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Why You Shouldn’t Use a PDF Menu on Your Restaurant Website

You’ve put a lot of effort into designing the perfect menu to hand to your guests once they’re seated. It’s appetizing and reflects your restaurant very well. You want people visiting your website to see it, too, so you post that brilliant PDF file right on your site. Anyone who clicks “menu” will be taken straight to it. 

However, this isn’t enough.

It will never increase your traffic and people who aren’t actively searching for your restaurant specifically will never see it. Why not? Here are three things you may not know:

PDFs cannot be indexed by search engines.
PDFs must be downloaded to view.
PDS are not great for mobile devices.

Let’s go over these one by one so you can better understand what you need to do to improve your situation.

Why is a PDF not useful for Google and other search engines?

PDFs are extremely convenient for sending along a document exactly as you created it. You never have to worry about spacing getting messed up, or things overlapping. However, the act of doing this makes it impossible for search engines to know what is in that precious PDF of yours. 

Even if you serve the best tacos ever to exist, Google may not know you sell tacos at all if they’re only mentioned in your PDF menu. That means if people search for “tacos near me” on their phones, your restaurant is never going to pop up in search results. 

If you want it to, you’re going to need to make sure the text of your menu is explicitly posted on your website. Google will index it; search engines will be able to point interested searchers your way.

What about images in a PDF?

PDF images are never indexed by Google, either. No one can do a search for your shrimp scampi and see the amazing image you have on the front of your menu. Like your text, any images are better off on your website. 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 the downloading thing?

Even though most browsers – including mobile browsers – will automatically display PDFs, they must still be downloaded first. On PCs, many browsers have a preview option, but that isn’t the case on mobile. So anyone who uses your menu on a phone or tablet has to download it. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to them, it is an extra hassle that is causing friction between them and getting what they want.

What about mobile devices?

In 2021, 54% of all global website visits were mobile (Oberlo). In fact, according to Google Benchmarking, 69% of all traffic in the restaurant industry came through mobile devices. You cannot ignore that kind of traffic.

In addition, anyone who has ever used a phone to view a PDF knows it can be problematic. Normal paper size is often not compatible with your phone screen size, so you’ll find yourself doing a lot of rotating, pinching, zooming, and resizing in order to read anything. Worse, you might have to scroll back and forth just to read a paragraph. It’s frustrating, and your customers will feel the same way when they try to view your menu. Make it easier for them with a menu that’s not a PDF!



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