If you’re trying to make an honest living with your hands in the kitchen by sharing your cooking skills on a blog, you might want to learn some of the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips for food bloggers. SEO is how you get traffic from Google, after all. If no one is finding you in Google, does your site really exist?
In this article, I’ll introduce you to what SEO is all about and why it is so important for your food blog. Then, I’ll give you my own secret recipe so you can optimize your site and start getting ranked in search engines! Let’s dig in.
What SEO Is and Why It’s Vital for Food Bloggers
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and as you might be able to infer from the name, it is the act of optimizing a website so its content appears high in search engines. As a food blogger, you’re hoping that when someone searches for a class lemon meringue pie recipe, your link is the one that comes up first.
Or, you know, whatever tasty recipes you tend to share on your blog! Everyone has their own style, whether it’s paleo, vegan, Whole30, or passing on Grandma’s family recipes kept locked away as secrets for far too long.
The vast majority of online experiences start with a search engine. You can benefit from this by making sure your food blog shows up as high as possible for relevant search terms. You put a lot of effort into your recipes, photography, videos, and final results, you deserve to have the world see your work.
SEO is not an overnight solution, but is a must-have if you intend to run your food blog as more than a side hobby for personal reasons. Once you learn how to leverage SEO for organic traffic (i.e. website visitors you didn’t pay for!), the door is wide open for you to monetize that traffic and get paid.
Ready for more? Great! Because the next part is where things get good.
8 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers (Your Recipe for Increasing Organic Search Traffic!)
Now that your creative juices are flowing and you’re craving that organic search engine traffic, it’s time to look at specific actions you can take to optimize your own food blog.
This section will cover eight specific tips that add up to one delicious serving of SEO for Google. I’ll offer specific resources for how to carry these out using WordPress since it is the most popular way to run a website, but you can apply this advice on any food blog regardless of which platform you use. Let’s get cooking!
1. Optimize Your Food Images: File Size, File Names, and Recipe-Related Meta Data
As a food blogger, your website is probably incredibly visual. If you only change one thing going forward, make it image optimization! This could wind up making all the difference in the world for your site in search engines.
You want two things from your images – to load quickly, and get included in Google’s image results.
To get your images to load quickly, you’ll need to optimize their size before uploading them on your blog posts. You can follow this fantabulous guide from A Better Lemonade Stand on how to save images for the web.
Once you’ve got the hang of creating web-optimized images, it’s time to start using text to your advantage. The problem with images is that they’re tricky for search engines to ‘see’ to know what’s inside.
First, I optimize the file name to something short and descriptive. For example, your final image of that lemon meringue pie might be named homemade-lemon-meringue-pie-finished.jpg.
Once you’ve uploaded it to your blog post, use your website’s Content Management System (CMS) to add:
- Alternative text, also called alt text, which gives a literal description of the image. For example, “A completed homemade lemon meringue pie sitting on a wooden kitchen table.” Google uses this to figure out what your image actually is.
- Title text, which should be short, catchy, and concise like any other title. For example, “Homemade lemon meringue pie.” This gets shown when the user hovers over the image.
- Optional: Add a caption to the image explaining what it is and why it’s there.
Both the alternative and title texts will typically be invisible to the user. Captions are a good visual way to add context to your images. Thankfully, WordPress makes managing image meta data simple.
2. Increase the Speed of Your Food Blog for Visitors
Speeding up your website is the next best thing you can do, especially because your food blog is probably media heavy. Site speed plays a pretty important role for ranking in Google, which wants you to offer up as fast a website as you possibly can.
You can test out how fast your food blog loads right now using tools like GTMetrix or Pingdom.
These tools will tell you exactly how fast your food blog currently loads, and even gives you a list of ways to make it faster. However, I can tell you right up front a few ways to improve your site speed right away:
- Reduce your image sizes.
- Reduce the number of scripts and files loaded on a page. Try Merge + Minify + Refresh in WordPress for this and #6.
- Use a faster web host.
- Enable compression for your site. Try Check and Enable GZIP Compression in WordPress.
- Enable browser caching. Try WP Super Cache in WordPress.
If you’ve already optimized your images, you’ve taken care of the first big step! You can retroactively optimize your image sizes on WordPress with a plugin like Smush Image Compression and Optimization (my personal favorite).
3. Ensure Your Food Blog is Secure
There are two levels of security you should have on your site. The first is to protect your visitors from would-be hackers or scammers. You can do this by offering your website using https:// rather than http:// – which requires you to get a Secure Socket Layers (SSL) Certificate for your domain.
You can find out how to get started with SSL on your own site using this comprehensive Moving to HTTPS Guide.
The second way to secure your site is to protect yourself from would-be hackers or scammers! This means locking down your website and server from external attacks. Using SSL on your site is the first step, but you’ll also want a few extra security measures in place.
Here are a few general security tips:
- Always keep your software updated.
- Research and use multiple layers of security for your site, such as SSL, two-step authentication, and firewalls.
- Immediately switch to SSL and HTTPS.
- Use strong passwords on your website, avoid default usernames.
- Back up your website frequently and store the backups somewhere separate.
Thankfully, if you use WordPress, there are a number of security plugins that make implementing these fairly straightforward.
4. Remove Broken Links on Your Food Blog
Broken links are a bad sign for search engines. It means you’re not keeping your content up to date, or are arbitrarily deleting content – which comes across as shady! Not only that, but it’s a bad user experience if your readers are clicking links that lead somewhere unexpected. They may lose trust in you.
You can find broken links on your food blog by using tools like W3C’s Link Checker or Dead Link Checker. You can manage this for WordPress websites using the Broken Link Checker plugin.
Once you find a broken link, you’ll want to either remove it completely or replace it with a new, working link!
5. Register Your Food Blog in Google Search Console
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are both free tools to help you keep track of what search words your website is being ranked for.
These tools also allow you to manage your properties, submit sitemaps, and will alert you to any major issues they find with their site. In other words, they’re pretty useful if you want to focus on SEO.
It only takes a few minutes to register. If you’re not sure how or are nervous to go it alone, you can sign up for the free SEOTechPrep email course for step-by-step instructions.
6. Incorporate Basic Keyword Research for Recipe Searches
You want your recipes to show up first in search results, right? Of course you do! That means you’ll need to do a bit of keyword research before posting your recipes, and make sure to incorporate your findings into your new posts.
First, go to Google and start typing in different queries that might be used to find the recipe you’re about to post. You’ll get two clues here as to what others are actually looking for:
- Google’s autocomplete feature for searches.
- Related searches at the bottom of the page.
By using some common sense, you’ll get a feel for what keywords people are frequently using to find similar posts as your new recipe. Once you are armed with some keyword ideas (choose one to be your main keyword!), you’ll want to incorporate them into your post by:
- Including the main keyword in your post title.
- Including the main keyword (or a variation of it) in the first paragraph of your post.
- Mention 2-3 variations of the keywords you found in your research all throughout your post.
- Include the main keyword in at least one image title tag.
This takes a bit of practice, but becomes second habit after a few tries.
7. Use Social Media Sharing Links to Help Your Recipes Go Viral
Google doesn’t care about your social media stats, but Bing sure does. Additionally, the more people who see your recipe, the more people who are likely to link to it from their own blogs! Google definitely likes to see other people naturally linking to you, and will favor you in search results for it.
To help speed this process along, be sure to include social media sharing links somewhere in your blog post. There are tons of options for including these automatically in WordPress. A few options are:
- Pinterest Pin It Button On Image Hover And Post
- JetPack’s sharing options.
- Social Warfare
- Simple Share Buttons Adder
- Custom Share Buttons With Floating Sidebar
Now that your recipes are easy to share, it’s time to consider one last, super important part of SEO.
8. Choose an Easy-To-Use Design for a Better User Experience
I’ve left this for last because it has the biggest implications and will take the most effort to implement. Google really cares about how easy your website is for visitors to use. Here are a few factors Google checks for:
- Website speed
- Easy to click links and buttons
- Typography big enough to read
- Good color contrast between text and background
Does your current web design feature these? If not, you may need to start looking into a new design. If you use WordPress, fear not! There is a whole directory of amazing, free themes for you to choose from.
Bonus for WordPress: Add Recipe Schema to Your Website
But wait, there’s more! Schema.org is a fancy markup you can add to your website, which tells Google you’re specifically posting recipes. This means it might just favor you over other regular food blogs. There are a few must-have WordPress plugins that make your site look irresistible to Google using Schema.org:
- Cooked: Displays recipes professionally, while using Schema.org markup.
- Zip Recipes: Also makes adding new recipes easy, while using Schema.org markup.
- All In One Schema.org: A more generic Schema.org solution, but offers recipes support.
If you use WordPress, there’s no reason not to start using one of these plugins right away to increase your chances of jumping straight to the top of Google results.
Your Turn: Bake Up Some SEO Goodness!
Optimizing for SEO is an important part of operating your food blog, to reach as many readers as possible. Thankfully, it’s easy to get started with some deliciously rich SEO tips!
To review what you learned in this article, you’ll want to incorporate these tips on your food blog
- Optimize your blog’s food images so they load quickly and rank higher in image searches.
- Increase how quickly your food blog loads for visitors.
- Ensure your food blog is secure.
- Remove any broken links, so you’re not misleading anyone.
- Register your blog in Google Search Console.
- Incorporate basic keyword research when you post a new recipe.
- Add sharing links to your blog posts to help them find a wider audience.
- Choose a web design theme that lets your readers focus on your awesome content.
Of course, the best strategy is to implement these (and many other small tasks) over time, slowly and steadily building a strong foundation so search engines learn you are an outstanding authority in the food blogging world.
What questions do you have about optimizing your food blog for search engines? Ask away in the comments section below! I’ll be here to guide you through the next steps.