Once upon a time there was a myth that Google considers PDF invisible.
Google, as stated in the story, simply could not decipher the contents of a document other than HTML.
But we see that PDF-files are published on the first page of organic search results!
This myth has been unceremoniously destroyed. Back in 2011, the most popular search engine in the world said:
"Google first began to index PDFs in 2001, and hundreds of millions of PDFs are currently indexed."
They even come with their own issuing tag to alert users that the result is in PDF format:
However, optimizing PDF files for SEO remains a largely untapped opportunity.
PDF documents often contain a large amount of rich content that Google can index, which should make them an ideal medium for SEO campaigns.
However, optimizing PDF files for search requires optimizers to follow a slightly different set of rules. The structure as a whole coincides with the typical SEO approach, but the details differ in some important aspects.
Follow the 10 tips below and you will have much more chances to get SEO traffic from PDF files.
1. Carefully choose the file name
This is usually the first step to converting a text document to a universal PDF format. Therefore, there is a temptation to save the file with the name that is offered automatically. It does not take into account SEO. Although it is known that the name of the document may affect the URL of the page.
Analyze keywords and competitors before renaming a file using a phrase that matches the user's requirements. Be sure to capitalize the first letter of each word and separate the words with hyphens.
2. Internal link to the document
It may be difficult to include PDF files in the internal link structure of the website.
Although these documents are usually valuable assets (for example, surveys or reports), they are not invoked as often as the product page.
As a result, too often they are lost pages in the site hierarchy.
This directly affects their SEO potential.
Proper design of the internal contextual links to your PDFs will give Google a sign that he must recognize that these are the pieces of content that you want to index and evaluate.
Optimizing the anchor text that points to the document inside should help in ranking.
3. Link to relevant content
This applies primarily to the content that is on your site (although you can refer to authoritative third-party sites when it is in the interests of the user).
Links to your own web resources from a PDF file increase the likelihood that the search engine will view this content as an important part of your site.
Another great advantage of using PDF files is that external sites are more likely to link to them because of their value as a permanent resource. If you include links in the document to important pages on your site, you can gain credibility (and rating) not only for PDF.
4. Add a unique, optimized header
This is the basis of SEO, but in PDF files it is often forgotten.
The title for the PDF can be set in the "Document Properties" section. The search engine will use this in the same way that an HTML header tag is used. Therefore, it will be an interactive text that the user will see in the search results.
However, think carefully about this.
The reality is that PDF files are usually best suited for ranking by specific long queries. More often documents contain studies - the title and description should reflect this.
Optimizing PDF for widespread inquiries is unlikely to be successful.
5. Individual Mobile Content PDF
Nowadays, this advice is applicable to almost all areas of digital marketing, so it’s not surprising that it is applicable to SEO for PDF files.
Since PDF files usually have a long text and a lot of information, it does not fit the mobile format.
There are simple actions to counter this.
By aligning the content on the left side of the page, you greatly simplify scrolling content on your mobile device. Agree, nobody likes horizontal scrolling.
You can also use bullets and bold text to make the content more readable.
Using images is also a great idea, but be careful not to overload the file, because the download speed and the amount of traffic spent on opening for mobile devices is very important.
6. Compress images where possible
Download speed is an important ranking factor for any page, but heavy PDF files complicate things.
Once you have put so much effort into creating great content, you don’t need to remove images or charts!
Tools (such as JPEGmini or Soda PDF) can help compress images without losing quality.
7. Break the content into subtitles
PDF files can contain a lot of detailed information. But people more often read diagonally, pulling out what they need.
Using subtitles, you make your content more legible for readers. This is useful advice for all devices, although it is very important for mobile.
In one paragraph it is better to place no more than 3-4 sentences.
Between the text blocks insert subtitles and leads describing the upcoming section.
8. Use plain text
One of the reasons why Google’s myths about PDF files have been preserved for so long was because many PDF files have text in image format.
In our opinion, they contain text. But for the search engine, they see images.
Yes, today, search engines are learning to read the contents of images, but the text is still preferable.
Many common tools, including the Adobe Creative Suite, will allow you to easily accomplish this conversion.
There is a very simple way to check the fas document. If you can copy and paste text from a PDF file, it is there in text and not in graphic format.
9. Take advantage of alternate text
This is another SEO foundation. The alternative text we see when we turn off the display of pictures in the browser or with a long download of the document. Instead of pictures, we see a text describing what is shown in the picture.
There are different ways to do this and it all depends on the software you use to create and post PDFs.
Think of it as another opportunity to provide Google with vital cues about the content of the document, as well as a means of ranking through image search.
PDF files are not always the most suitable result for a search query, but images are much more likely to satisfy a user's request.
10. Performance Tracking
From an SEO point of view, adding a PDF file to a website will be different from adding a product page. And the measurement of conversion will be different.
You can consider downloading a PDF file from a regular search visitor microconversion. You can add this to your analytics package as a goal, so that you can see how many people have entered the site using regular search and downloaded the document.
To make the text of a PDF file readable and interesting - contact SEO for promotion at Futureinapps!