How to Optimize PDFs for Search Engines.

Whatever online content you’ve got available in PDF format — be it e-books, factsheets, guides, tutorials, or online courses — if you’ve got something you want to share with the world, you need to make sure that internet search engines can find it.

PDFs have been the go-to file type for sharing all kinds of documents between people in business and online for a few decades now — they’ve stood the test of time.

You can optimize PDFs for search engines to help bring people to your content, your site, and your brand.

What you’ll learn

PDF search engine optimization benefits.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about taking a few steps to help your content be picked up by search engines and rank well in results and drive organic traffic to your website. Along with website and webpage optimization, PDF optimizing will help search engines index, rank, and list your PDFs in their results, and create snippets to draw in new users, clients, or customers to your website.

PDF SEO best practices.

Follow a few conventional SEO best practices to optimize PDFs and improve discoverability and search engine rankings and you’ll help bring people to your online content. Some best practices for PDF SEO are:

Writing SEO-friendly PDF content — a few tips.

There is an art to writing content that incorporates SEO. It’s a balance between incorporating keywords and creating content that flows naturally and is of value to your reader. A few SEO writing tips are:

PDF accessibility and security.

Along with optimizing PDFs for search engine visibility, make sure your PDFs are accessible and easy to navigate, and secure.

Make the most of your optimized PDFs.

Take the time and get in the habit of incorporating search engine optimization best practices with your online PDFs. It will help drive traffic to your website and content and improve your site’s ranking and listings in internet search engine results. Your readers and users will also benefit from having content and PDFs that are easy to find, download, and follow.

Frequently asked questions.

How can I get my PDFs indexed by search engines?

To get your PDFs properly indexed by search engines there are a few things you can do.

  1. Use search-friendly file names, titles, and meta descriptions for your PDFs.
  2. Add tags and accessibility options to the document, such as alt tags or alt text for any images, and links to relevant pages on your main website.
  3. Complete all fields in the document properties. Include your company name in the "Author" field and use relevant keywords in the "Keywords” field in your PDF document properties.
  4. Consider offering an HTML version of the document as well.

Are there potential downsides to optimizing PDFs for search engines?

Search engine algorithms need to be able to read and understand the content of the PDF to rank high in search engine results pages. It’s not too difficult to optimize PDFs for search engines, but a downside could be if it’s not done well. Follow the best practice tips given here for working with keywords, optimizing, accessibility, and reducing PDF file sizes. This will help your PDFs be picked up by search engines and make your online PDFs user-friendly for your target audience.