Search Engine Optimization for PDFs
A great deal of website content is released as PDF versions of the usual HTML, and website owners also issue
ebooks and other content in PDF format.
Additionally, businesses and companies write content such as operating manuals in PDF format. Your website may
reap big if your PDF content is indexed and returned in search engine results for queries related to your
However, there may be a slight difference between search
engine optimization (SEO) for normal web content and that for PDF files.
The difference is minimal because the broad optimization concepts do not change; it is how those concepts are
achieved that may make a big difference.
What follows below are some search engine optimization tips for content in PDF format.
Format: The format of content in a PDF file can either be text or graphic. However, graphic
content cannot be read by search engines therefore to increase your SEO benefits, produce your PDF content in text
META Tags: PDF files do not have meta tag information but there’s a specific section where a
title, subject, author and keyword can be included. Make sure you feel this section with appropriate information.
Optimize the title for keywords just like all web content. Access to this information is through the document
Description: The wording returned in search results is the description. There’s no particular
place within the PDF to put a description. So when it’s all left to the search engines, they will use the first
paragraph of text they find. This is not exactly an ideal ‘selling’ point draw a searcher’s click. You can specify
the reading order when you’re done with your PDF. Put relevant text near the front of the document and stipulate
this to be read first.
Tags: It’s also possible to specify tags if you use Acrobat to make your PDF files, including
image alt tags. You can access this through the ‘TouchUp Reader Order Panel’.
Links: Links can be included in PDF files so make sure you put them there. Use standard good
white hat methods in your links, for instance anchor text. Links in your PDFs will help bring traffic back to your website since PDFs can move from one individual to
another several times.
Fast View: This is an option in Acrobat that allows page by page loading of a PDF file, rather
than waiting for the whole file to download before it opens. This feature gets the document to your reader in
seconds. Note that this is not a SEO technique in the true sense but if your PDF s load slowly, you risk losing
visitors because they will simply be hitting the back button.
Size: Just like fast view, size plays a crucial role too. If your file is too big, it will be
abandoned by search engines because it will take too long to load. In fact, it will not be indexed so keep your PDF
Content: Finally, you need to pay much attention to your content just like you do for normal
web pages. Optimize your content for keywords but don’t keyword spam it.