Google Increases PDF Usability in Search Results

    October 8, 2009
    Chris Crum

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