DDS: Your Food Content is Gold

Regional publishers must maintain their dominance in food coverage

By: Melissa Chowning

According to the CRMA Digital Data Survey conducted in December 2019, CRMA members’ food content makes up a little over 20% of the traffic to the website. That’s higher than any other content category. Plus, according to the Centofante cover database, food content covers, specifically ‘best restaurants’ covers, consistently rank among the top newsstand sellers. 

City and regional publishers rely on food content to drive a large amount of their consistent engagement with their audience. In both print and online, restaurant coverage is a significant driver of audience development. For this reason, regional publishers need to fiercely defend their ownership of this category and the competition is escalating.

Whether Vox-owned Eater, Group Nine Media owned Thrillist, or The Infatuation, a New York-based restaurant recommendation website and messaging service that was recently purchased by Zagat from Google in 2018 where the CEO recently stated, “We want to own the market…We want to be the biggest restaurant recommendation company in the world.” The competition for hungry eyeballs is growing. And the battle is taking place online. 

A spot on the first page of a Google restaurant search is as competitive of a space as ‘above-the-belt’ placement was on the newsstand 15 years ago. Consumers search ‘restaurants near me’ over 6,700,000 times per month, ranking the query in the top 100 Google search terms each month. 

With this much reliance on a particular category of coverage and that category being in perpetual consumer demand, regional publishers should be proactive and vigilant in their coverage of local restaurants and food scenes. Regional publishers should own food coverage in their markets, almost no exceptions. But what does it take to continue to be the definitive local resource for restaurant rankings and reviews? It’s not just great content. 

Driving Food Content Readership Online

Visibility in Search

Restaurants are the most searched industry by consumers on both mobile apps and web browsers. Search is going to be your biggest playing field and page 1 is where your brand needs to be because 75% of users never scroll past the first page. However, even a first page search ranking doesn’t guarantee traffic. You need to be near the top. The first five search results receive over 67% of clicks, whereas the remaining five receive just 4%.


Check out any restaurant result page from Eater, Time Out or Yelp and you’ll discover that results are delivered based on the users physical location. Consumers are accustomed to being able to search near where they are. (Google trained us for as much.) Sorting and customizing restaurant reviewers by the user’s physical location is a must-have on the functionality list. 

Good Content

For most regional publishers, good content is already in the bag but it is still worth stating. Quality, consistent, and reliable content is a must. Regional publishers are often covering openings or closings, and ranking the regions best places to eat in every category you can imagine. 

CRMA publishers rely on food content and coverage to drive audience engagement on all channels. It’s the largest driver of website visits in every publication group and represents a quarter of the traffic for the largest markets. While coverage types, cuisines, and competition vary by market, its an audience that publishers cannot afford to ignore or take for granted. 

Questions on how to digitally prepare for your next Best Restaurants issue? Email me at

The CRMA Digital Data Survey was conducted by the City Regional Magazine Association and Twenty-First Digital in December 2019. Twenty-First Digital is a full-service audience development agency that works directly with publishers, brands, and media companies on their digital strategy and audience development efforts.

All CRMA members were asked to complete a survey that provided Twenty-First Digital with metrics that were then used to create averages and trends within the CRMA. From there, the data was presented to each member, outlining where they stood in comparison to similar publication sizes. If you have any questions regarding the conduct of this survey, please email