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Once upon a time, there was a myth that Google found PDFs impenetrable.
Try as SEOs might, their PDFs could not enter the lucrative realms of Page 1. Google, the story went, simply could not decipher the contents of a non-HTML document.
That myth has since been unceremoniously busted by Google. Back in 2011, the world’s most popular search engine said:
“Google first started indexing PDF files in 2001 and currently has hundreds of millions of PDF files indexed.”
They even come with their own tag in SERPs to alert users that the result is PDF-based:
Optimizing PDFs for SEO, however, remains a largely untapped opportunity.
Google can crawl, index, and rank the documents, but simple best practices are often under-utilized or just unknown.
PDF documents often contain a large amount of rich content that Google is able to index, which should really make them perfect fodder for SEO campaigns.
However, optimizing PDFs for search requires SEOs to follow a slightly different set of rules. The framework is broadly the same as a typical SEO approach, but the details differ in some crucial ways.
PDFs are also used to house a specific type of content and, as such, attempts to optimize these documents must bear that in mind.
Follow the 10 tips below and you should have a much better chance of gaining SEO traffic from PDFs.
1. Choose the File Name Carefully
This is usually the first step toward converting a text document to the universally transportable PDF format. It is therefore all too easy to save the file as whatever is automatically suggested, rather than considering the SEO impact this can have on…