Google Expands Search: EPUBs Now in the Mix!

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Google discreetly updated its documentation to announce the indexing of EPUB files, now searchable within its search engine.
Google has begun indexing .epub documents, a format widely employed for e-books intended for e-readers. Notably, Google has already started to feature EPUB books in its search index.


Embracing the EPUB Format


The EPUB format, an XML-based eBook publishing format, has its roots in a standard developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum. This standard, which aimed to unite e-book publishing with the Internet, was later merged with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 2016. This merger was a significant step in bringing together the worlds of electronic book publishing and the Internet, paving the way for the inclusion of EPUB files in Google’s search index.

Google’s Inclusion of EPUB Content in Search Index
The merging of e-publishing with the internet mirrors Google’s recent decision to index EPUB content, potentially leading to its ranking in search results. Surprisingly, this move arrives eight years after the merger. Google’s official changelog straightforwardly states the addition of EPUB to indexable file types without further elaboration:
“Adding EPUB to indexable file types
What: EPUB added to the list of indexable file types.
Why: Google Search now supports EPUB.”


Assessing Google’s Ranking of EPUB Content


As of now, Google’s ranking of EPUB content is not straightforward. For instance, when I conducted a search for a scientific research paper hosted on the journals.lww.com domain, Google did not surface the EPUB document itself, only the webpage hosting the download link. Google’s official documentation on indexable file types only states their indexability. This suggests that while Google now supports EPUB, it may not yet rank these documents directly in search results, though they can still be found through a filetype search.

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Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]