I have some PDFs on my site. They contain relevant content to the site and are legitimate documents people will want to read (especially as the site is written in English and the majority of the documents are translations and information relevant to different countries).

However, I have run the SEO tool SEMRush which indicates these pages (the PDFs) only have one internal link linking towards them. This is creating notifications lowering my overall SEO score.

Should I be adding a nofollow attribute to PDF links to remove the warnings SEMRush is highlighting, or is it more damaging to have them nofollow?

I have read multiple articles regarding the nofollow and have received nothing but more confusion and disdain.

1 Answer 1


No-no-no, don't let Semrush misguide you. It is indeed only your decision about indexing/deindexing of PDF.

In general, Google loves PDFs. I would noindex them only in case they dublicate the content of according HTML pages.

If they are, as you said, useful for your users AND contain unique content - let Google index and rank them.

About internal linking of PDFs - it is sadly not a rare situation, where PDF documents have only one single incoming internal link, from the HTML page, where they are placed. Try to change this:

  • place links to your PDF documents in the content of HTML pages, with meaningful link anchors,
  • link them, from the sidebar too, from outta linkbox like "helpful documentation",
  • include urls of PDF documents into your sitemap - Google will be happy to find them fast
  • 1
    Why is a single link to the PDF bad to SEO ranking ?
    – Omiod
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 15:27
  • As there is only one link it receives a 'notice' - %this% has only one incoming internal link. Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 15:31
  • It isn't bad. It is just... in this case more is better:)
    – Evgeniy
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 15:37
  • 1
    Voted up, however - a better solution for duplicate content in a different file format is to use meta rel=alternate tags. Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 17:21
  • @Omiod Its not just PDFs. The number of links to a URL indicate how important and relevant it is. A page with a lot of links is probably central to the website, maybe a hub page or content central to it. It also passes semantic context, e.g. the anchor describes the linked page, and the link indicates the two pages are related, content-wise.
    – Uri Raz
    Commented Jan 31 at 14:38

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