Stop putting your restaurant menu in PDF format

stop doing PDF menus

This is the biggest and most common mistake we see: PDF menu formats. Listen, we really like your menu, and we’re sure the food is great on it, but here’s the deal — it’s just about the worst idea you could impose on any restaurant website.

If you’re making your customers download a menu, and then zoom and pinch around to navigate each section, it’s annoying, and we have data that shows people bounce (translation: leave) your website when they have to download or view a PDF menu.

We understand why you do it. Because you already have it. It’s something you print.

Some fast facts about how people view restaurant websites, according to Toast.

  • 83% of searches for a restaurant location or menu happen on mobile devices.
  • 75% of people searching for a restaurant look up the menu.
  • 51% use the website to order food — takeout or delivery

Here’s the biggest one though:

30% of consumers say ease of access is the most important factor in determining takeout or delivery purchases.

That’s probably not a huge surprise, as people just want things to be easy. If it’s easy to find the menu, read it, and then place an order, then you’re in good shape. If you’ve made it hard to place an order, then you’re messing something up.

The other part to this is actually part of Google’s Best Practices for SEO, which is something a PDF goes against. You can’t mark schema tags or properly annotate PDF’s. A PDF is “portable document format” — which means it’s good for printing and thumbtacking to a cubicle wall, but it doesn’t help search engines, at all.

If your menu is a PDF, the contents of your menu are not searchable. Here’s how this works: Let’s say your restaurant is a place that serves amazing turkey burgers. If your menu isn’t being indexed properly, Google and other search engines won’t be able to recommend your turkey burgers to someone searching for “turkey burgers near me” — and that’s a pretty big problem. Search engines can’t read a PDF.

Then, there’s the last part: Many PDF’s cannot be read by visually impaired Chrome, Firefox, and Safari extensions. This means that when someone who is visually impaired attempts to access your menu, they’re going to be unable to have it read to them via the browser. Depending upon what state you’re in, this could open you up to litigation, and that’s bad.

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