Why You Should Avoid PDF Menus on Your Restaurant Website

You’ve spent a lot of time and effort creating the perfect menu to serve your guests. It’s attractive, and portrays your restaurant well. You decide to post that brilliant PDF file on your website so that visitors can also see it. Clicking “menu” will take you straight there. This, however, isn’t enough. Those who don’t actively seek out your restaurant will never see it, and it will never increase your traffic. What’s the problem? The following three facts may surprise you:

  • Search engines can’t index PDF files
  • You must download PDF files in order to view them
  • It’s not easy to read PDFs on mobile devices

In order to better understand what you need to do to improve the situation, let’s discuss these facts one by one.

What makes a PDF unusable for Google and other search engines?

It’s extremely convenient to send along a PDF document exactly as you created it. There’s never a concern about spacing or overlaps. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that doing this makes it impossible for search engines to find the content of your PDF file.

If you serve Mexican cuisine for example, it doesn’t matter how good your tacos are if Google isn’t aware that you sell them. As a result, your restaurant won’t show up when people search for “tacos near me” on their phones, since the only place they’re mentioned is in your PDF menu. You’ll need to make sure your menu text is explicitly posted on your website if you want it to be indexed by Google. Your website will then be able to attract interested searchers.

How about PDF images?

Google doesn’t index images in PDF files either. If you’re a seafood restaurant, no one searching for shrimp scampi will be able to find the amazing image you’ve displayed on your PDF menu. Images are better off on your website, just like text. In addition, alt tags on your images make it even easier for Google and other search engines to know what the content of the image is so people are able to find it.

What about downloading?

It’s still necessary to download PDFs before they can be displayed in most browsers, including mobile browsers. Many PC browsers offer a preview option, but mobile browsers do not. So anyone who uses your menu on their phone or tablet needs to download it. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but to your customers, it’s an extra hassle that is keeping them from getting what they want.

How about mobile devices?

Worldwide, over 60% of website visits were made by mobile devices in 2022, according to Oberlo. The restaurant industry receives 69% of its traffic from mobile devices, according to Google Benchmarking. That kind of traffic can’t be ignored.

Anyone who has ever viewed a PDF on a phone knows how problematic it can be. Paper size is not always compatible with phone screens, so you’ll need to do a lot of rotating, pinching, zooming, and resizing to read anything. To make matters worse, you might need to scroll back and forth just to read a paragraph. Your customers will experience the same frustration when they try to view your menu. You can make it easier for them with a menu that isn’t a PDF.

Issues with Accessibility

Most PDF documents aren’t created with web accessibility in mind, which means that customers with disabilities will have difficulty reading your menu. While it’s possible to make PDFs more accessible, it’s a time consuming process which can translate to an unnecessary added expense if you’re paying someone to do the work. Lack of web accessibility can even result in costly litigation. It’s best to avoid the situation altogether by including your menu as a native part of your website.

Here at Positive Medium, web accessibility is always top of mind when designing and developing websites. If you’re interested in learning more about making your website more accessible, or having us build a modern, responsive website for your business, please reach out to schedule a free consultation.

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