• Steven Johnson

The Ultimate SEO Food Industry Guide

By now, you should be all geared up and ready to be churning out content for your food business's website. But, before you get started, we must touch on search engine optimization (SEO).

What is SEO?

SEO is how you craft your content so that Google, Bing, and any other search engine recognizes and rank your website high in their search engine results. You do this by including the most relevant keywords that your audience searches for in your content. Then, position them in a manner that allows the search engines to see them.

Every company wants to rank on the first page of search results. As you can imagine, this is very difficult, if not impossible, in most cases. But, with some careful research and using SEO best practices, it's not impossible.

Using the Right Keywords

Understanding your audience is essential not only for what kind of content you create but also for making that content accessible through SEO. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly.

The first thing you will want to do is subscribe to a keyword tracking tool, which there are tons to choose from out there. My personal favorites are Ubersuggest and Answer the Public. Most companies that offer keyword tracking tools also provide an array of website analytics, depending on your company's needs.

Next, your team will need to brainstorm what your customer is looking for when they do an online search. Using the keyword research tool of your choice, you'll research all the keywords and keyword phrases (2-3 words) that are most pertinent to your business.

For instance, an oven company would want to research "commercial ovens." Using the Ubersuggest tool, you'd see that the query "commercial ovens" has a search volume of 5,400 a month, which is pretty decent. However, the cost per click (CPC) is also relatively low, telling us that the search term doesn't convert that well. It has a 100 in the paid search difficulty section, which is the highest it can be.

All this points to relying on the keywords "commercial ovens" to get decent search results, and any organic traffic to your site is not a good plan.

This is where you or your marketing team need to dig into your customer avatar. Figure out what makes them tick and think of other oven-related search terms that might make sense.

Adding additional keywords to narrow your topic can also prove to be helpful. It's called long-tail keywords, and I'll go over those a bit later.

While you're brainstorming, think of why people turn to Google to search for things in the first place. There are three main things people are looking for on average.

1. Information

"Google it" has become the anthem of the 21st century. The internet is always the first place people turn to when they want an answer to a problem. So, what information does your customer avatar need?

Their searches will vary depending on what sector your food business occupies.

If you're a restaurant, region, type of cuisine, dining atmosphere, recipes, and special offers should be at the forefront of your mind.

The customer avatar of a B2C food company might be wondering more about ingredients, food sources, sustainability, packaging, production/processing methods, or history.

Prospects of B2B food companies will likely be searching for more in-depth, business-related information. Advancements in technology, market trends, news, industry reports, or company-specific information are all things to consider.

The informational content that your company provides doesn't always have to tie your company's product or service directly, but it should tie back to your company in some way.

For instance, it wouldn't make sense to have a blog article on your site that promotes sustainability when your company doesn't encourage sustainability itself. That's a classic bait and switch and is a great way to lose customers instead of gain them.

2. How-to/Tutorial Content

Information and help may seem like the same thing, but they are slightly different when it comes to internet searches.

A help query usually begins with "how to." It also doesn't always involve your product or even your company. However, like informational content, how-to, or tutorial content needs to be connected to your company somehow.

If someone searches "how to make fajitas," and you're a restaurant known for its fajitas, you might be able to capitalize on "How to make fajitas in 4 steps."

A search for "how to make homemade ice cream" could be an opportunity for a B2C food manufacturer that produces any of the ingredients involved in making ice cream.

B2B companies have the most leeway when it comes to creating relevant how-to content. A good example is this blog post from Cafco Services, an HVAC, hot-line, refrigeration outfitting, and repair service. I google-searched "how to troubleshoot industrial fryers," and this blog post populated. Even though Cafco Services doesn't make fryers, they work with them indirectly, so the context makes sense.

With how-to and tutorial content, videos are the most popular form. However, optimizing video content for SEO is a little bit different than with written content.

Notes for Optimizing Video Content

If your business is producing video content that wants to rank through organic search, your best bet is to post them to YouTube. You'll want to optimize the videos to rank in YouTube search and Google search. You can do this all at once, but it can get pretty complicated.

Here's a great video by Ahrefs explaining how to optimize your videos to rank on Youtube and Google.

3. Entertainment

There's a fine line between engaging and entertaining when it comes to the content you produce. It's tough to say what a person might find entertaining. Hopefully, you can find a way to create some informational, how-to content that is also entertaining.

However, whenever people search for something entertaining, the last thing they want is for the content to be a sales pitch in disguise. So, it can be hard to make a connection between your company and entertainment.

Often, companies avoid the entertainment factor altogether and try to go all work and no play, especially in the B2B realm. But the thing to remember is that the overall experience with food is supposed to be enjoyable and fun. It brings families and friends together.

When your company is researching keywords for your content, try and remember what people are looking for. Some questions to consider are:

  • What are parents looking for in terms of food that can help them with their kids?

  • What can we add to our recipes or other tutorial content to make it stand out?

  • What is trending, and how does it tie into our company?

  • How would an influencer approach this content?

Video is a clear choice on how to make your content more entertaining. However, there are other forms, such as infographics and memes, that companies can explore.

How to Use Keywords Within Content

You've done your research and have your keywords. SEO gurus call placing keywords in various areas of content "tagging." Tagging involves a bit of know-how if you're doing it yourself. However, some website building platforms such as Squarespace or Wix take care of the tagging for you. If you have a WordPress site or other medium that is more DIY when it comes to coding, Moz and Yoast offer plug-ins to handle tagging for you.

There are seven places to use keywords so that search engines recognize them.

  1. Title Tags

  2. Meta Descriptions tags

  3. Heading tags

  4. Image tags (alt tags)

  5. Anchor Text

  6. Content Text

  7. The URL

  8. Title Tags

1) Title Tags

Title tags involve the headlines of your content. It tells the search engines what your content is about in a way it can understand. Like with any piece of content, your headlines should tell your audience what they can expect while grabbing their attention in a valuable and unique way. But, make sure you keep your overall headline sort. SEO best practices recommend having a title tag of under 60 characters to populate in the search results fully.

2) Meta Descriptions

The meta description is 160 characters that best sums up your content piece. It should feature the same keywords as your title. It needs to be well-written and concise copy that will motivate the searcher to click. In the example below, the blue link is the title tag, and the description below is the meta tag. You'll notice that the keywords "write a food review" are in both.

3) Heading Tags

Heading tags don't hold as much weight with search engines as they used to. Their primary purpose is to organize information for the user. Header tags are referred to in code-speak as "H" tags and range from h1 to h5 or higher depending on the content's structure. The "Heading Tags" above would be classified as an h3 tag.

Where header tags do come into play is to help search engines create snippets. Sometimes Google and other search engines will return snippets like the one below. It's because the content creator has included h1 tags with all of their main content points. They also tie in easily with the title tag and meta descriptions so that the Google spiders can recognize them.

4) Image Tags (Alt text)

There's some controversy among SEO experts if the text you use to describe your images within your content (alternative or alt text) will provide you with better organic search results. The main thing to remember with SEO is that search engines are programmed to return pages that deliver the best experience for the user.

Therefore, you should also be keeping this in mind when optimizing your site. Alt text that describes images is designed to help blind and visually impaired people know what's on the screen. So naturally, the alt text of an image SHOULD correctly describe the image and not merely repeat your title tags.

However, people break the rules in their desire to be noticed by Google. In the snippet above, the row of images above on the top is the Google image results.

My initial query was "how to write a food review."

Those images were the top results returned, the pizza being the one tied to the snippet. Meaning, people are using alt text to optimize photos instead of their original intent.

With that said, when it comes to food, if you're correctly tagging your images, your photos should have a good chance to rank since you'll likely be describing food or a related item.

I would advise against tagging an image of a steak with "top 3 foods for the keto diet" if your steak photo is from an online menu. Context, like always, is vital. For both SEO and the experience of the user.

5) Anchor Text

One thing that can boost your search results ranking is linking out to high-quality sources of other content. Anchor text tells search engines that your content connects to another source of trusted information and is essential. The thing is, linking out to other sites doesn't help your rankings. Instead, it helps rank the website you link out to.

On the flip side, you can link to your site as much as you want. Connecting to your original content will help other pages on your website rank while providing the user with more valuable content.

In either case, you're going to want to create a hyperlink with anchor text that tells the search engines that the links are relevant and useful. The link I used earlier, "how to optimize or videos to rank on YouTube and Google," is a perfect example. Creating a hyperlink with text explaining what the link is about will boost your rankings more than a link that says, "click here."

6) Content Text

When you are writing your content, remember the first rule that you should be creating an excellent user experience. Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing, but that's hard to do if you're using your keywords naturally throughout your text. A lot of experts say that 2-3% keyword density is ideal. Meaning, 2 to 3 uses of your keyword for every 100 words.

My advice would be to not worry about it too much. There are free keyword density checking tools out there that can tell the keyword density for a particular page. I would suggest as long as you're under 10%, you shouldn't have to worry about coming off as too spammy.

7) The URL

The cherry on top of the SEO sundae is having your page URL contain your keywords. Although your search rankings' effect is minimal, it can let people know what they are clicking on is trustworthy.

Moz.com has some helpful info about URLs in their SEO learning center, along with a handy best practices for URLs chart.

Long-Tail Keywords

As I mentioned earlier, long-tail keywords are additional keywords that narrow search results. There are fewer monthly searches, but the chance to rank is higher.

Long-tail keywords are likely what made me stand out among the thousands of other content marketing strategists out there and ultimately drew you to my site. I developed content that targeted the needs of food industry marketers. I didn't rely solely on me being a content marketing strategist to rank in search because I never could.

The goal for long-tail keyword phrases is you want a high cost per click (CPC) figure because that tells you it converts. You want a low SEO difficulty number, as well as a low-paid search difficulty.

With the food industry being one of the most competitive keywords, it's crucial to use long-tail keywords to target a smaller, more engaged audience.

The key is to remember why people are searching. Informative and how-to blog posts and videos are just a couple of ways to tie in long-tail keywords.

Get it Out There and Keep it Fresh.

Congratulations! You've created your content, optimized it for search engines, and have published it on your site. But it doesn't end there. Now get it out in front of people by any means necessary.

The first distribution channel should be your email list. After that, put it out on social media and cross your fingers for a lot of shares.

It's important to remember that this is all part of your content marketing strategy. As I mentioned in previous articles, content doesn't drive organic traffic instantly. It will take some time, so if you don't see instant results, don't go pulling it off your site.

The motto for content is, "try until it clicks." A piece of content that doesn't necessarily work the first go-around doesn't mean that it was terrible. There could be hundreds of reasons that it got overlooked. Your content competes with economic cycles, weather patterns, holidays, graduations, the entertainment industry, sports, and the hundreds of crazy news stories that break every day.

It would be best if you had a content calendar that plans future content and tracks the updating and republishing of old material.

Giving your old content a facelift by making it current (if necessary) and adding new images or other visual design elements is a way to reach people you missed the first time at almost zero cost.

You should also have a "greatest hits file." If the content was popular and is evergreen (it doesn't get dated), there's no rule stating it can't work more than once.

If your food business requires any search engine optimization for their current content or future content, I'd love to help. Please contact us to discuss your companies content goals.

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