- October 21, 2013
When it comes to optimizing your documents and web pages so that search engines will find them—which means people will find them, boosting traffic to your site—many experts will tell you that HTML is the better way to go. It’s what users are used to. People use it more frequently for web pages. And they embed social sharing in it more often.
That said, you get a lot of benefit out of making your PDFs search-engine friendly. For one thing, if you’ve already got a lot of PDFs on your Websites, it’s not only time-consuming to replace them; you may be eliminating perfectly good pages that others have already linked to, which is a no-no for SEO.
And if your PDF content is intended to be printed, like brochures or user guides, or even archived, like government and legal documents, turning it into HTML can defeat that purpose.
Instead, it’s wise to put best practices for SEO in PDF in place upfront, right at the time of creation.
The good news is SEO for PDF isn’t difficult. It just requires that you and other PDF file creators follow these steps.
Use best practices for SEO in your PDF files
Most of the practices for good SEO hold true for good SEO for PDF. That includes:
- Peppering your PDF with internal links to lend it some link juice
- Linking from your PDF to other web pages on your site and others’ web sites when it makes sense
- Ensuring you‘ve picked good keywords and placed enough of them in your PDF file
- Optimizing images in your PDF for SEO by adding alt text, using a good file name, and making the file size quickly loadable
Keep file size down
Big files take longer to load, which makes people and search engines unhappy. So be sure to use the PDF Optimizer in Foxit PhantomPDF, which lets you compress image files and remove data redundancy to reduce your PDF file size.
Don’t duplicate content
Having both HTML and PDF versions of the same content can be a good idea, but only if you take steps to ensure that search engines don’t view your PDF file as a duplicate of your HTML file. They penalize you for duplication, so check their guidelines for avoiding duplicate content.
Set your document properties
You’ve gone to the trouble to create a nice, easily searchable, keyword-happy title. Now be sure to fill out the Author, Subject, and Keywords document properties. The jury is still out on exactly how they affect SEO, but better not to omit potentially useful information.
Make sure to write-protect your PDF file
By write-protecting your PDF file, you prevent would-be bad guys from downloading it, making changes to it and uploading it to their site.
Take these simple steps for making your PDF files into SEO friendly files and you’ll be in good graces with the search engines. And the users that want to find your content.