Late last year I started eating “vegan” in an attempt to clear up some issues I was having with my stomach. Though most of those issues still have yet to resolve themselves I have enjoyed eating healthier and feeling cleaner. The hardest part about eating vegan is finding restaurants that have items on their menu that I can eat. I am not vegan in the sense that I need to know the carbon footprint of my salad or anything crazy like that, I just want to know where I can find food that I can eat. I cut out all meat and dairy in an attempt to find my trigger foods, the foods that are causing me problems.
If you search online, you can find plenty of vegan options in bigger cities such as San Francisco and Sacramento but what if you are looking for vegan friendly restaurants in Modesto, which is where I live? Modesto actually has over 200,000 residents so you would think that it would have options. Having lived here my entire life I have came to learn that though Modesto is a City, it has the mentality of a town.
Earlier today I almost posted to my personal Facebook about how local restaurants need to be better at marketing. It is not easy to find out what restaurants “currently” offer unless that restaurant is a chain and has the same menu nationwide. I decided not to post to Facebook because I wanted to make a point. The image below is a screenshot of my Google search when I was attempting to find vegan friendly restaurants in Modesto.
Notice that there are zero search results for actual restaurants. The only results are directories. Google recognizes that an actual website with relevant content to the search query is a better option than a directory website. This is why as a website designer I get excited when I find longtail search queries that are “untapped.” It is low hanging fruit that rarely anybody takes advantage of.
For example: One of my clients is a Liquor License Broker who started a new company which meant starting a new website. We built his website from scratch with no previous website or content leading to his company name. This is always tough because every other website that existed before his had more authority on the web than his does being brand new. To jump start the growth of traffic to his website I suggested we go after something else besides trying to rank for search terms like “liquor license” or “California liquor license.” It would be much too difficult to rank for terms such as those. I found that a lot of people were doing searches for the phrase “how much does a liquor license cost?” So we create a page and answered the question. See the image below and notice that even when we omit California from the search, our website ranks #2 out of 746,000 results.
I have found that most restaurants, even in the bigger cities, have horrible websites that do not solve the problem at hand. Restaurants make the mistake of assuming that people want to go to their website to get their address or see photos of their food but what about people who don’t know about your restaurant in the first place? If somebody already knows about your business, they don’t need your website. They can find your phone number from Yelp or by asking Siri on their iPhone. However, if you want to attract new business, you need a good website that helps to attract new customers by being findable. That website also needs to include content that can answer questions or provide solutions such as how to find “vegan friendly restaurants in Modesto.” Most of my clients do not take me completely serious when I tell them they need to do this even though many of them hired me as their website designer after finding me through one of these tactics. Obviously this blog is just an example of how any business could capture extra website traffic by thinking a little broader.
Now with out giving away to many of my tricks I will tell you that I get a lot of business from taking advantage of longtail search. I have been doing this since I first started back in website design in 1998 when you could put anything you want on your website and Google would rank you for it. I understood that when somebody is searching for something local they are not going to use a simple term because that would open them up to results for the whole world. If I am searching for “vegan restaurants” I am not going to use that as my search because I know that Google would return results for restaurants all over the United States and that is not what I am looking for. Longtail search is where it is at and it boggles my mind that marketers and website designers do not get this. So let’s see what happens with this post. I will return in a day or so and see how this page is ranking. In the mean while, I will continue the old fashioned way to try and find a local restaurant who has vegan friendly menu items by calling them on the phone.
I checked Google a couple of times 24 hours after this post went live and sure enough, I was listed on the first page. I waited an extra 24 hours to see if it would increase in rank or stay in the same place. See the screenshot below. I decided not to post to social networks or share this post so it would simply be Google ranking the page based on the content with out taking interest into account. It will be interesting to see if this post increases or decreases in rank over time as it gets shared online. I imagine I would have been able to rank much higher for this search phrase if my website actually had something to do with Vegan food.