The Power of Optimizing PDFs

Are you running out of optimization ideas for your website? Looking for a little bit of inspiration to get you back on track? (we know you’re not, but just in case there’s a brain freeze today we thought we’d ask)

Then we’d like to recommend that you take a look at the PDFs on your site to make sure that they are optimized. One of the items we find when looking at websites is that the PDFs have been completely ignored. Now to be fair, some of this is probably because up until a few years ago many people were told that PDFs couldn’t or shouldn’t be optimized; that any work done to them would not help the page’s or the website’s ranking. Let’s put this argument to bed right now:

PDFs can and should be optimized for search engines.

Search engines can read PDFs, assuming the text is not an image. So if they are optimized properly, the PDFs on your site can offer a new avenue to gain extra traffic from.

So what optimization tactics should you perform on your PDFs? Here are a few of the main ones:

  • Whenever possible, optimize the text of the PDF just as you would any page of your site.
  • Be sure to fill out the Document Properties: Title, Author, Subject and Keyword. Treat the Title field like the page title, the Subject field like the meta description and the Keyword field like the meta keyword field.
  • Optimize the file name.
  • Keep total file size down as low as possible. As with any page on your site, the larger the file size the slower it loads. This starts with any images you include with the original file, and continues through to when you convert the file to a PDF.
  • When converting a file to a PDF, be sure to use a program that does not make it one image. For this, programs like Adobe Acrobat, Nitro PDF Professional and Bullzip work well. Photoshop and Illustrator do not.
  • Link to the PDF. Make sure the search engines can find it. Use quality anchor text as link when possible.
  • Link out from the PDF. Give the search engines a path out of the PDFs to continue to the rest of your site.
  • Express the PDF file structure in tags.
  • Optimize PDF for fast view web.

So the next time you’re looking for something that might give your website a boost in the search engines, take a look at your PDFs. It may be a hidden opportunity for you to increase traffic to your site.

Have you optimized PDFs and seen success? Still have questions about this topic? Comment and let us know.

About Brian McGrath

Over the past 20 years, Brian has experienced many aspects of marketing, including brand management, copywriting, campaign coordination, paid search marketing, social media marketing and internet marketing. Brian now uses this knowledge to help our clients maximize their presence on the internet. His expertise in all things marketing gives our clients – and the Mannix Marketing SEO team – a distinct advantage in all areas of search. His extraordinary analytic skills provide SEO, social media and paid search clients with real, measurable results. To maintain his cutting edge expertise, Brian stays current on the latest trends in social media and digital marketing by reading industry publications, attending conferences, and consulting with peers.