5 Tips for Optimizing PDF Files for Search

With so many easy ways to present and share information on the web available today, many would argue why anyone would want to create PDF content and what’s more – use it for search purposes.

However, the reality is that many companies still use this file format to produce brochures, technical briefs, introductory guides and ebooks. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that PDFs can be optimized for search engines like almost any other piece of content available on the web. So, the next time you’re ready to publish new PDFs, give them the same SEO treatment as everything else you share online. Here are some tips on how to optimize your Portable Document Format files.

Use text-based programs to create your PDFs

This advice is pretty obvious to those who know how web crawlers work. When the PDF is made using image-based programs, the file is an image that contains no text for the search engines to analyze.

Write your content with SEO best practices in mind

Though the days of keyword stuffing and calculating keyword density are over, it never hurts to create content based on your keyword research. Make sure your images include alt tags.

Fill out the document properties

This is probably the most common flaw. Most PDF files I happened to work with had no specified document properties. To give your file a quick SEO fix, open the file in Acrobat, go the menu and click File -> Properties. The Title property is the equivalent of the HTML Title tag. It almost invariably represents what will be displayed in search results, so make sure it’s completed properly. Otherwise, the search engine will generate a meaningless title based on the PDF’s content, and it probably won’t get clicked.
Additionally, you can supply such properties as Author, Subject and Keywords. Though they have little search-related effect today, perhaps, in the future the Subject will act as the meta description. When it comes to optimization, there should not be any empty fields :).

Include links

Many people treat PDFs as static docs. But it’s important to know that search engines do recognize links placed in PDFs, so don’t hesitate to give the readers an easy way to go to your website. Pay attention to the anchors used.

Optimize the file size

Huge PDF files are annoying and unnecessary for site visitors. Besides, they are also burdensome for the search engines.

Nothing daunting, right? Now, when you know how to optimize PDFs for search, you may want to look at some web services that will help you create, edit, convert and share PDF files like a pro:

PDFBurger. This web-based service lets you create and convert PDF files online. Nothing to download and install. Using this website you can combine several files in different formats into a single PDF file, save web pages as PDFs and perform some other operations.

NitroPDF. This feature-rich software allows users to edit PDFs in an easy and professional manner: change fonts, customize layouts, manipulate text and more. It also allows to track edits what is critical for successful collaboration.