Should I use PDFs on My Site? Are PDF’s Read By Google?

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Can search engines read PDF files and if so how well?

This is a great question I hear all the time from our clients.

The quick answer is, Yes. All search engines can read PDF files, if they are optimized.

Here are a few tips on How to Optimize your PDF for SEO:

  1. Don’t use Photoshop! Create your PDF in a text based program like Microsoft Word or Adobe Pagemaker. If you create your PDF in Photoshop, it is considered a large image and is not an actual readable PDF.
  2. Use basic SEO principles. Optimize your title, header tags and descriptions.
    There are a few ways to do this.
    • If you are working in Microsoft Word, use the H1, H2, H3 tags provided where necessary.
    • Also, make sure that when you go into Adobe Acrobat you fill out the proper description fields. This means adding a title, subject and keywords into the appropriate content fields.
    • Title your PDF with a keyword, for example it should be named keyword.pdf.
    • And, lastly create alt text and captions for any images used in the document.
  3. Make the PDF prominent. Don’t bury the PDF on your site. Make sure that you create a link to the PDF from a page on your site that is crawled often, like your homepage.

There has been a bit of discussion about how well a PDF will rank compared to html content. And, while we recommend html over a PDF, there have been cases where a PDF ranked for a certain search term quicker than the html version, however, eventually the HTML landed at the top.

Joan Woodbrey Crocker
If only Google Bots were as Cute as that Dog!

Photo Credit: By liesvanrompaey

  • Lucky Balaraman

    As for basic SEO stuff, you might want to add this: 1% keyword density in the body text.

  • Jack

    This is my first time reading this blog. Definitely won’t be my last though, really enjoyed it.

  • Kevin

    Very interesting! thank you:-))

  • Mike

    Thank you for taking the time out to share such wonderful information.

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