The hardest thing for bloggers to wrap their head around is SEO. “What is it?” “Why do we need it?” “What are we supposed to do with it?” “It’s too hard, I don’t care.” You should. SEO is important if you plan to do anything with your blog. I am going to share 5 quick SEO tips that you can implement immediately (and easily) to help your SEO ranking, especially if you are a food blogger, but of course most will work for anyone.
Did you know I am speaking at the Food & Wine Conference this summer with my partner in crime, SEO expert Dan Cristo. Yep. That’s right. And I am so excited. Dan and I have been “working” together since 2011 and we are finally going to be meeting in person for the first time (you know Skype is not the same… just saying) and spending a glorious weekend in Orlando, Florida. He’s bringing his wife, Grace – the funniest, most beautiful girl I’ve ever met (inside AND out). No seriously – Grace is amazing, not that you might care but I thought I’d share. Side note: Grace will not be speaking about SEO. 😉 Love ya Grace!
Anyway to the point… SEO is important.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and in layman’s terms it’s essentially how Google and other search engines find you. Well, not so much about how they find you, but what they “read” when they do find you. And then of course how they process and present the information they “read” from your blog to the people searching.
Why do we need it? We need it because we want people to find our blog. I mean, right? You work very hard on your recipes. You just created a special one, something you haven’t seen a ton of. Don’t you want that person sitting at home thinking, my I’m craving some pink lemonade and I’ve always wanted to try making macarons. So when they type in Pink Lemonade Macarons you want your site to be in the top results. Right? Well, if that’s an affirmative, then read on and I will give you some quick and easy SEO tips to make that a possibility.
Easy SEO Tips to Optimize Your Posts
In the world of Search Engine Optimization, there are a thousand do’s and don’ts, and equally as much false information out there. I’m here to help with that.
1. Make sure your title uses the keywords you want to optimize for.
Using a keyword checking tool, and doing some research ahead of time can make a big different in Search Engine Optimization.
Many food bloggers want to rank for the word recipes. Understandable. However, when I am searching for a recipe, I am not just typing in “recipes” in Google. I am typing in “Caramels with Sea Salt.” If you have a recipe for Caramels with Sea Salt on your blog, that particular post needs to be optimized. The words Caramels and Sea Salt, should be prominently featured in your post title, in your URL (permalink), on page, in the copy and in the recipe. Which brings me to the next tip.
2. Think about what people would be searching for.
When someone is searching for a term, they aren’t usually searching for your blog name, or something like “It was too Spicy for me”. Those are terrible page titles. Yet I see titles like this all the time.
Another thing I see in the food writing community is “Secret Recipe Club Reveal is today”. Well, that’s fantastic. I don’t need to click the article to know that. In addition, for the secret recipe club community, those posts contain a recipe. But by the title I have no idea that you made Mississippi Mud Pie because you didn’t put that in the title. I’m not going to click your title to see your pie, and Google is just going to be confused.
In other words, please put the title of your recipe in the title of the page. Which brings me to the next tip.
3. Make each title unique.
It isn’t very wise to have Photos from My Trip 1, Photos from My Trip 2, Photos from My Trip 3. Even if they are all of different vacations. Use titles that are more direct. “15 Photos from my Key West, Florida Vacation”. Or as I did once upon a time – Deviled Eggs Recipe #1, Deviled Eggs Recipe #2, Deviled Eggs Recipe #3. Just no.
It would have been better if I had done “Spicy Deviled Eggs with Jalapenos”, “Classic Deviled Eggs” and “Mexican Deviled Eggs with Salsa”. See how much more specific the recipe comes at that point? When someone searches for “deviled eggs with jalapeno” I actually have a chance of coming up. (there is much more to this than just the title, but that’s the first step)
4. Use your page title in it’s entirety when linking to the post.
If you have another site and you are interested in linking to your post from that site (same goes with Social Media sites), use the entire page title when linking. This tells Google that the link goes to exactly what you say it goes to. This is important when joining in link round ups and other places where other bloggers are linking to you as well. For instance, if I wanted to tell my readers of my other blog about the awesome recipe I recently blogged on my food blog, I would do it like this.
Today over on Daily Dish Recipes, there is a new post up for a delicious Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette.
Basically what we have just done is told the Search Engine Bots (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) what they will find on the other end of that link. This helps with optimization a lot. Be sure and do that for any page you link to. I see “click here” a lot and that doesn’t tell the bots a single thing. Who wants to rank for the words “click here?”. P.S. I’ve done it too. We all have.
5. Don’t over-saturate (Keyword Density).
In number one I explain that you want to make sure you use the keywords prominently on your page. However, Google does look for over saturation. In the SEO world, we call it Keyword Density which refers to the number of times the keyword appears on your page. Too many and you will be penalized for that. Some posts are difficult to optimize for keyword density without sounding forced or like you’re trying to spam them. A good rule of thumb is to strive for a keyword density around 5% of your post.
In layman’s terms. If you have a post with exactly 300 words on it including the title, headlines, hidden alt text, captions for photographs and even advertising and your keyword is on your page 9 times. Your keyword density would be 3%.
Here’s an easy way to figure it all out:
Take the # of times the keyword appears on your site. Divide it by the number of total words on your page. Multiply that by 100. Your total is your percent of keyword density.
# of times the keyword is used / word count total * 100 = Your Keyword Density
There are so many more tips and advice I could give you. SO many!
If you’d like to learn more, come see Dan & I this summer at the Food and Wine Conference. It’s three days of friendship, fun and lots of fabulous sessions designed to take your blog to the next level. You won’t want to miss it!