Here Is Why You Should Stop Using PDFs for Your Restaurant Menus

Stop it. Just stop.

Stop uploading PDF menus to your website.

If you scroll through the photos app on my smart phone you’re going to see exactly what you expect, and endless stream of Burger, pizza, fries and other comfort food. I’m a big fan of the #lategram: sharing a photo to Instagram hours, days, weeks or even months after it was taken. Like most foodstagrammers, I bank photos for later use so I always have content to share on a daily basis.


Often times I can’t recall from the top of my head the exact and complete list of toppings were on a Burger I ate or the funny name of that sandwich I devoured. When that happens I have to go to the restaurant’s website and look it up. Usually I just cut and paste the description into my Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Blog post. However, it’s nearly impossible when on mobile to cut and paste from a PDF menu.

But that’s really NOT the justification you should stop using PDF menus on your restaurant website. There’s a much more important reason; it’s a huge search mistake.

Yes, the search engine web crawlers can read and index them, but they don’t like it because it takes extra steps. They might look nice and be easy for people to share on desktop but you are effectively helping to bury them in search. Yes, there are ways to optimize a PDF to be more scannable but why handicap yourself?

Check out this tasty cheesesteak from Jack’s Cabin in Hoboken, NJ. Also check out their menu, it’s a perfect example of what you should do. (Admittedly,  by turning it into an image on this website isn’t helping, but the back link to it is!)

PDFs often lack some of the key search information that the search engines need to be able to know exactly what the content is about. You are far better off having a page on your website built in html that you can easily update the text for a menu. When the text is on the actual site, search engines are able to index it in the context of how it relates to the rest of your website / business.

You know what is even worse than a PDF menu? A png or jpeg of your menu! They are absolutely unreadable by a search engine!

pdfs-bad-seo-restaurant-menus-burger-conquest-callahans-fort-lee-3416Double Cheeseburger with Bacon from Callahan’s The Original Hot Dog Emporium in Fort Lee, NJ.


  • PDF menus are harder for search engines to read than regular html
  • Using a PDF menu on your website will hurt your search results
  • PDF menus do not contain the context information a search engine needs to apply it to the rest of your website

If you are absolutely insistent on using a PDF, first of all admit that you are being lazy and then follow the steps in this optimization guide from trademarkmedia.

For more information on how to avoid common mistakes restaurants make online, read this article on

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1 Response to Here Is Why You Should Stop Using PDFs for Your Restaurant Menus

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