June 19, 2019No Comments

Local Search Optimization

We recently used local search optimization and keyword gap analysis to increase traffic for a new client that was looking to gain more visibility in search rankings. Like any Rust Creative client, we ran free audits of their online assets including their website and social media (we run monthly audits for all of our clients). Our discovery wasn't much of a surprise - they ranked extremely low on every keyword except for their name. So, we proposed a solution.

Local Search Optimization & Keyword Gap Analysis

Their ideal keywords ("eyewear," for example) are highly competitive. So, we ran a gap analysis to see discover keyword strings related to their market, how competitive each string was, where their competitors ranked, and how much search volume those strings received. With this information we settled on two keyword strings that are both competitive and receive high search volume. The key though? Their competitors do not have much search volume for these keyword strings.


  1. Client wants to rank for "eyewear."
  2. Gap Analysis to discover keyword strings we can start building search visibility for
  3. Discover the search terms "ballistic eyepro" and "tactical eyepro" - both terms that are relevant for their product

At the same time we ran analysis, we started building up their local search optimization. Oftentimes, this is a largely overlooked area that is easily remedied with a quick audit and edit of your homepage and other online assets.

This is where we often tell new clients that results take anywhere from 3-6 months. We edited all their online assets, posted from their social media, and kept a close eye on analytics. This client didn't see a boost in search rankings in 3-6 months, they went from ranking 121st to 4th in a week. That's right, one week! By improving their local search rankings, posting with regularity on social media, adding fresh, optimized content to their website and optimizing their web pages for search engines, we were able to significantly increase traffic, lower bounce rates (the rate at which visitors quickly leave your website), and increase sales.

Client: e-Tint

There's a reason our clients rank high in local search and global search - we know what we're doing, we make necessary changes that last in the long run, and we're transparent about what we're doing. Local search optimization should not be ignored. Let Rust Creative fix your local search optimization!

This is another decidedly different and brilliant post from Rust Creative. If you would like to receive a free website audit, contact us. If you're website needs optimized for local search traffic, contact us. We can help. See more search engine optimization.

Rust Creative - Search, Social, Design, Marketing and Photo Agency

Rust Creative - Search, Social, Design, Marketing and Photo Agency



June 5, 2019No Comments

Instagram Marketing for Restaurants

If you are looking to reach new customers and interact with existing ones, there's no better way than by using Instagram for your restaurant marketing. With more than 340 million posts tagged #food and 37 million with #drinks, food and beverage photos are easily some of the most popular types of content on Instagram. There’s perhaps no industry for which Instagram is better geared than the restaurant industry. Research has shown that people 18-35 spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30% would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.

Why care? As a restaurant, you know connecting with customers and keeping your restaurant top-of-mind is an important key to your success. Instagram allows you to put your best food forward, interact with your customers in an authentic way and reach new people. So whether you’ve tapped into Instagram already or need some instruction to get started, here are some tips to help maximize your success on today’s most powerful social media platform.

Statistic: Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of April 2019, by age group | Statista

  • 79% of Instagram users are between the ages of 18-44. These people are either firmly in your demographic, or soon to be. Most likely, your target audience is engaging with Instagram on a daily basis. To reach these customers, you need to post 3-5 times a week and create engaging content to keep them interested.
  • 88% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments, having an intentional digital strategy is important to your restaurant or bar.

The Basics of Posting on Instagram for Restaurants

1. Always post your best images.

Your goal is to get a customer’s attention. If you are posting food, make sure the photo is appetizing. Your restaurant interior? Inviting. A photo of your staff? Make me want to work there. Avoid blurry images, images that are too close up, or ones you simply don’t love. Use imagery that reflects your brand by sticking with a consistent filter or Lightroom preset. Need a food photographer - we can help with that.


View this post on Instagram


We’re delicately crafting new cocktails for you this week. See you at 4pm.

A post shared by Franklin Hotel Bar (@franklinhotelbar) on

2. Be consistent.

Your Instagram feed is a representation of your brand. When a potential customer is deciding whether or not to follow you or interact with your photos, they are going to base it off of looks. Establish a theme you can maintain, such as a general color scheme, editing technique, or photographic style.

3. Post often.

The more you post, the more likely people are to see your content, and therefore, your restaurant. As a rule of thumb, I aim for one post a day. You can always post more or less often than that, but avoid posting photos too close together (space out photos by at least 4 hours). It’s okay to test out posting more or less often to find your sweet spot. We typically post weekend specials for clients on Thursdays to entice existing and potential customers to make a reservation.

Increasing Your Instagram Restaurant Following

1. Use appropriate hashtags.

This is key for potential new customers to find your restaurant. To determine the best hashtags to use, think of keywords that describe your photo. For instance, if you’ve photographed a burger, search “burger” in Instagram’s hashtag section and use those results as starting point. For instance: when I search #burger, it gives me #bestburgers, which gives me related hashtags such as #burgertime and #burgerlove. Instagram caps you off at 30 hashtags, so maximize the effectiveness of the hashtags you use by choosing ones which relate to your location or cuisine type. You can include hashtags in your caption, or post them separately as a comment below your caption (this is visually cleaner).

2. Interact with people.

It’s important to establish a relationship with your followers. I recommend responding to every comment you receive on your posts, and at the very least, “liking” the comment. Your customers will be incentivized to interact with you more, and that engagement increases the chance that your post stays closer the top of people’s feed, or makes the Popular Page of Instagram.

3. Post at strategic times.

Having a business account on Instagram makes it easy to see what time of day your customers are seeing and interacting with your posts. Make a note to post during those times, and set reminders for yourself.

4. Cover your special events and community interactions

Do you have an interesting event that you're hosting? Do you donate food or coffee to a shelter or community event? Photograph it, or hire someone to cover the event for you and use that content to build trust with your community. Your restaurant's Instagram is the perfect place to show how much you care about your community.

Take Instagram Marketing for your Restaurant up a notch

1. Run Instagram Ads.

Instagram makes it easy by allowing you to target locals and set up an ad straight from your phone. Pick an appetizing food image, brainstorm a simple and eye-catching caption with your staff, and get ready to advertise!

2. Use Movement

Video creates an entirely different type of engagement. If the first few segments are interesting, your audience will respond by interacting with the post longer than an image post.

August 16, 2018No Comments

What is SEO and Why Do I Need It?

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a complex series processes on the front and back ends of your website - along with marketing and content creation - that help your website be discovered by search engines.


Do we really need to explain this? Everybody uses search engines to find information on the internet - price comparisons, articles, how-to's and more. When you enter a search term, or query, the search engine uses an ever-adapting and complicated algorithm to return what they think are the most appropriate and useful results.

This is different than browsing a news site or scrolling through social media looking for information. Users are actively looking for a specific answer, which you should keep in mind when creating effective content.


The search “engines” that people use to find information are essential because they return prioritized results for users. They first use crawlers (spiders) to explore the web, then they record everything they find in databases (or indexes). When you perform a search, the engine is actually returning results from its index rather than the live internet.

The important thing to remember is that all these engines use specific criteria for returning results. They look at factors like keyword density and meta tags to understand what your pages are about. Also, they keep track of which pages have linked to your content, and they use that information (along with other factors) to determine what page has the most authority.


In order for users to find you via search, you need to show up on the first few results pages (usually the first) for their search terms. That’s why you need to optimize your content for the search engines. This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require some attention.

If you want to rank highly in search engines, you need to make sure:
• The search engines can find you
• They know what each web page is about
• They feel your page/site has authority and credibility for the content you’re publishing

How Does SEO Work?

Ultimately, SEO is about coding your information for search engines and making it accessible or discoverable by their crawlers. Their goal is to provide the most resourceful information to visitors when they need it. In order to do that, we have to understand SEO, changes in search algorithms, publishing and how it all works conjunction with each other.

Why Does My Business Need SEO?

Many businesses believe that SEO strategies do not apply to them. Either they see it as too complicated, or they think their brick-and-mortar or small business won't see any tangible benefit from search engines. Both are untrue. SEO helps your business in many ways and is an essential tool in your marketing and outreach efforts.

Everyone Uses Search Engines

Even if a customer is frequents your business and knows your name, they are more likely to search for you rather than remember your domain. At the very least, then, you’ll want to make sure searchers can find your site when they’re looking for you.

SEO Increases Traffic

If you provide valuable information and make it easy for search engines to find and organize it, they will reward you with higher rankings. This increased exposure means more visitors to your pages.

As with most marketing, you want to get your content in front of as many eyeballs as you can. Especially when your audience wants what you have, and SEO is a great tool for targeting.

SEO Brings You Qualified Leads

Since search engines return results to users who are actively searching for a particular term or phrase, getting to the top of that stack means you’re providing information to the people who want it most, when they want it.

Unlike advertising, you aren’t trying to push information in front of people who might not be interested at the time. So, you have an active audience, and you don’t have to pay to get the message to them.

Overall, search engine optimization is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to build your online presence. Rather than seeing it as something to “fix” after you’ve created content, keep SEO top of mind from the beginning.

By following best practices at the start, you’ll create interesting, useful content that potential customers want (or need) to read. Then, the search engines will be happy to put you in front of a larger audience.

July 13, 2018No Comments

Why Can’t Google Find My Business?

Why Can't Google Find My Business?

According to a recent Forbes article on small businesses, research demonstrates that smaller businesses, by and large, are not maximizing the benefit of their Internet presence. This may be surprising to hear, and even disappointing to some, but it should be pointed out that those taking advantage of it, are really experiencing significant gains.

So, why can't Google find your business? Why aren't you showing up in searches? Rust Creative's SEO Division will explain how to get discovered on search engines.

1 . Your Website is Not Optimized for Crawling

Search engine optimization isn’t just about meeting searchers’ needs. Your first priority should be optimizing your website for search engine crawling so that search engines can index it and serve it up to searchers. If you don’t have keywords in these places on your webpages, Google will have a hard time indexing you, and users with finding you. (This is not a comprehensive list. It is however a good starting point.)

  • Title Tags: This is the title of your pages or post, and the first piece of information Google collects to “read” it.
  • Meta Content: This is the brief snippet that appears on search engine results pages and further describes your page or post to search engines. Your meta content will include your title tag, your description, and schema data for indexing. There is even more schema data you should consider including if you review products on a blog, write news articles, or sell products. Each piece of meta content is relevant to the purpose of your website and should not be ignored.
  • URL: The URL is the unique address for each page or post. These should have trailing URLS that are user-friendly to remember. If any of your web urls end in ".html" or ".php" you will experience issues.
  • Alt Tags: Alt tags create a text alternative of photos that Google can read them
  • Add Google Analytics to your site
  • Submit your .xml sitemap for indexing
  • Sign up for Google Console

2. You Need to Work with Localized Search

When people search for products and services, they commonly type in [industry, product, service] + [their city or town]. If your website does not make your business’s location known to search engines, you’re likely to be buried down the search rankings. It will also throw your website into the larger industry bucket, rather than your local area, making it even harder to rank.

3. Your Website is Not Mobile-friendly and Slow Loading

Your website is needs to be responsive or mobile-friendly. Google loves to provide websites to users that are easy to use and meet their needs. If your website crashes, loads slowly, or functions poorly on mobile devices, Google will want to hide it to protect its users from a poor experience. A good web design company or SEO agency will test your design across all popular browsers, making adjustments accordingly.

4. Your Website is Not User-friendly

Having a working website is not enough (and purely subjective). Users need to be able to move around on it easily and intuitively.  Google can detect poor navigation structure through its users’ behavior. Make sure your website is optimized for seamless navigation and longer engagement. Otherwise it will get buried under competitors’ websites that are more user-friendly.

5. You’re Not Targeting Keywords Effectively

Each page on your website should target a different keyword, and the keywords should be placed into the body of the page naturally. If you can’t find your website when you type relevant search terms into Google, make sure the page associated with that keyword has accurate, up-to-date, useful information. The keywords that you should use are ones that your customers are going to be most likely to look for. To find this, it’s best to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and figure out what they would search for based on their priorities and experiences. Careful though, keyword stuffing worked in the past but will not get you blacklisted!

July 11, 2018No Comments

We Create Stories

We're living in a new era in product development, placement, and our means to advertise and market those products. Print ads are mostly dead, TV ads are bought by the large corporations, and you likely don't have a budget to hire a director to film a video that will go viral on YouTube. We're living in an era where you need creatives to help find new ways of promoting your service or product to an audience who will return to you again and again. That being said, we don't work for people with disposable products, who hire disposable employees. We work for people with new ideas, with handmade products, who have stories to tell.

We go into the field, to create visual stories about your product or service. Sometimes, we go to far off places. We're writers, artists, photographers, sure, but we're also educated consumers tired of the same old trickery.

June 4, 2018No Comments

Seven Courses – Main Street Kent

Main Street Kent hosted the annual “Seven Courses of Kent” dinner party in downtown Kent at Treno Ristorante, an upscale Italian restaurant situated in the historical train depot overlooking the Cuyahoga River.

Guests enjoyed a delectable seven-course meal comprised of dishes from seven Kent eateries. Each course was paired with a beer or wine selection chosen by a representative of Heidelberg Distributing Company. All-inclusive tickets included the seven-course dinner complete with wine and beer pairings, tax and gratuity.

This event was generously sponsored by Instantwhip Foods, Inc., Portage Community Bank, and Heidelberg Distributing Company. All food was donated by our generous business owners, and event proceeds benefited Main Street Kent.

Guests enjoyed a variety of soup, salad, hors d’oeuvre, entrée and dessert courses from these seven Kent establishments: Burnside Barbecue, Franklin Hotel Bar, Lucci's Place, NINETEEN10, Twisted Meltz, Popped!, Treno Ristorante. It’s a great opportunity to indulge in some of Kent’s best cuisine, all in one night!

June 4, 2018No Comments

Food Photography

Food Photography

Commercial photo studio specializing in food photography for local and national brands, restaurants, chefs, cookbooks, lifestyle and food-related subjects. We can shoot in studio, on location, and travel/lifestyle photography. We know our way around a kitchen, so we’ll stay out of the way, or, better yet, we can prepare your meals in-house and shoot them from our studio, provided you supply us with a recipe. Tired of over-styled food photos? Us too. Our minimal approach to food styling lets the food speak for itself. Our recipe for food photography success is as follows: 1/4c Jackson Pollock, 1/2tbs Francis Mallman, seasoned with natural light and a dash of Daido Moriyama.

We’re Gastronomes…

Who also love food photography! We could all say that we have a long history with food. We need it, after all, to survive. Our founder, Roger Hoover, began life watching his grandfather, Charles, turn flour, a few eggs, and water into divine kluski noodles. The alchemy of cooking has always intrigued him.  It was his grandfather too who inspired Roger’s brother, Josef, to become a chef. In all, there are three chefs in our founder’s family alone. It was only natural that Hoover combined his fine art education with his love for food and became a food photographer.


January 24, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Search Engine Optimization and Social Media for Restaurants

We've dined at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, explored BBQ throughout the gravel roads of the American South, crushed grapes in Milan, and still take adventurous gastronomic trips in some of America's finest cities. We're food lovers with a lifetime of experience in design, marketing, and photography. That's why, a few years ago, we started focusing more on restaurants than any other industry.

Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants

Think about how you search for a restaurant. Google? Yelp (ugh)? Facebook? Its all digital. Its all online. The majority of prospective customers will find your restaurant by using a search engine. If you aren't thinking about search engine optimization (SEO), you'll be a foregone dining conclusion. Below, we identify the first steps you can take to boost your restaurant's search engine rankings.

Food Photography

We're visual creatures. This is the first thing any customer will see. It is your first chance to seating someone at your table. You need quality, high resolution food photography for your website, social media, and other marketing materials. If you haven't yet, hire a food photographer, now. For the sake of search engine optimization, when inserting an image on your website, you must include text inside the "alt" and "title" attributes - this helps the images get discovered in all search engines, boosting your rankings. For example, at a bare minimum, include your business name in these fields:

<img src="https://rustcreative.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/taproot-2.jpg" alt="Taproot Catering" title="Taproot Catering" />

Local Search

If you're a restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, you don't necessarily need to be discovered by someone searching for "fine dining" in San Francisco. Google, Yahoo, and other search engines have implemented local search results for businesses. You need to start by claiming, standardizing data, and optimizing listings for your restaurant across all of the major and relevant local search properties. This includes a mix of search engine directories, social media sites, and industry-specific directory sites.

Accurate name, address, hours and phone data that is consistent across all data sources is a critical foundational element of local SEO. Make sure your business description and business categories align with your focus search engine terms.

It is a lot of work. But all of this will work together to grow your online visibility.

Engage on Social Media

Its proven that social media engagement will drive users to your site. Social media is an experiential extension of your restaurant, food, employees and customers. Showcase what customers can expect to experience at your restaurant. A strong social presence often correlates with a strong organic search presence as content, engagement, and popularity align with the important SEO pillars.

Develop a social media strategy that reflects your brand and follow through with consistency, quality, and awareness. Engage with your followers. How you communicate online sets a perception of your overall customer service and approach.

Create Unique Content

We started a Cocktail Blog for client Franklin Hotel Bar that highlights the history of some of the classic cocktails they serve. Along with humor and copy that reflects Franklin Hotel Bar's brand, the copy is original, highly shareable, and has driven many potential customers to their bar stools. Search engines devour original content. Start writing yours now.

Along with unique content, you need to display your menu on your website...and we're not talking about adding a pdf, or inserting flash. Flash and pdfs are not searchable by search engines. You're losing customers by not sharing your menu in html.

Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants

You're crunching numbers, keeping staff working with consistency, trying to deliver the best food service in your local market. Search engine optimization and social media may be far down on your list of "things to do" but they're crucial to the overall vitality of your restaurant. Rust Creative has over twenty-years experience with search engine optimization. We have been at the forefront of social media since its inception. We're here to help you. Contact us for a free assessment of your current digital marketing health.

How can we help?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

May 20, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Main Street Kent

Main Street Kent is a non-profit organization that focuses on the promotion, beautification, and revitalization of downtown Kent. The City of Kent, Kent State University, local businesses, and community members support Main Street Kent. Main Street Kent has 12 board members and many volunteers working to improve downtown Kent. Since Main Street Kent’s formation in 2006, dozens of new businesses have opened in downtown Kent, and a hundreds of new full-time and part-time jobs have been created. For every dollar Main Street Kent spends, $27 is returned in private investment.

Main Street Kent works to strengthen and beautify downtown Kent while fostering economic development, historic preservation, and a sense of community.

Main Street Kent's old website was in need of revitalization. They needed a new, responsive website with ecommerce functionality. This required design & development as well as server, data & email migration.

Website Analysis and Information Architecture
We began the process by analyzing all of the content and copy and search engine analytics. We eliminated all redundant or buried pages, scraped all content from the old website, and constructed a more organized site structure by defining strict categorization rules. Once we developed the new sitemap and structure, we wrote SEO rewrites for old pages (either ones that were eliminated or ones with messy URLs) to the new, SEO-friendly URLs. This would be integrated at the very end of the project.

When the client first approached us, they considered using Squarespace for the website. After reviewing analytics, we noticed that Main Street Kent received a great deal of unique daily visitors to the website. Using this data, we decided early on to use popular CMS, WordPress and WooCommerce for shopping cart functionality. WordPress and a dedicated server would allow more control of SEO and would improve site load times due to the amount of traffic they were already receiving. We chose WordPress for a number of other reasons: client familiarity played the largest role, but so did cost. Rather than develop a CMS and/or a theme from scratch, we could begin rapid development from a skeleton theme. This saved a substantial amount of money and time.

Website Design
With information architecture and the sitemap laid out, we started front end design on the website. Since we used a responsive skeleton theme to save cost, we already had a baseline responsive grid to from which to design. It was important to have a seamless user experience between pages, categories, and product pages. The homepage needed to direct the user to popular pages for dining, shopping and event destinations. The client also asked that fundraising pages were placed prominently in the header, body, and footer.

May 20, 2017Comments are off for this post.


CTRL Eyewear is a new brand of smart wearables aiming to change the landscape of the wearables industry. CTRL Eyewear is specifically founded to create the consumer version of innovative eyewear created for the U.S. Special Forces. CTRL is established in 2015 in the Netherlands as a subsidiary of AlphaMicron Inc, Kent Ohio, USA. CTRL Eyewear aims to design, develop and market the world’s most innovative eyewear, powered by AlphaMicron’s vast experience in adaptive military lens technology.

CTRL Eyewear's Website

CTRL Eyewear approached us shortly after the company changed ownership. They wanted to migrate entire website under a new company name. Doing so posed many problems. First, there had to be no loss of SEO, emails, or sales during the process. The criteria for the job was twofold: We had to design and develop an ecommerce website quickly, and set up a Customer Support center for users and the CTRL sales team.

We start every project with research. What is the market? Who does it consist of? What markets could we develop that aren't currently being acknowledged? How do we do that? Magic sorcery. We knew immediately that CTRL's product line was sleek, minimal, and technologically impressive. We didn't want the user interface or design of the website to interfere with strong product photography or video. So, we decided on a minimal grid system and limited color palette. We would use this approach for all digital and print design.

Because CTRL is an international company with many storage facilities, we needed to streamline the ecommerce experience. Instead of sourcing a different website based on location, we moved all of the shipping and purchasing options into the hands of the consumer. One website, one experience, all managed from the backend of the website.

Customer Support Forms
The sales team requested a detailed customer RMA form. The functionality included a form with multiple questions that - once filled out by a customer - would be auto-fed into an XML spreadsheet that logged the answers to the questions, generated a unique return number, auto-saved as a PDF, sent an automatic notification to both customer and the CTRL sales/support team.