Love story: PDF and Search Engines

By Felicia Bratu

Everybody loves PDF (Portable Document Format) files; ebooks, brochures, product descriptions or instruction manuals are all better in PDF on your website. A PDF is the safest format your design and message will be delivered without any changes or any extra effort from the recipient.
And guess what? Search Engines (SE) love them too! All major search engines can crawl and index editable PDF files.

However, in order to get search engines to index your files, you’ll have to make sure that your PDFs are editable (i.e. if you scan a document in as an image, your PDF file is not editable) and can be read by their crawlers.
Also, very important for both your visitors and SE spiders: make sure your file is small enough for an easy download.

One of the things that I really like about PDF, is that this format allows anchor texts creations (hyperlinked words) one of the main factors in ranking high for a keyword.

I.e.: Let’s say you have or work for a graphic design agency and one of the keywords you are using to promote your company on the web is professional graphic design. This is the way you’d be creating the anchor text in an html file.

<a href=””>Professional graphic design</a>

You can also have the same keyword as an anchor text in all the PDF files from your website (samples of your work, company profile, etc). And also in the files you are creating for your clients. Most of the web or graphic design companies will use this sentence: “designed by your company name” and the anchor text will be [your company name]. However, you might get a real boost for your favourite keyword if you use something like this: “designed by [your company name] a professional graphic design company“, where the anchor text is “professional graphic design company”.

How to create anchor text with different applications

MS Word
Select the text to be used as anchor text. Right click on the mouse or go to Insert/Hyperlink. Select existing file or webpage and type the webpage or website in the address bar. The word selected will now appear underlined and in blue. If you click on it (or CTRL click) youll go to the webpage selected. Now you can convert the file to Adobe PDF.
Make sure you have Add links to Adobe PDF feature selected (under Adobe PDF/Change Conversion Settings).

Illustrator you can create editable PDF files, but not links

Photoshop PDF files are images, so they are not editable and not recommended for SE

Select the text you would like to use as an anchor text.
1. Go to Edit/Hyperlink (or right click on the mouse and select Hyperlink).
2. Select Hyperlink/New, and type the URL address
3. File/Export layout as PDF
4. Options make sure Include Hyperlinks is selected

Indesign CS
Select the text you would like to use as an anchor text.
1. Go to Window/Interactive
2. Select New Hyperlink
3. Select Type: URL and type the name of the web address
4. File/Export layout as PDF
5. Make sure Include Hyperlinks is selected

Adobe Acrobat
In case you have an editable PDF file, but no source file, you can still create links. To be able to do this, go to tools/Advance editing and select the Link Tool (Acrobat 6). Or use the Select Text tool and right click on the mouse for the Create Link feature.

A few other things to consider:
1. Optimize your PDF – use Document Properties in Acrobat to add a title and keywords to your file
2. File name: use keywords when naming your PDF files
3. Resize your PDF using the reduce File size feature

Felicia Bratu

Felicia Bratu is the operations manager of wintranslation, in charge of quality delivery and client satisfaction. As a veteran who has worked in many roles at the company since 2003, Felicia oversees almost every aspect of the company operations from recruitment to project management to localization engineering. She recently received certification as a Localization Project Manager as well as Post-Editing Certification for Machine Translation. Felicia holds a BSc. in Industrial Robotics from the University of Craiova, Romania.