How to Create PDFs for SEO

PDF is known as the format used to share documents in many fields, such as survey results and tutorial information. If you have a website and want to make your PDFs publicly available on your site so that people can find them easily, search engines need to discover your PDFs. Optimizing your PDFs for SEO would be best when you want a search engine that understands your PDFs by enabling this discovery. Well, to do this, you can learn the details in the rest of our article.

How Does Google Treats PDFs?

In the past, thoughts arose about Google’s lack of access to PDFs. But in 2011, Google started indexing PDF files. Thus, it revealed that it had performed hundreds of millions of file indexing. In particular, PDF files are tagged on search engine results pages. PDFs are converted to HTML by Google and indexed in HTML. After this stage, Google prefers Optical Character Recognition technology for PDFs with text images. In this way, images found in PDFs are added to the array of image search results.

Discover What You Can Use PDFs For

Before optimizing PDFs for SEO, you should discover what you will use them for. First of all, it is very important to decide what types of content you want to publish in this format. If you want visitors to read and save the document exactly as you shared it, choosing PDF would be the right choice. You can also choose PDFs for the following purposes:

  • You can use it for checklists: Checklists are suitable for many types of businesses. Especially if you want it to be easy for visitors to read and print, you can choose PDF for this purpose.
  • You can use it for e-books: PDFs can include cover art, infographics, and illustrations, as well as text. Therefore, the PDF will help you in this area as well.
  • Can be preferred for whitepapers: Whitepapers are generally longer than other content. Therefore, for technical reviews, the PDF preference comes to the fore. They can also print PDFs and make notes on them while people perform whitepapers. In this way, convenience will be provided for visitors coming to the website.
what can you use pdfs for

Highlights of PDFs for Not Ensuring SEO Compliance

PDFs have some disadvantages of not ensuring SEO compliance. Examining these disadvantages allows you to see the missing points and pay attention to these critical points in ensuring SEO compliance.

  • PDFs don’t have mobile compatibility.
  • PDFs are difficult to discover because they have no navigational elements.
  • PDFs don’t have frequent scanning. PDFs are generally scanned less than updated sites because they do not vary.
  • Mainstream viewers work with JavaScript on websites, but not PDF files.

Optimizing Your PDFs For SEO

Here are some tips for those who want to make your PDFs easier to find on search engines.

You Must Specify the PDF File Name

An especially basic step, filename determination, is often skipped when creating PDFs. However, it will be essential to determine the file name when performing PDF optimization for SEO. Before uploading the file, it would be best to determine the keywords relevant to your topic and create a filename with these keywords. People write to the search engine by choosing the keyword that will be best defined in the content topics.

Determine PDF Document Title That Will Get People’s Attention

Titles in PDF documents serve as HTML title tags. Therefore, it plays a critical role in preparing PDFs for SEO. When you specify a PDF document title, it will appear as the clicked part of the search engine result, so you will need to write it appropriately for the search engine.

  • For your PDF that you want to be SEO compatible, choosing the most important of the keywords you have determined in the content and using this keyword in the title tag will be one of the best choices.

Paying Attention to the Title and Meta Selection for Your PDFs for SEO

As with websites, the title tag and meta description are also required for your PDF that you will share with people. For this reason, you can use the determined keywords in front of your title tag between 50-70 characters. In addition, in your PDF that you want to ensure SEO compliance, it would be appropriate to use primary and secondary keywords for your meta descriptions and choose 160 characters, not exceeding a maximum of 3 sentences.

how to optimize pdfs for seo

Using Your Headlines and Adding Related Links in Your PDFs for SEO

You should use tags for the titles and sub-titles in the subject content you have determined in your PDF. It is important to choose the primary keywords set in these title tags. In this way, you can ensure the SEO compatibility of your PDF. Also, do not forget that you need to add links for different topics on your website in your PDF.

Use Keywords in Your Content

If you are familiar with SEO, you can guess that one of the cornerstones of SEO is using keywords in the content. Before starting to write your PDF content, you should do keyword research. Unavoidably, You will use many visual elements in your PDF, and it can be challenging for search engine bots to search your content. In this situation, the keywords will help them, and you will get higher ranking results on SERP.

Create High-Quality Content

There is no doubt that your content should be high-quality. You can do everything for your PDF about SEO; however, if your content is not valuable for readers, you can’t get successful results. While you are creating PDFs, you should also think about the readers. The format of the PDF must be relevant to your content. You can produce checklists, case studies, guides, or e-books. Whatever format you choose, it must serve your content for the readers. In addition, you will use keywords in your PDF for SEO. You should put these words in your PDF for purpose, not just because you need to use them. Search engines like words to look organic.

You Should Avoid Having the Same Content Issue in Your PDFs for SEO

Search engine-related situations will arise when the PDFs you have shared with a page on your website have similar or identical content. You need to point to search engines to avoid problems caused by competition in search engines. To achieve this, you can apply the canonical URL with the help of the HTTP header, and you will benefit from the advantages of the canonical URL.

You Should Not Save Your PDFs in Image Format

Since the PDF files you have prepared are saved in image format, selecting text while reading the PDF will not be possible. For this reason, search engines have difficulty understanding PDF content. You can prevent this from happening by avoiding saving your PDF as an image.

Prefer Text Over Image-Based PDFs

Preferring text in PDFs over images is critical for search engines to understand better. It is known that not all PDFs are text-based. Some of these PDFs appear only as images of the text. This applies to scanned PDFs. PDFs will be electronic files scanned into a document containing lots of text. However, these PDFs will remain as text images and not text-based. It is possible to read these PDFs, but search engines can’t do so.

  • For example, when you upload a 200-page scanned PDF with lots of text to your website, search engines cannot understand and read the text of that PDF well.

Adding Alt Text to Images

Most PDFs contain images. Inevitably, your PDFs should also have images. That’s why you need to ensure that Google and search engines understand the images contained in PDFs. There is an alternative text option that you can choose to achieve this. Using different alternative texts for each image in your PDF file is recommended. This way, you can successfully optimize the PDF for SEO with the best-defined keywords you will add to the images in your file.

  • If you don’t know how to add alt texts, you should use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel before creating the PDF. You can also learn how to add alternative text to images with the help of MS Office.

Add Link From PDF To Your Website

As you optimize PDFs for search engines, you also need to integrate them into your website. Therefore, when you link to your PDF from a different page on your site, there are points to which you should pay attention. When this happens, search engines will perceive that your document has an important place on your website. In addition, you influence the search engine to include it in their index and show them in their SERPs the keywords that have been used. Therefore, don’t forget to add links to ensure that search engines can better read your PDFs and achieve visibility in their SERPs.

final optimization processes of pdfs for seo

Optimizing Your PDF Files for Mobile

One of the most important considerations to ensure mobile compatibility of your PDF files will be to align the file’s content to the left. In this way, you will be able to reduce horizontal scrolling on mobile devices. Placing your images above the text to make PDFs look better on mobile devices will allow users to benefit from the efficiency by enabling vertical scrolling.

Optimizing PDF File Size

The size of PDF files is very important. When using high-quality images, you should follow a careful process regarding the quality of the images. You will need to compress images, especially if your PDF file is more than 5MB. Using vector-based images will ensure the quality of images with small dimensions at the best level. Also, when you enable file compression, it will take a short time for users to download PDFs on their computers and mobile devices.

Conclusion of How to Create PDFs for SEO

Our article has shared details about what you need to do to ensure your PDFs are SEO-optimized. If you create PDF files and publish them on your website, you want users to access them quickly and easily. Therefore, following the tips and details we shared with you in our article, you will have created a successful PDF work with SEO compatibility.

Frequently Asked Questions About

To make your PDF files SEO compatible, you must follow the optimization steps.

SEO is known as “Search Engine Optimization”. It is considered one of the techniques used to provide fast access to websites.

The most critical reason PDFs are bad for SEO is that HTML pages are faster and easier for search engines to understand than PDFs.

It is possible to optimize PDF files to be mobile-friendly. To achieve this, you can successfully optimize if you pay attention to details such as quality and positioning in image and text features.

Optimizing your PDFs for SEO will provide users with faster and easier access to search engines.

Gizem Akmanlı

Posts: 206

Jr. SEO Content Editor at Dopinger, Gizem Akmanlı graduated from Literature department. With her interest in content production and editing, she managed a blog for 5 years, then turned to digital marketing and started to develop herself in the field of SEO. She is a supporter of sustainable living... Read More

6 Comments on How to Create PDFs for SEO

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  1. Taylor M.
    Taylor M.

    Interesting article on SEO for PDFs! Does embedding keywords in a PDF’s text content significantly impact its SEO performance?

    • Ayşenur Tekin
      Ayşenur Tekin

      Yes, embedding relevant keywords in the text content of your PDF can positively impact its SEO performance, as search engines index the text within PDFs similar to web pages. It’s important to use keywords naturally and contextually.

  2. Ashton B.
    Ashton B.

    Great tips! Is there a benefit to linking back to our website from within the PDF for SEO purposes?

    • Ayşenur Tekin
      Ayşenur Tekin

      Thank you! Yes, including links back to your website within the PDF can be beneficial for SEO. It helps in driving traffic to your website and can also aid in establishing the PDF’s relevance and context in relation to your site.

  3. Cory R.
    Cory R.

    Useful guide! How important is the file size of the PDF for SEO, and should we try to keep it minimal?

    • Ayşenur Tekin
      Ayşenur Tekin

      I’m glad you found the guide useful! Keeping the file size of your PDF minimal is important, as larger files can be slower to load, affecting user experience and potentially impacting SEO. Optimize images and streamline content in your PDF to reduce file size.