As a resource center of a website I am building, I have a library linking out to mosty .gov or .edu information pamphlets. I realize that Google needs text to understand the content of pages, but pdf files are prettier and more official looking. From an SEO point of view for my library pages, am I wrong to link to pdf versions of pamphlets, if the html is also available?
Who are they targeted to? For example, .gov sites in the USA are required to comply with Section 508 accessibility design for their sites and this is why they offer resources in several alternative formats like .pdf. Search engines aren't the only end "user" who needs text to understand content. Consider, too, that some colleges and universities purposely code for at least WCAG2.0 accessibility compliance for their public facing pages because they serve special needs people. I would offer both versions and label each choice with the format, pages, and size if you know it.
"Cool urls never change", but try telling government sites that, especially in the UK. They're notoriously bad at keeping information in the same place for any length of time.
I would like to the html if it's available, because pdfs aren't meant for web consumption, are generally larger files, and may shut out the increasing percentage of mobile surfers. Mainly due to size and data limits, because I'm not sure about the capabilities of all the common phones. For instance, I can view pdfs on my wifi ereader, but they look awful.
I realize that Google needs text to understand the content of pages, but pdf files are prettier and more official looking.
Major search engines can read pdf text just fine-- unless the files involved are archaic low-budget pdfs that render everything as an image. In which case you've got one more reason to link to the html version. This in turn presumably has a link to the pdf if someone wants it.