Can PDFs Be SEO-Friendly?

There are numerous business owners out there that still prefer to use PDFs on their websites so that customers can print out documents such as menu’s, brochures, spec sheets, etc.  However, PDFs tend to get a bad rep in the SEO world, as they typically do not rank well with search engines because they are rarely fully optimized.  For SEOers that are still working with PDFs on websites, there are multiple strategies that you can implement for your documents that will boost their ability to be read and detected by search engines.

  • Use a texted based PDF. Search engines read words, not images, so make sure the text in your PDF is copy and paste-able text, not just images of words.
  • Set your title in your PDF’s document properties. The majority of PDF creators and editors offer a title feature in the document’s setting, which works as a title tag for the file. A title tag is one of the key factors in optimization, so it is important to do so in all areas possible.
  • Create an SEO-friendly URL/filename. When you upload this PDF file onto your site, the filename typically becomes part of the site’s URL, so one that includes business-related keywords will work in your favor.
  • Practice your best SEO. This includes the same strategies you would implement for your website; generate some links back to your PDF’s URL, provide quality content in your body copy, choose appropriate keywords and optimize images (there is often an alt text tool).
  • Keep the file size light to reduce load time and keep crawling of site from slowing down.
  • Avoid duplicate content, because as we know, this is a huge penalization for your site; make sure to remove duplicate file if you end up editing and re-uploading.
  • Set the other document properties too when you are creating your title. There is talk that the Subject section could eventually become the file’s meta-description, and it is always just the best practice to be thorough and provide as much detail as possible.
  • Touchup the Reading Order and provide alt tags for images wherever possible.
  • Don’t save as the latest Acrobat version, as this often requires those clicking to view your file to be left with the notification that they too must update their Reader. This typically annoys people, and they are apt to just x-out of the option altogether. Saving your PDF in a version that is a bit older is suggested.
  • Always write-protect your document. Failing to do so allows someone else to upload your file, alter any content how they want and even put it on their own site. Always keep this feature on and keep your documents protected.


-Casey Guntlow

Recent Blog Posts

Contact Us Today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.