Food & Drink Digital Marketing
Let’s talk about marketing for the food industry. Selling food and beverages these days means being able to broaden visibility for your brand across the digital space as well as in stores, brick-and-mortars, or to distributers. This is why building out your digital marketing for food and beverages can help grow traffic and conversions.
It’s not necessarily intuitive to incorporate a digital marketing strategy for food or food products, but online commerce has a lot to offer. In fact, business can use the same tactics for two different strategies: business-to-business or eCommerce to consumers. Fortunately digital marketing methods like search engine optimization and paid marketing can do both.
In 2019 eCommerce revenue for food and beverage amounted to $7.3 billion. And according to Statista, by 2024 that reach will grow to $8.5 billion. In the next 5 years, online sales for food from beverage digital marketing are expected to be 10X greater than they were in 2016.
According to eMarketer food is the fastest growing product category online, and last year it was expected to grow by 18% in the U.S. alone. The 2020 pandemic and social distancing habits are almost certain to explode that growth even further as shopping habits and grocery delivery continue to grow in the online world.
Online food and grocery shopping skews toward young, affluent and urban households. This style of shopping is more popular with early adopters in technology, but as this segment grows, and as that “technology” becomes the new norm, so will the need for food and beverage digital marketing.
Between 2007 and 2017, the proportion of grocery shoppers who’d shopped online for food grew from 3.9% to more than 23%. This is just another indicator that focusing efforts on digital marketing for food is critical for businesses with food products and a food focus.
Shopping online, even for food items, is rapidly becoming the new normal. Businesses in food retail and delivery will find that digital marketing for the food industry will be forced to follow suit.
Let’s go over how to start digital marketing for food and beverage brands:
Navigate to each section to learn more:
- Search engine optimization
- Food blogs & recipes
- EAT-ting better with content
- Google Shopping
- PPC search ads
- What about restaurants or grocery stores?
- Google My Business for local digital marketing
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is still one of the most prominent strategies for digital marketers.
SEO means optimizing your site and your site’s on-page factors to encourage better rankings in search results across Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. The prominence of search means that it’s one of the most popular marketing strategies in the world. That’s not all, SEO’s return on investment is higher than almost any other digital marketing strategy – largely because of relatively lower costs and its ability to give powerful growth month after month.
The average click-through-rate (CTR) for the #1 position on Google is close to 20%, that number drops to nearly 10% for the #2 spot. This means that without an SEO campaign, business in the food, beverage, or grocery industry could be missing out on tons of traffic!
So what are some SEO strategies for food digital marketing?
Finding the right target keywords for an effective food or beverage digital marketing campaign means targeting high-value, accurate, and low competition search terms. These keywords are going to depend on your business and your target shoppers, and they will of course vary from page-to-page as well.
Most importantly, your keywords should match with searcher intent, meaning you’ll want to find intent driven keywords that match closely with the content and subject matter of your site.
A common strategy is to use Google Ads’ Keyword Planner tool to get information about average search traffic. If you’re running a pay-per-click campaign across the Google ads network, this free tool can also be useful for finding keywords to start your recipe/food digital marketing campaign.
You can also use Google Trends to understand how search behavior changes over time for certain topics and specific keywords. Keywords don’t always have the same amount of searches from month-to-month, or year-to-year. Google Trends can help you make sure that you’re targeting keywords that are actually relevant to the public.
Another available tool is Answer The Public, which provides autocomplete data for Google search, giving clues about what common queries people might be exploring.
Finally, there’s Google’s Search Console. This tool is available free to marketers and is perfect for understanding what keywords you are already performing for and how your site’s high-value pages are appearing for certain search keywords. The most valuable resource in Search Console is the Performance report which provides information on clicks, impressions, and click-through-rate (CTR). This will help you understand how your food digital marketing campaign is working.
Let’s talk specifically about the sort of keywords to look at for recipes, food, and beverage digital marketing.
- Use high-value, high traffic keywords on high-value or top-level pages. Your top-level pages or main category pages will have more value in the eyes of Google’s indexing bots and will be more likely to rank for competitive keywords. Keywords like “cooking oil” or “buy rice online” are broad and competitive, narrowing down the scope of your keywords for other pages will yield better results.
- Find longtail keywords for your shoppers. Optimize the meta title tags and on-page content for each of your products with queries of 3 or more words that are tailored to that specific product. Understand which nouns, adjectives and variables people use when searching for food, beverages, recipes, and include these in your product title tags and descriptions. Understanding search habits will help you drive shoppers to your product pages.
- Avoid keyword cannibalization. It’s common for food sites and online retailers to have both product pages and recipe pages. But if you’re not careful with your food/beverage digital marketing keyword research, you could end up having multiple pages on the same topic compete for the same keywords. For example, “brown rice traditional recipes” or “traditional brown rice for sale” have very clear searcher intent and can help prevent pages from competing.
- Provide details. For eCommerce sites selling food, groceries, wholesale food items, commercial kitchen supplies etc. product info and technical details can be important. Include info like measurements, weight, packaging, sizes, or other product variants in your keyword research. Especially for distributors or B2B food businesses.
Take a look at the top search terms in food & beverage by average search volume from WordStream.
3 Out of the 4 most popular food related keywords come from searchers looking for food near them. The top 25 indicate searchers at the top of the search funnel for equipment, services, and industry information meaning that food digital marketing offers business growth opportunities for eCommerce, content creators, and business-to-business organizations.
For groceries for food retailers, checkout Google Trends too see how search behavior has changed over time for food and food products. It shows growth overall, over time, for keywords related to online groceries, food delivery, and the food industry.
Meta Title Tags
Page title-tags are one of the most important search ranking signals, indicating to both search engines and shoppers what the page is about. This means that keyword research and following title-tag best practices will be important.
A good food and beverage digital marketing campaign means an SEO strategy that places the right keywords with the right pages.
First you want to make sure your title tags are not too long. Title tags should not exceed 50-60 characters in length, otherwise they might be truncated in the SERP by Google or Bing. For food products or groceries with specific titles this can be tricky. Long title tags won’t hurt your ranking, but can hinder CTR.
Here are a few format strategies for about building a page title:
- Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Branding
- Target Keyword 1 | Target Keyword 2 | Branding
- Target Keywords 1 & 2 – Branding!
- Target Keyword 1 (and Target Keyword 2)
- Target Keywords 1, 2, 3 & 4 | For Sale
- Including Target Keywords In a Sentence | Branding
It’s good to know that characters like hyphens (-), ampersands (&), plus signs, straight-pipes (|), commas, and periods can all be used safely in title tags. These can be helpful for building out consistency and clarity in your food/beverage SEO. In fact special characters can help you include important additional information like weights, volumes, packing, dietary information, branding etc.
Here’s why this tip is important if you want SEO to be a part of your food digital marketing strategy: A title like the one below is far more descriptive and is more likely to garner additional clicks from long-tail and specific searches like “garlic infused cooking spray” or “3.7 oz. cooking spray,” or “4.7 oz. avocado oil spray.”
A more plain title tag like “Garlic Avocado Oil Spray” will rank for a narrower, more competitive, collection of keywords – and will likely have a lower CTR as well.
Then there’s intent driven keywords like “where to buy.” Digital marketing for food industry keywords is unique because it’s an industry for products where freshness matters or where people might need stuff the same day.
“Where to buy” usually indicates that people are people are looking for a location near them where they can walk into the store and get what they want immediately.
Often, targeting high-traffic alone keywords isn’t the best strategy. Instead you’ll want a well-run keyword research strategy that uses professional techniques to makes sure you can target better traffic.
Take a look at these example search terms and think about how they might look like as variants of search terms for your food digital marketing strategy:
- “food near me”
- “food market near me”
- “pre packaged sandwiches wholesale”
- “food magazine”
- “food from china”
- “top sirloin vs filet mignon”
- “food you can make at home”
- “6 quart sanitizer bucket”
- “Jennifer garners shrimp and orzo”
- “Texas cabbage prices”
- “food delivery”
As you can see there are searches for almost any topic and searches that relate to practically any business or product. Building out digital marketing for food products and food industry services will require a keyword research strategy than can help you create high-quality meta data.
Food blogs & recipes
What about digital marketing for food and beverage recipes or blogs? Blogs, informational pages, and recipes are a great way to add an additional channel for site traffic. For food digital marketing in eCommerce, it’s can be hard to expand reach without growing a full pull-marketing effort based on content and inbound interest.
So what does inbound mean here? By adding blogs/recipes to your site you can help net traffic that you may not be able to otherwise using only product based keywords. You can also increase brand recognition and grow shopper loyalty buy increasing your visibility in general. You gain traffic with content that people are actually interested in.
For SEO you should approach these sort of pages slightly differently.
Here it’s a good idea to remember the human element for title tags that are targeted not just for search algorithms, but to interest readers. In this way more creative title-tags can help you target more accurate keywords and to hopefully grow in organic traffic.
For example, a poor title tag might give scant detail about the recipe, or worst of all, fail to make it sound appealing. The title tag below fails to even mention the word “recipe” and doesn’t provide any information on other ingredients, style, or preparation.
The truth is though, that for most people, search queries like “olive and ricotta crostini” are enough to imply a recipe. And Google understands this, a search for phrases like this brings up tons of recipes. But a more descriptive or refined title can provide even better results!
A better one might look like “Olive Salad and Ricotta Crostini Recipe | Brand Name” (combining the suggestions we outlined above).
Structured Data for Food & Beverage Digital Marketing
Structured data (also known as schema markup) is a form of markup data that can be placed in your site code to give search engines more information about elements of your site.
For some businesses, schema markup offers a way of giving your food digital marketing campaign an edge – and it can be applied to wholesale products, eCommerce, blogs, recipes, and more. What it does is provide extra info that can change the appearance of certain pages in Google search results with markup that provides searchers extra information.
Here’s how you can get your recipes on Google and how to expand the reach of your product pages with digital marketing techniques for food industry products.
First, learn how you can add structured data to your page.
- Add the required properties on your site/pages. Your developer will be able to do this with JSON-LD, Microdata, or RDFa.
- Follow Google’s guidance on applying structured data for recipes using the “Recipe” structured data format: including image, and name of recipe as well as optional items like rating, author, cooking time, date published, recipe ingredients, etc.
- Test your pages with structured data in the Google URL Inspection Tool to test how Google sees the page.
For restaurant sites and online menu information, there is schema markup available as well. Schema.org gives information on how to markup menu items including structured data for: menu items, nutritional information, diet restrictions, and more.
And of course, there’s structured data designed to help with food digital marketing on eCommerce sites. You can add markup to your product pages so that Google can provide detailed product information in rich search results — including Google Images. Users can see price, availability, and review ratings right in search results.
EAT-ing better with content
There’s another important element in SEO for a better food digital marketing strategy. That is content.
Content marketing means growing and generating traffic through high-value, user focused content. Most food and beverage digital marketers and food industry businesses already know why content marketing is so important. Not only can it help with pull marketing, but also SEO.
Google has been telling us that producing high quality content is most important. So much so, it even added an entire section on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) to its Search Quality Guidelines in 2018 to help give search marketers an idea of how to focus their content efforts. This means that writing EAT content for Google SEO is a key part of why content marketing is so important.
Writing better, EAT focused content for Google SEO means that your brand will look better to your shoppers.
This ties in with the notion of searcher intent involved with good food/beverage/grocery digital marketing. The goal with high EAT content is to focus meeting the true needs of your shoppers by offering content that exactly matches with motivation behind each search query.
Here’s what to aim for with EAT:
- Demonstrate a high level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) to readers.
- Provide a satisfying amount of high-quality main content, including a descriptive or helpful title. Don’t inflate, mislead, or click-bait. Describe your food products, recipes, or services in a way that is thorough.
- Satisfy visitors with website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information. People want to know who you are to know your business is legitimate! (Set up complete and helpful contact pages, about pages, FAQ pages, and more.)
- Have a positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the main content on the page.
The Google Shopping tab is a way for searchers to shop through products directly on the Google interface. This marketplace allows businesses to display and sell their products off-site and is a great way to expand your food digital market strategy by placing items directly on the Google search engine results page (SERP).
Originally products could only be placed here as paid ads through Google’s Merchant Center, but now the search leader has opened up Shopping results to include free organic listings as well. You can use Google Shopping to expand both your organic search presence and to expand your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising strategy.
This means that you can create a food digital marketing campaign for products like canned goods, wholesale kitchen supplies, restaurant equipment, and more. With ads your Google Shopping presence is determined with a combination of algorithmic rankings and your keyword bidding strategy.
With Google shopping you can get 3 kinds of results:
- Regular Product Shopping results that appear in the product listing section under the main “Shopping” tab.
- Showcase Shopping results. These allow marketers to showcase a range of their products for a single broad search term, in affect showcasing their full range of options.
- Local inventory ads that provide data on products available at local physical stores.
To get your products on Shopping, first you need to create a Merchant Center account with Google. There you can upload your product info to set up a campaign that includes information like:
- Food product IDs (like a SKU number)
- Product titles that accurately describe the food/cooking item and that match the title on the landing page
- An accurate product description
- A link to the product’s landing page on a verified domain
- A link to the product image
- Product stock info/availability
- Accurate product pricing that matches the pricing on the product landing page.
- Branding for the food product (excluding books, movies, recordings)
- A valid GTIN as defined by official GS1 requirements
PPC search ads
Pay-per-click search ads give you the opportunity to push your food/beverage/cooking pages or products straight to the top of Google. With ads you can bid for the chance to have your ads appear for certain search terms – only paying a small amount for every click (thus the name).
PPC search ads have the benefits of getting results quickly and boast a generally higher click-through-rate. Plus the Google Ads suite of tools allows you to target specific, high-value search terms, custom audiences, regions, and more.
Plus as the 2020 pandemic forces people to rely more on online shopping, search ads offers a big opportunity in a somewhat non-traditional marketing space.
Here’s how paid search ads can help digital marketing for food products:
- When releasing new food products, flavors, styles, etc.
- To generate cash-flow or sales quickly (unlike SEO, paid ads bring in results almost immediately)
- During holidays, or seasonal events, or to take advantage of food trends
- To help clear out product stock before the end of a season
- Even just in general, to subsidize a multi-channel food/beverage digital marketing strategy
Plus, like we described before, with a Google Ads campaign you can expand your paid ads across other Google services like Google Shopping.
Just like with SEO, using search ads for your food and beverage digital marketing campaign means that you’ll have to set up a professional campaign built out for the specific needs of your business. A big part of this is keyword research where you can discover the high-value keywords that you want to target.
You’ll also want to create ads that are accurate, honest, and tailored for your customers and that set apart your products. Once your ads are created and running you’ll be able to monitor results in your Google Ads account to optimize budget, add negative keywords, customize ad groups, and to refine your strategy for optimal results.
Because food focused digital marketing hinges on different styles of shopping habits, using data feedback from your ads campaign will be important!
What about restaurants or grocery stores?
Google Ads location targeting allows you to target locations for where your ads will appear to searchers. This means you can aim for certain countries, areas within a country, a radius around a location, or location groups, which can include places of interest, your business locations, or tiered demographics.
For brick-and-mortar businesses as well as businesses that want to drive walk-ins as a part of their food digital marketing, this can be important. Particularly with delivery services, grocery-markets/online grocery services, and restaurants.
Be sure to target an area where your customers are, think beyond just the location where your business is located. Think about where and how far your customers are willing to commute from.
For Google ads your location options are usually located in the “Campaigns” area, under “Settings” depending on which level of geo-focus you are going for.
Refer to Google’s guidance on geotargeted ads for more information!
Google My Business for local digital marketing
Google My Business is a free platform that allows you to set up an account for business listings across Google’s network. Mainly it lets you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps.
An important step in digital marketing for the food industry or for physical businesses like restaurants is to set up and claim your local business in services like Google Maps. Having a Google My Business set up properly can increase your chances of appearing in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings in general (including the knowledge panel).
These special search features can increase your visibility and for grocery stores, markets, shop, restaurants etc. it can be critical for local business and foot traffic.
Get started verifying your business and set up your information with a Google My Business account for local SEO and advertising.
When setting your GMB, an important thing to remember is proper categorization and tagging when you’re creating your Google My Business page.
Secondly, your name and location can have a huge effect on your local listing rank. Be sure to include your proper NAP (name, address, phone number) in your business listings.
Get more information about food digital marketing by contacting Radd. Our team can help you set up a digital marketing campaign for food products and the food service industry with a range of professional SEM services.