In episode 299, Megan chats with Kristi Ruth, a registered dietician and new blogger, about investing in an SEO audit with less than 100 published recipes and why it was beneficial to her.

We cover information about why Kristi felt it was important to invest early on in an audit for her site, what you can expect post-audit and the top 5 things Kristi wants to share with everyone about what is important to evaluate for your own site.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

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Guest Details

Connect with Carrots and Cookies
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio Kristi is a Registered Dietitian and busy working mom of three kids, ages seven to fourteen. Her passion to help parents know what it means to feed their kids well has grown as she raises her own. Without going crazy, Kristi found a way of developing easy and practical nutrient-dense recipes that she was proud of and kids love but so do parents too!


  • When looking at resources to educate yourself as a blogger, be sure to check them out ahead of time to make sure you’re ready to learn in that style and available to digest the information so you can put it to use.
  • Be sure to check out resources that are free to start learning about how to blog, learn technical needs and how to follow SEO practices.
  • When beginning blogging, before you can monetize, ask yourself how much you want to invest in blogging as if its an expensive hobby. How much would you be willing to pay out of pocket for your hobby that you want to grow in?
  • An audit can help you prioritize your time well and implement the information correctly on the blog.
  • #1 – Accessibility – this is much more than just alt text. Check your colors and make sure people with visual issues can see your fonts and read them with the color scheme. Be sure to generate an accessibility statement and publish it.
  • #2 – Mobile friendliness – you need to consider mobile usability, evaluate your category structure and consider use of tags.
  • #3 – SEO – use title case with your headers, even if your Feast theme changes them when published. Do not include more than 4 images in a collage of step by step pictures. There’s no point in having a step-by-step section in your post if you don’t have process shots to accompany it.
  • When you publish photos on your blog, be sure to click the “full size” and then be sure its 1200 pixels wide.
  • #4 – Backlinks – Be sure that you are seeking out quality backlinks. Roundups are not all high quality. HARO is one option. You don’t have to have a lot of followers online or on social media to be selected by a reputable source to share your content – just a quality post can be noticed.
  • Sometimes a post with your information won’t show up on your backlinks because it’s not linked to your site but to a recipe on your social platform. Or if a misspelling occurred, then you won’t see that appear. Occasionally do a Google search on yourself and you can find valuable links and get them corrected if need be.
  • Keep a spreadsheet of backlink information to keep track.
  • Your domain factor isn’t the only qualifying rank factor.
  • #5 – Keyword research – it’s valuable to dive into keyword research and do more than a basic check on volume and scores. Sometimes a keyword might appear on a tool but not on Google. It’s valuable to search multiple places to get your content you want to rank for.

Resources Mentioned

Cooking with Keywords Course

‘100 Days of Believing Bigger’ by Marshawn Evans Daniels

SEO Time

Listen to Liane Walker break down the difference between Food Blog SEO and Recipe SEO in episode 227.


Click for full script.


Kristi Ruth: Hi, this is Kristi Ruth from Carrots and Cookies and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. 

Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player, go to Eat Blog Talk, scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast, it adds value. I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay. Now onto the episode. 

Megan Porta: Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and confidence that will move the needle forward in your business. This episode is sponsored by RankIQ. I am your host, Megan Porta and you are listening to episode number 299. Today, Kristi Ruth and I are going to talk about her experience with getting a site audit with only 60 published recipes. Kristi is a registered dietician and busy working mom of three kids, ages seven to 14. Her passion for helping parents understand what it means to feed their kids well has grown as she raises her own. Without going crazy, Kristi found a way of developing easy and practical nutrient dense recipes that she was proud of and kids love, but so do parents. Kristi, it is a pleasure to have you here. Thank you so much for joining me today. How are you? 

Kristi Ruth: I am doing well. Thank you for having me, Megan. It is really great to be speaking with you. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about you. I think our oldest are even the same age. 

Megan Porta: Oh, okay. So yeah, let’s see. 14. Mine just turned 15. So he’s a new 15 year old.

Kristi Ruth: I’ll be there next month.

Megan Porta: Okay. It’s a fun age.

Kristi Ruth: For sure. Yeah. 

Megan Porta: All kinds of new adventures. Before we get into our topic today, why don’t you tell us what your fun fact is? 

Kristi Ruth: Okay. So I’m not quite sure how to word this. But I’ll go with this. So I have taken over a hundred flights with my kids, over 50 round trips. Sometimes we add an extra leg in there. It’s not just there and back. Yeah we fly. 

Megan Porta: Expand on that. Where do you go? 

Kristi Ruth: I live in Pennsylvania and all of my side of the family is on the west coast. I was born and raised out there. So Arizona and California primarily, and we have a few family members spread out a few other places now. So I’ve prioritized visiting family. We got married. I say we agreed, but really I made it something that we needed to look at our traveling expenses like a mortgage payment one that you don’t really want to pay for, but you have to. For me, it’s family. So for example, like the kids and I, my husband works and isn’t able to take as much time off as I have been able to. So it’s usually myself and the kids. For example, I have flown from Pennsylvania to Reno, Nevada to visit my dad and then flown from Reno to San Diego to visit another family. Then one trip was super fun. I took our oldest, we went international. We went to Holland. I have family there as well. 

Megan Porta: That’s awesome. I cannot say that we’ve flown a hundred times with our kids, but we love flying with our kids, almost to the point of them being spoiled. They know exactly which airlines they prefer. Every time we fly, there’ll be like, okay, are we traveling Delta? Will there be TVs? I’m like, okay, this is bad. I guess it’s one of those things. I’m grateful for it because we do fly a lot. That means that we’re getting out and traveling and experiencing the world.

Kristi Ruth: Exactly our kids, they own it. They have their system and their snacks and what they want to watch. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, same. Their little rollie bags and they know exactly, it’s so fun. I love that. All right. Let’s talk about what you’re here for, which is the fact that you got an audit pretty early, before what is required really. You were the exception to the rule. So first of all, I would love to hear a little bit about your background, because I know you were a hospital dietician. You didn’t have any experience with tech or social media. You didn’t even follow any blogs. 

Kristi Ruth: I know, I’m sorry food bloggers. 

Megan Porta: No. I want to hear about that and how you went from that into actually blogging.

Kristi Ruth: Okay. So yeah, I am a registered dietician. I have been working in large teaching hospitals for over 18 years, actually. A little fun fact too, is that I actually specialize in what we call nutrition support. So at work, I primarily see patients who are in the intensive care units. That includes adults. I also see kids and premature babies. I see a whole variety of patients besides, that’s just my specialty area. But then when we had kids, almost 15 years ago, I went part-time. So I was a little more in tune to people in the community. Just being involved with things with them on my days off. It really became apparent to me when people would learn what I would do for a living, just being a dietician that there’s a big need for what I call the everyday family to try to make sense of the information that they’re getting. Whether it’s new brand products that are coming out or the way certain things are being marketed. Everybody wants their families to be healthy. But some families are very confused about that. I’m sorry, food bloggers. I’ve been missing out a lot. I have not followed a blog. 

Megan Porta: We forgive you.

Kristi Ruth: I know it’s hard to believe. I don’t even use Pinterest and social media, but I hadn’t been using it to follow anybody. So this was a whole new world for me. Over the years I kept thinking of different ideas. What could I do where I could reach people who wouldn’t think to maybe go consult a dietician out of pocket. So I would say it was only about three years ago that I would say my antennas were out for more opportunities. What could I do? I work for a contract company at the hospital and for the first time in the history of the hospital, our contract was going out for bid. I thought, oh my goodness, like this might be, if we lose our contract, this could be an opportunity for me to just try something different. Because up until then, I had really had tunnel vision other than these nudges of what I could do, but hadn’t really pursued it. So I had confided in a few close friends, just thinking of ideas. One of my very good friends, it turns out she, her response was, oh my goodness. My cousin is a food blogger. She would tell you to write an ebook, I think. And this was totally out of the blue for me. I had never even used any e-book. So she convinced me to get in touch with her just to get her thoughts on it. So I did. I didn’t have a reason to say no. Although again, it was a very foreign concept to me. I gave her a call. I just told her about myself and where my passions were. I said, so do you think I should start with writing an ebook? She’s no, you need to start a food blog. I thought, okay. Then interestingly within, I would say a month, I had three different people, unrelated to this situation. One was at a volleyball tournament, a parent who met me and a few others that had responded to conversation saying you really should start a food blog. They had no idea that I had just had this call with her and had my eyes out for other things. So I just really felt the call to do it. So I decided to do it, even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Anybody who’s listening to this who is exploring the idea of starting a food blog, I would say, it does sound overwhelming. All the information. I joked saying, if I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have started it, but it’s so worth it. It is so worth it. Although there are sprinters in the field, it is a marathon, as you will hear a lot of people say. So yeah, so I have continued to work in the hospital. I still am working in the hospital and seeing patients and then I’ve been doing the blog really when I can, which is hard. But that’s why it’s been a little bit longer of a journey.

Megan Porta: Yeah. So when exactly did you start your blog? 

Kristi Ruth: I would say I hit publish in June of 2020. Yeah. So right when everybody else was, it turns out it. It was January. I would say it was before that. So it was right before the pandemic that I decided to say yes. I filed for my LLC then. I didn’t even think about it, if you’re starting a food blog, there needs to be an available URL. I thought of this great name, which I don’t remember now. But it wasn’t available and I hadn’t even thought of that. So I took time doing that. Then I also, before I had published anything, I had taken the hashtag Jeff which is a monthly subscription, at least it was then. For new bloggers who have no tech background, that’s me. I really don’t recommend that. I’m sure it’s fantastic for other people. It had been recommended to me by somebody who did have a tech background. But because it’s monthly and it was taking me a long time to learn. That’s one thing I would say hold off on that one. So I did that for about two months, I would say. Then I’m a doer. I learn as I do. So I just decided to start publishing or posting recipes. I figured, if nobody can find it, who cares if it’s not what it’s supposed to look like yet. So then my goal was to post 20 recipes. I knew the recipes were sound. I make them all the time. My kids love them. I was going to post 20 and then stop what I was doing and then learn more and then go back and update them. I had 20 for a few reasons. One is, a lot of even Facebook groups, you need to have at least 20 posts for them to see that you’re a legit food blog because a lot of people are starting and stopping. Then from what I had understood, that’s about the point that Google might consider you a legitimate food blog too. So that was what I had set for myself. That was my first goal. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. I like that. I like having a number that you can reach. It’s like a step-by-step number, knowing you’re probably going to go beyond 20, but 20 was your first achievement. Then beyond that, you’re probably like, okay, now I’m going to add more to my database. Take us along your journey about finding the information where you knew you needed to dig into maybe an audit and how did that all come about? 

Kristi Ruth: Okay. I listened to some podcasts and when those Top Hat Rank sessions started being published during the pandemic, I was listening to those. I was paying attention to the Facebook groups for bloggers and really just realizing that there’s a lot of people who want to help. There’s a lot of information out there. But after my experience, I think with the hashtag Jeff course, I was just a little more cautious on what I spent money on and my time on. So I really learned very little at a time. I knew I wanted my site to look presentable. So if somebody did find my site that it would look like a real site, I needed to get my picture on there, which for me, all these things, it just wasn’t easy. So it was to get my picture on there and the About me, which I still need to update my about me page and get more pictures on there. So I really just take it one step at a time. I decided for the first year as far as expenses go, to consider what I would be willing to spend on an expensive hobby. Eventually I’d want it to be a business, but I knew I didn’t have the time to put into it. I knew I wasn’t going to hit Mediavine in a year, that just wasn’t the time that I had for it. I decided to budget as if it’s an expensive hobby that I enjoy doing and I’m okay if I don’t make anything from it this year. So that’s how I made decisions the first year.

Megan Porta: I like that your mindset played a role in that. So you were setting certain expectations for yourself and your blog and not biting off more than you could chew. Which I feel like so many people do. They’re like, I see x person just crushing it within two months or whatever. There are those anomalies who just kill it within a short period of time. Instead of expecting to be that, you were like, Hey, this is going to be low key. I’m going to build myself up and it is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. I love how you frame that about what I would spend on an expensive hobby. That’s what you were talking about earlier with travel, right? You have to factor those things in. 

Kristi Ruth: You have to be realistic with the time that you have. So then I had to find the balance, which I think we all do, of how much time do I spend learning more and how much time do I spend updating? Then how much time do I spend creating more posts? Because a blog with 20 posts isn’t going to go anywhere. I would say I bought Keyword research. That’s one tool I did pay for because mainly it was the least expensive. It was before I had heard that it was recommended by other people, but it was about a little less than $11 a month. I had gotten a black Friday deal. So I used that, but I wasn’t even using that correctly. When I hit about 30 posts, I would say, I wanted to put more into it. I saw that my youngest was going to be going to school full-time in the fall. So I forecasted I would be able to put more into this. I also learned a lot about audits just from people commenting, whether it’s podcasts or interviews or on the Facebook groups for bloggers. I heard a lot about audits and content auditing and Casey Markee is obviously very involved in the Facebook group. I knew that I was getting correct information, but I really didn’t feel like I was one, prioritizing my time correctly and also I wasn’t implementing the information correctly at my site. I just had this feeling and I didn’t want to get to the point where I had a couple of hundred recipes and had to update that money because the one main recipe, one update I did have that was for example, it was clear that all images should be uploaded at 1200 pixels, for example. So what did I do? I stopped publishing. I went through every single image and re-uploaded it to 1200 pixels. That was so time consuming. I thought, oh my goodness. If I do this with every piece of information that I learn, I’m never going to get anywhere. So knowing I had 30 and I was forecasting, I would have a lot more time to put into it. I had also heard that he has a window of at least six months when you get on a schedule. So I thought, I didn’t want to wait until I had 75 or 85 posts, which are his minimum requirements for an audit. I wanted to get on it before that, so that when I got there, I could get an audit. I just was determined and it’s not cheap. You have to pay for half. When you book, you have to pay for half and then you pay the rest at the time of the audit. But I also felt having it on my calendar would help me stay focused on getting there. So I did it pretty early. But it was just because I had this feeling that I wasn’t implementing the information correctly.

So in June of 2021, it was the first week of June. I got on his schedule. It was scheduled for January. So that’s how far out he was booked. But again, and he even said, you totally can do this. With the time you have, just prioritize posting and you need to hit this number of posts, which is 75 to 85 minimum. When you get on his schedule, he sends you an email list of to-do’s already, which is awesome. But I felt like that was an audit already by itself. But at least it gave me direction to go. So I appreciated that. Yeah. 

Megan Porta: So you did all of the audit work, and then we should mention here, like you had touched on this, you were the exception. So he does have a hard, fast rule though for any other people. I believe he told you that he would probably not make that exception again, correct? 

Kristi Ruth: Yeah. Yeah. When I signed on and I acknowledged how few posts I have, he did say, if you don’t get to 75 to 85 posts, I will move you. I’m a straight shooter like he is. I appreciate that he just says it how it is. I had no problem with that at all. I actually responded, I expect nothing less than that. I would say the only reason why he made an exception I think is, I should add a month after I got on his calendar, we had a house fire. We were okay. Thankfully we were outside, but within a blink of an eye, we were displaced from our home. We are still out of our home. It’ll be July, probably this July until we’re back in. 

Megan Porta: That’s terrible. I’m so sorry. 

Kristi Ruth: Yeah, so it has been a year. So and to keep it in perspective, I have a rental place now. It’s a smaller space. I’m using rented dishes. All my props are gone. So there was a major halt there. He does ask for updates between the time you get on his schedule until your audit. So I did let him know about that but let him know my hope was still to keep going with this as much as I could. He definitely was encouraging and gave me ideas of what I could do. For a while, I didn’t even have my computer or my camera. But I had my phone, so I could learn that way. But I also hit a point of saturation. So for example, during that time period, I had taken a Cooking with Keywords course, and it was great. But I wasn’t at a place where I could sit down and take notes while I took it. Which if you take the course, you have to do that. I think somebody you interviewed described it as being like a course on crack or something. I totally agree with that. It’s so good. I got some from it, but I really needed to sit down and dive into it. So I ended up retaking it right after my audit. So he was great with understanding that, but I was still determined. I really thought I could still do it. So I pressed on and I continued to post. Then I mentioned, I work in the intensive care units and the COVID surge hit again. Which is primarily my population during the pandemic anyways. So I was asked to work more, which limited my ability to post. So I had to show myself grace, which I know you encourage your listeners to do well. You just have to. So I touched base with him again and understood if I needed to be moved. My audit was scheduled for right after the holidays and I was not requesting for it to be moved. I wanted to keep the date. So he agreed to move forward with it. But I do believe my audit was the most elementary audit he has ever done because there is so much more I know he can offer to somebody who has more posts. But for me it was invaluable. I’m so thankful I went ahead with it.

Megan Porta: I love that story. I don’t love that you had those challenges. A house fire is just traumatic, I can imagine. Then the whole COVID situation, with being in the hospital space, that is a lot. But I’m so glad you persevered and that Casey agreed to work with you. So I want to hear about your experience with the audit. So it was a mini audit, correct? 

Kristi Ruth: Yeah. There’s a mini audit, which is a two to three hour live and recorded Skype call. So he’s screen-sharing with you. He actually makes changes on the spot when he can, which is awesome. Then he also explains how he’s doing it. You can learn and you don’t have to worry about taking notes the whole time because it’s recorded. So that’s great. At the end of the call, he follows up within 24 hours with a 17 to 19 page, I think mine is 19 pages, document within a day with more information on how to move forward and prioritizing. He sends links to examples of what he’s talking about and podcasters who are open for interviews I can go on. Like I said, it’s 19 pages of things. It starts with things like, fix your broken links and internal redirects and no organic traffic and he provides spreadsheets. I could spend an hour just talking to me about what he offers in his audit. So now I have the spreadsheets with the different information that he did for me. I’m not a spreadsheet person either. I’m not just not a Pinterest person, I’m not a spreadsheet person. But I do appreciate them. So I have been using them. So he provided so much, but I thought for listeners and for time sake, I narrowed it down into five points.

Megan Porta: Let’s hear them. 

Kristi Ruth: Okay. So the first is, as it relates to the accessibility. Some of this, he reviewed in his most recent interview with you not long ago. But it’s more than filling out your alt text correctly. So he fine-tuned my font size and corrected my colors. When I shifted my colors a little bit, it turns out it wasn’t meeting the accessibility standards. So he fixed that for me, but he also showed me how to do it. There is a free website that he recommended that you can put your colors in to know if they meet the accessibility parameters or not. Also for an accessibility statement, he had let me know of a website that will generate one for you for free. So I took full advantage of that. 

Megan Porta: Nice. Okay. Those are things I think we don’t always think about when we think of accessibility, like you said, we think of alt text and then we stop there. So it’s good to explore the visual impairments and other parts of that. 

Sponsor: Food bloggers. Hey, let’s take a really quick break from the episode so I can tell you some shining points about my favorite keyword research tool, RankIQ. I’ve talked about it a lot on this podcast before, but I wanted to give you an update because I’ve shared my strategy about digging into non recipe posts that I run through the rank IQ optimizer. I’ve done this all year so far in 2022. So far, I’m up 25%, which is up from my last update, which was probably around 20% year over year, so far this year, compared to last year. So many of the keywords that I run through the optimizer in RankIQ, get put on the first page of Google relatively quickly. By running a lot of content through the optimizer I’m planting a ton of seeds so that over time I’m going to produce this really beautiful crop of posts that’s going to lead to massive growth on Pip on Ebby. I’m so excited to report back to you at the end of this year, when things are even more fruitful. Check it out for yourself. I hope you love it as much as I do and you find wild success with it. Now let’s get back to the episode. 

Kristi Ruth: Then the second one is mobile friendliness. Again, he says this all the time. You hear it a lot. As far as making sure your website is mobile friendly. I just hadn’t been sure what it all involved. But obviously makes it easier for the user to navigate. Most people are on their phones. So this totally makes sense. So for me, I needed to improve my category structure and I needed to stop using tags. But don’t just delete your tags because that will create 404 errors. That is something I did and then we had to fix it. 

Megan Porta: Oh Boy.

Kristi Ruth: Then as far as the modern mobile menu, I ended up hiring Grayson at Imark to do that for me, just for sake of time. That is something I outsourced, but I hadn’t had the modern mobile menu set up yet for my site. I use the feast theme, I should add. So I had him do that for me and that made or even my daughter getting on my site, she was like, mom, oh my goodness. Your site looks so much better. That was just even just restructuring my categories on the modern mobile menu. Those are the only two things she noticed and she already was complimenting it. So that was great. 

Megan Porta: That’s great when you get compliments from a teenager, it’s good. Okay. So anything else with mobile friendliness? 

Kristi Ruth: I don’t think so. I think some of it I’ll hit in my next point. 

Megan Porta: Okay. So yeah. What’s point number three? 

Kristi Ruth: Okay. Point number three is SEO. We all love to hear about it. So this is something I got caught on. Again, I think this is common sense to a lot of people, but clearly it wasn’t to me. So when you’re typing out, your headers always use the title case. The reason why it didn’t make sense to me is, no matter if I use lowercase or uppercase, at least with the feast theme, once I hit publish and you’re looking at my site, it’s all capitalized anyways. So when I realized that, I got lazy and I was using lowercase for everything just because it was easier. But you need to use the title case, even though it all is going to show capitalized once it’s published. So that was something that I still have to go update in a lot of mine. 

Megan Porta: Something, again, like something little, you just never think about. 

Kristi Ruth: He’s like Kristi, you need to learn the title case. I was like, actually, I know the title case. I just was lazy and wasn’t using it because I didn’t think it mattered. Then also related to SEO and user experience, so this goes with mobile friendliness also, when you’re making collages of process shots, don’t include more than four images. So don’t do six. It shouldn’t be more than four images. With this, I learned there’s no point in having a step-by-step section in your post, if you don’t have process shots to accompany it. Whereas for me, just trying to crank out posts, even if I just had one great shot of the finished recipe, I would just post it or part of the process shot, but not all the process shots. But I need to go back. So I have a lot of updating to do, as you can understand. 

Megan Porta: Yes. Oh, I am familiar. I understand. 

Kristi Ruth: The other great thing, so for example, during the audit too, then I could pause and say, do you think, like I had done with my images, should I stop and go fix all of them, this one thing in all of my posts, every time we’d hit something. We talked about use of time and it really, which he does say, but I just wasn’t sure if he really meant it for every detail, but when you’re updating a post, update the whole thing, instead of updating one at a time. It just makes more sense for time purposes. So this next one really caught me off guard. So I’m really curious if I’m the only one. It has to do with images again. So like I said, I had stopped what I was doing and I uploaded all of my images at 1200 pixels. But then in my audit, he pulled up a post and he clicked on the image and he’s Kristi, why aren’t you uploading at 1200 pixels? I said, I am. I went and did all of that.

Megan Porta: I know what you’re going to say. 

Kristi Ruth: Yes, I didn’t go and hit full size in the block editor. I had no idea. I upload through the media library and create my alt texts there. Then put it in my post. In order to see for me anyways, for me to see that there’s even an option to hit full size, I have to scroll down and I was just moving on. So I did all that work. 

Megan Porta: That is a hidden little key. I’m glad you said that because even people who know that, kind of forget it because it’s such a little thing, little detail.

Kristi Ruth: I know. So Skylar from Feast, he actually posted recently, there was something on a Facebook bloggers group and he referred to this. And I asked him if there was a way to change the default to full-size and he said, it’s coming.

Megan Porta: Oh good. 

Kristi Ruth: Yeah, that’s coming. So it’s not there yet. So that’s a little tidbit that I had been totally caught off guard by. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. You’re not alone with that. It’s me too. I’ve talked to many other bloggers who were like, oh my gosh, I thought I was good. Now I have to go back and I have to click that full size. You’re not alone. 

Kristi Ruth: Okay. My fourth point has to do with backlinks. When I first started, oh, I’m a dietician and everybody’s going to want to hear what I have to say. But nobody will find me until you get other people linking to your site that tells Google that you are somebody that people should be reading your content. Again, common sense, but it just hadn’t registered to me. So I had been submitting to Roundup requests on Facebook. I think I have a decent amount of backlinks, but most of them Casey pointed out are low quality. So he provided avenues for me to get, that I could pursue to get higher quality backlinks that I did not know about. Which again, maybe might be common sense to a lot of you. The biggest one for me so far has been HARO. It stands for helping a reporter out. So I hadn’t heard of that. If I hadn’t been curious as to what it meant, I wouldn’t have pursued it. Actually, in the past six weeks, my blog was just in January. I had paused working on my blog in order to spend time working on increasing my authority through backlinks. So I have been quoted by EatThis three times, Live Strong, The Be Very Well Family and Fox news. So yeah, so for me that was super helpful. The one tidbit I want to include with Fox news is they did not, they said they couldn’t guarantee a link to my site. But they wanted to link to one of the recipes on your Instagram page, the link. I’ll only have 150 followers and they chose mine out of everybody quoted. They chose mine to be there, on their site. My photo was overexposed and it says I only have 157 followers. They chose mine. So if you’re a new blogger and you don’t have any followers, that’s okay. Now I can also use them for a mention in the banner. So I’m going to get one of those created, that’s on my to-do list.

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Yeah, that’s awesome. Congratulations. You just never know when something is going to take off or when somebody is going to pick you over your competition, right? 

Kristi Ruth: So with that too, I wanted to say, when you do reply, keep track of the day, the reporter’s name and the topic because they’re not going to tell you if they take, I think only one person, maybe two, have had told me that they were going to use me. Everything else, like the Fox news one, I found on my own, about a month later, I decided to search my name on Fox news, and I found it. But they didn’t tell me they were using it and it didn’t link to my site because it linked to my Instagram. So I wouldn’t have seen it if I checked my backlinks. 

Megan Porta: Okay. So that is a good case for making a spreadsheet or something for this sort of thing.

Kristi Ruth: Yes, exactly. Another example, I just found out, I was quoted by Very Well Family, but they misspelled my blog site. They got my name correct but they misspelled my blog site and the link they misspelled it when they created the link to my site also. So I’m in the process of getting that corrected. So again, had I looked just at my backlinks, I wouldn’t have thought I was quoted, but if I searched my name and the topic, that’s how I knew that they had chosen me to quote. So definitely keep on that. Keep track of that. The other fun thing that happened with that is a brand that I had mentioned that my kids and I love, reached out to me after I mentioned them in an article and wanted to partner. So that was pretty fun. So we’re still working on that but that was fun. 

Megan Porta: I just want to make the point there because it’s so often thought that if you don’t have a huge following on Instagram or even a lot of traffic on your blog, that there’s no way you could partner with a brand. So this is proof that is completely not true. 

Kristi Ruth: Correct. It also affirms, you hear that domain authority isn’t a, what do you call it? 

Megan Porta: Ranking factor. 

Kristi Ruth: Thank you. So my domain authority actually hasn’t changed yet, but my posts are ranking way higher ever since I’ve been linked more. So these links so far have not changed my domain authority, but they have increased my authority in Google’s eyes, from what I can tell.

Megan Porta: It’s impacting something in the background. 

Kristi Ruth: Yes, for sure. For sure. The other thing that is a free resource for people that I did not know about, I had contacted Arson with Top Hat Rank because it was something more for the future that Casey had mentioned. They do a monthly backlink campaign that you pay for. But I didn’t really know what it involved again, this was just in my follow-up email. So I wanted to contact them just to see what it involved and the cost of it just as I budget this year, because it was January when I had my audit. So they led me to sign up for one of his free 30 minutes coaching calls. In talking to him, I really appreciated that he was honest, the backlink campaign that he does is really for bigger bloggers and it’s not inexpensive. He also does technical audits, but I’d already had mine with Casey. But he offers the 30 minute coaching calls that do not cost anything. That was awesome. So he guided me on how to use a free trial of SEMrush to my benefit, just in the days that I would have for the beginning. Then the other thing is that it opened my eyes, I just need to be flexible. He has a very different strategy than Casey and they acknowledge that in their Top Hat Rank talks. One post that Casey told me not to spend any time on because of the search volume, Arson actually pulled up the same post, had no idea that Casey had chosen this one. He told me I should be posting more like that.

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s funny. 

Kristi Ruth: Yeah, so that was great and it doesn’t cost anything. That’s a free resource out there from Top Hat Rank. 

Megan Porta: Okay, cool. Then your fifth takeaway?

Kristi Ruth: My fifth takeaway. I’ll be brief with this once. I know a lot has been shared here, and has to do with keyword research. So I have always used Keysearch because it’s inexpensive, it costs just under $11 a month. Cooking with keywords, the course had really showed me how to dive deep into Keysearch. I had been using it in a basic way. But it taught me how to use it to view my competitors and what they’re ranking for and things like that. But what I hadn’t been doing, which again, should be common sense, is once I decided on a topic, because Keysearch would say that there was low competition and a high search volume. So I would create a post about that. But it doesn’t always line up with Google searches. So again, Casey said, I said, can you check out this post that you know had a really low competition score in Keysearch and had a higher search volume. Why is it not getting any traffic? So he’s like, let’s go into Google and search it. There was zero search traffic, zero. It wasn’t like 50, like there was zero. So I tested this out just this week actually with a different word. I found one, it had a search volume in Keysearch, according to Keysearch, it had a search volume of 1800. So I typed the exact same term into Google and it said zero. 

Megan Porta: Interesting. 

Kristi Ruth: So I know. So although it uses Google API, it’s not always in line. So you have to do a little more work than I was doing, which was just the Keysearch. Find what’s low and high and pick from there. So again, it makes sense you should search in Google if you want Google to find your recipe, but I hadn’t been doing that.

Megan Porta: That’s interesting. So you still use Keysearch. 

Kristi Ruth: I still use Keysearch. 

Megan Porta: Cool. Yeah, that’s a popular one, many food bloggers use. So glad to hear that. Anything else on the takeaways with your mini audit. 

Kristi Ruth: I think I’m going to end there. There was so much, but I think I’m going to end there. Unless you have any other questions for me.

Megan Porta: No, I think that covered so much. You added a few little nuggets in there that I don’t think we’ve ever discussed here on the podcast. So I think this is going to be really helpful. So thank you for sharing all of that. Then how did things go once it was done and tackling your to-do list? Was that overwhelming? Was it doable? How long did it take you to get through that?

Kristi Ruth: Okay. Casey does say read through the summary and also rewatch the Skype call, which I’ve had to do. I still should do it again. So I would say that my to-do list got forever long, even longer than it was. But I am more at peace about the direction I need to go with it. So I feel like I understand better how to prioritize the time that I have and in what order I should be taking the steps in, I guess you could say. The hard part is, our job is never done. As there’s always something on the list versus going to work and you have a task for the day and then you leave work, where there’s always something that isn’t done. So I have to let it go. So I look at myself and I think, am I doing the best that I can with the time that I have? Anytime I’ve gotten to, like, why am I doing this to myself? I wasn’t looking to start a blog. Why am I doing this? Then I just stop. I remind myself why I am doing this. It’s all of us who are creating recipes and trying to help people, it’s accessible to everybody. Where not everybody can pay to go to get educated, formally from a dietician or somebody else. Almost everybody has the internet. So it’s a great opportunity that we have to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be reached.

Megan Porta: Yeah. Oh, that was very well said. I love all of that. Are there any other takeaways just about your whole experience with getting an audit? So not necessarily the contents of the audit, but any like suggestions for people who are thinking about it or anything to think about.

Kristi Ruth: That’s a really good question. So like I said, I really don’t regret it. I don’t at all regret it. It is expensive for the cost, but for me, when I put my hours into dollars, in the end it saves me a lot of time. There are a lot of free resources out there. A lot of what Casey does go over is covered in either Top Hat Rank sessions or other podcasts that he’s been interviewed on. And others too. So if you’re not at a point for an audit, definitely learn from those. But really, for me, I had to. I don’t know where I would be without my audit. I have to say. I think I would feel overwhelmed, and your most recent email I read and it said, a lot of us are at a place of feeling overwhelmed. Although my list got longer with the audit, I feel less overwhelmed after it. Because I feel like it makes a little more sense. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, it’s helped you sort through some details. At first that can be really overwhelming, but once you get through that, then it’s less overwhelming. 

Kristi Ruth: If you wait, you’ll get more out of your audit. I do know that. Even the full audit as far as costs and what, how big your blog is and all that. I talked to a few other people. So there’s no problem with waiting, especially if you’re doing great and your trajectory is where you want it to be. Mine just wasn’t. I really didn’t feel settled with the strategy I was taking. That’s why I decided to do it. 

Megan Porta: Then I just want to comment on one thing you said earlier, because this is something I’ve been contemplating for my services and things that I offer. I’ve had people call some things that I offer within Eat Blog Talk expensive. Is it expensive? Because if it’s expensive, then it’s not worthwhile. So I think maybe I’m putting words in your mouth, but maybe what you were trying to say is that it’s a valuable investment. 

Kristi Ruth: There you go. 

Megan Porta: It’s an investment and it’s valuable, otherwise you wouldn’t have paid for it. 

Kristi Ruth: So that’s a good way to put it. I guess when I say expensive, relative to a lot of the other expenses I’ve had related to my blog. 

Megan Porta: More expensive than other investments.

Kristi Ruth: Yes and because I’m not at a point of monetizing my blog yet, I will still take it into consideration when I am, but I just feel like I’m a little more careful with that, but you’re right. It’s totally valid that, when you’re starting a business, you have to put money into it. My husband’s a financial planner. He totally gets that. A lot of people have products out there that are selling and they’re valid. So you just have to find what’s right for you. It’s not going to be the same for everybody. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, the things that I offer through Eat Blog Talk, I do not expect everyone to want them, number one and really find value in them. But for the people who do, I know they consider the things that I offer valuable investments. Now, if it’s not, then you can say, yeah, that was really expensive. Or that seems spendy. 

Kristi Ruth: It’s similar to say a photography course. I know I want to take an online photography course and Casey did recommend a few. I’m going to do it and I, and it is worth the money but I’ve really been trying to read reviews and get feedback. I think maybe when I mentioned expensive too, it’s just, there are a lot of options out there. So like you said, how you spend the money and in what direction it’s going to take you. But definitely, if you’re going to end up making money from it, you need to put money into it. I totally believe that. 

Megan Porta: This is a good investment to make early on. In my opinion, as early as you can, because you talked us through a bunch of little things that could have added up monumentally over time. If you would have gotten to a hundred to a thousand recipes like I did before I realized the 1200 pixel wide thing.

Kristi Ruth: Oh my goodness.

Megan Porta: That’s been my whole life for years.

Kristi Ruth: I heard you in one of your interviews mentioning you were trying to see how your husband fit into your business. I thought, oh, she should have him go update old posts. That would be a good way to start.

Megan Porta: There are so many ways for him to come in because I have so much to do. It’s literally which route do we want to go? Okay. Yeah, this has been so great. Okay. Are there any final takeaways before we say goodbye, Kristi? 

Kristi Ruth: I would say if you’re contemplating it, do it. Whether it means starting a blog or making that investment into something you offer or an audit. Don’t always compare yourself to other people. I think the hard part is you don’t follow the herd mentality, which I definitely hear, but you also aren’t sure exactly who you should be learning from, I guess you could say. But go with your gut. I feel like that is, for me, that is what has worked for me.

Megan Porta: That works for me as well. I love that you ended that way because I feel like so much of our businesses can be run from our intuition. Once we get our heads into too much thinking involved, like things start sinking. So go with your gut. If you have a bad feeling, run. 

Kristi Ruth: Yes. 

Megan Porta: This was so great. Thanks Kristi, for your time today. We appreciate you and all the things that you shared and thank you for sharing about your mini audit with Casey and how that went and all of your takeaways. This is gold. This episode is going to be pure gold. 

Kristi Ruth: Thank you for having me. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. To end, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with us?

Kristi Ruth: I do. I have two. One, I learned when I was at the Great Place To Work Institute conference about 18 years ago. I don’t know exactly who said it, but it is short and sweet. “Always be in a continuous mindset of change and change won’t be so difficult.” So it doesn’t mean it’s not going to be hard. It just won’t be quite as hard if you’re expecting it. I think that’s pertinent to so many aspects of life, especially blogging. Then this one is from a devotional journal called A Hundred Days of Believing Bigger by Marshawn Evans Daniels. She says, “purpose is not an intellectual exercise. It’s a contact sport. We’re supposed to engage with uncertainty, fear and challenges. God can’t bless actions we never take.”

Megan Porta: Oh, ah, that’s powerful. Wow. I need to write that one down. That was good. God can’t bless actions we never take. Okay. Thank you. All right. Tell everyone where they can find you online, and then I will tell you and everyone else where to find your show notes.

Kristi Ruth: Okay. So my email is Kristi, K R I S T I at carrotsandcookies dot. I am on Instagram at Carrots.And.Cookies and Facebook and Pinterest it’s Carrots with the & and cookies. 

Megan Porta: Awesome. We will put together a show notes page for you, Kristi. So if anyone wants to go look at those, go to I love the name of your blog by the way. It’s like a little contradiction, but they fit together somehow. Yeah. So thank you again so much for being here and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode. 

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