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Thread: SEO and PDFs

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Question SEO and PDFs

    The company I work for are about to upload a shedload of pdfs to the website and I would like them to be as optimised as possible. I've never gone about optimising pdfs before though.

    I did search on this forum before posting but couldn't find any information about this topic at all.

    I have a couple of questions which I hope you can help me answer:

    Firstly, does Google read and rank pdfs pretty well?

    Secondly, what are your best pdf optimisation tips?

    Many thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

  2. #2
    WebProWorld MVP kgun's Avatar
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    Re: SEO and PDFs

    Quote Originally Posted by Vithe View Post
    Firstly, does Google read and rank pdfs pretty well?
    I don't thing GoogleBOT is able to read PDF documents (that would imply OCR like scanning ability).

    The ranking is another question based on citations / references / that translates to IBL's in WWW.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vithe View Post
    Secondly, what are your best pdf optimisation tips?
    Write quality documents that other people link to with different anchor text.

    Other members may say, submit, write about your documents etc. etc.

    As always it is a question about semantics and context. Write and link where it is natural and useful for the surfer. Finding your own niche may be important.
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  3. #3
    WebProWorld MVP Dubbya's Avatar
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    Re: SEO and PDFs

    As long as the PDF is rastorized (flattened) to an image and the text is embedded, it's pretty much a cinch.

    There are a few caveats though. If you save out a PDF and apply security preferences to it, the contents are encrypted and can't be read by the Search Engines.

    If it doesn't matter that the end user can copy text or print the page, don't lock it up.

    Here are a couple of articles of interest:

    SEO Your PDF's - Does This Work?

    Optimizing PDFs for SEO

    Good Luck!

  4. #4
    WebProWorld MVP kgun's Avatar
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    Re: SEO and PDFs

    Quote Originally Posted by Dubbya View Post
    "Can the search engines read PDF files?

    Yes, most of the major search engines now can read the basic contents of PDF files, though getting these pages to rank as well as HTML files is still questionable".

    New to me.
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  5. #5
    WebProWorld MVP Dubbya's Avatar
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    Re: SEO and PDFs

    Quote Originally Posted by kgun View Post
    New to me.
    We've all been seeing PDF's and content snippets listed alongside web pages in the SERPs for some time, so it would only stand to reason that the PDF files are being spidered and indexed as well.

  6. #6
    WebProWorld MVP kgun's Avatar
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    Re: SEO and PDFs

    Quote Originally Posted by Dubbya View Post
    We've all been seeing PDF's and content snippets listed alongside web pages in the SERPs for some time, ...
    1. Spidered is different from being indexed.
    2. PDF files have been indexed for a long time. I thought that was based on IBL's only.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dubbya View Post
    ... so it would only stand to reason that the PDF files are being spidered and indexed as well.
    So it is based on opinions and not on facts Dubbya?

    Natural search term:

    does googlebot spider pdf documents site:google.com
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  7. #7
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    Re: SEO and PDFs

    Google does rank the PDF pages, however it is very useful to input all those optional fields under File -> Properties to help placement, so you need to use Acrobat or a full fledged PDF editor rather than just a PDF writer.

    For a product specific search term with 453k results, our PDF page ranks 14th on Google and the HTML is listed underneath it. It might rank higher if we had a better page title..

    The quality of copy etc I believe still applies, along with the basics of keywords.

  8. #8
    WebProWorld MVP kgun's Avatar
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    Re: SEO and PDFs

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter View Post
    Google does rank the PDF pages,
    Based on spidered file content is my question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter View Post
    however it is very useful to input all those optional fields under File -> Properties to help placement, so you need to use Acrobat or a full fledged PDF editor rather than just a PDF writer.
    I have the 2007 professional version of Acrobat Reader. That is a possibility to describe the subject and give keywords etc.

    I looked at some of the above hits that I suggested in my search term and could not find an article on Google.com that said that GoogleBot is able to scan PDF documents and rank content based on such a scanning.
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  9. #9

    Re: SEO and PDFs

    They definitely rank. I have a client that had several pdf files that had pretty high rankings. I actually spent time replacing those rankings with other html pages. The reason? The files were too big. It took forever to download them and people just bounced off the site. The moral of the story for me is to create pdf files that have a pretty fast download.

  10. #10

    Re: SEO and PDFs

    I would tend to put the content in flat HTML pages and have a .pdf hanging off that for download if required.
    Why?
    HTML pages have your navigation around them and the opportunity to place calls to action. And you know HTML gets indexed and ranked

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