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How to Optimize PDFs for SEO to Achieve the Best Results with Your Content

PDF is the dominant format on the web: it’s used in business, education, government, and many other industries. However, the fact is that as the world moves forward and creates state-of-the-art technology, PDFs become more and more outdated. And many businesses start thinking about how to improve their PDF documents or maybe even move to new innovative formats.

At FlippingBook, a company offering software and cloud service for converting PDFs into interactive HTML5 documents, we deal with PDFs on a daily basis and work out useful tips and tricks on how to enhance them. So today we’ve decided to share our tried-and-true ways to optimize PDFs for SEO and then talk about how to create PDF flipbooks that are SEO-friendly.


Optimizing a PDF for SEO Step by Step


#1 Choose an SEO-friendly name for your PDF

Make sure your PDF has a clear and descriptive filename, rich with keywords, to make a Google searchable PDF. But don’t use too many words: keep your character count short, use hyphens to separate words, and match your URL to the title of the PDF if possible.


#2 Write a good title and meta description

Similar to webpages, PDF files have a title and meta description too.  These tags help the search engines understand what your PDF is about and index it accordingly for relevant keywords. So what you need to do is to create informative and relevant meta tags to make sure your PDF file is well optimized for both search engines and visitors. A descriptive title is necessary to help people understand what information your PDF contains. Without a title, a user may miss an important document online, because they have no idea about its contents.

Don’t forget to put the most important keywords at the front of your title tag and keep it tight (50-70 characters). Your meta description should describe what you’ll find in the PDF within 150-160 characters.


#3 Use headings 

Again, similar to a website: use headings to structure your PDF files. They're important for readers as well as search engines to help build up content in a PDF in the best possible way.

Use one H1 heading per PDF file and make it unique. You can use multiple H2–H6 headings as you see fit, but keep the hierarchy of the PDF file in mind for optimal PDF SEO optimization.


#4 Add alternative text descriptions for non-text elements

To help both people and search engines understand the content of your non-text elements, you can add alt text to them. Alt-text is a hidden text which describes each image, symbol, or icon to people who have visual or cognitive impairments via screen readers. These devices can effectively communicate alt-text content to their users. Plus, alt-text makes it easier for search robots to index and rank your content.


#5 Use informative hyperlinks

All links that you include in your PDF should convey clear and accurate information about the destination so that the reader knows where the link will lead them to without having to click on it. Another good practice is to embed a hyperlink within a concise string of text instead of using the URL on its own. 

Just like any page, internal and external links also impact rankings. Links pass PageRank and their anchor text adds context. By including links to your PDF and links from your PDF to other pages on the web, you are helping PageRank flow through your document rather than creating a dead end. 

After you follow all the steps above, you’ll improve your PDFs significantly. But still, even though Google will be indexing and ranking your PDFs better, the format will yet have a few disadvantages over web pages:

  • Most PDFs lack navigation, making it more difficult for people to find what they need in the content they’re reading.
  • PDFs are not mobile-friendly: you have to download them to read them. Plus, PDFs are not adaptive, and it’s very inconvenient to view them anywhere except for on the desktop.
  • PDFs are rarely updated, so they tend to be crawled less often than pages that are updated more frequently.
  • Tracking is more difficult. Most common trackers run JavaScript on a web page and don’t work in PDF files.

That said, if you aspire to give your content a big SEO boost, we recommend moving up from PDFs to PDF flipbooks. A tool like FlippingBook Online—that helps convert PDFs into interactive flipbooks—can be just what you need. Don’t worry, creating a PDF flipbook is very easy, and we’ll guide you through this process. So let’s get right to it.


How to Create PDF Flipbooks

1. Sign up to FlippingBook Online or simply log in with your Google account. No need for any credit card details or anything to start, just choose the free trial, and you’ll be instantly redirected to your account.

2. Upload the PDF you want to convert, and FlippingBook Online will do the rest. In a few minutes, you get a ready, professional-looking HTML5 flipbook to share with the world right away. 

3. If you want to customize your flipbook a bit more to match your brand, you can do it easily—all our settings are right at hand when you need them. Brand your flipbook with your own colors and logo, add interactive elements, like videos, GIFs, or pop-up images, and your flipbook is ready to get out there.

And that’s it! Now your PDF flipbook is ready to shine and reach a wider audience. 

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Flipbooks don’t just look fresh and professional, but the flipbook format also uses top-notch technology to achieve the best results with your content promotion. Below are just a few perks that make flipbooks better than plain PDFs and help create an efficient Google searchable PDF flipbook.


PDF Flipbooks Perks

SEO boost

After you turn your PDFs into flipbooks via FlippingBook, you can switch on Google indexing and FlippingBook’s smart content promotion system will give your content an SEO boost. It will create a unique title and description for each page of your flipbook by adding the number of the page to the title and a phrase from said page to the description (usually it’s the first phrase on the page, but if it’s not relevant Google will choose a more relevant one).

What’s more, when you create a new piece of content, you usually have to submit it to search engines to get indexed and tracked. With FlippingBook, you don’t need to do it because it’s done automatically with the help of our own sitemap if you switch on Google indexing.

FlippingBook’s team has even carried out an experiment to learn about the best ways to promote content: we created a flipbook, promoted it online, and analyzed the results. You can read about what we’ve discovered in our article on how to promote content. Hopefully, it can be useful for every marketer out there.

Fast and easy sharing

Instead of trying to attach heavy PDFs to your email, you can just send a link to your online flipbook via email, share it on social media, or embed it into your website. What’s more, you can share your content via QR code which is a safe, touch-free way of giving access to your digital document offline.

Convenient navigation

PDF flipbooks allow people to quickly find the info they are looking for. You can create a table of contents and enable text search so that your clients easily navigate around your flipbook even if it has many pages. 


Flipbooks are developed to look professional and work well on any device, be it desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Thanks to HTML5 technology, when your clients read a flipbook, they see crystal-clear text quality across all the devices and always have the best reading experience.

Easy updates

You can update PDF flipbooks in a click any time you want, and the new version will be instantly available under the same link. Thus, your clients and colleagues will always see fresh and relevant content when they open it. With PDFs, you would need to re-send the document every time new info is added or an error is spotted and fixed.

Efficient tracking

When you publish a PDF online, you have no idea how it performs. Flipbooks, on the contrary, are easy to track and analyze: you can track how each of the pages engages users, what links they click on the most, or what pages are the most popular. And then use these data to improve your content. Plus, FlippingBook allows you to add a lead capture form to gather more data about your leads and choose the right time to contact them.



As you see, if you don’t work with any formats other than PDFs, you can use the aforementioned tips for PDF SEO optimization. But if you have the opportunity to try out new formats, we totally recommend exploring PDF flipbooks and their benefits and giving FlippingBook Online a try!

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