PUBLISHED: Apr 11, 2024

How Toast’s Content and SEO Strategy Drives >250K Users to its Site

Hazel Kamath
Toast SaaS Interview Featured Image
Table of Contents
Know more about SaaS growth strategies from the horse's mouth.

Few solutions in the industry are focused on addressing specific challenges faced by food service providers. Restaurant owners and managers are constantly on their toes trying to run the business smoothly. 

That’s when Toast identified that restaurant owners needed more from their point of sale (POS) system. They needed a platform that would make it easier to automate tasks, track inventory, and offer analytics with in-depth insights. 

Toast offered a solution that could make it easy for restauranteurs to streamline their operations and gain a competitive advantage. 

We got talking to Jim McCormick, the Principal, SEO at Toast. He gave us a peek into how this all-in-one digital platform for the restaurant community is riding the waves of vertical software. 

Owing to its innovative SEO and content strategies, Toast has achieved a dominant position in its industry and is being used by over 100,000 restaurants.  

We are curious to know how.

Success Highlights

  • Toast adopts a combination of a top-of-funnel SEO strategy and a bottom-of-the-funnel transactional strategy to drive more than 250k users to their website site. This has helped them build awareness and drive conversions
  • Their strategy of consistently sharing gated content assets has positioned them as an authority in the domain. Today, Toast is trusted by over 100,000 restaurants. Such value- adding content has helped improve their brand recall in the buying journey of their audience. 
  • Sharing survey data has helped them in building quality links. Creating link-worthy content has been their mantra for securing links at a high rate

Let’s hear more about Toast from Jim. 

Hey Jim! Thank you for taking the time to talk about Toast’s journey. But first, we want to know more about you.

Can you tell us about yourself and your professional background?

My first job in digital marketing was at a company called Lionbridge over 10 years ago. Lionbridge was a Web 1.0 company that provided translation and localization services. As a recent graduate, I was very fortunate to be hired and work under the Director of Digital Marketing who had a vision for how he wanted to transform the Lionbridge website, and I was able to apprentice under him and learn.

During my time there we developed the company’s first SEO content marketing strategy and redesigned the website, both the front-end design and content, as well as the CMS and hosting infrastructure. I was enormously fortunate to get exposed to so many diverse projects that were related to digital marketing and left Lionbridge with a strong foundation of digital marketing knowledge, and practical experience specializing in SEO.

After five years at Lionbridge, I joined another company in Boston called Toast where I became their first SEO lead. Toast had SEO and content in its bones, even at the time as the initial VP of Marketing at Toast had been an alum of HubSpot, who carried over the inbound and SEO principles to Toast. 

During those first years at Toast, the Content and SEO team was able to really scale our successes and become the dominant SEO presence in the restaurant point-of-sale category. Since then SEO has become one of the most effective marketing channels for the company and has seven full-time team members supporting the US strategy, as well as team members overseas scaling the strategy internationally.

Tell us about your brand and how it impacts your customers. 

Toast’s mission statement is that our products are designed to allow restaurateurs to delight their guests, do what they love, and thrive.

Toast was developed as a vertical SaaS point-of-sale company that specialized in only serving restaurants. This continues to differentiate us from one of our primary competitors Square, who is a horizontal point-of-sale provider serving all kinds of businesses. 

The reason why our narrower approach focusing on restaurants is so successful is all of our product development processes are aligned with the idea that our end user will be a restaurant employee. It helps sharpen the products that we prioritize and the features that will resonate most with that market. 

The restaurant industry is a notoriously difficult business, with profit margins somewhere between 3-5%. One of the biggest efficiencies that a restaurant can gain is through the right technology. 

A few examples of how Toast can help there. The Toast Go handheld, helps servers increase their productivity. By being able to send orders from the table directly to the kitchen, servers can turn tables more quickly and increase the total number of diners in a night.

Toast inventory management and food costing help eliminate waste and ensure all menu items are portioned correctly and profitably, directly helping the bottom line.

The food and restaurant industry is estimated to be 4% of the US GDP and one of the largest employers, so this enormous market is central to many people’s lives. Toast, through the use of technology, is helping to improve the restaurant experience for owners and diners alike.

What’s been your demand generation strategy?

The demand generation strategy at Toast is made up of a top-of-funnel SEO strategy, and a bottom-of-the-funnel transactional strategy, with email touchpoints in between. Each month our strategy drives over 250k users to our site through SEO and helps with brand awareness as well as direct conversions.

For an example of our top-of-the-funnel SEO content, we rely primarily on our blog. 

Check out our post – 

This page is an example of content designed to attract new restaurant owners who rely on Google to supplement what they don’t know. Toast ranks very competitively for the keywords connected with this page, and our intention at this stage in the funnel is for the users to download the gated asset “Opening a Bar Checklist”. 

Gated content assets position Toast as a potential point of sale partner, and enroll the users in a multi-month email nurture so we stay top of mind during the buying process.

Oftentimes, users engage with the email and arrange a product demo with our Sales team through the email nurture. But if that doesn’t happen we try to engage the user again at the bottom of the funnel with transactional keyword searches. 

Searches like “restaurant POS” and “bar POS”, are exact matches intent-wise for the Toast product. For that reason, we optimize our product pages to rank for these keywords and get in front of users when they are at the buying stage.


By inserting Toast content at every stage in the buying funnel, we are able to get into as many buying decisions as possible and that has helped Toast scale to being used by over 100,000 restaurants.

Have you explored any link-building strategies? If yes, can you share about it?

One link-building strategy that we have found a lot of success with has been creating linkable pieces of content that are built around survey data from surveys that we put together.

Here are two examples, one on Restaurant Ratings and Review Sites and the other on Restaurant Consumers Trends.

We hypothesize that it is very difficult to link build for undifferentiated, standard-fare SEO content. Hence, we differentiate ourselves through proprietary data like surveys that other sites, both media and SaaS sites, would want to cite and cover. 

We try to create surveys and pieces of content to answer data questions that we would be interested in knowing about the restaurant industry.

We use Pollfish as our survey tool, and they recruit survey participants. This has proven to be a very scalable, high-impact way to create linkable pieces of content that secure links at a high rate because they are valuable enough to external sites and read and engage with. This is a strategy I believe could be repurposed and used by SaaS companies in any industry.

Any advice you’d like to give to marketing professionals, especially in the SaaS domain?

The single best piece of advice I would give to Content & SEO teams is to instrument your analytics so you can connect your activities directly to business impact. For Toast, this is restaurants that become our customers and this will likely be the main KPI for SaaS business, closed won deals.

This is important for two reasons.

1. You want to paint the clearest picture possible for your Head of Marketing and CEO, that your channel and team are ROI-positive for the business. If you can connect Organic Search traffic and MQLs, through to the wins, that they contribute to the business you will be able to secure more buy-in and scale your program. You will also be able to cost-effectively help scale the business as SEO impact compounds for years.

2. You want to be able to understand which pieces of content and page types drive wins because it helps you to refine your strategy. If you are only optimizing and viewing top-line traffic numbers, there is a chance you only drive vanity traffic that doesn’t convert through your funnel. If you report on these vanity traffic gains, you will lose credibility because it isn’t actually helping the business. But if you understand which pages are driving Wins, you can focus your strategy on doing more of that. 

For example, at Toast we saw that content around restaurant business plans was an extremely effective way to get in front of first-time restaurant owners, a segment that Toast wins at a very high rate. 

So, we took our initial restaurant business plan post and scaled that for all restaurant types that had search volume. We found this was an extremely successful strategy for new restaurant owners curious about how to write a business plan for their particular restaurant type.

Example posts

Any new skills you are planning to learn?

I am sure this is the dominant answer in 2024, but we recognize that AI is a huge opportunity for our team. To this point, we have experimented with to help with content outlines and writer productivity enhancements. Our experience has been solid but not spectacular. It still feels like the early innings for AI, as part of our workflow.

Where I hope to see 10x improvements in AI soon is on the design and development side. If in the near future, AI can handle 80% of the responsibilities of a designer and developer that would unlock some serious potential for the types of reports and content design that we could ship more regularly.

Is there any piece of content you’d like to tell us about?

One of the teams that Content & SEO works closely with is our PR team. Our PR team has pioneered a new content type that they release quarterly called the Toast Trends Report.

This is a piece of content that uses Toast’s data about restaurants and consumers, to tell the up-to-the-minute story about the trends and insights that are occurring in the restaurant industry and appearing in Toast’s huge data set.

The report is beautifully designed and includes data visualizations to bring to life the most interesting trends that we find in our data and share with the public.

Each quarter this is supported with traditional PR promotion, and often gets coverage from the most reputable names in the media space.

Example here from this past quarter

SaaSy Tidbits by Jim McCormick

  • Leverage analytics to connect activities directly to business impact. This will not just help you get a buy-in from the top management but also understand which content pieces are performing well. 
  • When it comes to meaningful link-building, make sure you create and share link-worthy content like survey data that publications would want to link to or cite. 
  • Share relevant and value-adding content at every stage in the buying funnel. That way, you create top-of-the-mind recall into as many buying decisions as possible.
  • Retargeting customers using bottom-of-the-funnel content is central to bringing visitors back into the sales funnel and increasing conversions and revenue. 

A reliable and efficient product coupled with a sound SEO and content strategy has helped Toast become the top choice among restaurants wanting to streamline their operations. 

As a SaaS content marketing agency, we too believe in prioritizing SEO and high-quality relevant content. Hence, the insights shared by Jim will surely help SaaS marketers build relevant SEO strategies.

Thanks, Jim for sharing interesting bits of Toast’s brand journey! If you are a restauranteur or in the food service industry and have any questions on how Toast works or can help you, we’d recommend getting in touch with Jim on LinkedIn. You can also visit their website to learn more about their services.

Hazel Kamath

Hazel Kamath is a Senior Content Writer and Strategist at Growfusely – a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.

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