Optimize PDF Files for Search Engines (SEO)

Acrobat Reader Files (PDF) do get indexed, past some years (anyone else remember when they weren’t?) , by search engines and they can do well in the search engine results.
Benefits of PDF Optimization:
  • Higher rankings & more click-throughs from search engine result listings for PDF’s.
  • Increase number of readers who visit your web site or contact you while viewing your PDF online.
  • Content Discovery - Give search engines paths to find content on your web site
  • May help improve search rankings of pages linked to.

Tips of PDF Optimization:
  • Use mostly formatable text, not text in images, not heavy on images search engines can not read text within images like HTML.

Below image shows a SERP in Google for the Above PDF:


All text scanned, extreme example of what can happen when you don’t use formatable text, from an actual pdf that was indexed in Google, scanned hardcopy in, still see this a fair amount

Description Google created for this file, “Page 1. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7. Page 8. Page 9.” This happened because there was no text in the PDF that Google could read and index. Google could not read the text in the PDF so it could not create a more meaningful description.

This listing is not going to help “entice” people to click-trough to this document

and it will not help this document rank better unless somebody is searching on PDF or Page 1. or Page 2. etc – Sidebar: There were over 200,000 results for this search in Google - "Page 1. Page 2." Pdf. Hence will not entice people to click through.

  • Optimize the text in the Document
Optimize - If you are writing or editing the document that will become an online PDF you should optimize it just like a regular HTML Page and include important keyword phrases in the body and headlines etc.

Pay specialize attention to the first Headline as it may be extracted by search engines to be used in the search engine listings (more on this later in the section on Document Titles)


A Google search results listing for a PDF from our site for a search on “improve conversion rates
Google created a listing from text contained in the PDF and highlighted the words and phrases being searched on in BOLD, just like it does with HTML web pages
Also notice how Google highlights the words and phrases being searched on within the document tile.

  • Update the Document Title

It’s as important as the HTML Page Title is in an HTML web page
search engines will usually to include the PDF’s document title as the headline link for the search listing:

Above image is a search engine listing for a PDF in Google. Google extracted text from the PDF to create the listing. This will not help “entice” people to click-trough to this document.

  • Update Document Title

The combination of a well written document title with the words and phrases being searched for highlighted should help entice people to click-through to look at the pdf document and help it rank better for those phrases

The occurrences of the phrases “improve conversion rates” as well as sub phrases such as “conversion rates” and the individual words “improve”, “conversion” and “rates” throughout this document undoubtedly helped the listing reach a higher position in the search results for this search.

  • Link to the PDF to get it Indexed
To get the PDF indexed in search engines add one or more links to it from pages on your web site, preferably on pages that are already indexed themselves

  • Increase web site visits: Add active hyperlinks

Ok, we’ve gotten our PDF indexed and being found in searches, people are clicking through to the pdf.

Now let’s get more people contacting you, visiting the web site & search engines following links in the pdf’s to pages on your site

Most importantly - Include active hyperlinks to your web site for humans and search engines to follow

Place a link(s) to your web site and email links within the PDF so that people may contact your or click through to your site while online

The links to the web site or the email address at the bottom of the PDF and within the body of the pdf are all active links. This creates plenty of opportunity for people to click through to the web site or send an email.

These active links within a PDF also give search engines paths to find content on your web site and may improve search rankings of the pages they point to.

For any query please fill the form in the right or call me at +91 9654-64-7969 or mail me at himanshu.swaraj@gmail.com