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I have a collection of about 150 PDF documents hosted on a site that are all rather long, 80-500 pages each. Google indexes and searches these no problem (Google Custom Search) - they are all linked in a sitemap and in HTML pages on the site.

However, the issue is on the longer PDFs. Users are having trouble finding the relevant information because Google only returns a link to the document itself, not any reference to page number or other indication of where the term is inside of the document. And yes, of course users can use the native Acrobat search feature once they open the correct PDF, but searching twice is problematic for less savvy and impatient users.

So my question is if anyone knows of any methods to get GCS to return the page number of a PDF in search results (either via it's native output or though the API). Others have suggested simply saving each page of these documents as a separate PDF, but with over 100,000 total pages that isn't really a practical solution.

  • This is a frustration in Google and I assume for other search engines in general. I assume it would partially have to do with the file format and the parser used. I assume that Google is using a PDF parser they did not write. This is common. Why recreate the wheel? Even if Google did write the parser, hot linking to a portion of a document is likely not possible since the reader application must be open for this to work. While it may be supported within the reader, it is not likely possible to reference a location within the document before it opens. There may be API options otherwise. – closetnoc May 5 '16 at 19:59

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