Despite the online myths, search engines are perfectly capable of indexing PDFs which is why SEO friendly PDF files are a necessity. So, search engines can crawl, index, and rank the SEO friendly PDFs, as PDF files contain a large amount of rich content which is really good to use in your SEO campaigns.
Tips to Make Your PDFs SEO-Friendly
Optimize your PDF for SEO with these 13 tips to get ahead of the competition.
Tip #1. Choose your Filenames Carefully
One of the first things you do when you convert an ASPX file to PDF or convert a text file is choosing the file name. The temptation is to use whatever suggestion is automatically generated but this is a mistake. Use your filename as an opportunity to help search engines find your site through keywords and key phrases.
Tip #2. Create Internal Links to the Document
If there are no internal links from your site to your PDF, then it becomes an orphaned file. Search engines do not index orphaned files which means that the PDF you spent so much time on is not helping your website in any way.
Tip #3. Link from your PDFs to Other Relevant Content
Your site needs to contain internal links to your PDFs and the reverse should also be true. Your PDFs can also contain links to high-authority sources from third parties. This may sound like you are boosting the competition but doing so can help your search engine ranking, in fact, you will get more of a boost than any high-authority source you choose to link to or quote. Linking back to your own site from within your PDFs means that search engines recognise the importance of those files and grant them a higher rank.
Tip #4. Add a Unique and Meaningful Title
Titles for PDFs frequently show up as one of the document properties when search engines are examining them. They look at a PDFs title in the same way they do an HTML document’s title which makes it the clickable text users see when your site appears in search engine results. Remember that longer titles are more likely to be unique so use as many keywords as possible but make sure it still reads well if it sounds like nonsense users will not click on it.
Tip #5. Optimize your PDFs for Mobile Viewers
Given that PDF documents tend to be longer than standard webpages, optimizing them for mobile viewers is tricky. The first thing you can do is aligning all content from the left side of the page. This prevents mobile users from having to scroll to the right to even see the contents of your document. Also, make sure you use summary sentences and other tools that help those who are short on time. Remember, a mobile user may need to look something up quickly so you should bear that in mind.
Tip #6. Compress your Images
Your documents’ and pages’ load times play a large role in their search engine ranking. PDFs that contain large, high-resolution images will take longer to load and will rank lower as a result. You can still use images, just make sure that they are the lowest file-size possible without too much of a loss of quality.
Tip #7. Use Subheadings to Divide Content
PDFs often contain a lot of detailed information. Subheadings allow users to quickly navigate to the sections that are relevant to them. Remember, we mentioned earlier that people accessing your document may be short on time. Subheadings also tend to make use of keywords which make them a vital part of SEO friendly PDF files.
Tip #8. Use Plain Text
If your PDF contains text but is technically an image, search engines are still capable of reading it. However, it takes them longer and they make mistakes sometimes. Using plain text improves the speed with which your PDF is analysed and makes it possible for users to use search functions to find vital information. Remember, if you cannot copy and paste the text in your PDF then it is an image.
Tip #9. Use Alternative Text
This is common practice when it comes to placing images on HTML pages but it is also possible with PDFs. When you optimize your PDF for SEO, you can set alternative text for any images it contains just like you can with HTML. The exact method varies with the software you use but it is possible and you should always take advantage of it.
Tip #10. Track your PDFs’ Performance
When you implement the rest of these techniques, you must keep track of each document’s performance. Check how often documents are being downloaded and treat each download as a user conversion. Also, check how the user found your document. Did they navigate to it from within your site or from a search engine? When you know which documents are performing well you can compare them to the ones that are not and improve the latter by analyzing the difference.
Tip #11. Author Filed
When the Google bot crawlers visit your website for ranking, they check for the author’s authority and responsiveness. They determine how many professional web contents are published online under the author’s name. The same applies to your website PDFs. By including author bio, Google bots can determine how responsive/authoritative is the author and how many copies match his/her bio on the internet. Though this is not the major PDF SEO ranking determinant, it makes a difference.
Tip #12. Add Tags and Accessibility Feature
By adding tags and accessibility features, you can make a tangible difference in making your PDF SEO friendly. The sub-menu for accessibility is found under the Advanced menu in Adobe Acrobat. Tags will help you categorize your document better. Adding functionality features enables your PDF to be read by screen readers and magnifiers.
Tip #13. Consider Offering HTML Versions
Despite PDFs having a lot of benefits, it would a wise idea to offer your PDF as website pages too. HTML document versions have better usability. Additionally, they are easy to craw during SEO ranking and indexing. Thinking of it, many people avoid clicking on PDFs due to the inconvenience associated with online documents like being forced to open PDF readers. Often, the back button gets locked and it’s annoying for the users who are only trying to browse your website. Offering both versions can make a major difference between content engagement and abandonment.
PDFs are an asset to your marketing campaign. Do not forget to optimize your PDFs as they can give me good traffic and conversions rates. Always try your best to create valuable content but always make sure that those are Google-friendly. Apply all this advice and you will see how everything will improve.