PDF Optimisation: An Example Using Category Management

How to Optimise PDF Files

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Category Management Guide PDF SEO

The steps below will help you keyword optimise PDF files for search engines. The following example is for our Category Management Guide, optimised for the keyword ‘Category Management’.

1. Filename Based on Keyword Analytics / SEO

Firstly, ensure the keyword is in the file name, for instance, save it as ‘Category Management Guide’.

Category management guide with circle around heading

2. Title and Description

  • 2.1 Keyword Optimised Title with Less Than 55 Characters:
    • For example, ‘Category Management Guide’ – 25 characters.
    • For example, ‘Presentation Skills Infographic’ – 31 characters.
  • 2.2 Description with 150 Characters in Length:
    • For example, ‘Read this Category Management Guide. Know that 73% of your category management opportunities never make it into the store. Improve your landing rate.’ – 149 characters.
    • For example, ‘Most people start with Powerpoint to write a presentation. Don’t. Read this Presentation Skills Infographic because you will create engaging presentations.’ – 155 characters.

3. In Document Properties:

This video shows how to access document properties, and what each different field does:

 3.1 Specify the Title

As we have titled the PDF on the page, above, we also have to specify the title in document properties. In this instance, simply fill in ‘Category Management Guide’.

3.2 Specify the Author

In our case, it’s simply Making Business Matter Limited (MBM).

3.3 Specify the Subject

Here, we need to provide a metadata style description (description field). Whereas the description (above) is an optimised subtitle, the subject here is similar to the metadata snippet in WordPress. This is embedded data that describes what the content is. It is where we can ‘sell’ the article to entice the reader. What are they going to gain from reading the PDF?

For example, ‘A Category Management Guide of 17 pages. Each section is dedicated to explaining the 7-layers of the 73% Funnel. Challenge,Example & Action for each layer.’ – 155 characters.

For example, ‘A Presentation Skills Infographic. The most popular questions entered into google on presentation skills are answered here. Create engaging presentations.’- 155 characters.

3.4 Keywords

This is where we specify the keyword(s) we are targetting with this article, as per metadata in WordPress.

I’ve seen articles that state no more than 10 keywords, but personally I think that is too many. For content that is written for a specific purpose, I would have a maximum of 3. As in WordPress, one focus keyword, in this instance, ‘Category Management’, and two related keywords, for example, ‘Category Plan’ and ‘Category Funnel’.

Keywords separated by commas. Hassan, graphic designer, has said this, ‘Semi-colons appear as commas in the general properties dialog box but as we click on additional metadata, the same appear with semi-colons, which according to Adobe serves the same separation purpose as commas do’.

Screenshot of document properties settings

3.5 Add Additional Metadata

Acrobat Pro DC provides an option for additional metadata. This is for copyright notices and URLs. Typically, this will not be needed for a conventional PDF unless specifically instructed.

4. Ensure It Is Saved as a Text-Based PDF

This allows Google and other search engines to crawl the text, as it would a normal webpage.

Screenshot of Word document settings

5. Keep File as Small as Possible (Reduced Size/Compressed PDF)

6. Write-Protect the File to Prevent It from Being Used/Adapted by Others

Add a password of the keyword, e.g. ‘Category Management’ and the current year, e.g. ‘2019’, to make ‘CategoryManagement2019’.

Screenshot of document properties Security settings

This video provides further information on how to write protect the PDF:

7. Ensure All In-Document Links Work

Check all links that are included in the text, or embedded in images, work correctly.

8. Use Accessibility Tools to Touch up the Reading Order and Add Alt Tags for Images

Lastly, use the accessibility tools to tag and number the order of the items on the page. This helps guide audio readers. It provides instructions for audio reading as to what each item on the page is, and the correct order to follow to read it out loud. By default, this doesn’t always happen. Basically, we want the page to be read in the order we would read it.  The accessibility tools in Adobe Acrobat allow you to stipulate the order.

The video below provides a step-by-step guide to the tagging process and formatting the reading order correctly:

Document settings with circle around Edit

8.1 Tag Items

The tagging is so audio readers know what the content is. This includes headings, paragraphs of text, graphics and images. Each item needs to be tagged. For example, the title would be ‘Heading 1’. You would then tag the subheading, for instance, ‘Heading 2’. You can then tag the ‘Text/Paragraph’, the main body of the page. Images, for example, the MBM logo and ‘Trainers to the UK Grocery Industry’ can be tagged as a ‘Figure’ and a ‘Figure/Caption’. Once these have been tagged as a ‘Figure’, you can add alt attributes to them. This is where you can describe what is in the image as we would with alt attributes in WordPress.

8.2 Specify Reading Order

Once you have specified what each item is, e.g. H1, Figure etc. you can now format the reading order in the reading order panel. This is simply organising the order of the tagged content in the way in which it should be read.

Accessibility settings with circle around Adobe

For instance, 1. H1 (Document title) > 2. H2 (subtitle) > 3. Text/Paragraph. > 4. Figure/Image

The image below, shows how the tags and reading order would look for our HBDI Infographic:

HBDI infographic with labels annotating the format


These are not needed.

9.0 Checklist

Please use this checklist to check your work on the above.