If you upload PDF’s to your site for your visitors to read or download, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that in many cases, Google can read that PDF and even display its contents in search engine results.  As far as Google is concerned, a PDF is just another type of web page, and that means that you can optimise it for search.

It’s a frequently overlooked part of many websites, and yet it’s very easy to make sure you have professional looking, optimised PDFs for both Google, and your users.

Optimising Your PDF Files

Below you’ll find a few tips for optimising PDF files.

PDF Titles

Your PDF title provides the blue “link” text that shows up in the search engine results.  Make sure you title your PDF appropriately (preferably with a relevant keyword).  Check your PDF Title in the Document Properties when you create it, and make sure it’s one that tells Google and your visitors what the document is about.

PDF Size

Originally, Google ignored PDF’s that were bigger than 2 Mb.  These days, they’ll index and display PDF’s as results up to about 10Mb.  If your PDF is bigger than that, it might not be indexed or shown in the search engine results page.

Document Layout and Structure

Using tags and structuring your documents reading order will not only make things easier for your readers, but will improve Google’s ability to index, and understand, the contents of your PDF.

Document Description

Assuming you’re using something like Acrobat to create your PDF’s, there are several options under the document properties that can improve the optimisation.  These include the Title attribute, the Subject attribute, and even a field for Keywords related to the document.  Ensuring these fields have relevant information in them will increase your PDF’s optimisation.

In Conclusion

As far as Google is concerned, a PDF is just another web page.  And that means it’s an opportunity for you to rank for some of the information you provide to website visitors via PDF.  Even if you’re not using professional PDF software, at the very least, make sure that the title of your PDF is relevant, and contains keywords related to its content.

Just using a meaningful title and file name for your PDF already makes a big difference, and will put you ahead of 50% of the PDF’s available through Google.