Optimizing PDFs for Search Engines

For search engine optimization (SEO), follow these best practices for adding metadata to PDFs.

Title Fields

The title field contains the title of the PDF. This information is searched by commercial search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Use the title as it appears in the document as the PDF's title field.

When search engines list your PDF in search results, the title field will be used as the search result caption. The words you use in the title field will contribute to search engine rankings. Your PDF will rank higher in search results if the title contains the words used in the search.

Subject Fields

The subject field may be used by Bing and Yahoo to provide a brief description of a PDF's contents in search results.

Subject fields should:

  • Describe PDF content¬† in 150-160 characters
  • Include terms used in the PDF
  • Be simple and brief
  • Be unique and not duplicate the subject fields of other PDFs
  • Be written as phrases instead of complete sentences. Many subject fields start with words like:
    • Provides information on...
    • Includes...
    • Information on...

Energy.gov Download Pages

Use the same information in your PDF's title and subject fields on the Energy.gov download page.

Note: the Energy.gov search engine indexes your download page, not your PDF.  Commercial search engines may index both your download page and PDF. If your PDFs are hosted on Energy.gov's Drupal environment, see our requirements for download pages.


For SEO questions, contact the EERE Search Specialist.