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SEO for Food Bloggers: How to Optimize Your Food Blog

We work with many popular food bloggers on maintaining and supporting their WordPress sites. As a result, we’ve learned quite a bit about optimizing recipe content for search engines.

And just as food is meant to be shared, so should SEO tips!

So, without further ado, here are seven SEO food blogger tips that will level up your recipe SEO game.

1. Long tail, long tail, LONG TAIL!

What if I told you this was a gluten-free mac and cheese with turkey meat?

So much of SEO is about trying to tap into a niche and building authority in that niche. Everyone’s got a kale salad recipe, but what makes your kale salad special or different? The answer to this question is found in your long tail keywords.

You’d be surprised by how specific people will get with their food searches. Sure, many people will simply search for “mac and cheese recipe” and click on the first result. But many other folks are searching for recipes that meet certain specific criteria — whether it be recipes for a dietary restriction or recipes that contain a specific ingredient the searcher needs to use up in their pantry or fridge. These people may be searching “vegan butternut squash mac and cheese” or “slow cooker jalapeno mac and cheese” — and these are exactly the type of long tail key phrases you want to pursue in order to nab some of that lower-competition traffic.

Doing a bit of long tail keyword research also helps you come up with ideas for future recipe content.

2. Choose your categories and tags carefully and stick with them.

Properly organizing your WordPress categories and tags makes it easier for users and search engines to find what they’re looking for.

Establishing categories and tags is critical for any WordPress blog that produces a lot of content. If you’re a food blogger, you probably already know that categories and tags allow you to build recipe archive pages organized by dietary needs, ingredients, mealtime, and more. This is incredibly helpful for both users and search engines, so you need to know how and when to leverage categories and tags properly.

We stress this because, based on our own experiences working with food bloggers over the years, it’s incredibly easy for categories and tags to get out of hand. Generally, you only want to have a handful of categories that your content can broadly fit under, and then you can use tags to be more specific.

There’s a lot more to know when organizing your blog content, so don’t miss our in-depth guide on how to use WordPress categories and tags.

3. Stay ahead of the calendar.

We are firmly in the “pumpkin bread is delicious all year around” camp.

The life of a food blogger often means that you’re baking pumpkin bread in July and testing Thanksgiving recipes in September. Circulating season-specific content earlier can be helpful for your readers who like to plan in advance, but SEO is one of the major reasons why it’s absolutely necessary.

You may have heard that SEO is a long game. It takes time. If you publish new content, it can sometimes take weeks or even months of patient waiting or continued optimization for that post to settle into a rank that you feel good about. So embrace the summer pumpkin bread!

4. Consider your site’s user experience

Person cutting tomatoes and following a recipe on an iPad.
Is it easy for users to follow a recipe using your website?

“Ugh, why won’t food bloggers just shut up and get to the recipe already!”

Have you heard this before? Long personal stories prefacing a recipe are a contentious topic among food bloggers and their readers. Some readers wish food bloggers would just get to the point:

While others celebrate thoughtful recipe introductions:

Our opinion? We tend to sympathize with the food bloggers in this case. Not just because we believe it’s their choice to write about whatever they want (it is their blog, after all!) — but also because it can be beneficial to SEO.

Quality long-form content is valuable and, in many cases, a necessity for success. These personal stories help search engines like Google differentiate food bloggers from huge recipe aggregation sites. They also provide food bloggers an opportunity to generate revenue for their work with ads delivered in the body of the content. Sure, no one loves ads, but since most food bloggers are offering up their recipes free of charge to anyone on the internet, this is one way they can be compensated for their labor.

All that said, your blog’s user experience is important. You don’t want users (especially mobile users) to immediately bounce from your site because they were frustrated by seemingly endless scrolling or a flurry of hard-to-close popups. Here are two tips that can help you strike the right balance:

  • If you’ve written a longer-than-usual recipe post, consider adding an anchor link at the beginning that gives antsy users the option to navigate directly to the recipe if they want to.
  • Make sure you’re testing the usability of your site frequently to ensure your ads aren’t overly intrusive or difficult to minimize.

5. Optimize image alt text. Yes, ALL of your images.

Rhubarb crumble dish surrounded by oats, hazelnuts, strawberries, and rhubarb stalks.
“Rhubarb crumble surrounded by fresh oats, hazelnuts, strawberries, and rhubarb stalks.”

One of the best parts about following a food blog is seeing all the gorgeous food photos. But the downside of having all those images? Manually inputting alt text for every single one.

We know, we know. That’s a lot of images to write alt text for, but trust us, it’s important to do this for every post. Alt text not only provides Google with valuable information about your content — it allows people who rely on screen readers to perceive your content.

While we’ve seen some bloggers simply add the name of the recipe as alt text for all the images on a post, we actually encourage going a step further and making each alt text description unique. For example, if you’re sharing a rhubarb crumble recipe that features step-by-step photos, here are some examples of simple yet descriptive alt text you might use:

  • “Ingredients for rhubarb crumble”
  • “Chopped rhubarb on a cutting board”
  • “Mixing ingredients for rhubarb crumble”
  • “A cast iron skillet of rhubarb crumble straight out of the oven”
  • “Single serving of rhubarb crumble in a bowl”
  • “Close-up of rhubarb crumble crust”

6. Keep up with SEO titles & meta descriptions

Food bloggers photographing a dish.
Constantly churning out new recipe content? Don’t forget your titles and metas!

Since seasoned food bloggers often have an extensive archive of recipe content, it can be challenging to make sure your posts are always in line with the latest SEO best practices.

At the most basic level, every single one of your recipes should have an SEO title and meta description featuring relevant long tail keywords. If these are missing from any of your posts — even really, really old posts — it may be time to remedy that or else you could be holding your blog content back from receiving the traffic it deserves.

Want to make your life easier? We recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin, which can streamline the process and make sure you’re in line with SEO best practices.

7. Boost related content with internal linking

A large meat, cheese, olive, and veggie spread.
Food is meant to be shared. The same goes for recipes.

Never miss an opportunity to plug your work within your work! When people are searching for recipes, they often bounce around to different sites before settling on one. If they land on your site but decide that this recipe isn’t quite what they’re looking for, internal linking gives you a chance to further appeal to them.

Linking to your other content is also a great way to transform a one-time visitor into a returning visitor. If they liked all the photos and writing in one of your posts, there’s a good chance they’ll appreciate similar content and turn to you in the future for more.

How strong is your food blog’s SEO game?

Are there any SEO tips for food bloggers that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Need a little extra help making sure your food blog is reaching its full search potential? In addition to providing WP Site Care plans to bloggers, we offer an array of digital marketing services to get you where you need to be. Contact us today!

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2 Comments

  1. Analida Braeger

    This is a great article! I would also add that a food blog should be using the best recipe plugin like Wp recipe maker premium and fill out all data elements and check the result in the google structured data testing tool.

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