PDF files are one of the most extensively used content forms in the world.

Research shows that 76% of B2B marketers prefer consuming PDF file formats like white papers over other content. Reports come second at 69% and e-books come third at 63%. It’s safe to say that PDF files haven’t lost their relevance in content marketing.

But the question remains. Are PDF files the right way to go for your 2018 content marketing
strategy?

5 reasons why PDF files may not be the best for your new content strategy

PDF file formats suffer from many disadvantages, which can adversely impact your content
strategy. Here’s why:

  • They are really laborious to create and can be expensive

Creating a PDF file isn’t as easy as creating a blogpost. A lot of times, it can get extremely
challenging collecting and collating the data you have online and integrating it into a single PDF.
The entire file conversion and republication process can be very time-consuming; making PDF
files a very time-heavy investment.

Speaking of investments, certain Adobe does come out with expensive versions of its readers,
making the software itself a large financial investment.

  • They don’t offer a lot of SEO value

Yes, it’s true that PDF files are index-able by search engines and can be easily found on the web.
But this doesn’t mean they are completely SEO-optimized. In reality, compared to other forms of
content, PDF files have a very low SEO value.

For one, many PDF files are either too long or too short to be considered as value-adding content by search engines. Additionally, the long length of the content may increase the chances of keyword stuffing, which is a ground for penalization by the search engine.

PDF files do not allow users to implement structure markups, alt tags and snippets, which
severely diminishes the SEO value of the content as now your content won’t appear in the
organic search results on the search engine.

  • They do not provide insight into audience engagement

The objective of your content strategy is to understand who your audience is, how they interact
with your brand and which content they enjoy the most. Unfortunately, PDF files do not provide
organizations insights into any of these aspects.

Google Analytics has the power to understand how many people searched for PDF files; but it
cannot effectively determine what readers did once they opened the PDF file. Without important
audience engagement data like this, organizations will be defeating the purpose of their content strategy by using PDF files.

  • They aren’t very multiple-device friendly

Till date, there hasn’t been any invention or development of software that can make PDF files
readable without the need of the reader. This can make it extremely difficult for your readers to
access your content, especially if they don’t have PDF reader software installed in their phones
and systems.

Additionally, there is no one-size-fits-all reader available in the market. For example, users need
to install unique software for Mac, Android and other platforms. Other content like blogs, videos
and infographics don’t need a separate software to access them, which makes them more reader-friendly and lucrative for the organization.

  • They afford very poor page organization, navigation and control

One of the greatest disadvantages of PDF files is the organization, navigation and control that
content creators and users have. For example, if a user finds a high-ranking PDF file, they will
only have visibility into your PDF document. Unless they specifically search for a website link,
they are highly unlikely to reach your website. This makes navigation control very poor and you
won’t be able to direct prospects to your website.

In addition to this, PDF files are designed differently compared to other forms of content and
may not be compatible with your content management system. This can make it difficult for you to manage your PDF file and control its contents.

Considering all these, it makes sense for content marketers to look at other options like blogs,
infographics, videos and more to make their content strategy a resounding success.