanted to show you how consistency is maintained across the Office Documents programs.

In most Microsoft Office programs, the Summary and Contents tabs are where you will focus most of your document optimization efforts. If you have custom data (e.g. Metadata) to add, you can usually do that through the Custom tab.

Word Document Properties - Summary

If I take the above Word .doc and convert it to .pdf, the Document Properties automatically transfer to the PDF Document Properties so you are not duplicating your efforts from one program to the next.

This all assumes that the original Office Document was properly constructed (using semantics) to begin with which is not an easy task for many.

This means you'll need to really focus your efforts in the Document Properties area to take advantage of first to market content that sits above the content of the document itself.

Think of this like the <head></head> section of your document. You're populating the <title> and META Description along with a few other elements by using the Document Properties.

Word Headings In the Contents tab, you'll find the <title> of the document along with the Word document structure. Notice the label Headings? If the author failed to use proper semantics in the Word document by choosing the Heading 1 thru Heading 6 options (see image at right), then the Contents of this document would not display properly. Nor would the Word .doc be optimized to it's fullest extent by using proper formatting commands during document construction e.g. Headings, Lists, Definitions, etc.

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Word Document Properties - Contents

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Microsoft PowerPoint

The PowerPoint Document Properties look identical to all the other Microsoft Office Programs. There are some slight differences where the data is pulled from.

PowerPoint Document Properties - Summary

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PowerPoint Document Properties - Contents

For instance, with PowerPoint, slide naming conventions (Slide Titles) are an important factor in optimizing the document for search.

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Microsoft Excel

If you viewed the screenshots together for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for Summary of the Document Properties, you'll find they are identical. Kudos to Microsoft for maintaining consistency across all document formats.

Shown LTR: Word, PowerPoint, Excel
Word Document Properties PowerPoint Document Properties Excel Document Properties

Excel Document Properties - Summary

Excel Document Properties - Contents

With Excel, your Worksheet naming conventions are an important factor in optimizing the document for search.

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SEO for Office Documents Summary

That's it for optimizing Office Document Properties. This article discusses just one aspect of SEO for Microsoft Office Documents. The actual documents themselves can also be optimized for search by using proper semantic formatting during document construction as noted above.

I hope you've enjoyed this Tutorial/Pictorial on Optimizing Office Documents for Search. Your Comments are welcome!

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