CORPORATE REPORTING BEST PRACTICE: Combine web presence with an accompanying PDF


  • Get key data found by stakeholders, raters and rankers.
  • Get indexed by search engines (Google).
  • Address varied preferences for delivery formats.
  • Make information accessible for all audiences on all devices.


  • Think like your audience(s) and put the information where it is expected to be
    • Place or link to key financial and non-financial performance metrics on the investor relations web page; make it easy to find for web crawlers and analysts alike.
    • Have a separate page dedicated to showcasing corporate responsibility efforts.
    • Highlight diversity, equity and inclusion programs on the careers page.
  • Focus on SEO so search engines pick up the pages
    • Add meta tags, alt tags, title tags to help better describe what is on the page.
    • On a webpage, keywords can be placed in a certain hierarchy that make them more recognizable for SEO than a PDF would.
  • Include a PDF and optimize its searchability
    • Google scans the contents of PDF’s unless restricted, like a password protection, although it will never be as clean and effective as a webpage.
    • Incorporate SEO attributes within PDFs (Title, Author, Subject, Keywords).
    • Reduce file size as much as possible.
  • Consider ADA optimization especially if a high percentage of your audience is the general public
    • Accessibility can be improved simply by improving contrasts, updating tab orders, and adding alt tags to images.
    • PDFs—as well as any documents posted to your site—are required to meet accessibility standards
      • Most PDF’s are not optimized for ADA compliance.
      • Minimal added time is needed to optimize a PDF, only AFTER it is complete.
      • If you tab through a PDF, it should follow the headings and any links from top to bottom.

Keep in mind, it’s a balancing act

  • Users are able to edit the text on a PDF if they are not password protected. However, Google will NOT crawl a password protected document.
  • PDF’s are not as easy to read on a mobile device, whereas responsive websites are optimized for all sizes, making it easier to find information.


It comes down to which solution provides the most value (to your target audience), best results, and is future ready. A combination of webpage content with a PDF as a backup will always serve you best.

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