Google Increases PDF Usability in Search Results

By: Chris Crum - October 8, 2009

Google has added an option to quickly view PDF documents in your browser from search results, while keeping formatting intact. This comes in the form of a simple "Quick View" link located in the search result snippet for PDF results.

"In the past, the only way to view these documents was to download them and open them in a separate viewer application," says Google. "To provide an alternative, we made it possible to quickly and easily view these files as HTML right in a web browser by clicking ‘View as HTML.’ This was an improvement, but unfortunately the ‘View as HTML’ option loses some of the formatting from the original PDF, such as graphics, tables, fonts and other elements."

The new links are based on the same technology that is used by Google Docs and Gmail. Google says they’ve actually been rolling out the feature in search results since July, and now they have more than half of the PDFs in their index available this way.

PDF Quick View Links

When you click the "Quick View" link, it will open the PDF in your browser, and will look something like this:

View PDF in the Browser

Google recently gave webmasters a new way to display PDFs (as well as PPTs and TIFFs). They launched the Google Docs Viewer, which displays these types of files directly in a user’s web browser without requiring a download. The tool for this can be found here

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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  • Steve

    The new feature is incredible. Making it quicker to see if the file is what you need makes searching for online documents less time intensive. Yahoo! Mail used to have a feature to view docs online but no longer supports the feature.

  • Scott

    Does this mean that links within PDF documants are recognozed by Google and other SE’s?

    If so, do these links count like any other link?

  • corporate video

    great function, used this this morning and found it immediately useful!