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SEO for Food Businesses: Getting Noticed in the Culinary World


The first thing we need to do is understand what SEO actually is and why it’s so important to the food industry. According to Dispatch Marketing, SEO is “the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.” SEO has developed into an essential marketing tool for businesses because of the increasing importance placed on web presence in modern-day consumerism. In the culinary world, this means promoting a restaurant website to get it on that all-important first page of search engine results. Most people will select one of the first couple results of a search, so it’s important to have your webpage appear early on. But why is SEO service important to the food industry? SEO has been shown to be much more cost-effective than traditional marketing and advertising and has been proven to generate a better return on investment. Improving SEO can give small restaurants a chance to compete with some of the larger restaurant chains. With the right SEO strategy, any small restaurant with a website can climb up the search engine ranks and be noticed by a larger audience.

Importance of SEO for food businesses

The number of catering and food businesses is on the up and up. With more and more ‘foodies’ wanting to taste new dishes and indulging in cool and unique hotspots, the culinary industry is booming. Whether you are a business that sells sauces, a food truck, or a 5-star cuisine restaurant, being popular among the masses is a universal goal. All of these various businesses will try to make the best product and reach a large amount of people. And the target is right there, every year billions of searches are made online to acquire new culinary ideas and tastes. Additionally, it is no secret that the internet is the first place where consumers research and locate new food providers. Roughly, 75% of foodservice products are ordered online and the primary way of locating food on the internet is through a search engine. With this being said, it will be very difficult to taste success without having a significant presence online. At the end of the day, the primary goal for a food business is to appeal to its target customer and to sell a product. Time and time again, statistics have proven that the top drivers of consumer behavior are marketing and personal appeal. So the question is how to effectively appeal to the consumer and entice them to try new things? SEO is a fundamental way of increasing the amount of traffic to your website and a means of getting a brand in front of the right people. With the correct usage of SEO, food businesses can increase the amount of traffic to their site and in turn create more revenue for their product.

Optimizing Website Content

Once the list has been constructed, you need to consider the placement of these keywords in order to effectively optimize them. A quality SEO copywriter will be able to strategically place keywords into content with little effort to make the keywords seem natural and subtle to the reader while maintaining search engines. This is called “writing for search engines,” and it does take practice to get right. A good tip for beginners is to find the keywords you want and write the content around them. This makes it much easier to subtly place them in with some thought.

Creating highly targeted and relevant keywords will bring a higher conversion rate from the added traffic to your site. You need to think of the terms in which someone is most likely to type into a search engine in order to find your website. Good keywords are short and to the point, not too broad and not too specific. If your food business specializes in cakes, you do not want to target the keyword “cake” as it is too broad and you will not attract the right amount of traffic. Instead, target something more specific such as “birthday cakes” or “cakes delivered”. These keyword terms are easier to rank for because they are more specific and less competitive. Keyword research should always be the starting point of your content creation and should be created as a list and maintained over time.

The way in which you construct and create your website content can be the difference between an increase in revenue and staying exactly where you are. When people search for websites, they are looking for information and answers to their questions, and they want these answers quickly. Website content is what provides the answers but must also give something to the reader, and this is where keywords come into play. Keywords are what people type into the search engine in order to find what they are looking for. They are the beginning of the searching process and play a vital role in the process of optimization. The right keywords will bring your target audience to your website quickly and effectively. Keyword optimization is about determining which keywords are likely to bring the most visitors to your site and optimizing those keywords into your site’s content.

Keyword research and optimization

Following this, keywords that are thought to be most successful can be tested using various keyword research tools. There are a variety of free and paid tools that can be used to test keywords and play a vital role in the success of a campaign. Many keyword research tools can provide information on how many times a specific keyword has been searched to give an idea of the volume of traffic it could bring in. Tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool provide suggestions for keywords and also provide an idea of how competitive it will be to rank well for that keyword. This is also important to note, as trying to rank for very competitive keywords can prove to be very difficult.

Keyword research is the first and most important step in optimizing your website. Content containing the right keywords should be created so the website ranks well on search engines and brings in the right traffic. Knowing what the best keywords are and using them correctly will provide more traffic to the website and better understand what the consumers are looking for. Therefore, making changes to the keywords used on a website can have a dramatic effect on the amount of traffic the website gets and the conversion rate for the traffic. Any changes to keywords should be tracked and the effects on search traffic and the website’s rank should be measured. The first step to keyword research is to make a list of words and phrases that are relevant to the food business and the products that are being sold.

Creating high-quality and engaging content

The main point behind SEO writing is to produce high quality and unique content. The interesting thing about search engine optimization is that it is quite easy to optimize for search engines, and create a top quality site at the same time. It would be a waste of time and energy to create substandard content just for the sake of search engine hits. The process of writing high quality content for your site is a key concept in SEO writing as it will bring people to your site time and time again. This can be achieved in a number of different ways. A very effective technique is to create a blog on your website. This is an easy way to introduce new and fresh content to your site. Blogs can be about anything you like and can involve the whole community. A good example of a site which uses a blog effectively is the Moneysupermarket.com. The insurance section of this site has a variety of different well written blogs. This is an excellent way to maintain customer interest; there is nothing to say that your blog cannot be humorous at times, being serious all the time can often be quite monotonous. It is important to note that blogs often set a tone for your website, if you have an upbeat blog it is likely that people will revisit your site to read future blogs.

Optimizing meta tags and descriptions

This is an example of a title tag in the source code and the result when your search appears on Google.

A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. Title tags are displayed on the search engine result pages and usually display as the clickable head link to a search listing. Title tags are used to tell search engines what the topic of a webpage is. Title tags must be placed inside the <head></head> part of the HTML code.

Meta tags and descriptions are used to increase the quality and quantity of your website traffic from the search engines. This is a great chance to increase the amount of keywords which will lead to the website and also to website deep pages. Meta tags and descriptions are not seen on the website itself, but only in the HTML code or in the ‘source’ code of the website, so they can be easily overlooked by someone who is updating content on the website. They do not have to be long in length and keep within the character limit, but if they are going to be the first thing people see when they visit your website from a search engine, then you should make it inviting. You can also attach an image as a thumbnail to a description.

Local SEO Strategies

Try your best to complete as many sections and fill out as much information as possible when setting up your GMB listing. The more information you provide, the better your listing will be. Periodically make GMB posts and updates to keep your listing fresh and up to date. GMB offers plenty of tracking data, so monitor your listing’s performance and data to optimize it further. A well-optimized GMB listing will have a better chance of ranking and appearing to potential customers and clients, and will ultimately drive more traffic to your website and business.

Upload high-quality photos and an image of your business logo as well. In the product section, upload photos of your food and drinks. In the service section, list the services related to what your business does. You should also include a comprehensive introduction to your business, and keep in mind to include your targeted keywords and location within your introduction. If you offer any special promotions or events, do not forget to include this in the posts section.

To optimize your GMB listing, ensure that your business name, address, and phone number are correct and updated, and are consistent with what is listed on your website. In the business category section, choose a category closest to your business and choose the fewest number of categories possible that still describe your business.

Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to promote your business profile and website on Google Search and Maps. With a well-optimized GMB listing, you can increase your chances of appearing in the local pack, local finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings in general.

Claiming and optimizing Google My Business listing

The first step in executing a local SEO strategy is to claim and verify a Google My Business listing. This is critical for getting a business on Google local search results. Why does this matter? A business that is easier to find is easier to evaluate. More consumers in this digital age turn to online evaluation before making a purchase. For example, have you ever heard of a restaurant from a friend then looked it up online? Finding a business on Google and being able to look up crucial information such as address, hours, ratings, and reviews can give consumers a good understanding of the business even before setting foot inside the door. Information is becoming increasingly important in growing consumer trust and confidence. A properly executed GMB listing can give the business an edge on their competition in drawing in potential customers. Another consideration is mobile internet use. With the rise of smartphones and other mobile devices, more and more consumers are searching for local businesses on the go. Have you ever been out and about and had the urge to eat a specific type of food only to realize you don’t know where the nearest place to get it is? You pull out your phone and search for the type of restaurant to find a place around you. A properly optimized GMB listing can bring a business to the top of mobile search results in this situation and result in more sales from impulsive consumers. With Google Maps integration, when a potential customer is in a small radius around the business, searching for relevant terms, the listing will also appear on the map alongside the regular search results. This can further help draw in nearby consumers who are using the internet looking for a specific type of food at that very moment.

Getting positive online reviews

The first step is to simply provide a fantastic service and great food. Do this, and you’ll not only create a better community around your business, you’ll increase the chances of getting a natural stream of reviews from your customers. Satisfied customers often take the initiative and leave reviews; it’s only a matter of getting them to do so. Offering an excellent service is the foundation, and a proactive review management strategy will amplify your success.

The power of positive customer reviews should never be underestimated. They offer great potential for businesses to gain the trust of local consumers, earn high online visibility, and develop a steady stream of search traffic. While some of these benefits will come about naturally as you provide a good service and fantastic food, some will depend on review acquisition and review management. For the foreseeable future, getting positive reviews is essential for the local businesses in the food industry. This section will help you put together a review acquisition strategy that works.

Utilizing local keywords and location-specific content

Any reviews generated or backlinks you’ve created should be crawled for and indexed by search engines. Always be sure to monitor reviews and other user-generated content as well. With local SEO, tactics to improve local rankings may be slow, but the payoff is worth it and can really make a difference for small businesses.

Another step to optimizing for local SEO is getting positive online reviews. Review signals contribute to about seven percent of what makes up local pack ranking factors, so positive reviews can really help improve your local pack rankings. You can encourage people to leave reviews by creating a link that customers can click on to write a review of your business and giving them the URL.

When optimizing for GMB, it is essential to have the name, address, and phone number of your business consistent with what is listed on your website. That needs to be kept consistent with what’s listed on local directories as well. Local directories are online lists of businesses, like the White Pages. It is important to keep directories consistent with your name, address, and phone number. Any discrepancies can negatively impact your local rankings.

One of the easiest first steps into local SEO is claiming your Google My Business listing. GMB is a free tool that Google provides to manage your business information across Google Search and Maps. A well-optimized GMB listing can also lead to top rankings in local pack results. The local pack is a pack of highlighted businesses that appear when a user makes a local online search. For example, if someone searched “steak house New Orleans,” the highlighted businesses that appear first are the local pack.

Local search is the use of sites like Google Search, Bing, etc. when people search for products or services in their area. Locally, the New Orleans area, people turn to search engines more and more to find restaurants and dining options. Optimizing for local SEO can really make a difference, especially for smaller establishments and those just starting to build their web presence.

Building local citations and backlinks

The final step is to suggest to citation sources to create a backlink to your website. This can be done through contacting the citation source or utilizing an account that has been created at the citation source. This will be converted into a backlink when we begin the step of backlink building.

Step two to creating local citations is identifying additional citation sources, through using sources including regional directories and universal business registration services. It is important to create additional citations over time rather than all at once. This shows steady business information change and can be a factor in improving your local search results.

It is important to achieve high citation completion rates on quality sources, without overdoing it. Using universal business registration services, such as WhiteSpark, to save the information for future reference is an easy way to keep track of your citations. A common practice in the SEO industry is to outsource citation submission to cheap sources, utilizing a mix of automation and cheap labor. These citations are low quality and not very valuable, contributing to a waste of money.

Step one to creating local citations is gathering your business information. It is vital that this information is consistent with the information on your website. The next step is locating high-quality sources to submit your citation to. Depending on the country, there should be a handful of high authority citation sources available. Standard sources include Yelp, YellowPages, Citysearch, and Superpages. Upon submission, it is vital that this information is again consistent with the information on your website.

A backlink is a link to your website from another. Local backlinks are backlinks requested from locally focused websites; this can be quite a challenge, sometimes requiring the good old-fashioned ‘salesman’ techniques. Getting quality backlinks to your website demonstrates search engines that your site is important.

Building local citations and backlinks constitutes a critical task in the process of influencing a website’s rankings in local search engine results. A local citation is any mention of your business on the web; it is any combination of your company name, phone number, address, zip or postal code, and website address. Citations in search engine optimization are a key factor in improving your local search results. Not only do we create high-quality citations from sources such as Yelp, Citysearch, and YellowPages, but we will also go the extra mile to create additional citations from local directories.

Social Media and Online Presence

By starting a discussion in relevant LinkedIn groups and including a link to your site, this can increase referral traffic, but its primary goal is to develop the site’s authority in a particular industry. Keep in mind that this tactic should not be overused, and if the blog or brand has an underdeveloped presence in a particular industry, it may not be worth the time and effort.

In order to increase traffic to your site, shared content should be repurposed as an update, with a potential incentive of a discussion. Oftentimes, this tactic can pique interest with a specific group and can tend to be more effective with whitepaper or webinar content. On the other hand, this strategy would not necessarily be an ideal approach to engage with online communities regarding B2C content but is still a functional method for general site promotion.

Leverage LinkedIn by identifying and joining relevant groups, seeing as LinkedIn has groups for nearly every industry, and comments made within these communities may be useful. Often times, the most popular groups can have hundreds of thousands of members, which can provide exposure to your brand or blog. These large groups can also be opportunities for guest blogging or freelance work.

Leveraging social media platforms for SEO

Another powerful way to leverage social media for SEO is to make a contest campaign and/or promotional event. Contests stimulate viewer participation, conversation, and content generation. These are all very powerful tools for increasing SEO. Generous winners may also write about or link your website in the future. This develops newly created content and backlinks! Step one is to decide what type of contest you’d like to run and create a set of contest rules. It’s important to keep it related to your niche so that the new traffic coming in is targeted. Using a third-party contest app is very effective as it creates a landing page for your contest with backlinks to your site and is very share-friendly. After the contest is launched, participants will begin presenting user-generated content. This content is often shared between family and friends and if interesting enough, could go viral. User-generated content is great for developing brand-related keywords and another way to keep participants engaged is to give encouragement and/or feedback. This opens a channel of communication and could allow you to reach out to various influencers in your niche. Their involvement could lead to further increased SEO!

A widely known confectionery company by the name of Jelly Belly started a blog about 2 years ago. The content contains a wide array of candy and confectionery-related dishes, many of which are quite colorful and complex. The company began sharing these recipes to the Jelly Belly Facebook and Twitter pages. Initial results showed a significant spike in views on the recipes that were being posted. After a few weeks, Jelly Belly had these posts translated into various foreign languages in order to appeal to a wider audience. This again resulted in another tangible spike in web traffic from foreign countries. This is a prime example of leveraging social media platforms to increase viewership and SEO through content sharing.

Social media and search engine optimization have never been more crucial for increasing web traffic and credibility. Utilizing social media platforms can provide an extensive influx of potential viewers and customers if used correctly. Sharing food-related content with friends and followers will result in increased traffic. Think of it as a snowball effect, in that if the content you share is good, your friends will share it too, thus expanding your audience. A larger audience will result in more views and potential links to your site, both of which are crucial to search engine optimization.

Sharing visually appealing food content

There are two main types of content that are going to build your brand on social media: visually appealing content and engaging content. Our focus here is on the visual content. The growth and reach of Instagram and Pinterest prove that this is the type of content that is most engaging in the food world. The idea here is to produce and share images that are a cut above the competition. This doesn’t mean that your food actually has to look better – it just needs to appear visually stunning in your images. As any food stylist will tell you, the perfect version of a dish is often undercooked, burnt, or otherwise inedible. You will want to pick your battles as to what food is worth preparing in the most visually appealing way possible. If you’re running a pizzeria, that might mean getting fantastic shots of your pizza. But maybe you have to accept that your calzones are never going to look photogenic. In that case, focus your efforts on the pizza. The main idea here is that you’re not just documenting your food – you’re providing eye candy that will drive interest in your brand. So what specific things can you do to improve your food photography? These topics are beyond the scope of this article, but learning the basics of photographic composition, lighting, and depth of field are essential. Beyond that, your success will mostly depend on practice and the sheer volume of shots taken. Professional photographers will often take hundreds or even thousands of shots to get a single ad-worthy image.

Engaging with online communities and influencers

On forums, blogs, and social media, there are vast communities that exist purely to share and discuss recipes, opinions on certain foods/restaurants, and various other culinary delights. Engaging with such communities can be a great way of promoting yourself and your site. Don’t just go in all guns blazing and spam the URL to your site in every post. You need to take the time to integrate yourself and genuinely contribute to the community. Join in on discussions, share some of your own recipes, and create posts asking for advice on your own cooking. Once you’ve built up a good reputation within the community, then you can start to pull in some traffic. Whether you do this through including your URL in your signatures, asking a site admin if you can write a guest post, or perhaps buying some advertising. What path you decide to take will largely depend on the community itself and your relationship with it. If they know you and respect you, then you may be able to get away with the guest post option. But if you’re just seen as the new guy who’s been constantly posting his URL, then advertising may be a better option. Between the food blogging community, there may also be some networking opportunities between sites. For example, you could create a huge recipe exchange project where each blog writes a unique recipe and links to someone else’s site, and in turn, someone has to write a guest post of your recipe. The possibilities are endless, so get chatting and see what you can come up with. A slightly more straightforward method may be to locate blogs with superior PageRank and offer to do some SEO work in exchange for getting your site promoted. The final thing to remember is the opportunity for potential backlinks that can be obtained in these sorts of communities, so make sure you don’t miss them.

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