Ask Yoast: Canonical for PDF magazine

There are many occassions when you may want to put a PDF on your site. For example, when you’ve made an online magazine, when an article you wrote was featured in a book or magazine, or when you’ve written detailed instructions for a DIY project. So far, so good.

But things can get a bit more complicated when you also have the content from this PDF somewhere else on your site, or on another website. To avoid duplicate content, you need to set a canonical URL. But how do you do that for a PDF document? What is the best way to do that? And is a PDF really the best way to put your content on the internet? Let’s discuss in today’s Ask Yoast!

Karen Schousboe emailed us her question:

I plan to publish a PDF magazine under medieval.news. Some of the articles in each issue will also be freely available on a sister website. How should I handle that? Do I link canonical from the articles to the PDF magazine or from the magazine to the website?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Canonicalization and PDFs

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Well, you can have a canonical HTTP header and what I would suggest doing is canonicalizing from the PDF magazine to the sister website, because HTML pages just rank a lot better than PDFs, usually.

In fact, I would suggest publishing everything in HTML and not necessarily in PDF because PDF is just not very easy to land on from search. You can’t do any tracking, you can’t do a whole lot of things that you can do with HTML. So I would seriously consider doing all of it in HTML pages and then canonicalizing between them. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: rel=canonical: the ultimate guide »

Ask Yoast series

8 Responses to Ask Yoast: Canonical for PDF magazine

  1. David
    David  • 5 months ago

    Thanks for the valuable article! I was looking for the solution for canonical for pdf magazine and you have done great job!

  2. Dharmik
    Dharmik  • 5 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this article. It is very helpful blog about PDF. Once again thank you. :-)

  3. Abokifx
    Abokifx  • 5 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this insight Joost. I have had issues of people publishing contents of my pdf files as html and ranking above me. Can I reclaim such spots?

  4. akash
    akash  • 5 months ago

    After a long time my problem has been solve. Thanx for this post.

  5. matlabi
    matlabi  • 5 months ago

    My WordPress site has a download host for media files. to following adress
    Is the pdf articles published in my posts and all downloaded on subdomain affect my site?
    This is to say:
    Is the pdf file that is downloaded to the subdomain web site, Will affect the main domain? And Google gives it a rating and a rating?

  6. Sreehari Sree
    Sreehari Sree  • 5 months ago

    Thanks a lot for sharing this.
    Was wondering about the same question.

  7. Akash
    Akash  • 5 months ago

    Good blog about PDF
    thank you

  8. mdiyer
    mdiyer  • 5 months ago

    “In fact, I would suggest publishing everything in HTML and not necessarily in PDF…”
    This is a bit of a pity, where SEO conflicts with user experience. There is value with providing a PDF doc, especially when the user might be interested in downloading for future reference or any other “offline” use. HTML is horrible for that. That said, I fully agree that the issue is more complicated than it might seem at face value.


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