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When I perform a site:example.com keyword on my site I tend to get a lot of PDF's first and not the relevant pages with the keywords. We are trying to optimize our site for best SEO with Google and am wondering how this is effecting us? From my understanding these are going to be the pages with the strongest keyword relevance so when our site does appear in search results it will be in the same order (PDF's first). We really don't want the PDF's to be indexed since they don't contain the information we are trying to give the customers, they are mainly installation manuals, specifications, etc. Does any one have recommendations to resolve this issue or maybe I have completely understood this wrong?

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2 Answers 2

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Okay. First, when doing a site:, Google lists your content by importance. If you add a keyword, it will list by importance for that keyword. This is Google's calculation of importance of course and changes from time to time. This however, does not reflect what happens during an actual search. To quote a previous U.S. president, I feel your pain.

I would recommend using a nofollow to tell Google not to index your PDF's.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/96569?hl=en

Here is an example from the link above: <a href="signin.php" rel="nofollow">sign in</a>

I would also recommend moving, if at all possible, your PDF's to a directory (if you have not already) that can be restricted in your robots.txt file.

http://www.robotstxt.org/

This should solve your problem but it will be a while before the PDFs begin to drop from the SERPs. Perhaps 30-60 days. If there are not too many PDFs, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to remove the PDFs from the index. But again, this may take a while. It may be even money just waiting for the PDFs to drop out naturally.

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If your PDFs are outperforming the equivalent HTML pages (I am presuming that you have at least the same content or equivalent content on the HTML page) you probably need to look at the structure of the HTML pages. A good starting point would be the Google guide to SEO for Beginners (see http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf).

When you have updated the HTML pages you could block the PDFs from being indexed at all if this is what you wanted. You could do this via the robots.txt. More fully answered previously here: How to protect PDF file from indexing?

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