An Introduction to Food Blog SEO

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on SEO for Food Bloggers!

We’ve written this guide to be your one stop shop for everything you need to know to properly optimize your food blog to perform well in search engines, and have included as much information here as possible!

However….search engine algorithms change – A LOT.

While there are certainly a lot of ‘best practices‘ we’re going to outline here on this page, this should be considered a living document, as we’ll keep it updated when new algorithms come out and new signals start taking effect, so be sure to pin this page and check back often!

Domain Name

One of the most basic but most important parts of having a successful food blog is going to be your domain name.  This may seem super basic, but it’s important not to overlook the easy stuff.

If you don’t have a domain name yet…

If you haven’t chosen a domain name for your food blog yet, then you’re in a great position to make sure you pick a great one. What makes a domain name great you might be asking? Well, it’s actually pretty simple.

Choosing the right domain name for your food blog means picking something that is going to be easily identifiable, memorable, and relatable to your content.  For example, if you’re planning on starting a food blog dedicated to baking desserts, finding something with dessert in the domain name will help not only people know what to expect when they land on your site but also search engines.  If you were to start up a food blog and instead use something like your own name as a domain name, your topical relevance to dessert recipes wouldn’t be immediately obvious to search engines, and so you’d be starting off with a disadvantage.

If you already have a domain name…

Assuming like most people you already have a domain name, and your site is up and running but you’re looking to grab more traffic, this section may not be all that relevant to you as the likelihood of you changing your domain name is going to be low.

However, if you only have a few months worth of posts and aren’t really getting a lot of traction because you chose a domain name that’s not really relevant to your topic, there’s still hope.  You can pretty simply purchase a new domain name and redirect any links coming to your old one without losing any real power behind them.

Redirecting one domain name to another…

Let’s say you started your food blog using a domain name that wasn’t really all that relevant and decided to rebrand yourself, or, you started a food blog using something like foodblog.wordpress.com and now decided to move to your own custom domain name – either way it’s important that you take a couple simple steps to preserve any links you’ve built which were going to your old domain name and redirect them to your new domain name.

To do this, you’ll need to do something called a 301 Redirect.  To explain it simply, a 301 Redirect tells search engines and also users who click on links that instead of directing traffic to your old address, instead forward it to your new one.  Think of it like when you move your actual house and you tell the post office to forward your mail to the new address, same idea.

If you had previously been on a WordPress.com blog and were using a basic subdomain address, like our example from before of foodblog.wordpress.com, you can very simply setup this 301 Redirect right inside your WordPress.com account.  Their instructions for doing this can be found right here.

Website Hosting

Website hosting is another one of the basics that often gets overlooked when it comes to SEO, but there are a LOT of reasons why paying special attention to your website host will be very important when it comes to optimizing your food blog SEO.

Website Speed

The speed of your website will have a big impact on how well it performs in search rankings, so making sure that your site loads and responds quickly on desktop and mobile is essential.

Companies like Google are very protective of the user experience of their customers, and so if they are sending people to your website and those people are landing on pages that aren’t loading fast enough, Google will start sending people to sites that perform better instead.

One option you can try here is hooking up your site to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or making sure that your host provides adequate caching for your site files to help speed up the delivery of your site’s pages.

Know Your Neighbors

This is one of those things that is really important but almost no one ever pays any attention to – who else is hosting a website on the same server as you?

Think of your website as a house, and your website host as a neighborhood.  No matter how nice your house is, if it’s surrounded by sketchy neighbors, people aren’t going to want to go there.

In a lot of cases, people choose web hosting plans that ‘share’ resources with a lot of other websites because they are much cheaper than buying an individual web hosting server all to yourself, in some cases the difference can mean spending $5 per month vs. $50.  The problem with this is that because these shared hosting packages are often so cheap, they also attract other people who want to put cheap websites online, sometimes for less than ideal or even legal reasons.

This becomes a real problem when search engines look to gather information about your site’s online reputation and check what other websites share the same server IP address with you.  If those other websites you share an address with include adult sites, gambling sites, or other ‘undesirable’ neighbors, this can reflect negatively on you.

If you are on a shared hosting plan, you can use a tool like this Domain Neighbor checker to see who else you are sharing the server with.  You may be surprised to find out what other types of sites are being associated with yours.

Uptime

While occasional downtime won’t have a direct effect on your rankings in search engines, the uptime of your site is very important to consider.

The main reason here of course aside from people being able to visit your site is that you want to make sure when people are clicking on your site from search engines, they aren’t finding a page that’s offline because if they do, they’ll go back to their search and try the next result instead.

Security

Making sure that your website is secure and free of any malware or viruses is going to be very important to making sure it ranks and performs well.  Your rankings won’t tend to slip right away should you fall victim to malware on your site, however they will if it goes unresolved for an extended period of time.

The other concern with having malware on your site for any period of time is how most browsers and search engines handle notifying visitors.  For example, if someone happens to find your site in a search on Google, they’d see a little notification that says ‘This site may be hacked’ which is typically enough to scare most people away from clicking on your site at all.

Should they actually happen to click and land on your site anyway, one of a couple things may happen.  If they are using a browser such as Chrome, the visitor will typically be prompted with an entirely red screen warning them of the potential harm your site can inflict on their computer, which is of course

If they are using a browser such as Chrome, the visitor will typically be prompted with a bright red screen warning them of the potential harm your site can inflict on their computer.  If they are using a different browser like Safari which may not warn them, they may actually wind up getting a virus from your site, which leaves you with pretty unhappy visitors and a bad reputation.

On-page Optimization

Optimize Your Images

This is a hot topic for food bloggers, mostly because you put so much effort into creating such beautiful plates of food and painstakingly taking photos with just the right light that you want to make sure they show up sharp and crisp on your website.

But the main problem with uploading large high resolution photos to your posts is that it means your viewers will also need to download those photos every time a page loads on your site.  The larger the photo’s file size, the longer it can take to load.

Optimizing your images before uploading them by doing things like ‘Save for Web’ in Adobe Photoshop, or using a plugin like WP Smush can drastically help to reduce the file sizes while keeping the quality of the images the same, making your pages load much faster.

Don’t ‘Stuff’ Your Keywords

While it can be tempting to pack your post with a ton of the same keywords over and over again, you really should avoid doing this at all costs.  Instead, use lots of variations of the same keyword to help build up the relevancy but not over do it.

For example, if you were writing a post about ‘Banana Cream Pie’ you would include similar phrases like ‘Banana Cream’, ‘Cream Pie’, ‘Banana Dessert’ etc…

Use Recipe Schema

One of the most important parts of SEO specific to food blogs is making sure that your recipes include the correct schema to show up properly in Google.  This means that when your recipes do show up in search results, they come with images, star ratings, and all the ingredient and nutrition information to make them more clickable.  Most of the more popular recipe card plugins have started included these features in them, so be sure to check and make sure your plugin does!

With proper schema coming from your recipe card plugin, and of course following all the rest of the guidelines here, you can not only get your recipe photo and nutrition info to show in search results, but you can also dominate the first page of a search result with a massive rich card showcasing your recipe as well.

Social Signals

One thing that has been proving to be very important when it comes to not only ranking well in search engines but also in generating traffic to your site is social signals, or in other words how many people on social media are talking about you.  There are a number of ways to improve this, let’s cover them here.

Provide Easy To Find Sharing Tools

This one should really go without saying, but sometimes the most obvious things are often neglected – make sure that you include easy to find and easy to use sharing icons on your site, and put them in places where people are most likely to use them.

This means you’ll want to provide simple sharing icons as either a floating bar on the side of the page which is always visible, at the end of your content to give readers a hint about what they should do after they finish reading and also in your recipe card to help give people the idea of what they should be doing with your content.

You’ll want to be mindful though not to be overbearing with your sharing icons, as you don’t want to alienate people either.

Include ‘Pin-able’ Images

Pinterest is a huge traffic source for food bloggers, so making sure that your recipes are optimized to be as ‘pin-able’ as possible is a great idea.  One way to do this is to include an image on your post that is created specifically for Pinterest.

While people can pin just about any image from your site if they really want to, giving them an image to use right up front that will give you a better chance at being re-pinned is an easy to do and effective technique.  These images are often very tall and attention getting, which also makes them less than ideal to have visible inside your recipe post.

Try pinning this page using the button right above – you’ll see it brings up a nicely formatted image you can pin, but that image doesn’t appear anywhere on this page.

The way to accomplish this is instead of keeping these images visible all the time, what you want to do is include them in your post right at the top, but then hide them from public view.  There are quite a few plugins that offer this functionality for you, or you can follow one of the dozens of tutorials online, like this one.

Start The Conversation Yourself

One of the most important things you can do to help with your social signals is by sparking the conversation yourself, and making sure your recent posts appear on all the popular social platforms to make it easier for people to share from there.

User Experience

From a purely ‘SEO’ perspective – the user experience of your site isn’t really all that important.  There are plenty of sites with a miserable user experience that still rank really well, however since we’re taking the time to built a food blog and do it the right way, let’s cover some of the most important parts of creating a great user experience and do this right the first time.

Provide A Responsive Experience

When building a website properly, you must account for the wide variety of places your website will be viewed, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktops, this means a huge number of screen sizes and resolutions to account for, so making sure that your website is responsive is important.

Having a responsive website means that the elements on the page will ‘respond’ automatically to different sized browser windows.  So, for example, your sidebar will automatically relocate to underneath your post content on windows that aren’t wide enough to fit both side by side.

The most important thing to check here is that your theme was built properly, so the elements on your side move at the right times, and don’t leave you instead with big areas of blank space.

Be Mindful Of ‘The Fold’

Going along the same mindfulness you need to pay to responsiveness and screen size, you’ll also want to make sure that your website isn’t wasting too much space at the very top with your logo and menu bar before you reach any actual content.

This can be an issue for a couple of reasons, specifically that it forces people to have to scroll to reach anything, which can be annoying to some people, and it also can push your advertisements off the visible area of the screen, which can decrease their performance.

Credit

All of the information contained on SEOforFoodBloggers.com, as well as any of the information provided to you directly through the Food Blog SEO Audit above is provided courtesy of J. Louis, a digital marketing agency powering many of the top brands in the business.

The SEO team at J. Louis has a combined 20 years experience in optimizing websites to perform well in search engines, from startups to Fortune 100 companies, and yes, especially food blogs.