Typically the only version of a restaurant menu found on a restaurant's website is a PDF of the printed files. It is easy to understand why this is the case, considering the hefty fees required to pay a website manager or developer to update the website consistently. However, this present a major problem for the restaurant's online presence for the following three reasons.
1. Search-ability on Google
Inherently, PDFs are not searchable by Google. What does that mean? Well, basically it means that Google cannot read anything on the document. Google utilizes an army of automated bots that "crawls" websites and archives data across the web. Google relies on these bots to scan content on websites so that when you search for a particular location, event or item on Google the search algorithm knows how to return relevant results. Therefore, a PDF that displays your lunch specials or business hours is not particularly helpful to Google. The new Fried Baja Fish Tacos recently added to your online PDF menu will have no chance of displaying in search results for a hungry user searching for "Baja fish tacos near me". In the world of mobile usage and a drastic uptick in searches for food items in a specific geographic location closest to the user, it is important that any food items on your menu are primed to be found.
The solution is relatively simple. Take all of the items out of the PDF and place them on your website in text-form (also referenced as HTML form). Text-based restaurant menus, as opposed to PDF restaurant menus online, will allow all of the items on your menu to be searchable. Daily Menus publishes an HTML, text-based version of your print menu to a website widget so that you can seamlessly publish your menu online with one click of the button.
Transitioning from a PDF menu to Text-based menu is the first step, however, more advanced methods known as schema markup can produce greater results. We'll talk about schema in another post.
2. Consistency & Accuracy
Another benefit of text based menus online relates to how other websites and data -aggregators read your website. There are all kinds of websites that focus on displaying accurate data about restaurants online - Yelp and TripAdvisor fit in this category. When restaurant managers do not claim the listing pages for their business on these third-party websites, the websites create their own listing for the business automatically. Sites like Yelp does this by using bots, similarly to Google, to "scrap" the internet for new business that do not exist in their directory. Often times, they scrap incorrect data about the business, especially regarding the restaurant's menu. The bots will not scrap PDF menus. The more accurate and legible information you have online, the better chance you have at influencing the accuracy menu's presence online.
Additionally, there are services that can publish your menu online to these directories all from a central location. DailyMenus will publish your menu directly from the printed piece to online listing sites, so that you do not have to further invest the time into updating multiple presences of your menu online. The accuracy leads to better search-ability for your menu, hopefully resulting in more business!
3. Poor User Experience
Design for the web has evolved completely separate from print design, which has led to two very different user-experiences. Often times, print is limited by the size and cost of the paper that the menu is printed on, whereas content online has very few limitations to size and space. This is relevant to your online menu because by uploading a PDF of the printed menu online you are forcing a print user-experience on an audience desiring a digital user-experience. An HTML, text-based menu will provide a search-able user experience as well as maintain the same style of your website, ensuring the user's experience is seamless from page to page.