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Finding and Engaging the Gluten-Free Consumer

By April 30, 2015 Industry Topics

The gluten free diet is a curious trend that’s exploded in the past three years. This growing billion dollar industry has an estimated market size of 44 million consumers, and yet less than 3 million Americans have been diagnosed with Celiac disease. The underlying perception that the gluten free diet is “healthy for you” has spurred a growing demand for countless gluten free options.

That’s when they turn to our trusty friends at Google for recipes, entertaining ideas and gluten free substitutions.

It’s often surprising how revealing search data can be when attempting to understand an audience. While mapping out the keyword landscape for gluten free recipe seekers, we found that within the thousands of rows of keyword data, lived an unexpected and surprisingly rich view of the gluten free audience.

GF Categories Labeled

Categorized Gluten Free Search Term Tree Map. Square Size = Relative Monthly Search Volume


Take this visualization for example. By categorizing and segmenting keywords like “gluten free pumpkin bread” (and all the underlying permutations, “how to make gluten free pumpkin bread” “gluten free pumpkin bread recipe” “best gluten free pumpkin bread”) you can bring to life a pretty comprehensive view of a user’s intent and priorities.

So what does one do with this? Well, you can brag about the super sweet looking visualization you made, while your co-worker’s eyes glaze over at the mention of “treemap.” More often, this data is unceremoniously used by the paid search or SEO team. Alternatively, this can be a useful view for content strategists. Show this to your content team and ask, “is our content covering all this?”

This approach can bubble up themes into a hierarchy and order of what the gluten free audience is searching for. This isn’t just a list of keywords; it’s a treemap of intent, hyper-focused onto a specific audience.

What else can keywords inform? Here’s a look at a historical data-set from a few years ago to illustrate year-over-year seasonality for gluten free recipe keywords:

GF-Seasonality Labeled

Holiday-modified Gluten-Free search term volume over time. Note the massive spike in Thanksgiving over Christmas, and the evergreen Birthday terms.


Take this visualization. If we categorize keywords by holiday/occasion, you will see *shockingly* that there are seasonal patterns. Well, duh! What’s of interest here are two more subtle learnings though.

  1. Thanksgiving gluten free recipe searches dwarf Christmas.
  2. Christmas has a curiously sustained “lead up” period.

Additionally, Easter & Halloween are about on-par in terms of search volume. Cool! Now when it comes to Christmas content planning in August, you’re armed with the underlying important terms.

What do you do with all of this data? Fill in content gaps and create more content around what people are already searching for. Use seasonality to create your content calendars. Identify extremely niche audiences like “gluten free pumpkin bread” searchers and delivered content tailored to them.