6 Tips to Improve SEO for Your Publication

May 31, 2016 by Joost Buijs

Publitas Online Catalog with Highlighted Text for SEO.

With Publitas, your publications are well optimized for all major search engines and especially quickly indexed by Google. These benefits are gained (almost) automatically, simply by uploading your PDF to Publitas. However, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the most out of our SEO features. Read on as we explain those steps and why they are important.

1. Making sure your PDF can be indexed by Publitas and search engines

When you upload your PDF to Publitas, we convert your PDF to an HTML5 publication that you can easily use and share online. During this process, we extract all the text from your PDF so we can create a Googlebot friendly version of your publication as well. This way, Google (and other major search engines) can quickly understand what your publication is about and show your publication in the search results.

However, sometimes the text in your PDF might not be accessible by our converter (even if you can clearly read it with the human eye!). Luckily, there are two simple methods to detect if Publitas can access the text in your PDF.

Method #1: Select, copy and paste the text from your PDF

To do this test, you’ll need to open your PDF in your favorite PDF reader. If you can select, copy and paste the text from your PDF, then most likely, our converter can read the text as well. If you can’t select, copy or paste the text, then you’ll need to fix this first before we can make a search engine friendly version of your PDF.

(See section: How to fix your PDF so that the text can be extracted).

Selecting text from a PDF.
Selecting text from your PDF.

Method #2: Using the search feature in your online publication

Once you’ve uploaded your PDF to Publitas, you can double check to see if the text has been extracted by using the search feature in your online publication. Simply search for a term that should be in your publication and if you get the results you expected, the text has been properly extracted. If there are no search results, then there is most likely an issue with extracting your text and you’ll need to fix this before we can make a search engine friendly version of your PDF.

(See section: How to fix your PDF so that the text can be extracted).

Search results in a Publitas online publication.
Search results in an online publication.

How to fix your PDF so that the text can be extracted

There are two common reasons why the text in your PDF might not be available for Publitas:

  1. The PDF was originally exported with settings to “flatten” the fonts and texts into an image or outline;
  2. Your PDF contains scanned documents.

In case 1, the best way to fix your PDF is by making a new export from the original source file (e.g. your InDesign or Photoshop files). When exporting your file to PDF, the easiest thing to do is choosing “Adobe PDF (Print)” as the format and Adobe’s “High Quality Print” as the preset (you can tick “Hyperlinks” if you wish to include those).

Selecting Adobe PDF (Print) as your format.
Selecting "Adobe PDF (Print) as your format.
Selecting High Quality Print as preset.
Selecting "High Quality Print" as preset, with Hyperlinks ticked.

If you want to use your own PDF preset, make sure you follow these rules:

  • Embed all the fonts you’ve used;
  • Do not convert your text to outlines;
  • Do not flatten or rasterize your text.

To learn more about exporting your PDF, you can read these resources:

If you’re using scanned documents, the only way to make your PDF indexable, is by using OCR software. This software helps detecting the text from scanned images and then adds that text into the PDF document. Here are a few commonly used OCR Tools:

Now that the text from your PDF can be indexed, there are a few other features in Publitas that can help improve your SEO.

2. Setting a relevant Title & Browser title

The Title is what’s shown in Publitas to identify and find your publication. The Browser title is used as the HTML title tag for your publication. This means that the Browser title is shown in browsers, in search results and when sharing the publication on social media. The browser title is considered important for SEO and should contain a concise description of the page’s content.

If you do not fill in a Browser title, we will create one for you by using the Title of your publication. However, we do advise you to fill in a relevant Browser title yourself, as this could really help improve your SEO. Aim to keep the Browser title under 55 characters long and make sure all your publications have a unique Browser title that really captures the publication’s content.

To gain more insight on why the Browser title is important, you can read this article.

Setting a relevant Title for your publication in Publitas.
Setting a Title, Browser title & URL for your publication in Publitas.

3. Setting an accurate Publication URL

The publication URL is used to override the default URL we’ve generated for you. It’s important to supply your own URL for SEO purposes. The URL should be relevant and accurate, giving your users and idea what to expect when they open that URL. Keywords in the Publication URL are indexed by search engines and should ideally match the most important keywords from the Browser title of your publications.

To gain more insight on how to create a relevant URL, you can read this article.

4. Writing a concise and compelling Description

The description is visible in search results and when sharing the publication on social media. While the description does not necessarily help you gain better search rankings, it’s important for improving the click-through rate wherever your publication is shared. For optimal results, we recommend to keep the description under 165 characters.

To read more about the importance of a compelling description, read this article.

Writing a concise description for your publication in Publitas.
Writing a concise description for your publication in Publitas.

5. Setting up a custom domain

As explained above, having a relevant URL for your publications is important for SEO, because it helps both search engines and your readers to better understand what content they might find there. Since the domain is part of your publications’ URL, setting up a custom domain can also help improve your SEO.

For example, if we have a fictive supermarket called “Fresh All Day”, it makes much more sense that their publications are hosted on publication.freshallday.com rather than view.publitas.com. Search engines will value this when ranking your links. The former is also likely to attract more clicks than the latter.

For more tips on how to unify your online publications with your brand, check out our previous blog post.

6. Linking to your publication

When you set your publication online, we immediately let search engines know that a new publication is available. To help search engines quickly find your publication and making the URL more relevant, we advise for you to also include a link to your publication on your website. This is true even when you’ve already embedded your publication on your site - a link to your publication in the footer of your site can be helpful both for your website visitors as well as for search engines crawling your site.

Linking to your online catalog from the footer of your site.
Linking to your online catalog from the footer of your site.

A final note about SEO & product hotspots

When you're using product hotspots, chances are that your catalogs aren’t found in the search results. While this might sound bad initially, that’s certainly not the case.

In most cases, the product details from your website exactly match the product details from the product hotspots in your online catalog. Search engines will see this as duplicate content on two different URLs, which could be bad news. For that reason, we inform search engines (by using canonical tags) that your website is the leading source of content. As a result, instead of showing the products from your catalog, search engines directly contribute these links to the visibility and SEO of your website's pages.

Feel free to let us know what you think and leave your comments below. I’d also love to hear what other topics you’d like us to cover on our blog!

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