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11 Ways To Make Your PDFs SEO Friendly

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As an eCommerce store owner or marketer, you already know the importance of SEO for your company. However, did you know that SEO drives %1000+ more traffic than organic social media? Yes, search engine optimization is that powerful, and the more you leverage it, the better for your business. 

In what other ways can you take advantage of SEO for your business? Enter PDF. PDFs are often overlooked in search engine optimization, but if they’re made SEO-friendly, they can provide great value. This article will teach you how to make your PDfs more SEO-friendly to drive traffic to your website and boost your business.

What is PDF optimization all about

To optimize your PDF files or make them SEO-friendly, you must understand how the whole PDF optimization process works. Daily, billions of documents like web pages, images, and PDFs are crawled, indexed, and ranked by Google. However, most PDF files are designed for high-quality printing but not for the web. 

Therefore, search engines like Google cannot read them when they’re put online. To make your PDF files ‘readable’, you must optimize them. Optimizing them means putting them in an SEO-friendly format. This drives more traffic to your website and ultimately improves sales. It is another way to increase your sales without increasing your ad costs.

Why do some people convert PDF to Word

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Many people believe Google can only index texts and not PDF files. As a result, they convert their PDF to Word document format using a PDF to Word converter before uploading it online. However, while a converter helps with many other functions, you don’t need it to upload your PDF. When you know how to optimize your PDF files, Google will index them like other documents. 

11 SEO best practices for your PDF files

Every business owner is eager to build a website that ranks, but so many ignore PDFs’ value. They think that since PDFs are not web pages, they’re not indexed by search engines. However, there’s a reason Google does not index many PDF files. It’s because these files are not compliant with SEO rules. 

As a result of this, valuable information is hidden from the world, and traffic that could be generated from these PDF files is lost. However, if SEO best practices are implemented, it’s a win-win for all parties. Find below ways to make your PDFs SEO-friendly.

Choose an SEO-compliant file name

When you want to optimize the SEO of a PDF, it is essential to give it an appropriate name. For this, follow the same SEO rules that apply when naming your web pages. Consider the use of the primary keyword at the beginning of the name. Research keywords people search for and use them to name your PDF files. 

In addition, it is not recommended to use spaces between words; it is better to divide them between hyphens or underscores. For example, if you have an online toy store and want to create a catalog for Christmas purchases in PDF, a good name would be: “toys-Christmas-catalog.pdf.”

Write your title with care

The title of your PDF is different from the file name. The title serves as the HTML title tag. This aspect is crucial as it is the clickable portion of the search engine result. However, it is not enough to optimize it for the machine; ensure you also optimize it for humans. To make it SEO-friendly, make sure you use keywords at the beginning. 

To add a title tag to your PDF file, right-click on the PDF file icon, then click on Properties and the dialog window will open, click on General, and you will see a column where you can type the title of your PDF document. After filling in your preferred name, click on Okay and close the dialog window.

Insert metadata to the file

To improve the positioning of a page or article on your website, it is advisable to insert meta-descriptions that help the search engine understand the content. Also, add metadata or characteristics that define the file properties to optimize the SEO of a PDF.

Find below a step-by-step guide on how to add metadata to a PDF file.

  1. With the file open in the PDF reader, Adobe Acrobat, the commonly used one, click on the file and then on Properties.
  2. In the pop-up window that appears, fill in the following description fields:
  3. Title: Unlike the file’s name, here you can use a more descriptive name with spaces. For example: “The catalog of toys for Christmas 2016.”
  4. Author: This field is recommended not only for Google to recognize your authorship but also to help brand your branding, whether a personal brand, in the case of a blog, or a commercial brand. If it’s a store, add the name of the store in question.
  5. Subject: In this section, capture the subject that the content of your PDF file deals with. Generally, it will match the title written above. For example, in the case of a toy store, an appropriate subject could be: “New Christmas toy catalog.”
  6. Keywords: Finally, you must specify the most relevant keywords that you want to position in your PDF file. Note that commas must separate them.

Make your PDF document text-based and not image-based

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Most PDFs, especially scanned ones, are images of text, making it difficult for search engines to index them as they (search engines) find text easier to index than images. Your PDF document with text is readable to you but not to Google. Some PDFs are text-based, so there’s no need to convert them. 

To know if your PDF document is text-based, select a part of it, and copy and paste it on a new page. If it copies, it is text-based; if it doesn’t copy, it is image-based. If it is image-based, convert it to text-based using an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool. This software converts a text image into a machine-readable text format.

Compress your PDF file

Large PDF files take a long time to load and are not SEO-friendly. To make sure your PDF document performs well SEO-wise, compress them. You can use a PDF compressor tool for this. There are software you can download for this purpose. You can also use online PDf compressors.

Link your website to your PDF 

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To make your PDFs rank, link them to your website and vice versa. This integration or internal links structure, makes your document stand a better SEO chance. Linking your PDF to your site shows the search engine that the document is important to your website and should be included in its index and shown in its SERP for relevant keywords. 

Use headings in your document

Like other web pages, structuring your PDf files with headings makes them more SEO-compliant. This is important as search engines, and visitors can easily understand the hierarchy of the content in the file. Best practices include using only one H1 heading in a PDF file. Use as many headings as you want, but ensure they are in a hierarchical order.

Add links

As with other pages, links are essential in PDF files as they also carry page authority. Including links to relevant sections in your website and external links boosts your document’s SEO chances. 

Optimize your fonts

When preparing your PDF document, use fonts that are easily read by search engines. These fonts include Times New Roman, Courier, Symbol, and Helvetica. Embedding other fonts will increase your file size. In addition, the fewer fonts you use, the better. 

Optimize your content

To be SEO-friendly, ensure your PDF content follows best writing practices for the web. One such practice is using short paragraphs instead of long ones. This is because short paragraphs are more attention-grabbing, less boring, drive across your point faster, and are easy to understand and digest. Using bullet points and lists also breaks content into digestible bits for readers. 

Make use of Alt text for images

The text that appears on a website instead of an image when the image doesn’t load is called Alt text. There are many benefits of Alt texts. One is the accessibility for the visually impaired through screen reading tools. It also enables search engines to crawl better and rank your website.

Best SEO practices for PDFs bring more value to your business

If you have been ignoring your PDFs, thinking they don’t matter in SEO, then you have missed many opportunities. Optimizing your PDF documents makes much more information available to the world and drives more traffic to your website, ultimately growing your business. 

To make your PDFs SEO-compliant, select an SEO-friendly file name, craft your title properly, insert metadata to your file, make your document text-based, compress your file and link your website to your PDF. Other ways to optimize your PDF file include using headings in your document, adding links, optimizing your fonts, optimizing your content, and using alt text for images. 

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