Minimalist SEO

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The Best Keyword Research Tool for Food Bloggers

and doing Minimalist SEO

Food bloggers have a few really unique challenges when it comes to SEO. Based on these unique challenges I am going to do something drastic in my recommendation for the best keyword research tool for food bloggers:

  1. Either don’t do keyword research
  2. Use Google for keyword research
  3. Use a combination of both (which I call Minimalist SEO)

Let me explain…

SEO for Food Bloggers

While trying to navigate SEO for food blogs, most will have the same SEO challenges:  the same top authority food blogs dominate the top search results for pretty much all recipe related keywords.  This is a really tough for new food bloggers, or bloggers that are delving into SEO for the first time.

There are a number of reasons why this is.  

In fact you could really simply why a site ranks in the top position with 4 simple criteria:

  1. On Page SEO – is the content optimized for the target keyword?
  2. Topical Authority – does the site have a lot of content related to the topic in general?
  3. Traffic Levels – does the site already have enough organic traffic to be trusted with the current level of traffic for the target keyword
  4. Authority – does the site have a lot of links from trusted sources?

Now for each of these points, it just fine if you don’t fully understand them. Each of these aspects of have books, videos, courses or some form of SEO tool dedicated to each of them.

If you go to deep into the weeds on these topics, you may start to feel overwhelmed about SEO.  Trust me, I do SEO for a living and sometimes SEO just gets way to complex.

My goal is to show you an SEO process that will allow you to bypass all the complexities that go along with SEO and still be able to get visitors from Google.

Best Keywords for a Food Blog

When doing keyword research, most bloggers assume that the best keywords for a food blog would include the word “recipe” in them.  While this is true from a “captain obvious” stand point, I would like to make a case as to why you should not make these “recipe” seed keywords the focus of your SEO journey.

Domain Authority

Most of the larger food blogs are going to dominate the “recipe” related terms.  This is due to their level of authority (which mostly comes from links from other sites).  These sites took years to build up their level of authority and trust in the eyes of Google. It takes a lot of time to build these links and trust.  Even if your food blog is a few years old, it likely does not have enough authority to compete with these big food blogs for the “recipe” related terms.

Site Traffic

Most keyword research advice states that you need to find a keyword with the following:

  • low competition
  • high monthly search volume

I disagree with the “high monthly searches” recommendation.  I’ll explain with an analogy:

Imagine you have a goal of getting your black belt in Karate – and your only Karate skills come from watching the Karate Kid.  You want to get your black belt quickly, so you decide to try and skip over all the other belts and challenge at the black belt level.

What would happen?

Well, you would get your butt kicked right?

This is the same as if a blog that was only getting 10-20 visits per month tried to rank for a keyword that has 1000 searches per month. Google isn’t going to trust your site with that much traffic until you have proven yourself at the lower traffic levels.

It’s this aspect of traffic levels that most bloggers AND most professional SEOs get wrong.  Its one of the main reasons why most people get keyword research wrong.  

You cannot just find a keyword with low competition and a high search volume and expect to rank, if you haven’t proven yourself at the lower levels.

Engagement

Sure, recipe related content is the natural “bread and butter” of food blogs, but I propose that this type of content doesn’t bring in visitors of real value.

Food bloggers need repeat visitors, newsletter subscribers – loyal customers. Someone who is searching for a recipe idea, for the most part, is a single time visitor. 

Sure recipe related keywords bring in page views, but the real value in blogging will always be repeat visitors and newsletter subscribers. You may disagree with me on this, but the monetary value of advertising using Mediavine (or wherever) that is based on page views, is peanuts compared to using affiliate links and proper affiliate marketing or selling your own products.

Food Keywords List

When researching how to create a food keyword list, quite often you will hear the advice that you need to go after long tail keywords.  As far as SEO for food blogs advice goes, this is true – to a point.  

Most advice would dictate that long tail keywords are great because they are not that competitive, but the real benefit is this:

Search Intent

When you are coming up with a list of food keywords to rank for, you really need to know what users are expecting to see.  With a recipe related search terms, the intent is obvious – they want to cook/bake/create something.

With long tail keywords, the search intent is easy to match.  For example, if someone were to type “cheeseburger” into Google, what would their intent be? Are they looking to make a cheeseburger? go to a restaurant? the history of cheeseburger? nutritional value? 

Who knows…

Now if the user searched for “easy vegan cheeseburger recipe” the search intent is quite apparent.  This is a long tail keyword – sure it may be less competitive, but the real value is in knowing what type of content to create to match what the user is looking for.

Master this, and Google will reward you over and over again.

Now when you are working to create a food keyword list, you have to take into account everything you have learned so far:

  1. “Recipe” keywords might not be of great value
  2. You might not rank for keywords using traditional keyword research methods
  3. High authority, established food blogs dominate the “recipe” related searches
  4. Long tail keywords are less competitive
  5. Knowing the search intent of keyword is of critical importance
  6. I told you to either not do keyword research, or use Google, or do both

Now let’s get to how we can come up with a solid food keywords list.

Based on the points above, we are not going to be looking for “recipe” related keywords. These keywords are an import part of a food bloggers reptoire, but they will likely not bring you any organic traffic.

We want, long tail, obvious search intent keywords.  We get these from Google, not a keyword research tool.

We want to create blog posts that support our recipe posts. The process is simple:

  1. Go to Google and do a search for your recipe (this can sometimes be referred to as your seed keyword)
  2. Find the “People Also Ask” section of the search results
  3. Review these questions. You can click on the drop down to reveal more questions
  4. Take note of each of these questions for future blog posts (these are your long tail keywords)
  5. These questions are now your list of keywords to use for future posts

Despite not know the monthly search volume for any of the terms, following this process and creating content around these questions will send you traffic. These long tail keyword phrases will not be that competitive and because you are answering a question, you will be able to understand the user search intent quite easily.

Recipe SEO

When doing on page SEO, the most simple method is to add your keyword in the following places:

  1. Title
  2. Url
  3. SEO Title
  4. The first paragraph of the page

When doing on page SEO optimization for food blogs, there is one other item that is important in order to let the search engines know what your content is all about: schema markup.

Schema markup is a snippet of code that is used to give the search engines extra information about your content.

In the case of recipe posts, there is a specific recipe schema markup that allows Google to understand the specific of the recipe in order to show things like ratings, ingredients, steps in the search results.

The more information you can give Google about your content, the better.

Meta Description for a Food Blog

Here is something that a lot of people new to SEO get wrong – the meta description.

The meta description is the snippet of text shown under the SEO title within the search results.

Quite often you will read the advice that you need to include your keyword within the meta description. You don’t NEED to include it.  You can if you want to, but it won’t make a difference.

Google does not use the meta description within it’s algortihm to determine the page content or rankings. So technically you do not need to use it within your search engine optimization process. 

At least you don’t need to use it in your on page optimization process

How to Use the Meta Description

Since the meta description is not used by Google to rank your page higher, you need to instead use it as a point of differentiation.

If the purpose of the SEO title is to get the attention of the person completing the search, then the purpose of the meta description is to capture their interest or curiosity and encourage them to click into your website.

Your meta description needs to convince the searcher that the answer to their question, and the solution to their problem is waiting for them within your webpage.

Don’t craft a generic meta description.  Creating something unique with a strong call to action.

SEO for Food Bloggers – Putting It All Together

So we have gone through a lot of details that may go against everything you know about SEO.  You likely came to this post looking for a recommendation on some fancy pants keyword tools only to be shown that the way you have been shown how to do SEO might not work for you.  Sorry about that!

Let’s put everything we have learned so far into a series of steps to follow and use the Minimalist SEO process to ensure success:

 

Create a Recipe Post

In this post, it was mentioned that you would likely not see much traffic with a recipe post when your food blog is relatively new, but as a food blogger you need to have recipes. One day you will have the authority to rank for those recipe keywords.

1. Go to Google and type your recipe in the search bar.  In this example I am using chicken chow mien recipe.

2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and locate the related searches section.  This section will include a number of keyword ideas for your post. These example search queries  are more long tail than your initial seed keyword. Choose one of these as your target keywords.

3. Aside from the recipe schema, write your recipe posts without regard for SEO. Your main goal is to create a piece of content that serves the need of the user searching for the recipe.  Focusing on SEO at this point oftentimes take away from this goal (besides, this is Minimalist SEO, we do the optimization later).

4. Publish your post and request indexing using Google Search Console.

Build up Topical Authority

Once the recipe has been published you can now go ahead and build up your topical authority by creating content that supports your recipe.

1. Go back to Google and again do a search for your recipe (not the long tail version).

2. Locate the People Also Ask section and write down all the questions that are relevant to your recipe.

3. Select 4-5 of these questions and create a blog post around each question

4. Publish each of these posts and request indexing using Google Search Console

Create a Content Silo with Internal Linking

By linking all these articles together you will be creating a content silo.  This will allow your topical authority articles to support your main recipe post.

1. Within each of the topical authority articles, create a link to your main recipe post

2. Have the main recipe post link to just 1 of the topical authority pieces

3. Create internal links within the topical authority posts to each other.  There will be 2 sets of links created:

  • Post 1 links to Post 2, Post 2 links to Post 3, Post 3 links to Post 1
  • Post 3 links to Post 2, Post 2 links to Post 1, Post 1 links to Post 3

4. Each post will now link to each other and you should be able to get to each post by clicking from post to post.

Optimize Your Content with On Page SEO

Once your pages have been indexed, Google Search Console will show you what keywords your content ranks for. This is why we avoided using keyword tools.  Instead, we let Google determine what keywords the content should rank for.

1. Open Google Search Console and look at the Performance tab.  

2. Filter by page to see the pages created in the above steps

3. Select one of the posts and then look at the queries tab

4. On this tab you will see all the keyword that your post ranks for

5. Select the most appropriate keyword to be your main target keyword

6. Go to your post and complete basic On Page SEO optimization by having the keyword in the following places:

  • Article title
  • URL
  • SEO title
  • First Paragraph

Promote Your Content

The final step is to start sharing your content.  The more traffic you get, the more likely you are to earn a link to your content. If it’s within your skillset you can start a link building outreach campaign. Based on the tactics we’ve used above, simply sharing your content at this stage will allow you to gradually climb the search results.

I recommend promoting your content in places where people are actively searching.

  1. Pinterest: Turn your recipe and support articles into Idea pins
  2. Youtube: Create a video version of each of your posts
  3. Medium: Either rewrite and repurpose your article, or duplicate your article and publish (yes you can do this!)

Repeat the Process

Once you have completed your recipe post, plus its support articles and then promoted, its time to start all over again with a new recipe.  

If you keep repeating this cycle, you will see results. You may not see them right away, but you will see them – I guarantee.

SEO is a patience game, but if you set the ground work as described in this article, over time you will start to see a snowball effect of traffic and visitors to your food blog.

 

 

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