A few months back, I was trying to figure out just how to replicate the Olive Garden’s insanely amazing salad dressing, and the first thing I did was look at a copycat recipes cookbook given to me by my mother. The second thing I did was wonder why, as a person who spends so much time online, I didn’t think to just look it up online.
When I did, I was quite surprised to learn that Olive Garden puts recipes for their products on their site. I decided to see if some other big chains did the same thing, so I chose one of the most popular chains in town, P.F. Chang’s, and took a look. No recipes. Interesting, right?
Why Should You Care?
Let’s look at the searches for recipes so you’ll see why this was such a clever move.
A search for “Olive Garden recipes” returns over 6 million results, and guess who’s number one? That’s right: Olive Garden.
A search for “PF Changs recipes” gives you 244k results, and guess where P.F. Chang’s ranks? Number 6.
The number one result for that query is a page on Food.com; the number of unique linking domains to that page? Two. Dinky, right?
However, let’s look at just one more URL ranked above the P.F. Chang’s site so you can see why this matters:
The fifth result, a page from Damn Delicious, has 94 linking domains — 94 unique linking domains! Heck, some sites that do well online barely have half that number.
Wouldn’t you rather have those links than not have them?
For Olive Garden’s recipes page, there are 119 unique linking domains. Those are 119 domains that link to the site but wouldn’t if that recipes page didn’t exist. They are totally using resources that they have to get the links they deserve.
Now, if you offered a product, and a search query for it returned a copycat version on someone else’s site, wouldn’t you think, “Maybe I should have this info on my own site!”?
Sure, you can argue that giving away that info might make customers less likely to frequent a restaurant. I could point out that knowing how to make their fettuccine might mean I don’t go there for it — but then I’d remember that I am a busy person, and I really don’t feel like giving up all my guilty pleasures.
An Industry Spawned From Another One
Copycat recipes are big — big enough that they spawn cookbooks and entire sites devoted to them. Why ignore the chance to grab that market share?
Let’s take a brief look at California Pizza Kitchen.
They don’t list their recipes online, but they do have their own cookbooks on Amazon (and a landing page designed to take you there). They’re ranking number one for the term “California Pizza Kitchen recipes” with that, as you can see in the image above.
(They don’t have many unique linking domains pointing to that page, but they’re still number one in Google!)
How Does This Apply To You?
You probably aren’t the Olive Garden or P.F. Chang’s (or California Pizza Kitchen), so you may be wondering how all this applies to you.
The point here is that, no matter what your industry, you could be failing to capture traffic that is rightfully yours. Try asking yourself these questions:
- What do I have?
- What do people want from me?
- How can I give it to them?
Use the keyword tool of your choice to see which keywords people are searching on that mention your brand, product or service. From there, figure out which ones you’re not addressing with existing content. (Make sure you get an idea of their potential by looking at search volume, too.)
Check what topics related to your business are being talked about across the web. I love IceRocket for this — you can search blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or all of those at once.
Twitter trends can be useful if you happen to follow a lot of people interested in the same thing that you offer. Otherwise, you probably won’t see much that will be helpful. You can see this on your Twitter homepage. There are also loads of services that give you trends in Twitter (way too many for me to even mention since there’s always a new one).
Google Trends can also be very useful, and you can subscribe to get updates about your searches.
Have alerts set up for your brand name and major products/services. Talkwalker Alerts is my favorite, but I also use Google Alerts.
Look at what people are asking questions about. FAQ Fox is amazing (you can download a spreadsheet of data!), but you can also look at Quora, Yahoo Answers, and many others.
Look at queries that lead to your site. Look at your rankings for those queries. If you have decent traffic and rankings from queries for which you don’t yet have entirely relevant content, then create it!
What I love best about Olive Garden’s move is that they didn’t view this as taking away from their main offering, which is in-house and takeout dining at their restaurants. From my point of view as a link builder, it’s absolutely brilliant as they’re owning the traffic (and links) for a phrase that did not previously come to them — and doing so in a 100% organic and relevant way.