There’s a time and a place for PDFs on business websites.
Once upon a time, linking to a PDF file was necessary to make web content printable, and you’re still likely to see PDFs on municipal websites, economic development organizations, and other enterprises known for large documentation libraries. PDFs come in handy for large user manuals that would be unmanageable on a website or for printable documents that can’t be handled digitally for one reason or another. However, too many business websites have become PDF wildernesses that make it difficult or impossible for site visitors to find the information they need.
Why are web pages usually the better option for modern business websites?
For most online content, webpages are a better option than PDFs, and it comes down to two major features:
Navigability: Consumers want ease of use in online content.
People are engaged with their mobile phones nearly five hours a day according to a 2022 study by app monitoring firm App Annie. It’s where they shop, search, and spend one-third of their waking hours. App Annie’s CEO Theodore Krantz told business tech news site ZDNet, “The big screen is slowly dying as mobile continues to break records in virtually every category — time spent, downloads, and revenue.”
Why do people rely more and more on mobile? Because it’s convenient.
You know what isn’t convenient? Navigating PDFs on a mobile phone.
In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more frustrating digital experience than attempting to pinch zoom and then scroll around a PDF in order to find the information I’m looking for. PDFs are not designed for viewing on a browser of any size, though. They’re designed to be printed on a particular size paper. In other words, they’re static, not responsive. That’s the number one reason as much of your online business content as possible should be in the form of responsive webpages.
Responsive webpages respond to whatever device a site visitor is using, customizing your business website to ensure it is just as attractive and navigable on a small screen as on a large screen. Font, images, buttons, and more are resized and recalibrated to simplify use for every unique visitor. Savvy business owners can use links and navbars to guide users seamlessly among content offerings and through the conversion process.
Searchability: Searchbots need keywords and phrases to understand what your site offers.
The second big reason to move from PDFs to webpages doesn’t just affect the user experience. It also affects how much traffic you’re likely to see. Though PDFs can be crawled, indexed, and ranked by search engine bots if they’re correctly formatted and optimized, they don’t contain the same kind of metadata as standard web pages. This makes them less ideal when you’re trying to increase your search engine results page (SERP) rank. In most cases, PDFs aren’t optimized at all, which renders them completely unsearchable by Google and other search engines. Add to that the less functional layout, and PDFs become a virtual dead end leading to bounced visitors.
Bring more traffic to your door with responsive webpages.
PDFs have a place in the business world, and even on websites. However, successful businesses look for ways to make digital content as easy to find and interact with as possible. Wherever possible, convert older PDFs into more useful and more modern responsive webpages. You’ll be doing site visitors and your own business SERP ranking a favor. Ready to make the move from PDF library to modern website design? Get in touch with me at Emery Designs today.