February 5

How to Optimise PDF Files For SEO

Online marketing


PDF files are extremely useful for businesses. You can share information that is protected from copy/pasting and which any user can access because the software needed for them is free to use (Adobe Acrobat Reader). But did you know that Google now indexes PDF files and shows them in search results? For this reason, today we will show you how to optimise PDF files for SEO.

Why Should You Optimise PDF Files for SEO?

Some marketing specialists are not enthusiastic about this ranking possibility. It is true that it is very difficult to track analytics for PDF files. But we are not talking about paid marketing strategies. We are talking about a free way to get found on Google. For small and medium sized businesses, this is good enough.

And, as you will see below, it is very easy to optimise PDF files for SEO. You don’t have to put in exceptional efforts. And the results are well worth the few extra steps you take in creating and sharing PDF files.

Types of PDF Files Businesses Upload on Their Websites

You may wonder now, what kind of PDF files can you create and post on your website? The possibilities are almost limitless. Here are just a few examples:

  • Detailed product data sheets
  • E-books
  • White papers
  • Company presentation
  • CVs of key personnel (for professional companies)
  • Tutorials
  • Cheat sheets.

Downloadable PDF files are very useful as lead magnets – you can require website visitors to fill in their name and email address before they access the file.

Useful Advice before We Get Started

These are just a few best practices for any PDF file you create and post online:

  • Always create text-based PDF files, not image-based
  • Save the file as an older version of Adobe Acrobat to avoid compatibility issues
  • Write protect your files by adding a passwords
  • Optimise the size of your files by choosing Save as Other -> Reduced Size PDF.

Now let us show you how to optimise PDF files for SEO. Please note that in order to edit these files you will need the full Adobe Acrobat software (premium product), because Acrobat Reader does not have any editing tools.

1. Make Sure that the File Name is SEO Friendly

The first step in the process is to create a file name that:

  • Contains your main keyword
  • Has a natural language flow
  • Does not exceed a web page title – 60 characters.

Thus, quick names like “brochure_final.pdf” are not useful at all and you should always check that you renamed your PDF files before you upload them.

2. Add a Title and Meta Description to Your PDF File

Yes, you can optimise PDF files for SEO in the same way as website pages. Go to File -> Document Properties. Here, you will discover several text fields, including Title and Subject -> Meta description.

Use the same care in creating these texts as you would do for each blog post you publish on your website. Google crawls PDF files just as it does websites, so make sure that the title and meta description are relevant for the content of the file.

3. Use Links in the File

PDF files carry link authority just like a web page. Thus, if you add links to reputable sources in your file, it will borrow from the domain authority of the respective sources. At the same time, make sure that you link to the PDF file within your website.

Each of these small actions increases the chance of getting your file displayed in SERPs.

4. Optimise Your File for Mobile

PDF is not a mobile friendly format per se. However, the way you format it can help users read it with ease on their smartphone. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Align text to the left
  • Display any graphics on the right side of the page
  • Use only standard fonts supported by PDF
  • Do not use font styles excessively (bold, italics, underline).

5. Optimise the File for Web View

Many browsers now offer the option to view PDF files. This is very useful for readers. First, they do not have to install an extra app or software suite. Secondly, they can quickly scan a PDF file and then return to the web page they were browsing.

As a final step to optimise PDF files for SEO, make sure that they display correctly in web browser. To do so, go to Edit -> Preferences -> Categories. Here, select Documents and then go to Save Settings. Tick off the box next to Save as optimised for Fast Web View.

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