PDFs in SERP listing competitor names in title

Suleyman Okan

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2017
Messages
7
I cross-posted this to Google Search and Assistant Help Forum, but I want to bring attention to this issue here as well because, well, I haven't seen anything like this before and it has rather strange implications. Let me know if that's against your guidelines.

When I search for "site:bonsallpool.com page" I get several PDFs listed on the search results page, and they have faulty title tags. I had other replicate the results via this link, so go ahead and try it.


These are files listed on the Bonsall site and distributed by the hot tub manufacturer Watkins. There's nothing in link html decoration, file properties or PDF metadata/tags that lists any of my competitor names. But here's the screenshot listing Seven Seas Pools & Spas and Hot Tub Barn, two of our competitors:



When I request the cached version of the PDFs, I get the source URL listed in my competitor's domain. Here's one that lists the sevenseaspools.com domain:


How does Google determine that these Watkins-distributed manufacturer files are associated with Bonsall Pool & Spa's competitors, and why does it decide to list their names when it's the Bonsall Pool & Spa website. More importantly, how do we fix this?


Thanks!
 

Eric Rohrback

Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
989
That's a pretty good one. I thought it might have been in the document properties, but there isn't a title or keyword listed when I pull these up.

Since these look like they're a widely distributed (and copied) piece of content, maybe it's attributing to whoever posted them first?

So if we take your competitor, they have this URL - www. sevenseaspools .com/assets/docs/technical/hot-springs/ACE-Installation-Instructions. pdf - same content but different URL structure so it took an extra minute to find.

Why is this so important? If everyone has these same documents, why do they matter? IF you care about specific searches to target someone looking to fix a part or find one of these guides, why not create your own unique guide?

Then you could brand it the way you want, put in structured data markup, put it in an easier to read table format/list, add a whole bunch of other things to make you unique from the competition. If the wholesale company gives these out to every distributor, then why does it matter who is ranking with the same PDF? That's giving customers the exact same information as they could get with any other distributor - There is nothing unique or special about it.

So to answer your question on how to fix this - be unique and different from everyone else. Find a creative way to separate your client from the rest of the companies who took the lazy way of just re-posting the same PDF that everyone else has.
 

Suleyman Okan

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2017
Messages
7
Thanks Eric! That's a great suggestion. I was so stuck in trying to figure out the technicalities of this that I overlooked the obvious fix!

I can absolutely alter the files. Even if initially design overhead would prevent me from going in as deep as you suggest, I can certainly add a minimal amount of contact information that would be beneficial to the downloaders.
 

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