What Is A Canonical Link?

Including a rel=canonical link in your webpage is a strong hint to search engines your about preferred version to index among duplicate pages on the web. It’s supported by several search engines, including Yahoo!, Bing, and Google. – GoogleWebasterCentral

PDF Files Indexed In Search

That’s the question posed to me by a recent client. The PDF was index on page one results for the model number. Their product page did not rank as high. They assumed they could rel canonical that user guide back to the product page and get the same “link juice” with all the backlinks that their duplicated, manufacturer’s user guide had gained for their domain. The figure above does not include the site owner’s actual SERP. It didn’t even make it to page one ranking.

PDF’s In Search

According to Google Scholar PDF Submissions, Google indexes the largest font at the top of the page as the title. You may then add a smaller font for the byline on the next line to link authorship. You should also append a bibliography / references section at the end. I prefer chicago style citations. EVERY single word, anchor link, and image within a PDF is indexed, there is also software as sodapdf which is a great solution to open and edit PDF for all our different needs. 

Mistake 4: Category or landing page specifies rel=canonical to a featured article

Let’s say you run a site about desserts. Your dessert site has useful category pages like “pastry” and “gelato.” Each day the category pages feature a unique article. For instance, your pastry landing page might feature “red velvet cupcakes.” Because the “pastry” category page has nearly all the same content as the “red velvet cupcake” page, you add a rel=canonical from the category page to the featured individual article.

If we were to accept this rel=canonical, then your pastry category page would not appear in search results. That’s because the rel=canonical signals that you would prefer search engines display the canonical URL in place of the duplicate. However, if you want users to be able to find both the category page and featured article, it’s best to only have a self-referential rel=canonical on the category page, or none at all.

Figure from Google Webmaster Central

Figure from Google Webmaster Central

Denver’s Opinion on PDF And REL Canonical

Do canonicalize PDF versions of your product pages. Do NOT canonicalize white papers to your product pages. In this case, it’s a user’s manual. The author simply didn’t understand that the BIG font at the top of the page is the title used in SERP. Now the intentions of the search MAY have been to buy a product.

Modifying that Big Font Title With the Manufacturer part number with CS530 User Guide From XYZ.Com would make it easier for the intended search to show up for a different query than the product page. I would then anchor link REPLACEMENT parts and ACCESSORIES within this user manual. Things do break. I would be searching for replacements parts and your PDF just might be my answer.

Value Of PDF WhitePapers

  • Provides in-depth information about a product
  • Assists The Buyer’s Journey Before Purchase
  • PDF / Whitepapers Are Lead Generators
  • Portable Documents Are Sharable On Paper

Please be so kind to state your opinion in the comments below? I really want to know what you think about redirecting manufacturer PDF manuals to product pages. Is there any ‘link juice’? How will this affect user intention and bounce rates let alone customer experience?