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Optimizing PDFs for Search Engines: SEO Best Practices

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  • Digital Team 

Google processes billions of queries every single day. It has been known long ago that all kinds of content should be optimized for search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) makes virtual pages and files more visible on the Internet, which is what website owners and content creators usually want.

While everyone knows that web pages must be optimized, not everyone realizes that PDF files can also benefit greatly from SEO techniques. But now, thanks to this article, you will learn how to optimize a PDF documents to increase traffic and make it more visible.

Key SEO Principles for PDF Files

Search engine optimization is a complex process that requires a specialized approach. SEO for PDFs is similar to optimizing web pages. There are certain differences, but the key principles remain the same. One of the most popular questions is “Does Google crawl PDFs?” The answer is definitely yes. Respective pages are even marked as PDFs in Google searches, which is why it is important to do the following things to optimize these files:

  • Choose an appropriate name for the document;
  • Work on SEO-friendly description and title;
  • Incorporate headings in the text;
  • Place reliable links.

Another challenge you may encounter is actually editing PDF files. This is not as simple as editing a Word file, for instance, and special assistance is needed. Luckily, reliable services like exist, which allow making all the necessary changes in PDF files, from converting them into other formats for easier access to editing, resizing, merging with other files, and more.

How to Name Your PDF File

While it is crucial to pick appropriate titles and descriptions for virtual pages, with PDFs, it is also necessary to focus on file names. The file name is usually visible in search, which is why it should contain respective information and not some random letters or numbers. For example, if you are sharing a PDF document that contains PDF SEO optimization tips, the name of the file can be “pdf-seo-optimization-tips.pdf.”

PDF Title and Meta Description

Much like with web pages, each PDF document uploaded online must also have a description and title. They can be set in the document when you access the settings. Pick the “Title” and “Meta description” options to fill in the required information. Keep the title brief and straight to the point. Use appropriate keywords in the description to attract organic traffic.

Incorporate Headings into Your File

When working withPDF, SEO best practices apply the same way as with any web page. Headings are not an exclusion.When writing any type of text, it is important to structure your information. It is possible to write headings and subheadings as they are, but it is advised to mark them appropriately so that search engines can see the document’s structure. Use H1 and H2 headings throughout your text. H3 headings and lower can also be applied for easier navigation.

For every online page, it is essential to include at least a few links that lead to reliable sources. The same goes for PDF documents. For existing documents, you will need to use pdf editing to add links. Try to scatter a few high-quality links across your document and include them organically so as not to hinder your text’s readability.

Other SEO Tips for PDFs

While all the SEO practices mentioned above are highly recommended to optimize your PDF documents for online use, there are also more things to be done. Consider implementing these tips for optimizing your PDF files:

  • Compress PDF: PDF documents can be quite large as they carry both text and other elements, such as images. To optimize a PDF for the Internet, it is advised to compress their size. You can do it easily by using online PDF editing and compression services.
  • Use standard fonts: The fonts you choose for PDF files also matter. It is recommended to use standard fonts, such as Times New Roman, Helvetica, and others. Also, try not to use many different fonts in one document.
  • Optimize pictures in your files: If your PDF document contains images, it is important to optimize them as well. Try using vector images as they are smaller in size but provide high quality.
  • Add keywords to the file name: Setting an appropriate file name is important, although it is even better to incorporate additional keywords in this name as well. Use appropriate keywords just like you would with the H1 heading and meta description.
  • Add alt text: It is crucial to provide alt text to your pictures included in the file. If the images cannot load online, a text will be shown. Describe the images so that people can understand what these pictures are about.

Final Thoughts

Google reviews PDFs in the same way it reviews virtual pages. To make a PDF document visible and enhance its performance in search engines, it is important to optimize it according to SEO principles. This involves using appropriate titles and descriptions, using headings throughout the text, including appropriate and topical keywords, reliable links to other sources, and more. To make PDFs easily viewable, it is also recommended to adjust their size and use specific fonts.

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