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Assume that you are having a single web page with several links to your papers:

...

Author list 1, Paper Title 1 [PDF] [PS], publication venue 1, year 1

Author list 2, Paper Title 2 [PDF] [PS] [DVI], publication venue 2, year 2

Author list 3, Paper Title 3 [PDF] [PS], publication venue 3, year 3

...

with linked PS/PDF/DVI versions of your papers.

I wish to know how to optimize this structure towards the standard search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, ...). My current attempt is:

<ul>
<li>Author list 1, <i>Paper Title 1</i> <span style="font-size:smaller">[<a href="filename1.pdf" title="Paper Title 1">PDF</a>] [<a href="filename1.ps" title="Paper Title 1">PS</a>]</span>, publication venue 1, year 1</li>
<li>Author list 2, <i>Paper Title 2</i> <span style="font-size:smaller">[<a href="filename2.pdf" title="Paper Title 2">PDF</a>] [<a href="filename2.ps" title="Paper Title 2">PS</a>] [<a href="filename2.dvi" title="Paper Title 2">DVI</a>]</span>, publication venue 2, year 2</li>
<li>Author list 3, <i>Paper Title 3</i> <span style="font-size:smaller">[<a href="filename3.pdf" title="Paper Title 3">PDF</a>] [<a href="filename3.ps" title="Paper Title 3">PS</a>]</span>, publication venue 3, year 3</li>
</ul>

This approach might be problematic. First, the files might be indexed under "PDF", "PS", or "DVI", but not while one searches for "Paper Title n". Is this true? Second, is the value of the title attribute really honored by the search engines for the purpose of indexing? I've read somewhere that the search engines use the title only for displaying purposes. Third, if two or three anchors have the same title but only slightly differing targets, would the search engines consider the site as an advertising site?

For the single web page in question (with 20 paper references of the above kind), I have full rights (add, edit, remove) to manage the directory containing the HTML file. I have no admin rights for the Web server. Any improvement suggestions are welcome. My goal is that the web page looks nice and that standard Web search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, ...) index all the documents properly (with a good rank if possible) and associate them with the corresponding titles. References are welcome.

  • <pdf> <-- THIS IS NOT VALID HTML5 --> </pdf> – Simon Hayter Sep 28 '17 at 19:04
  • if you are concerned about seo/indexing, put the pdf's contents into the html. most people aren't willing to do that. bots index content around links, as well as content within links, so i wouldn't worry too much about number five. title attributes are not included in search engine rankings, though they are used by them in search results. why would the pattern of filename.pdf repeat more than 2x on a page? how many times are you planning on listing the same resource? – albert Sep 29 '17 at 0:19
  • as long as they are different links, the repeating pattern doesn't hurt a thing. – albert Sep 29 '17 at 1:02
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    You assuming that Google will return your anchor text will play a huge role in what it gets ranked for when in reality its not as simple as that. Your page will be ranked based on many signals, such as the domain authority, inbound links, page title, page description and page content. – Simon Hayter Sep 29 '17 at 16:58
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    However the anchor text will play a part in ranking the PDF file within the results i.e <a href="build-your-own-electric-car.pdf>Build Your Own Electric Car</a> Would rank for How to Build Your Own Electric Car PDF but it unlikely to rank for How to Build Your Own Electric Car because it generally it favours HTML pages. PDF is a search intent variable, like sell, buy, find etc. The landing page would need to contain those keywords, they need not appear within <a>. Once you have enough signals, its all noise, off page SEO takes over. Anchors should be tailored for your users, not bots. – Simon Hayter Sep 29 '17 at 16:58
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You may want to approach this from a different angle if the goal is to have Google/Bing and other search engines index the individual files so they may appear in search results and help boost your site's SEO.

Having hyperlinks to the files helps- but you can probably get more attention by:

  1. including valid schema markup around each file. Refer to http://schema.org/docs/gs.html See the schema types available.
  2. saving the files with metadata when possible. For pdfs being created in Acrobat, see: https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/pdf-properties-metadata.html Most documents/files can have metadata assigned from the "properties" option in the application used to create them. This is not only good for search indexing, but is also a 508 compliance requirement for WCAG AA rating.
  3. creating individual pages per work, with content describing the work, metatags associated with the work, etc.

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