PDFs or HTML Pages - Which is better for SEO and Usability?
Posted by fusionbox on Aug. 3, 2011, 6 p.m.
In a face-off between HTML pages and PDF documents, who would win? Hands down, HTML pages.
This isn't to say that optimized PDFs aren't useful - they definitely are, for search engine rankings and even your sites' visitors in some cases. It's just that HTML pages are much more user-friendly and search engine-optimizable in general. Here are three succinct topics to consider when you are forced to make the Web page vs. PDF call:
Usability - it's just easier for most users to look at the Web page than to download and view a PDF. A few users will prefer this method, but they are a much smaller audience.
SEO & Rankings - links to a PDF are not as valuable as links to a web page (for overall site ranking), so it's a missed opportunity. Also, there is much more to optimize on a web page than there is in a PDF. PDFs have search engine optimization limitations that are greatly surpassed by HTML pages.
Please: avoid posting the PDF and using the content from the PDF on a Web page - this will create duplicate content on your site. Google sees duplicate content as sub-par (and less valuable to their users) and will therefore lower rankings for sites that have issues like this. If certain pages make sense as both PDFs and HTML pages, you should alter the content enough that it becomes original again.