Our company learned a lot from practical experiences about what works on food blogs. The techniques that get results are not the same as one would apply to a marketing blog, or a fitness blog, or pretty much any other genre. Food blog SEO is a particular case. And we will let you in on some secrets. SEO is a process. It’s not a quick fix solution for bad content. Here’s a guide to making sure that search engines love your food blog and that every recipe reaches its full potential.
Long-Form Is The Best Form
Write recipe blog posts that hit 800-1200 words.
Despite what you might have heard, longer content still works well for recipe SEO.
Don’t pay attention to the haters that complain about long recipe posts. The trend for food bloggers is to write the story behind a recipe and give some background history. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s a good thing. Those complainers just want you to do the hard work but get nothing in return. Ignore those people.
If you publish a bare recipe, the likelihood is that nobody will see it. Instead, add context and life to a recipe so that google can understand what it’s about and who it’s for.
And don’t forget about all the long-tail keywords that will help people find your blog.
Long-tail keywords? Here’s an example:
Let’s say someone is searching for a way to cut sugar but still eat a delicious chocolate cake, something that their grandmother used to eat. Well, there’s no perfect solution to this one but maybe you want to introduce people to your keto-based chocolate cake, a recipe inspired by your grandmother’s cooking. How would anyone find this recipe? Well, they might search for “sugar-free chocolate cake” or “cakes like they used to make them, but no sugar”. That’s actually how people search, especially in the days of voice search.
These are called long-tail keywords for reasons we won’t get into here but you can read more about this kind of keyword here. Long-tail keywords will help people find your recipe
Embrace voice search SEO
Voice search is fast becoming one of the main ways people search for answers. If your recipes are not optimised for voice, you are missing out on a lot of traffic from Google.
Voice search results are short. So it makes sense to keep answers to important questions short and snappy. SEO for food blogs shouldn’t ignore voice search.
You might wonder why you’d bother. “Nobody’s going to read your recipe when they just want a quick answer?”, you say. That’s a fair point. But by answering lots of different questions you will build up trust in Google, who will then push your page higher in the search results for the main keywords.
That’s the SEO theory, anyway. If your recipes are not optimised for voice, you are missing out on a lot of traffic from Google.
But this doesn’t mean that your recipe should be short or your article should be just one line answers in 300 words.
The top-performing recipe posts in Google search are over 1000 words in length. What does that mean? All signs are that longer content ranks better. But that doesn’t mean you need to write 10,000-word novels. But you should to cover a topic fully. Maybe it takes 2000 words to write everything you know about baking rye bread. In that case, don’t stop until you’ve covered everything.
“The top-performing recipe posts in Google search are over 1000 words in length.”
Accuranker also wrote a great article on optimizing for voice search in 2020
Another way (albeit an imperfect one) is to use Google Search Console and under Performance > Search Results, filter for Mobile in the devices category.
This will show you how many queries your website received from mobile. Of course, not everyone searches using voice on mobile but until Google labels search queries as “voice” this is the best we’ve got.
Include Long tail keywords
Keywords that have fewer searches than the big (head) terms like “pasta recipe” are easier to rank in Google. It doesn’t take as much work to get traffic to the keywords “vegetarian whole grain pasta recipe” because fewer people are looking for this. The main reason is there is less competition. (Not always true. Some long-tail keywords still get plenty of searches. But in general, these types of keywords are searched for less)
What’s the best way of telling if a keyword is easy to rank for?
Use a keyword tool. Finding the right keywords for food blogs is easy if you know where to look.
Compete When It Makes Sense
I’ll explain this tip using an example. Let’s say you have a great recipe for custard cakes that you know people would love to read. But let’s imagine that unfortunately nobody ever sees this recipe because it’s on page 5 of the search results for your keyword.
What do you do? The short answer is you improve the on-page SEO of the recipe page. How do you improve the on-page SEO? By analysing your competitors and understanding what kind of language, keywords, and structure are in their blog posts. Then you get to improving your content.
Use a keyword tool to find out which keywords are the best to focus on and then check the top 10 results for your keyword. Let’s say you are trying to rank for “lemon custard cake recipe”.
(My keyword difficulty tools tell me this keyword gets around 1000 searches a month worldwide. However, it’s not an easy keyword to rank for. We’ll still use it for the purpose of this exercise.)
The next thing to do is discover the wording and phrases the top results use and see if there are similarities among them. Check the headings and title tags. Examine the image tags.
Of course, if your website is not built on a strong domain (you can check that here) or you’re just getting started, it might be better to not waste too much time on difficult keywords. Look for easier ways to get to the top.
Have a fast website
Build a fast website or have someone optimise it for you. In the last few years, the Search team at Google has been pushing for website owners to improve the speed of your site (how quickly pages load for the reader). Speed is now considered a major ranking factor.
Simply put, slower pages don’t make the top 10. And websites that are not in the first 10 results on Google get very few visitors.
Fast website = more eyeballs on your content = more successful food blog. Speed is now considered a major ranking factor
Another issue we see with food blogs is huge images. This niche is image-heavy. People want to show off the fine photography that accompanies their food creations. But uploading 5MB images directly from your DSLR camera will kill your website.
Optimize your photos by reducing the image dimensions and reducing the quality to a level where they still look amazing but they don’t eat up all your server bandwidth.
Mobile phone connections are slower than desktop or laptop connection sin the home or office. This is even more true for mobile phones not using a wifi network. Think about the people having to wait to download your recipe that’s weighed down with heavy images, a clunky WordPress theme, and slow web hosting server.