Learning all of the ever-changing rules of search engine optimization (SEO) can feel totally overwhelming. But there are a few quick tricks you can employ in just a few minutes that can significantly help your food blog traffic. Get your voice heard and make more money.
You don’t have to take an expensive class with an SEO guru or spend hours poring over online marketing blogs in order to understand the basics of getting your food blog noticed by search engines. You also don’t necessarily need a fancy plug-in ordering you around if you don’t want it.
All you need to do is understand a few things about how search engines work — and also a few things about how your visitors think.
After you’ve written a post (or a dozen), here are a few steps you can take to improve your SEO in under an hour.
Search engines want to send their users to fact-filled, high-quality content. So they’re not going to rank a super-short blog post very highly. While there’s certainly no hard and fast rule for how long your post should be, it’s generally a good idea to write more than 300 words. The blogging sweet spot is usually 400-700 words.
Make sure it’s readable and accurate
Google is no friend of typos and bad grammar. It associates poor writing with bad posts, and you’ll be penalized for it. Read your post over carefully for errors (reading it backwards, sentence by sentence is a good way to catch mistakes) or get a friend or hire a copyeditor to help you.
Determine your keyword and make sure it’s in your content
When you’re writing a post, its important to ask yourself, “What would my readers type into a search engine to find my post?” It’s often easier than you think. If you write about a recipe for authentic chicken dumplings, bingo, that is your keyword (it’s confusing, but your keyword is often a couple of words long).
Once you’ve determined your keyword, make sure that exact phrase appears in your title, your first paragraph and your meta description. Then make sure it appears once or twice in the body of the content as well.
Write a killer title
Your title is the most important thing that will determine how the search engines see your content, as well as how search engine users will react to it. Make sure that it’s short enough that it doesn’t get cut off on the search engine page (aim for between 60-80 characters, including spaces), that it includes your keyword, and that it clearly depicts what your content is about. Bonus points: Make your title fun and interesting and intriguing so that people will want to click on it!
Write a killer meta description
Your meta description is what appears below your title when your article appears in search engine results. You have around 160 characters to summarize your content and make readers want to click. Making sure your keywords appear, type a short summary of your article, and don’t shy away from matching the voice of your piece.
Add at least one relevant image
Images are great both for the benefit of the search engine and the reader. Choose something striking, clear and representative of your content. Also choose one that you have the legal right to use! Pexels is a great website for free stock photos — though taking your own, if applicable, is best.
Add some suheadings (like this one!)
The bots that review your post for search engines love subheads — not only do they reveal what your post is about, but they help readers navigate your content. Your headings should clearly explain what the next block of content is about, but they can also be in a unique voice and fun.
Add a couple of thoughtful hyperlinks
Hyperlinks can absolutely help your SEO. Add one or two inbound links (links that go to another page on your website) to relevant content, and then add one or two outbound links, again, to relevant content. Just make sure to highlight relevant keywords for your inbound links, and to make sure your outbound links are to trusted, high-quality publications.
While using keywords and hyperlinking are both great, don’t overdo it. Search engines do not like it when you try to game the system and stray too far from organic writing (and honestly, neither do readers). Too many links or keywords are a huge red flag, and they can get you penalized.
Finally, one of the best ways to get better at SEO is to watch your traffic. If you have particularly popular posts that are getting a lot of readers who came from Google or Bing, take a look at them and try to suss out why they are doing well with search engines. And never be afraid to experiment.