how to optimize your food blog

How to optimize your food blog

How to optimize your food blog

A very popular type of website is the ‘food blog’. Cooking and baking are hot, and the number of food blogs seems to rise. In this post, we’ll go over the things that will give your food blog just that little extra. Both for your users and in terms of SEO.

Focus on long tail

This might be the most important piece of advice I can give you: focus on long tail. The number of food blogs grows every day. I recently talked to an old friend of mine that just started a blog about nutrition and healthy food. 5 years ago I reviewed a blog that had a weekly bread recipe and 200,000 visitors every month. The main problem with the number of food blogs, is that you really need focus to rank. You need to find your special niche and write great content about that niche to surface on page one in Google. This is really hard. The better and more unique the niche, the easier it will be to rank. I think focusing on long tail will give you a head start.

Do you know the Yoast Google Suggest Expander? You can use that tool to find all the things Google suggests when a user types a query in Google. With that tool, you might find the niche or long tail keyword you’d like to optimize for. I searched for paleo and it gave me keywords like ‘paleo almond butter cookies’. It’s quite an extreme example, but if you check that keyphrase for suggestions, you’ll find over 30 more topics/recipes to write about. These can all be considered long tail keywords.

Read more: Why focus on long tail keywords? »

FOOD!

Think about this: thousands of people per day visit food websites. Thousands of people have no clue about what to eat tonight. About what to make as a healthy children’s snack. About what kind of cake would suit their occasion.

Food is the very bottom, most essential layer of Maslow’s pyramid. Food is emotion. That emotion needs to be reflected by your choice of theme. If you’re baking cupcakes, please use a more playful design than when you’re posting BBQ recipes.
Food is personal. Make sure your website has a clear picture of yourself and a description of what your personal passion for food is. What kind of food makes you happy? Make sure this is very clear from the start to bind a certain audience to your website. Add a nice tagline to your header stating just that: what kind of food is your website about.

Food blog: photography example

That very passion for that specific food can be emphasized by great photography. What I really like about food bloggers, is that they tend to photograph every step in the baking/cooking process. Usually, these are quick photos taken with a smartphone. Which is fine. Just make sure your final shot of the amazing cupcake, delicious taco or whatever is your money shot. Without reading your post, that image should make the visitor hungry. That will make him or her want to read your post. Even if your post is about nutrition and not even a recipe :)

Recipes

I’m not saying that a food blog is about recipes per se, but most of the food blogs I have read at least contain recipes. We have talked about schema.org before. It’s a way to markup your content so search engines recognize very quickly what your page is about. Google, Bing and Yandex have created a Recipe schema especially for websites like yours.

The elements of a Recipe

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The Recipe schema contains all kind of specific information about your recipe, varying from cooking time to ingredients. See the full list here. I’d like to point you to a few of these elements that stand out:

  • NutritionInformation: really in-depth information on how healthy your recipe is. I understand that you sometimes just don’t know when it’s a recipe of your own. Some information might help your health-driven audience though.
  • Image: as mentioned earlier, a great image really helps your post. Not just in that it triggers your visitor, but it also works in Google Images and for instance Pinterest. More on social later.

One more thing about nutrition. If you’re serious about adding this to your recipes or other ramblings about food, Google Knowledge Graph helps. It provides some extra information:

Food blogs: Google Knowledge Graph

That entire right side will give you more information about fat and vitamins. Just a tip!

Seasonal posts

“Holidays are coming.” If you have specific food blog posts about Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, please start planning early. If your website needs to start ranking for all your Easter recipes in the week before Easter, you’re too late. Now I know this might be hard, when you’re in your first year of blogging. But especially if you’ve been blogging for a couple of years, it will pay off to promote these recipes from time to time during the year. Easter and Christmas could possibly both include bunnies, right…

You’d be surprised how many people start planning Christmas early. I, for one, would appreciate all of these dishes in September as well. See if you can find seasonal dishes without linking it directly to holidays as well. Categories like ‘for a winter’s evening’ or ‘a rainy day’ might be more suitable for your audience. Last year Jamie Oliver released a book about comfort food. I like that on a stormy day in May as well. I can imagine the number of searches for that go up in September/October though. Google Trends agrees. In Google Trends, you can clearly see that during the summer months, that keyword will give you less traffic. People like BBQs and ice cream during these times.

Bottom line: let Google know you have these posts in time. And feel free to repost a Christmas post/recipe around Christmas, by the way. Just make sure you check the content of the post, update if necessary and keep the same link. If you don’t have the link in your URL, simply change the publish date and you’re good to go. It might give that ‘old’ post new visitors.

Your food blog and social media

One out of ten posts on my Facebook timeline is about food or beverages. About cooking or restaurants. On Instagram, people use tags like #yummy, #foodporn, #instafood, #foodpic and multiple variations of #(om)nomnom a lot (don’t you just hate that omnomnom trend? I do). Searching Pinterest for ‘salad‘ will keep you scrolling recipes for hours. If you know me, you’ll understand I obviously searched for ‘burger‘ and just changed the link. Same story.

If you have a food blog, you need to leverage social media. Find out what social media platform your preferred audience is using and start engaging. Pinterest and Instagram seem to work really, really well. But why not leverage sites like allrecipes.com as well? We’ve written about branding before, and sites like that might help you get your name out.

Let’s not forget Youtube. Almost 600,000 subscribers for BarbecueWeb and a whopping 2,500,000+ subscribers for MyCupcakeaddiction! This can only motivate you to start recording videos. Set up your channel, promote it via your website and other social media and see if it works for you. Please note that numbers like that require hard work and a lot of effort. Give it your best shot.

I hope this article will give you some pointers for your own food blog. Feel free to share your own food blog success stories via social media or the comment section below. I’m looking forward to these!

Keep reading: Social Media strategy »


11 Responses to How to optimize your food blog

  1. Troy Swezey
    Troy Swezey  • 2 years ago

    Thank you for this article Michiel.
    The question I have is: If a writer has a desserts blog he might have recipes for cakes and pie and other things. He would have many recipes for cakes. Should the keyword for each of the cake recipes be ‘cake’ or should the keyword be specific and different for each cake recipe ie: ‘chocolate cake’, ‘vanilla cake’, ‘blueberry cake’ etc? Or perhaps a different approach?
    I look forward to your thoughts. Thank you.

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Thanks, Troy.

      The main issue is that your competition will be massive.. I’d go for long tail keywords. That does mean you should have a page for vanilla cake, but also for vanilla cake recipe, vanilla cake recipe without eggs, vanilla cake recipe without eggs and milk, vanilla cake recipe without eggs milk or butter. Tough job, but keyword optimization is a tough job.

      There are multiple tools that can help you find long tail keywords. I used Yoast Suggest for this :) More on long tail keywords here

      • Troy Swezey
        Troy Swezey  • 2 years ago

        Ok. Thank you. I will check out the links you provided and see what we come up with for Wild Side Confections.

  2. Leto Legal
    Leto Legal  • 2 years ago

    Thanks for nice article. Can you guide me optimize blog services?

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Not sure what you mean, but perhaps our Blog SEO eBook could help?

  3. david
    david  • 2 years ago

    great post. but how to actually monetize a food blog?

    • Michiel Heijmans

      There not a single answer to that question. You could start by reading our blog posts on that?

  4. Maria
    Maria  • 2 years ago

    Great post Michiel, but have to agree with Melissa, we’ve been running our food blog for 10 years now, and we’re using Easy Recipe Plugin – because they do a good job of addressing the recipe schema – but there’s also a social media aspect to SEO and having a good plugin to address that is important. The problem is with non-English language food blogs, how do you address that?

    • Michiel Heijmans

      First: great search bar on your website, Maria, I like the way it stands out from the rest.

      Social media: do you mean in terms of sharing stories via Open Graph and things like that? Or more specific the way our plugin works with other languages? Both questions are really specific and not per se for in our Yoast SEO plugin, imho. I understand where the question is coming from, by the way, but our focus in development isn’t bringing these specific issues into our plugin. Like with video, we did create a separate plugin for video optimization. Is that what you mean, or am I getting it wrong?

  5. Michiel Heijmans

    Hi Melissa,

    Nice suggestion :) “Problem” is that there are so many schemas that it’s quite a lot of work to incorporate all in our plugins. We do have a local SEO plugin and a plugin that adds this and more to video. At the moment, we are working very hard on improvements for our Yoast SEO plugin (both free and premium), but adding rich snippet solutions for (in your case) Recipe isn’t something we have planned at the moment.

    Just out of curiosity: what extra plugin are you using for that now? And is it working? Thanks for your answers!

  6. Melissa Klotz
    Melissa Klotz  • 2 years ago

    This is really helpful but I’ve commented on other posts with a similar query: Why doesn’t Yoast have rich snippet support yet? Or am I missing it? Yoast is the leader in the game, I find it surprising I have to use Yoast SEO + another plugin for rich snippets support in WordPress.


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