The major search engines can read and index the contents of your PDFs, so be sure to use these best practice optimisation techniques to get your PDFs ranking well in the search engine results.

First and foremost, you need to follow the golden rules of search engine optimisation when optimising PDFs:

  • write keyword rich content based on your keyword research
  • use keyword rich headings and subheadings
  • give your PDF a keyword rich file name

Next, apply these additional techniques when optimising PDFs:

1. Don’t use Photoshop to make pretty PDFs – you need to be using a text package, like Word, to create PDFs the spiders can read. If you end up creating one big image file, then all the content will probably be invisible to the spiders.

2. Use the Document Properties to add keyword rich Title tags. The Title Tag will display in blue in the search engine results and help visitors to click on your content. Here you can see a PDF in the search result with a meaningless Title (“Fiches Danstar let av03”): click on the image to make it bigger!

3. Put a well written, optimised sentence at the start of the PDF. It is likely that this text will display in the search engine results page under the blue title as the description of the document. Using the example above, you can see the two lines of text in black in the search results come from the initial text in the PDF: (again, click on it to make the image bigger)

4. Include keyword rich links back to your website inside your document. These links will help the internal linking within your site, and are especially useful if another website puts a copy of your document on their site. If you’re using a free PDF maker, you may not be able to create keyword rich anchor text. I use PDF X-Change Pro to make keyword rich links.

5. Create visible keyword rich links to your PDF from pages on your website that get crawled regularly by the spiders. Good internal linking can help the spiders to find the PDF content.

If you want to read more about optimising your PDFs then read:

Eleven Tips for Optimising PDFs for Search Engines
Make your PDFs Search Engine Friendly

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