Your photos entice and your words have the right amount of spice, yet your healthy eating blog’s traffic leaves you hungry for more readers. What’s the fix? Add search engine optimization (SEO) analysis to the menu. (And now that we have all the obvious food puns out of the way.)
Healthy eating blogs are quite common, and many have well-established followings. Still, you can break into this crowded niche. But to do so, you’ll need more than excellent content: You need to be smart with your SEO choices.
The basics of foodie SEO
Following basic SEO best practices is a must if you’re aiming to break into the health-focused blogging sphere. Here are my top three foodie SEO basics.
Photos, photos, photos
Your healthy eating blog’s photos hold the power. One glance at any recipe-related Pinterest page and you’ll see what I mean. When uploading images, be sure to use file names that incorporate your target keywords so you tap into that search power and drive social sharing from your readers.
SEO plugins, such as Yoast for WordPress, maximize the search impact of your work. Follow the plugin’s suggestions when you finish writing a blog post or publishing a new page for best results. This will also update to the latest best practices when search algorithms change.
Subheads make your blog easier to read and help SEO. By adding a keyword to a subhead, you’re telling Google what content is important in your post and should be given more weight in rankings. Subheads are easy to create and should be H2 or H3 depending on your site’s design.
The next level for healthy eating keywords
While the above best practices will get you started, they are not enough to separate you from the crowd. To do that, you must identify the relevant keywords that will help you rise to the next level in search results. I like to start by brainstorming broad ideas and then digging into trends and search volume to determine the exact keyword I want to target.
Check out the new cookbook releases and latest food magazines.
Do you see similarities? A title, article or photo that inspires an idea? Let the big publishers do the research for you by checking out the latest releases. Write down every idea that comes to mind, no matter how silly or simple, and evaluate later for best choices.
Google Trends is often underutilized and can reveal true gems. Take your food keywords and plug them into Google Trends. You might find a spike in a search term that hasn’t caught on yet. A similar site for social media sharing is BuzzSumo, which tracks how often a particular keyword is shared.
Use Google Keyword Planner.
Your Google Ads account lets you access the Google Keyword Planner. Enter in your ideas and look for competition and monthly search volume. My threshold is any keyword with low competition and at least 190 searches/month. Of course, discovering a low competition keyword with 50,000 searches puts that keyword at the top of my priority column. Take your time and get to know this tool.
Don’t forget about Google!
Type your most promising words in the search box and review the SERP (search engine results page) for the competition. If your keyword returns sites like Martha Stewart, Cooking Light or Recipes.com, cross it off. You won’t ever rank. However, if the top results are lesser-trafficked food blogs then you’ve got a solid shot of achieving high placement.
Now that your list of keywords is set, it’s time to whip up your recipe and take some gorgeous, mouth-watering photos! But there’s one more thing you should know.
The healthy eating blog SEO secret no one will tell you
I’m serious, people don’t talk about this: recipe plugins.
I know several influential food bloggers who added this to their arsenal of SEO tricks and saw their blog traffic skyrocket. What the heck is a recipe plugin? You know when you search Google for a recipe and instead of a list of links you see an actual recipe at the top of the page? That’s from a plugin.
There are dozens of options (most are free), and it takes less than 10 minutes to install one on your blog. Each plugin is unique, but they all allow you to just type in the ingredients and directions; the plugin will format it for you. Voila, hit publish and smile.
Links, baby, links
We’ve covered on-page SEO analysis and researching keywords; now we need off-page SEO — specifically inbound links. Google recently said that the two most important items for ranking are high-quality content and links. You can control content, but how do you get those links? Here are some ideas:
Be sincere and friendly with other healthy food bloggers.
Get to know those in your niche. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie, and you can ask them for links as your friendship develops. Don’t do this in a creepy way. Just be genuine and, after time, ask them if they’d consider a guest post from you. Be open to folks posting on your blog, too. It’s about developing community and helping one another, and not just creating a blog post littered with links! (That’s not great content.)
Social media for a food blog is a must — especially on picture-friendly platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. The foodie social media community is tight-knit, and if you consistently post good content and share and comment on other posts, you’ll quickly be accepted into the tribe. The connections can be amazing. I landed on the home page of Shape.com with one of my recipes, and a top food editor provided a key tip that landed my first recipe onto FoodGawker’s home page (can you say Holy Traffic, Batman?!).
Submit your photos to sites such as FoodGawker and TasteSpotting.
The traffic may only last during the time your recipe is featured, but it can lead to regular readers, help you network with other bloggers and vastly improve your social shares. It’s well worth the effort.
SEO is just like every other aspect of blogging: You get back what you put into it. Take five to 10 minutes per post to optimize your content. You should see changes between 14 and 90 days. Keep at it. SEO is a long game, and the patient blogger wins.