Need a marketing workshop for your members, clients or staff?


Can pdf documents be found on Google?

When I first started Business Fulcrum in 2003 I never dreamed that I would put a search query into Google which said “How do I edit the meta data of a pdf document?” but it has come to this now that marketing is more technical  

As a client recently said “I had no idea you were such a geek…”

The reason I was checking this to share with you was because of content marketing. Obviously downloadable “How to’s” are hugely useful in terms of providing helpful content but can those pdf’s be found by search engines like Google?

The simple answer is - yes they will – just like a normal webpage.  (I don’t know about you but I feel like a secret spy when the pdf document that comes up is often a well-documented minutes of meeting!)

Ok, so they CAN come up but HOW do we make sure that’s actually going to happen? Well gentle readers it’s all about optimisation.

Here’s how:
  1. Remember that Google reads only text so your document needs to be initially created in Words or Pages.
  2. Just like your website your pdf should contain great content written specifically to solve the problems of your target market
  3. Just like your blog posts use your keywords in the title and repeat these in the first paragraph as near to the beginning as possible

What’s a keyword? They are the words that your potential target market is most likely to use in their search for a product or service like yours.

     4.   Make sure your keywords are in the filename of your pdf. Separate these words by 
           hyphens  e.g. How-to-optimise-your-pdf-documents
     5.    Edit the meta data. 

I bet like most people you just save a documents to pdf and do nothing more.  Well actually, if you use Adobe, clicking on “File” then “Document Properties” reveals the following box

Does that come as a surprise to you?

(If you don’t have Adobe, Google for other free resources which will help you do the same.  Sorry I can’t personally recommend any…)

OK, fill in the fields shown
  • Put the title of the document in as described in 4. above
  • Put yourself down as the author so that Google has the opportunity of grouping your pdf’s by author
  • Use the subject for your meta data description 

 Metadata is literally “Data about data” so this is the description you want coming up on the search engines as a short description of the document. It obviously should contain your keywords again!  

Using a call to action in this description e.g. “Click here to find out about my marketing postcard service” will encourage people to click through.
  • Place no more than 10 keywords in the keywords box
  • Now click OK!

By the way, when putting together your pdf in the first place, you'll help your search engine optimisation (SEO) if you:
  • Put links back to your website (and for goodness sake check whether they actually work!)
  • Make sure those links contain keywords
  • Make the pdf faster loading by using few images or low res images
  • Don’t tuck the pdf too deep into your website.  Make it easy for people to find them and offer a well flagged link.
  • Avoid duplicating your content – don’t repeat word for word what is on your website/blog in the pdf document – create a new introduction.

 I hope that helps, sorry if you now feel you need to lie down in a small dark corner … till next time  :-)

This post comes to you via the most generous advice from people like Michiel Gaasterland and Laurens Leurs

Thanks to Kalexanderson for the Lego searcher

1 comment:

  1. Hand in hand with the misconception that you can't get PDFs indexed by Google, there is the misconception that you can't track downloads of PDFs in Google Analytics.

    You can, and there are two ways of doing it. The simpler of these is to use a 'pageview' and you can read more about it here


I LOVE comments, please leave one!