At the suggestion of a couple of foodblogger friends I pulled together a “short” SEO For Food Bloggers Guide that’ll teach you how to properly research keywords. In my opinion keyword research is the number one thing to do to get traffic from Google. Hands down.
I still have the feeling that many peeps just install YOAST SEO and hope Google sends over some traffic. But unfortunately SEO doesn’t work like that.
SEO For Food Bloggers – We can do this! Let’s start.
In “search engine language” a keyword is a word or a phrase that people are likely to type into Google when they search for specific content. So, keyword research is a strategy to achieve better rankings by looking for words that people are likely to type into Google.
Let’s say you want to make a salad with chickpeas, avocado and feta cheese. What to call your salad? I’ll answer that question with a free and magical tool called the Google Keyword Planner.
The Google Keyword Planner helps you with finding keyword ideas and estimating how they perform. It’s also used for creating adwords campaigns, but that’s not important right now.
The Keyword Planner
If you don’t have a Google Adwords Account yet, you can create one here. No worries, it’s free and we’ll only need that account to access the Keyword Planner. Your screen should look something like that one below. After signing up just make sure you turn off the campaign again!
Note: Google recently started to ask for payment info upon registration. But nothing to worry about here, you won’t get charged anything if you do. Also, you can follow this video if don’t want leave your payment info.
After signing up, go to the tab “Tools” and then click on “Keyword Planner”.
Now click on the first option “Find new keywords and get search volume data”.
Alright, we’re getting there. Now let’s use the tool!
Researching Keywords For Your Recipe
Remember you wanted to see what’s the best way to name your salad with avocados, feta cheese and chickpeas? To do that you’ll need to find the ideal keyword for the recipe.
Just for your clarification: In SEO a keyword can consist of one word, but also of many, eg. “avocado” and also “avocado chickpea salad” is referred to as a keyword.
To start the research you just have to type in various recipe name ideas into the keyword tool. Let’s keep it easy and go for three easy combinations including the ingredients (see image):
You can add extra targeting or customising to further refine your search. It’s all self-explanatory, so feel free to play around with it. Personally, I make sure I’m targeting all locations and languages. Then hit “Get ideas”.
Now go to “Keyword ideas”
Finally we’re at what we were looking for: how often are our keyword combinations searched for per month? You see the answer below:
Let me quickly explain this screenshot: at the top you see the three keywords we typed into the keyword planner. “Avg. monthly searches” indicate how many times this exact keyword is searched for.
IMPORTANT: “Competition” refers to the amount of Adwords Advertisers on that specific keyword. It doesn’t have to do anything with the competition in the organic search results so ignore that for now!
Below your own keyword ideas you’ll also find a list with keyword suggestions. You should always check them out. Often you’ll find keywords with higher monthly searches than the ones you typed in. Sometimes you’ll even stumble upon new recipe ideas (feta salad dressing – that sounds really interesting!)
Right then, so what do you need to consider now?
Here are two important criteria to keep in mind:
- Search volume: obviously, the more the better. But in general, more searches = more competition. If you’re new to SEO I recommend sticking with keywords that don’t get as many searches. How many searches, exactly? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific number because it varies wildly depending on your kind of content. For recipes I personally want to get at least around 300 monthly avg. searches.
- Organic competition on Google’s first page: Around 71% of the people click on a result from the first page. So, our aim should be to make it at least onto that page, and better yet to make in into the top five (1).
Now you want to check for two things:
First, the less big websites on top the better. If you see Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart, The Food Network, BBC Good Food and other big websites occupying the first six results on page one, you’ll be better off looking for a different keyword. For a small food blog those players are almost impossible to beat.
Second, the less targeted the search results the better. If you look for a chickpea feta salad, but the closest result to it is a recipe with the name “Feta Salad with Greens” then your recipe with the right keyword will have it easy to reach the top.
Ok, let’s see:
In regards to criteria one (search volume) the keyword “chickpea feta salad” with its 590 avg. monthly searches looks most promising. But before you decide to include that keyword in your recipe name, check for criteria two (organic competition). Type it into Google and see against whom you are competing!
Check out the image below for the search results of the keyword “chickpea feta salad”.
You may or may not know that Google personalizes search results, so it’s very possible that your list will look a little different when you type in “chickpea feta salad”. Nonetheless, it’s a very good indicator as to what most people see on top.
You’ll notice Jamie Oliver, BBC Good Food, Martha Steward and food.com already took the first four spots. Twopeasandtheirpod.com is a very big food blog, Weight Watchers and the Food Network are not exactly unkowns either. To sum up: it’s more likely to win the lottery than get a good ranking for this keyword. No, thank you.
Better check the second keyword option: “avocado chickpea salad”
Just 390 searches per month, but the organic competition looks much weaker (so as you probably spotted that’s the keyword we went for).
No Jamie Oliver, no Martha Stewart, excellent! It will not always be possible to avoid the big websites, but the fewer of them the better. And this looks good.
Also, check out the type of results: do you see the Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich on spot number three? This is certainly not an ideal search result for someone who is looking for an Avocado Chickpea Salad – a very good indicator that you’ll have a good chance to get to the top with your recipe.
To complete the example let’s check the keyword “avocado feta salad” as well.
Allrecipes and BBC Good Food on top. Nope, that’s tough. The best choice is the keyword “avocado chickpea salad”.
Cool, that’s it with this short SEO For Food Bloggers Guide. Now you know how to research the keywords for your recipes. Please note that this was a very smooth example. You could dig in much deeper. Maybe there are still better keywords for this recipe that I haven’t thought of yet (eg. Avocado Summer Salad, Vegetarian Chickpea Salad, Greek Chickpea Salad).
Just by properly researching the keywords for your recipe, you can influence if it gets traffic from Google or not. Funny how excluding “Feta” and including “Avocado” in the recipe name can make such a difference, right?
On that note: I’ve written a complete SEO Guide For Food Bloggers that teaches you exactly how to elevate your recipes to the first page on Google. Keyword research is the most important component, but to give your recipes the extra push you’ll need to know a few more strategies.
Thanks for reading!