A PDF file is the most common format for sharing documents such as e-books, guides and tutorials, reports, research results, price lists, manuals and promotional brochures. These documents often contain good, unique, high-quality content that can be useful to site visitors. Unfortunately, they are usually neglected by SEO departments, despite the fact that there is a lot of potential for optimizing them.
If you host PDFs on your website, you definitely want people to find them easily. Not only on your website, but also on search engines like Google.
Google indexes and classifies PDF files. They even have their own tag in the SERPs that notifies consumers that the result is a PDF. This creates an increased opportunity to drive traffic by adding both new and updated PDF content to your website.
How to optimize PDF files for SEO
Below I explain how to optimize PDF for SEO so that search engines display it as high as possible in SERPs for relevant queries.
Tip 1: Choose an engine-friendly name for the PDF file
This is a basic but most often overlooked step when saving documents, including PDF files. The name of the file should indicate its content and include the keywords it is supposed to rank for in the SERPs. On its basis, a URL address is generated, where the PDF file will be available on your website.
The PDF name must be SEO friendly and should not be a combination of random letters and numbers. Also, avoid using Polish characters. An important practice when naming files is to use hyphens instead of spaces to separate words from each other.
Tip 2: Compress the PDF to reduce the file size
As with the website, the size of the PDF file should be minimized. Make sure your PDF is internet friendly. Fortunately, it’s a simple process with a dedicated PDF compressor program such as SwifDoo PDF.
The size of PDF files can affect their search rankings and user experience. The smaller the file size, the better for SEO. The larger the file, the slower it will load from the server. Google and Bing have publicly stated that fast-loading pages are prioritized in search results over slow-loading pages.
Learn more about how to compress a PDF file quickly and easily.
Tip 3: Add links to PDF files
First things first, links from the top-level pages on your site to the PDF will tell Google that the document contains relevant content that needs to be indexed. In addition, links will support PDF positioning in terms of relevant keywords.
Secondly, links from the PDF to the relevant subpages on the site. The benefits of this are multiple: not only will these links show Google how the PDF relates to content on your site, they convey power, but they also help drive traffic to other areas of your site that are referenced throughout the document. Another advantage is that other websites can also store copies of the file.
When implementing internal linking, remember to use the appropriate anchor, this link will show the robots the subject of the page to which it leads.
lastly, external linking. Get links to your PDF from other popular sites and don’t forget to share it on your Social Media.
Tip 4: Check compatibility
Is your PDF compatible with the latest version of Acrobat? Better check and remember to test several previous versions rather than the latest one to make sure that most readers or search engines will have no problems viewing the document. Some recommend not saving the file in the latest version of Acrobat as many users may not have the update downloaded.
Tips 5: Use plain-text PDFs
Images are much more difficult for search engines to read and understand than text. The problem with PDF files is that they are not fully text, which is problematic. Some are just text with images. This is common, especially with scanned PDF files. An electronic file is created when a document containing a lot of text is converted to PDF format.
While this PDF appears to be a text document, it is actually just an image of text. While search engines can’t, we can see and read it with a PDF reader such as SwifDoo PDF. As such, it’s possible that search engines won’t be able to read and understand all this content very effectively if you upload a 100 page scanned PDF to your website with lots of useful text.
Tip 6: Mobile-friendly PDFs
Optimizing for mobile devices is no longer an option, it is a necessity. While there’s no such thing as a responsive PDF, there are a few things you can do to make your document more comfortable for your visitors. For example, align content to the left as much as possible, thus reducing the need for horizontal scrolling on mobile devices.
It is inevitable that when doing SEO, you will come across PDF documents at some point. While they are easy to overlook, make sure you don’t neglect to optimize them for search.
While this is not an exhaustive list or a definitive guide to PDF SEO, making these changes to your PDFs will help make them more search-friendly.