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When we’re talking about optimizing PDF files, this comes down to:
Google crawls billions of documents a day. Documents can be for instance pages, images or PDF files. Often people forget to optimize their PDF files. That’s a missed opportunity as PDF files have – just like regular pages – the potential to generate enormous amounts of traffic.
Similar to pages, PDF files have a title and meta description too. Define these to make sure your PDF file is well optimized for both search engines and visitors.
Define a good title and meta description.
Remember, PDF files are treated as normal pages so that means they can cause duplicate content too. A pages and a PDF file can compete with one another just like two pages. In case the PDF file is a copy of content that’s available elsewhere, be sure to apply the canonical URL via the HTTP header to signal search engines about this.
Say you’ve written a PDF manual for the 46″ Samsung F6320 Series 6 Smart TV, you could make the filename: samsung-f6320-series-6-45-inch . Hyphens are included to indicate spaces, separating the words.
Remember, titles and meta descriptions should be unique across your entire website. That means a PDF file’s meta description can’t be the same as a page’s meta description.
Optimizing PDF files is slightly different from optimizing pages, but the same principles apply: perform keyword research and incorporate keywords.
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The same rules apply: you should only use one H1 heading per PDF file and it has to be unique. You can use multiple H2-H6 headings as you see fit, but keep the hierarchy of the PDF file in mind.
The basics of optimizing PDF files.
Again, similar to pages: use headings to structure your PDF files. They’re important for visitors as well as search engines to quickly understand the hierarchy and content of the document.
The filename of the PDF file will often be shown in the search results. It has to be meaningful for visitors, which often means it includes relevant keywords and it shouldn’t be too long.
At this point, there’s no such thing as a responsive PDF file. You can left align the content of the PDF file as much as possible, thereby decreasing horizontal scrolling on mobile. Imagine having an image on the left hand side, and text on the right hand side. On a desktop this may look just fine, but on mobile it would be better to have the image above the text so visitors can just scroll vertically.
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For the Samsung TV you could fill in:
Often applications that allow you to create PDFs offer you to save the PDF as an image. While this allows visitors to still read the contents it will prevent them from selecting text. For search engines it’s much more limiting: they’ll have a hard time understanding the content of the PDF file. That’s why it’s important to save the PDF file with textual content, not with image content.
Just like your website’s pages, you can optimize PDF files for search engine findability. Keep the following things in mind when doing so:
Part of optimizing your PDF files is making them an integral part of your website. This means they have to be linked to from within your website too, just like regular pages. These internal links will pass on link authority to the PDF file, enabling it to rank for relevant keywords.
Search engines treat PDF files similar to pages. This means PDF files carry page authority too, and the links included in the PDF files pass link authority just like normal links would. Include links to relevant sections in the website, and if it makes sense to link out to external websites feel free to do so too.
If you share PDFs on your website, you definitely want people to find them easily. Not just on your website, but through search engines like Google as well. For example, let’s say that you’re offering free Excel cheatsheets for download in PDF on your website. You’ll want people searching online for Excel keyboard shortcuts or Excel formula cheatsheets to easily find your handy freebies through search engines like Google.
Once you’ve set it up, click OK to save your changes and close the dialog window.
Most documents contain graphics. So it goes without saying that along with text, your PDFs will usually include some visuals. To help Google and other search engines understand images in your PDF, use alternative text (Alt text) to describe them. Make sure to use a unique alt text for every image in your file. Do use the opportunity to include important keywords that best describe your graphics.
How To SEO Your PDFs.
To help people to find your PDFs, you first need to make it easy for search engines to discover and understand them, so they can include them in their index and then show them as high as possible in their SERPs (search engine result pages) for relevant queries.
Follow these five tips to make your PDFs easy on the eyes of search engines:
How can you tell if the text is image-based? Here’s a simple test: Try to select, copy and paste the text. If you can’t, that means you are dealing with an image PDF.
Optimizing PDFs for search also includes integrating them into your website (internal linking structure). If you link to the PDF from another page on your site, you are saying to search engines that this document is an important part of the website and that they should include it in their index and show in their SERPs for relevant keywords. It is also highly desirable to link from the PDF itself to appropriate pages on your website.
Converting image PDFs with Able2Extract is an easy, 3-step process: open your image PDF in Able2Extract, select All to extract text from the entire document and click on the icon of the format you want to convert to. For example, MS Word.
The traditional SEO savvy advises to include your most important keywords at the beginning of the title tag.
2. Write a compelling PDF document title.
The PDF is the world’s favorite format for sharing documents like reports, studies, survey results, guides and tutorials, manuals and more. As a website owner, you probably want to showcase documents relevant to your business and make them publicly available for download and use.
You may wonder now how to add the title tag to your PDF file.
Able2Extract will recognize that your PDF is an image-based one and will automatically run OCR on it for you. All you need to do after conversion is to review your output and save your file. Find a step-by-step guide to converting scanned (image) PDFs with Able2Extract here .
So these are our five quick and easy tips for optimizing your PDFs to help search engines read and understand them better and, in turn, give them more visibility in their SERPs. This is not a comprehensive list or ultimate guide to PDF SEO, but tweaking your PDFs in this way will go a long way in making your PDF files search friendly.
4. Add alternative text to images.
This is a basic but most often overlooked step when saving documents, including PDFs. However, a file name is important when it comes to PDF SEO (search engine optimization). When saving the file that you will eventually upload online, think about the keywords that best describe its contents and that people will type into the search engine to find it.
The PDF document title functions as the HTML title tag. This is a very important element of SEO. It is the clickable part of the search engine result, so remember to write them for people and search engines.
This doesn’t mean that you have to retype all the content from your PDF to make it text based. Here’s where Able2Extract Professional comes to the rescue. Thanks to its advanced OCR technology, it accurately and quickly converts scanned (image) PDFs to editable file formats like MS Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
Now, the question is, how to optimize your PDFs for search engines? Fortunately, it isn’t rocket science and we have some easy tweaks for making your PDFs more search engine friendly.
Using the above example of “Excel keyboard shortcuts”, it makes most sense to use these words when naming your PDFs. Separate the words in the file name with dashes (-) or, alternatively, underscores (_). This file name will be included in the URL of your PDF, so both people and search engines will see it.