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Seo tips for food bloggers

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Seo tips for food bloggers

  1. 1. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 1 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers Raise the Visibility of Your Recipes and Enhance Your Site with Food-Friendly Features ZipList, Inc. (www.ziplist.com)
  2. 2. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 2 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers Raise the Visibility of Your Recipes and Enhance Your Site with Food-Friendly Features If you’ve been putting off SEO for your food blog, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon, particularly in light of Google’s Recipe Search, which de-weights unstructured recipes in favor of those coded in hRecipe and Schema.org’s recipe format. Fortunately, it’s not hard to make your blog more SEO-friendly and maintain your findability with the search engines. These new recipe formats tell Google in no uncertain terms “This is a recipe.” It lets search engines know that a post includes specific ingredients, ratings and cook times, for example, and therefore should be treated specifically as a recipe. However, even if you are unable (or unwilling) to re-code your recipes, you can still enhance your findability. Search engines like structure and clear patterns. Content may be king, but structure is queen. The more your food blog mirrors a recipe site as defined by the biggest on the web – and the more your recipe pages are consistent from page-to-page – the better they will be understood, indexed and best of all, found, by search engines If you do nothing else, however, take advantage of the following nine must-do’s for every post to make them more findable by top search engines, namely Google and Bing.
  3. 3. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 3 9 Must-Do’s for Every Post Not in Google’s Rich Snippet Format 1. Keep Your Recipe Titles Consistent Throughout Your Post. If your recipe is “Black Bean Casserole,” title your post Black Bean Casserole, have your title tags read Black Bean Casserole and include Black Bean Casserole in your URL (e.g., www.myfoodblog.com/black- bean-casserole.html). Keep title tags to 70 characters and put most important words first. 2. Always Use the words “Ingredients” and “Instructions.” Whether you use “Instructions,” “Directions,” “Method” or something else to describe how to prepare your recipe, choose one heading and use it 100% of the time. It’s confusing to readers to see terms interchanged, and worse, it creates inconsistency for search engines which can hurt SEO. 3. Keep Heading Styles Consistent. Your post titles may automatically appear as <H1> or <H2> tags, making them appear larger on the page (which is important for recipe titles). For sub-heads like “Ingredients” and “Instructions,” make sure that you use the same style for both of them (you may have to manually apply header tags to these headings, based on your blogging platform). And remember, Google ranks a larger heading <H2> as having more importance than a smaller <H3> and will get confused to see an <H2> later on in the post, so make sure that your sub-heads are smaller. Good example: <H3>Instructions</H3>. 4. Use HTML lists for Ingredients and Instructions. Using HTML list elements such as bulleted lists for ingredients (which are “unordered list” <UL> elements) and numbered lists for instructions (“ordered list” <OL> elements) helps provide both visual and SEO structure to your recipe posts. This is as opposed to typing free-form text using <BR> or <P> elements, which prevents search engines from differentiating content on your recipe post. Ordered and unordered lists can easily be formatted using buttons in your blog editor. 5. Place Only One Recipe Per Page. More than one recipe on a page creates a watered-down view of your content to search engines because they cannot reliably determine the focus of that page. One recipe per page not only increases SEO value, but creates additional page views, leading to more targeted ads (e.g., Google AdSense) being served. This also creates another doorway to your site, giving the search engines another URL to index.
  4. 4. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 4 6. Call Out Special Sauces on the Ingredients List. Some recipes contain ingredients that are “sub- recipes,” such as for a special marinade or glaze. List these ingredients in the same ingredients section, but call them out with a sub-head of a different style with text starting with the exact words “For the” and ending with a colon. For example, “For the glaze:” If you have used HTML list elements for your ingredients as described above, do not place the “For the” headers inside that element, as they are not ingredients themselves. Source: Steamy Kitchen “Mother’s Famous Chinese Egg Rolls Recipe” 7. Strive for 200-700 Words. The search engines need to read relevant content, so provide them with enough keyword-rich content (more on keywords later) to help your post rank higher in relevant searches. 8. Don’t Forget a Meta Description. The meta description for each post shows up in search results just under the title tag. Include the name of your recipe and do not exceed 150 words. This is what people see first before they choose to click on a search result, so make yours count to enhance your click-through rate. 9. Pay Attention to Details. Never put the Ingredients title over the cooking instructions, nor the list of ingredients under the Instructions title. It seems obvious, but mistakes happen,
  5. 5. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 5 and this small oversight can be detrimental to your placement in search results. Separately, don’t put non-ingredients on the ingredients list, like cook time or yield. Not only can it confuse your readers, but search engines don’t like it either. Anything that is inconsistent or out of place is bad for SEO. Sadly, in the world of Google Recipe Search, nothing is better for your SEO than coding your recipes in a compatible format like hRecipe or Schema.org’s recipe format. But if that is just not possible, the simple tips above (which require virtually no additional effort) can bring more consistency and structure to your recipe formatting to the benefit of your readers and search engines alike. 4 Tips for Optimized Blog Photos Photos are essential for food and recipe blogs. Here are four must-dos to help optimize your photos to achieve success with search engines. Taking these steps will help your recipes appear higher up both in Google Search and Google Image Search. 1. Make the First Photo That of the Finished Recipe. Place the photo of the completed recipe after the post title and before any description. This increases the likelihood of this photo getting picked up since search engines will not confuse this photo with any other photos. The largest recipe sites put their photos at the top and again, you want to mirror the biggest sites in format as much as possible. 2. Your Post Title and Photo Name Should Match. Both the photo title and alt text (tag) should exactly match the name of your blog post, which again reinforces your content with the search engines. Source: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures “Homemade Butterscotch Pudding” 3. Describe Photos Beyond the First Photo in Your Post. The search engines can’t read photos, so the alt text is important. Only the first photo should match the recipe; any subsequent photos should include the recipe name and a brief description of the image. Here’s how you might name this sequence of photos:
  6. 6. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 6 Spanish-Stew.jpg Spanish-Stew-Cube-Round-Steaks.jpg Spanish-Stew-Cut-Pork-Shops.jpg Spanish-Stew-Brown-In-Olive-Oil.jpg Source: $5 Dinners, “Spanish Stew – Vintage Recipe” 4. Put Dashes Between Each Word When You Save a Photo. The search engines know each word is separate when they see dashes (e.g., black-bean-casserole.jpg).
  7. 7. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 7 4 Keyword Best Practices 1. Research Keywords for Post and Recipe Titles. One piece of advice you’ll hear over and over relates to keyword research. For recipe sites, your recipe names are your keywords. You’ll be best served by keyword research when you’ve yet to name your recipe. 2. Choose Targeted Keywords for Better Conversion. When naming your recipe, for example, use a free tool like Google AdWords Keyword Tool to give your recipe a title that will reach a more targeted audience. For example, “Quick & Easy Meatloaf” is a good title, but just “Meatloaf” is a bad title. Good titles attract readers more interested in your site who are more likely to bookmark or sign up for your feed or email newsletter. 3. Integrate Keywords into Key Parts of Your Blog Post. Be sure your primary keywords (your recipe name, like Quick & Easy Meatloaf) are in your title, meta description and URL, as well as in your alt text and in any internal links you have directing readers to this page on your site. Google no longer uses meta keywords when ranking sites, so it is of less value to add keywords to this entry box on your blog. 4. Use Keywords in the First 25 Words of Your Post. Inserting your keywords into the first two sentences of your post can enhance your search rankings when they pop up in another place early on in your post, again giving you more authority on the particular topic. It is very important to include keywords in your paragraph text, not just titles and headings. You’ll be more relevant in Google’s eyes.
  8. 8. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 8 6 Overall Site Strategies 1. Own Your Own Blog URL. Not only is it more professional to have your own domain name, but you may find that it’s difficult to get listed in directories and even spidered by search engines when you are hosted by a free web hosting service (e.g., myblog.blogspot.com or myblog.wordpress.com). 2. Fix Broken Links. A quality blog that ranks well with search engines has no broken links. If you use WordPress, you can install a free plugin called Broken Link Checker that will alert you to links to be fixed. Or, try Xenu’s Link Sleuth, which finds and fixes broken links on any platform. 3. Don’t Let Your Blog Software Auto-Create Post Titles. WordPress, for example, defaults to name blog posts as www.blogname.com/?p=123. This does nothing for your SEO, so adjust this setting. You’ll find it in Settings, Permalink Settings. Anything but the “default” or “numeric” settings is best. 4. Optimize Your Blog Post Titles. By default, the title of your blog post is “Blog Name >> Blog Archive >> Post Title” in WordPress. This also does nothing for your SEO, except dilute your traffic. Search engines put weight on early words, so you want your keywords to be toward the start of your title. 5. Use Anchor Text Properly. Use relevant keywords to link to relevant pages on your site to enhance your SEO. For example, this is well-optimized: Check out my black bean casserole recipe. This is not: Click here to check out my black bean casserole recipe.
  9. 9. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 9 6. Your Blog Name Should Go After Your Post Name. In your title tag, you should set the default setting on your blog so that your blog name either appears at the end of the title tag or does not appear at all. For example, “Black Bean Casserole | My Food Blog.” 4 Social Strategies to Enhance SEO 1. Optimize your Posts for Full Text Feeds. You should be able to set this up automatically with your current blog software. Not only are people more likely to read your posts, but you’ll be able to better incorporate and display important keywords. 2. Have Multiple Doorways to Get to Your Blog. Be everywhere your readers or would-be readers are, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or StumbleUpon. This will enhance your traffic and encourage people to link to your site, which can ultimately have a positive impact on your SEO. Links from trusted websites are important to search engines and will enhance your findability. 3. Help Your Readers Share Your Content. Make it easy for readers to share and socialize your content. The free Sociable plugin in WordPress will let you add buttons to the bottom of each post to make it easy for readers to share on social services. Blogger also offers widgets to help readers share your posts. Google and Bing index social media content in searches, so if someone tweets a link to one of your posts, it may turn up in search results. 4. Encourage Social Bookmarking. Social bookmarking involves saving links to posts on public websites, like Digg and del.icio.us. Users can follow or share your bookmarks, encouraging the spread of your content. For new sites, social bookmarking can also help get your site indexed more quickly by the search engines. Creating tags for your content can also help your search ranking for these keywords.
  10. 10. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 10 About ZipList ZipList is a market-leading online and mobile universal shopping list and recipe management service that enables shoppers to create and share grocery lists with family members. Users can arrange their lists by aisle or store and can save recipes to a central recipe box. ZipList can be found on MarthaStewart.com, Simply Recipes, Skinnytaste, Pepperidge Farm, Ming.com, Martha’s Everyday Food iPhone app, and on hundreds of popular food blogs. Recipe Clipper ZipList makes it easy to add recipes from anywhere across the web to a central recipe box at ZipList.com. Simply add a button to your toolbar called the Web Recipe Clipper and when you see a recipe you like, click the button to add the recipe to your recipe box. See below for a recipe added from My Life as a Mrs. at http://www.mylifeasamrs.com/2012/05/pw- wednesdays-white-chicken-enchiladas.html. Find out more about ZipList’s Recipe Box at http://get.ziplist.com/how-it-works/find-save- recipes. Free ZipList Recipe Plugin for WordPress For food and recipe bloggers using WordPress, ZipList has made available a free, easy-to-use plugin that will give your recipes better structure, thereby enhancing your SEO and findability.
  11. 11. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 11 Even better, the plugin enables your readers to add your recipes to a recipe box and shopping list right from your site, along with any other recipes they may find across the web. You can find out more about the plugin at http://www.ziplist.com/recipeplugin. Simply download the free plugin and type your recipes into a form within WordPress. Based on the open-source RecipeSEO plugin built by Allison Day, the ZipList Recipe Plugin enables you to quickly and easily put your recipes into the Google-preferred Schema.org recipe format required to increase your search ranking within Google and other leading search engines. This free plugin also adds a small button to your recipe posts so your readers can save your recipes for the future, making them more actionable and helping your readers to find and make your recipes again and again. In their recipe boxes, users will find your recipes and ingredients plus a link back to your recipes for preparation instructions. For more on ZipList’s Wordpress Recipe Plugin or to download it now, please visit us on the web at http://www.ziplist.com/recipeplugin. Here is a recent post at Buns in My Oven so you can check out the implementation: http://bunsinmyoven.com/2012/05/30/the-very-best-waffles/ A screenshot is below (see blue “Save Recipe” button).
  12. 12. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 12 It’s also easy to customize the look and feel of our free recipe plugin using styling codes or by working with your designer to create a custom stylesheet so that the plugin output matches your website. You can learn more here: http://blog.ziplist.com/ziplist-recipe-plugin- personalizing-your-recipe-card-design/. See examples below: bell’alimento: http://www.afarmgirlsdabbles.com/2012/03/28/sauteed- mediterranean-deviled-egg/ A Farmgirl’s Dabbles: http://www.afarmgirlsdabbles.com/2012/03/28/sauteed- mediterranean-deviled-egg/
  13. 13. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 13 ZipList Save Recipe Buttons for Any Platform Not on WordPress or don’t want to reformat all of your recipes but still want to be able to enable your readers to save your recipes to a recipe box? No problem. It’s easy to integrate a standard or custom Save Recipe button into your recipe posts. Take a look at a few examples: Kalyn’s Kitchen: This food blog is on Blogger, and since Kalyn has good recipe structure it was no problem for Kalyn to add our blue Save Recipe button to a template so it sits atop each post, like this post that can be found at http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/05/recipe-for-lisas- cross-cultural-salsa.html.
  14. 14. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 14 RecipeGirl: We’ve also worked with bloggers on WordPress to integrate a custom Save Recipe button created by their designers. Lori at RecipeGirl uses a recipe template created by Purr, so custom red buttons show on posts like this one: http://www.recipegirl.com/2012/06/04/tex- mex-layered-salad/. Plain Chicken: Many more food bloggers, like Stephanie at Plain Chicken (on Blogger), choose to simply paste a strip of code into each recipe post to display the blue Save Recipe button, like in this post here: http://www.plainchicken.com/2012/06/cheesy-chicken-casserole.html.
  15. 15. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 15 If you have any questions about ZipList recipe tools or about best practices with regard to SEO for your food blog, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at partners@ziplist.com.
  16. 16. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 16 Additional SEO Resources General SEO  How to Create a Search Engine Friendly Website, The Site Wizard http://www.thesitewizard.com/sitepromotion/search-engine-friendly.shtml  How to Make Your WordPress Blog Search-Engine Friendly, The Site Wizard http://www.thesitewizard.com/sitepromotion/search-engine-friendly-wordpress-blog.shtml WordPress SEO Plugins  8 Excellent WordPress SEO Plugins, Six Revisions http://sixrevisions.com/wordpress/seo-plugins/  Top 50 WordPress Plugins for 2011 to Zoom SEO, SMO & Audience Engagement, Social Media Today http://bit.ly/i4yDJ8 Design Consistency  10 Ways to Orientate Users on Your Site, Webcredible http://bit.ly/G3iLC  Web Site Interface Style and Consistency Builds Trust, Pinsonnault Creative http://bit.ly/mQZQpU Keyword Research  Google AdWords: Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal  WordStream (free trial) http://www.wordstream.com/keyword-research-tool  WordTracker (free trial) http://www.wordtracker.com/
  17. 17. 26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 17 hRecipe Microformat  Google Adds Support for hCalendar and hRecipe Rich Snippets, Microformats http://bit.ly/dt4ynS  Microformats: Mark Up Your Recipes Online with hRecipe, SEO Gadget http://bit.ly/9ON5bO  ZipList Wordpress hRecipe Plugin http://www.ziplist.com/recipeplugin  WordPress hRecipe Plugin http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/hrecipe/