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Episode 167: SEO Priorities for 2021 with Casey Markee

In episode 167 we talk with Casey Markee, founder of MediaWyse, about SEO-related topics bloggers should keep at the forefront of their minds in 2021.

We cover information about SEO-related topics such as web stories, the Page Experience Algorithm that will be released in May 2021, and more.

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


Guest Details

Connect with MEDIAWYSE
Website | Facebook

Bio
Speaker, writer, and trainer Casey Markee is the founder of digital consultancy MediaWyse and a well-known SEO professional with 20+ years of experience. Casey has trained SEO teams on five different continents, spoken at over 100+ conferences, and has worked with thousands of bloggers in the Food, Lifestyle and Travel niches. He also collects comic books, enjoys watching trashy reality TV with his wife Tifany, and believes bacon should be its own food group.

Takeaways

Web stories is a new Google feature. These stories provide “snack bites” of information for the user and are similar to stories on other platforms. They are worth exploring if you are a food blogger.

The Page Experience Algorithm is scheduled to launch in May 2021, so this should be on your radar! This algorithm will essentially function like a tie-breaker algorithm, so it is beneficial to be educated about it. Start here if you have no idea what Casey is referring to!

Passive Indexing will be launching soon from Google. It is similar to featured snippets, but uses a different algorithm. It will allow Google to pull out relevant bits of information from blog posts that will be most beneficial to the user.

Yoast FAQ Schema is a simple way to mark up questions inside blog posts that users might have about your recipe content.

SEMrush is not a necessity for food bloggers! It often can be mishandled by bloggers who aren’t informed about what they should and shouldn’t be altering. Stick with these two affordable and high-quality options for doing keyword research: Keysearch.co and Keywords Everywhere.

Be aware that over-stuffing your content with keywords can hurt your standing with Google. Check out SEO Quake to determine whether or not you are over-stuffing your recipe posts.

Always keep the user experience in mind when creating content, determining how many ads are displayed and where and also while interlinking.

Resources Mentioned

Top Hat Rank episode 6: SEO for Publishers

Feast Design Co. article: Guidelines for Page Headings

Keysearch.co

Keywords Everywhere

SEO Quake

MediaWyse site audits

Need An SEO Strategy?

Emma Christensen talks to us about Improving Your SEO Strategy in episode 038.

Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro (00:00:01):

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information will provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta (00:00:26):

Did you know that the average home cook owns almost 50 times more printed cookbooks than PDF cookbooks. Why are you limiting yourself with the advent of companies like Amazon KDP and Ingram spark? It is now easier than ever to become your own publisher, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can waste not only your time, but also your money. That is where self-publishing 101 comes in, taught by Jason Logsdon the bestselling cookbook author with more than 15 books to his name, this comprehensive course is designed to clear up any confusion about how you can take your cookbook and successfully publish it in print on Amazon using a print on demand printer, such as Amazon KDP writing and publishing a cookbook can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can undertake as an entrepreneur. Go to eatblogtalk.com/resources, and to follow the link for this incredible self publishing one Oh one course. So you can get started publishing your very own cookbook today.

Megan (00:01:31):

Food bloggers, Hey, are you looking for new ways to make money as a blogger? If so, we have got your back. We have launched an ebook called conversations on monetization inside this resource, we take your favorite podcast episodes about monetization, and we put them all in one easy accessible package. We threw a few exclusive interviews in as well. Friends. There are so many ways to monetize your food blog. Inside this ebook. We have interviews with success stories like Todd Bullock, Alyssa Brantley Kelly, McNelis, Jenna Carlin, and more. All of these examples have become successful through completely different monetization strategies. Whether you are a brand new blogger looking for your very first revenue stream, or you are a seasoned pro wanting to diversify this ebook is for you. Go to eat blog, talk.com to grab your copy. And we can’t wait to hear your success story with monetization.

Megan (00:02:34):

Hey, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. This podcast is for you, food bloggers, wanting value and clarity to help you find greater success in your business. Today. I have Casey Markee with me from MediaWyse, and we are going to have a conversation about SEO priorities as we head into 2021. Speaker, writer and trainer Casey Markee is the founder of digital consultancy company MediaWyse. He is a well-known SEO professional with 20+ years of experience. Casey has trained SEO teams on five different continents, he has spoken at over a hundred conferences and he has worked with thousands of bloggers in the food, lifestyle and travel niches. He also collects comic books, enjoys watching trashy reality TV with his wife, Tifany, and he believes that bacon should be its own food group. And I also learned about you, Casey, that you are a fellow candy corn lover.

Casey Markee (00:03:29):

That is correct. Candy corn haters, I tell you, they come out of the woodwork around the holidays, but I tell ya..

Megan (00:03:40):

I just don’t get it. I mean, how could you not like candy corn? That blows my mind. So I’m glad we’re on the same page with that. In addition to those very fun foodie facts about yourself, do you have another fun fact to share with us?

Casey (00:03:55):

I was thinking about this with my wife the other day, and she brought up a reminder that I think you guys will enjoy. A fun fact about me is I spent so much money on a PF Chang’s date with my eventual wife in 1997, that I could not eat anything other than McDonald’s 39 cents.

Megan (00:04:19):

That is hilarious.

Casey (00:04:21):

We had our first date on December 21st, 1997, which was the day that Titanic came out. That was our first date. I took her to see Titanic. And then the goal was we were law students at the time and it was so funny because I was to pay for the movie, she was to get dinner. Well, she clearly did not remember that because when no one reached for the bill, I reached for the bill at dinner and I was very, very poor. And so basically I literally blew my entire week’s budget on that dinner.

Megan (00:04:53):

And you never forgot it! That’s funny. Do you eat at PF Chang’s now? Or are you done?

Casey (00:05:01):

You know what, no, I can’t even tell you the last time we ate at PF Chang’s. Maybe it’s the mental anguish of that memory, but now we are of course, locked down in California. So we haven’t eaten in a restaurant in many, many moons, so hopefully that will change.

Megan (00:05:19):

I do have a copycat PF Chang’s recipe on my blog. So you’re going to have to find that. It’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps, which I really love. Oh my gosh, they are so good that we have that. So there you go. There’s your solution right there. Okay. We have so much to chat about today. You are an SEO expert, food bloggers know and love you and respect your information that you deliver so readily and willingly. And we appreciate that a ton. So we have some topics going into 2021, and that should definitely be on our radars. And I just want to cover as much as possible today. So I think a good place to start is web stories, because this is a fairly new thing for us. Some of us are like web what? Another story I have to keep track of? Are you serious? So if you wouldn’t mind just telling us what web stories are and why you think we should or should not be creating them.

Casey (00:06:14):

No problem at all, Megan. So web stories are a relatively new phenomenon. It’s an evolution of the amp framework that Google’s had for several years. I have always been against amp, especially for food, but most lifestyle bloggers specifically because it just doesn’t monetize. It’s not really a great thing for bloggers to use and Google kind of realize that. And so they kind of switched to stories which is built on the AMP framework, but you don’t have to necessarily have pages for everything else. And the web stories are very similar to Instagram stories and other and other kind of outlet stories that you may be familiar with. These web stories basically are kind of, again, a kind of individual screen stories that you can leave through on your phone. And we link them to a larger or a longer post or specifically a recipe post on the target side.

Casey (00:07:05):

And then we can drive some traffic that way that might be a little bit more you know, convert a little bit better in the long run for bloggers. But these are these web stories. Google basically said, Hey, you know, we’re going to really make these web stories attractive to you. We’re going to launch a web stories carousel, which they did in late October. And so they launched this carousel in late October and it’s very prominent on Google Discover. And Google Discover is a personalized feed that you have if you’ve downloaded the Google app on your Android or Apple device, Android, or iOS. And it’s, it’s really interesting. These web stories are very, you know, very little snack bites of information. They’re very easy to read through on the phone and they have taken off. Now, of course, there’s a lot of complexity with, you know, putting these stories together. There’s various apps that you can use. Google has a main app called just the web stories app that I do recommend, but there’s other things like make stories and story fiction out there that will all work and do very similar things.

Megan (00:08:10):

So you definitely think that food bloggers should dive into this. This is something that we should for sure be exploring.

Casey (00:08:17):

Well, you know, it’s a gold rush right now. There’s a lot of visibility that you can get and you can garner some very quick traffic, but like anything, we don’t know what the long term fortunes of this are going to be. I will tell you that I have been, I pushed web stories hard in November and December and the bloggers that got in on it did exceedingly well, you know, bloggers from like, you know, Erren over at Erren’s Kitchen. We’ve got Home Cooked Roots, we’ve got Sugary Sweets, we’ve got dozens of bloggers who have put these web stories together and they’ve been able to generate tens of thousands of extra impressions and clicks. And, you know, I was very fortunate. Mediavine was kind enough to reach out and ask for my input on a web stories piece that they published on their blog just a couple of weeks ago.

Casey (00:09:04):

And they realized, as well, the allure of these stories. They were getting a lot of questions on them and we put together a resource on that. The thing about web stories is, again, it’s I immediately was very quick to, I think they’ve launched a plugin that allows you to monetize the web stories, but right now it’s just pennies. I mean, the whole point of the web stories is to drive traffic to your recipes and posts, not necessarily to do anything with the web stories themselves and the bloggers who’ve been doing that have been very successful. Again, I use a couple examples here. Erren over at Erren’s Kitchen, she generated like 50,000 extra clicks in December, just from her web stories. They can be very useful. The thing about web stories is that they are going to die very quickly. And I’ve seen that already happen is that you might have a web story that goes live. It’s picked up in a couple of days and it’ll do very, very well for 48 to 72 hours. And then it’ll just die very quick.

Megan (00:10:00):

Ugh! Well, that’s not good.

Casey (00:10:02):

Yeah. And that’s, and again, we don’t know if necessarily, if that’s going to be a long-term thing or maybe we can re-feature these web stories in the future. I would say right now, this is more of a we don’t know what we don’t know.

Megan (00:10:14):

So I’ve created one and I did it honestly in preparation for this interview, because I was like, “Okay, I’m going to talk about web stories, so I have to at least know what they are.” So just for anyone listening, if they don’t know how to do it, you have to get a plugin called web stories and upload it to WordPress. And then it’s super easy. It’s just like a really easy interface that you can, you know, it’s kind of like any other story, like on Pinterest or Instagram, you just upload pictures or video and you can add text and then you publish and it goes to a separate page on your website. So it automatically generates a forward slash web-stories. So once you get there, is there anything else I should be doing with it? Should I be linking it internally?

Casey (00:11:02):

Yeah, that’s a good question. And the good news is, is that Google is doing all the heavy lifting for you. So the plugin will create a landing page for you called web-stories/ It’s a very simple page. You can’t really edit it. You could probably play around with some CSS and do something with it, but that’s it, that’s the main landing page. And Google would like you to link to that landing page or within your site when you can. But as with anything, I do expect the plugin will continue to evolve and there may be options down the road to further optimize that landing page. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, actually, considering how many emulations the plugin has already gone through. So I suspect that, for those of you who are like, “Oh my God, this page is terrible. I can’t do anything with it.” Just be patient. I suspect that things will change very quickly. It’s very possible you will be able to go in and make edits to that page. But right now it’s just a static page. Google would like you to embed these web stories into other pages on your site. Personally, I am not a fan of that at all. Not only will it slow things down, but it’s just not necessary. It is absolutely not necessarily. What you would want to do instead is if you’ve made a web story, for example, on a banana cream pie, you’d go to the banana cream pie, post the recipe, and maybe you’ll put a line in there that says, “Hey, this recipe is available as a web story.” And then you could link to the web story to provide that as an added benefit to your users. But when I embed the web story, I don’t see any benefit in doing that. And I think it could negatively impact page speed specifically.

Megan (00:12:41):

Oh, that’s good to know. Also, do you recommend having a process for going through web stories because some of us have hundreds and hundreds of recipes on our blogs. So do you think that we start with our most popular or just kind of go from where we’re at? So if we start creating new content, just do it as we go? Or what do you think about that?

Casey (00:13:01):

That’s a very good question. And I would say, I’ve been providing a recommendations to bloggers that you should focus on your most popular content. Take your top, you know, five recipes, let’s make some web stories out of those. Let’s see how they do. Let’s go ahead and continue to drive content to recipes on your site that are already doing well. I would also look at seasonality again. We’re coming up on Valentine’s day. Now it would be a good idea to start popping together a couple of Valentine’s day related web stories and pushing those out and seeing if we can get some traction. Maybe they’ll build up a little bit. Maybe they’ll be more popular as Valentine’s day comes up, which is coming up pretty fast. But yeah, I would just take your most popular content. I would convert those to web stories.

Megan (00:13:44):

Awesome. I’m going to switch gears a little bit. So there’s something Google is launching soon called the user experience algorithm. Correct? Did I say that right? Okay, page experience algorithm. And it seems like this is going to be something that we need to pay attention to. So I think you have some insights that probably the rest of us don’t have. Can you talk us through the metrics? What we should be focusing on now and how we can just prepare for this?

Casey (00:14:14):

Yeah. This page experience algorithm. It’s going to be launched in May. So it’s coming up pretty fast. This page experience algorithm is going to, in many cases, function like a tiebreaker algorithm, very similar to previously what was happening with the HTTPS ranking factor and very previously, what was happening with the mobile interstitial ranking factor. This algorithm may replace all of those because this is an aggregate algorithm, meaning that it’s going to involve several issues. It’s going to have everything from core web vitals. It’s going to involve the three most popular core web vitals, which is largest contentful paint first input delay, and cumulative layout shift. And then it’s going to group those core metrics with four other metrics that Google has had out for quite a while. And those are mobile friendliness, safe browsing certification HTTPS, and then an intrusive interstitial calculation or guideline.

Casey (00:15:11):

And I know this is a lot to take in for the average blogger. So the thing I would tell you all is just not worry too much about it. I mean, we would like your pages to load as fast as possible. So I would focus on the core web vitals, reach out to your host, reach out and if you’re signed up with a blog support plan, great. I work very closely with Greyson over at iMark Interactive. I work very closely with the experts over at Andrew Wilder’s Nerdpress. They are on top of these things. They’ve done very well helping their clients and their subscribers kind of troubleshoot some of these issues. The biggest issue we’ve seen is a lot of blogs fail cumulative layout shift, and that metric involves a measure of visual stability. And basically what that is, is the amount of unexpected layout shift that happens on a page when it loads.

Casey (00:16:02):

And again, you’re thinking, “Why in the heck are you talking about, Casey? What is this CLS shift?” And it’s just very simply that when your page loads on a mobile device, is there any shifting happening specifically above the fold on the content? Like if you tend, for example, to center justify content, or if you tend to have social buttons above the fold or something like that, sometimes there’s a little bit of a shift as that goes in and populates to the frame that you’re visually seeing. And there are various metrics that you can do to lower the effect on this. For those of you on a feast theme, you’re well prepared for a lot of this stuff. Skylar has done an exceptional job with his modern mobile menu and other tips to allow you to go in and optimize for cumulative layout shift.

Casey (00:16:51):

But these are all things that you can measure in the Google page speed insights tool. So just type that into Google: “Google page speed insights tool,” run a sample page through, go down and look at these core web vitals. Look at the CLS metrics. See if you notice any issues. And then what I would advise all of you on the call is if this is news to you is please do a search for the “top hat rank SEO for publishers episode 6,” which we just did a couple of months ago that talked all about core web vitals. It’s jam-packed with information on how you can test and troubleshoot these issues. And that’s the best advice I can give you there. But yeah, this page experience algorithm is going to go live in May [2021]. I think for most sites, you shouldn’t worry too much about it, but again, if you are still in a small percentage of sites that haven’t moved to HTTPS, or maybe you’re running these big popups that load on the first click from Google, or maybe you don’t understand an exit intent pop-up is, or there are various metrics. And now is a good time to start looking into all of that. And we cover all of that and more in that core web vitals.

Megan (00:18:00):

Okay. So the top hat rank episode six is what we’ll kind of cover a lot of this. Okay. So let’s start there and then put that on the show notes. Yeah, because it is overwhelming. I’ve gone to the Google page speed insights tool and I’m like, “Okay, I see red, this looks horrible.” And then I just close it out because I don’t know what to do.

Casey (00:18:22):

That’s right. Yeah. I think that that will help you. And if I could just impart just one thing about this algorithm, and this is directly from Google, they’re very clear in that a good page experience doesn’t override having great relevant content. So, you know, again, if you have really good relevant content and maybe there’s just a couple of metrics that you’re not doing well on, Google is going to give you a pass there, but understand that in cases where there’s multiple pages that have similar content page experience could become more important for visibility and it could act as a tie-breaker. So again, if you’re a blogger and you’re competing in a very competitive sub niche of recipe blogging, for example, vegan recipes, which always blows my mind. I am a hardcore carnivore, but I would say that bottom line, I probably audit more vegan blogs in the world.

Casey (00:19:10):

And you know, that’s a very, very competitive sub niche. And so if you’re competing against another vegan site and you’re pushing the same keywords, it’s very, very possible that if they have better page experience metrics than you do that, they’re going to get a boost.

Megan (00:19:26):

Well, I’m with you on being a hardcore carnivore. And I just wanted to say the tie breaker, that phrase resonates with me, hearing you talk through a lot of that is kind of like, woo. It goes over my head. But yeah, that makes sense to me. If things are very similar between my blog and another blog that’s in a similar niche, having put effort into taking care of some of these things is going to put you just a little bit ahead enough that it’s going to matter just enough. Is there anything else about that that we should know or did we cover everything?

Casey (00:20:00):

No, I think that’s fine on the page experience algorithm. Just again, I know there’s a lot of bloggers preparing for that. I would really urge all of you on the call, again, look at that core web vitals webinar, start asking yourself some hard questions, making sure that you don’t have any.. With regards to HTTPS, many sites have a lot of insecure resources. They’re not aware of there’s various free tools. There’s a great tool online called “Why No Padlock” that runs some of your pages through that tool to see if you have anything on your site that’s breaking your SSL, breaking your HTTPS and see if we can secure those resources. I know a lot of those on the call tend to have, in many cases, they’re usually image files that have been pulled over from from somewhere else. Maybe the image files are HTTP when they should be HTTPS, little things like that. We just want to kind of dial in these metrics as much as we can individually.

Megan (00:20:56):

Yeah, that makes sense. I’m pretty sure with my site is old as it is, I have probably a ton of the sorts of things you’re talking about just sitting there festering and needing attention. So that kind of stresses me out thinking about it. I have no idea what’s under the surface

Casey (00:21:14):

And I know that could be overwhelming for a lot of bloggers, but again, Google understands that and that’s why they re-launched things like the passage indexing algorithm, which I think we’re gonna cover.

Megan (00:21:26):

Yeah, actually, let’s talk about that. So the passage indexing is something that Google plans to launch soon, but they haven’t yet, but it’s similar to featured snippets. Correct? Can you kind of talk us through that?

Casey (00:21:38):

Yeah, that is correct. Both featured snippets and passage indexing do use different algorithms, but they operate in a very similar way. And that the whole point of the passage indexing algorithm is to make it easier to pull out information that is relevant to users. This is going to help a lot of bloggers, specifically, a lot of bloggers in the food and lifestyle niche who have what I call convoluted recipe posts with superfluous information. I know that many of you on the call may have been told to write longer posts. Many of you on the call have been, maybe you’ve been guilty of putting a lot of personal antidotes or a lot of personal information in your posts. This is Google trying to help you overcome that practice by being able to pull out algorithmically important passages more easily. And again, there’s not much that you can do about this. This is only going to help you. If you’ve written a 1500 word recipe post, and there’s one very specific piece of information in there that Google would really like, now, it’s going to be easier for Google. They’ll highlight that and pull it out. They’ll even jump users directly to that on the page. So that could be very helpful for us.

Megan (00:22:47):

So how do you designate that? Or do you not Google just determines what’s relevant?

Casey (00:22:52):

Yeah. Google is going to determine what’s relevant. This is an actual ranking change. As a matter of fact, Google debated whether they were going to call it passage ranking and decided against that. Now, Google has said that you can optimize for it supposedly, but again, with everything, there are things that you can do to help increase your chances of being impacted positively by these algorithm changes. And a couple of them very quickly would be using headings correctly. There’s a fantastic document on the correct use of headings that my colleagues Skyler over at Feast Design has put together. I definitely urge all of you on the call to take a look at that. Headings are something that bloggers have unfortunately been mis-using for years. A heading on a page could be, again, you have your H1 heading, which is basically the title of your post. Then we have H2s and lower headings, H3s, H4s that you use as subtopics in the post. So let’s say I was writing a post on banana cream pie. My H1 might be the banana cream pie recipe. And then I might have H2s covering why this recipe works. And other H2 on the ingredients, there’s an H2 on the step by step directions. Here’s an H2 on expert tips. And then maybe I have another H2 unrelated recipes that I get into my recipe card as an example.

Megan (00:24:11):

So the document that you talked about is that something that we can also include in the show notes. I think that would be really helpful for food bloggers to read over, because this is a topic I hear about all the time in forums that people are like, “I don’t know what to put in my H2s,” and that’s such a huge question mark for us.

Casey (00:24:27):

Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah. I’m happy to send you the link here. Again, it’s on the feast design site. It’s the new approach to headings, I believe is what it’s called. So it’s very easy to follow. And what we want to do is just understand that bloggers have been told incorrectly for years to do things like include multiple H1s on a page or to wrap entire sentences or teaser text, and heading tags. That was hilarious. I don’t know where that came from, but I saw that being done by several big bloggers previously, and we had to correct that. And there’s also an accessibility component. We want to use headings correctly because we have a growing percentage of users who use headings as their way to navigate your content on a screen reader. So if you use headings incorrectly, you’ve lowered their ability to digest your content in an optimal way.

Casey (00:25:16):

We don’t want to do that. We want to make it easier, not harder. So, yeah, it was with regards to passage indexing, and it’s really about Google’s making it easier for bloggers to overcome some bad mistakes that they’ve made in the past where you were told to write to a word count, which you should never do, or you were told by your ad company, “Hey, we want to make this post longer so we could set up more ads.” That’s not necessarily the greatest advice, especially if you’re trying to grow the algorithmic percentage of your traffic from Google specifically.

Megan (00:25:45):

So as far as passage indexing goes, there’s really not much for us to do besides create quality content and not write super, super long posts that involve a lot of details about our personal lives.

Casey (00:25:58):

Yeah, we want to write detailed posts, you know, and we’ll get into my quote of choice later, but we want to make sure that we have a complete recipe. Don’t involve the fact that this banana cream pie was passed down to me through four generations. And we used to have it at the lake house during summers. And, oh my gosh, I missed the lake house because of this and this, that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help your bottom line. But at least now Google is going to help you overcome some of those missteps from the past, by making it easier to pull out that content. So headings would be number one. We want to make sure that we use headings correctly, make it easier for Google to come down and find out where that information is.

Casey (00:26:42):

We also want to embrace FAQ schema, frequently asked questions. FAQ schema is something that I have pushed in my audits for almost two and a half years now. FAQ schema has been supported and pushed by Google for about 18 months. FAQ schema is just a very simple way for you to mark up the questions users might have about your recipe within the recipe content. And you could do this very easily, usually for those of you on the block editor. And hopefully most of you have moved to the block editor in WordPress. That’s really what the future is. If you’re using the block editor, Yoast has a built in block called the Yoast FAQ block, and you can pop that into the recipe post and boom, boom, boom. And you could auto-populate some questions there. And that could absolutely give you a leg up advantage in optimizing for passage indexing, among other things.

Megan (00:27:36):

Okay. I don’t know what you’re talking about. So if you go into Yoast, there’s something called FAQ schema or..?

Casey (00:27:44):

The block editor works with built in blocks. Go into your blocks in the post and you can type in “Yoast” and it’ll pop up the various blocks that they provide for free, for anyone who has the plugin. Those blocks include FAQ how-to related posts. But the one that you’re going to use the most is the FAQ schema block. And you just pop that block in to the post. You can only use FAQ schema once in a post. A lot of bloggers are confused by that. And then you would just fill out the questions there. It’s very, very easy with what you see is what you get. It’s very easy to use. And I know you and I, Megan, are going to be visiting later this year. We’re going to go over all of this.

Megan (00:28:32):

Yes, yes, yes, it will. And I’m glad that you put that on my radar because I was not aware of that. So thank you. I will be looking at that later today. Okay. So this kind of leads to talking about headers kind of relates to keyword research because I know we’ve maybe been misinformed in the past about stuffing as much keywords as we can into our headers and into our content. So what are your top recommendations for keyword research as a whole, and also maybe you could touch on some of those things like keyword stuffing and things like that.

Casey (00:29:11):

Right. And I know it’s been mentioned more than once on a couple of your podcasts as bloggers will come up and they’ll give you a tool. And I think they might not necessarily be familiar or they’re not aware that the tool is only open to a certain amount of people. And one of those tools is answer the public. I know it is a recommendation that I’ve heard multiple times on some of your previous podcasts, it’s something I recommended for years. I don’t necessarily recommend it a ton these days, because it’s really only free for UK users. And honestly, the free information is not that helpful. I mean, if you want to go in and buy a subscription to answer the public, then that’ll unlock the ability for users to use it as a way of providing a long tail keyword phrase, but also specifically question-specific information that you could use for things like FAQ schema, but there are other tools out there that you could easily use.

Casey (00:30:03):

For example, you could go into Google, type in a keyword, for example, “apple pie.” A good one would be “French toast.” Type in “French toast” and if you go down, there’s a list of.. People also ask questions, and these people also ask questions that are very common and have a lot of volume keyword searches. And those people also ask questions or use our content for FAQ purposes. So if you were writing up a post and you were thinking, “Hmm, what are some questions that users are going to have about this post that I can use to make a complete recipe post at my end?” That’s a good starting point. We don’t necessarily need to include all of them. As a matter of fact, I definitely don’t recommend that.

Casey (00:30:51):

I would say maybe three to five FAQ at the most, but as a way for you to enhance your recipe content. Our goal is of course, to steal those FAQs, to have Google choose our FAQ answer over someone who’s already listed there under the PAAs, but you can’t do that unless you actually provide your own answer in your own content. So that’s an option. So again, answer the public is a tool that is useful. Keyword phrase, keyword research wise, I know SEM rush is very popular. The problem with SEM rush is not only is it expensive, but it does not use a Google API. I know when I get to educate bloggers on that all the time. SEM rush and some of the other big ones like Ahrefs and others, they use what’s called click stream data.

Casey (00:31:36):

In other words, it’s data they collect from third party tertiary tools that are a guess on what the keyword volume is for those keywords at a point in time. The only tools out there that really use the Google API are things like keysearch.co, which I highly recommend, very easy tool to use and it’s very inexpensive. Other tools that use that include Keywords Everywhere, which is an add-on that you can use on your browser. $10 gets you 10,000 searches. Keywords Everywhere is a great way for you to very quickly see in the search results, what the keyword volume is for a keyword. And you could even break that down by country. And it also allows you to see what the relative SEO metrics are for the sites that Google is ranking for that keyword right there. So, I mean, there’s a lot of very simple information that you can use using just two tools. Keysearch.com for keyword research and Keywords Everywhere is a way for you to kind of see some very quick competitive metrics and comparative metrics, both for keywords and competitors in Google.

Megan (00:32:40):

That’s really interesting about SEM rush and Ahrefs. I did not know that, and I’m sure you probably have to educate many people on that because I don’t think I’ve never heard anyone say that before.

Casey (00:32:49):

SEM rush is a great tool if you really want to do benchmarking, if you want to track your keywords and things like that, but you just don’t need it. I think where SEM rush hurts a lot of bloggers is that they sign up for SEM rush and they’re just overwhelmed with the tools or they run a site crawl and see all this nonsense they don’t need to worry about. SEM rush, for example, it will literally find toxic back links on every site in the world, even the site that doesn’t have a lot of backlinks, because they’ve invested a lot in that. And all you need to do to really screw up your site is believe that you have a ton of toxic links and then submit a disavow file when you don’t know what you’re doing and ranking drops occur. So it’s one of those things where a tool like SEM rush, especially for the uneducated or someone who follows a pack, there’s a lot of herd mentality in food blogging specifically where, “Oh my gosh, everyone’s using SEM rush.” So when I teach, I need to use it. And when we have an audit, I just have to unwind a lot of those practices. SEM rush can be a great tool to use if you know how to use it. Most bloggers, unfortunately do not.

Megan (00:33:51):

Yeah. I mean the whole way it’s set up is very overwhelming for people like me. I remember being in there the first time and being like, “How am I supposed to even know what to do?” It’s very technical and it’s kind of a minefield. Like I don’t even want to touch anything. I’m afraid to do anything in here.

Casey (00:34:09):

Just to understand that, again, I’ve worked with some of the largest bloggers in the world, 5, 10, 15 million sessions a month. They’ve never used SEM rush. As a matter of fact, I have multiple bloggers who are over 5 million [sessions a month]. All they ever use is Keysearch and Keywords Everywhere and that’s honestly about it. So don’t think for a moment that you have to get pulled into this belief that you need SEM rush or a large tool suite to be competitive, not remotely.

Megan (00:34:34):

Oh, I love hearing that. Okay. So you recommended three to five FAQ, total within a blog post.

Casey (00:34:41):

Yeah, within a recipe post. And also it’s important to understand, and this is just a very quick takeaway, there are various schemas that you could use together with Google. You can use a recipe schema with FAQ schema. You can use recipe schema with item list schema. Item list schema is literally what’s used to serve the FAQ schema on a page. Item list schema, would be, for example, if you had related recipes that you wanted to include in the post, Google has various related recipe carousels, and they could pull out recipes. Like for example, if you’re doing a roundup of your own content, you can use item list schema on your own content as a way to tell Google, “Hey, these are related recipes on my site,” and there is a kit in there carousels that you could pull out. So let’s say that you did a top 12 recipes for Valentine’s day on your site, and you could possibly get qualified for a carousel that would be seasonally generated that would pull in that information.

Casey (00:35:33):

But schema, there’s only a couple of schemas that work well.. For example, Google is very clear. You can use recipe and FAQ schema together. You can use recipe and item list schema together. What you cannot do is use recipe and how to schema together and that’s something I see a lot of bloggers mistakenly do. And if you go again to the Google.. just type in “recipe schema guidelines Google,” just right at the very top of the page, you can see, Hey, is this article about food and drink? Use recipe schema. If it is not about food or drink, use how to schema. And if you go to the how to page, just says, Hey, is the post you’re doing about food and drink? Then you’re on the wrong page. Go back and use recipe schema. I see bloggers making that mistake all the time. And what we don’t want to do is confuse Google. What we don’t want to do is put all these needless schemas on a page and hope that Google figures it out. Or maybe you read some course somewhere that says, “Oh yeah, I would put all these schemas on the page because that’ll increase my visibility.” It’s just not remotely true.

Megan (00:36:34):

Okay. That’s good to know as well. So we talked about where to find keywords where good places are and where they aren’t. And I realized I kind of like molded two questions together. So keyword research is done. Keysearch.co or Keywords Everywhere are your recommendations. So once you have a keyword and you’re writing up your blog post, your recipe post, we don’t want to over optimize. That’s something that a lot of us did a long time ago. And now we’re having to go back and fix that. So give us your thoughts on that as well as some other, maybe best practices for, I don’t know, just optimizing the correct way.

Casey (00:37:15):

So over-optimization became a noticeable issue back in November of 2019, when Google pushed out an unannounced core update. It’s funny because, they were supposed to announce all the core updates, but they refused to announce this one. And this was really interesting because it affected a large swath of bloggers. I can’t tell you how many audit requests I had in that final quarter of 2019, but a lot of the issues.. What happened was we saw it initially in November, but then we saw it again in January 2020 when Google launched and announced a core update. And then we saw it again in May 2020 when Google launched another core update. And what happened was bloggers had been unfortunately listening to certain advice where they were over-optimizing their posts. They were putting their target keyword in every heading on the page, whether it was their H1, their H2s, their H3s, and they were just over optimized.

Casey (00:38:06):

And they were told that, yeah, you have to do this. And those bloggers just suffered dramatic traffic losses. And as we were going through, I was fortunate to work with Arsen Rabinovich and his team over at Top Hat Rank, we were putting all the data together from November. And then of course the January update hit and we had a whole new swath of data to put in. And they publish a report on this in the first quarter of 2020 and it was very clear that there was a clear correlation between the sites that had overstuffed or over optimized their headings in comparison to those who were not affected and didn’t do this. And this is when we got Skyler involved. He put together a great resource based upon our findings and other things. And we’ve seen this bear out is that the sites that we were able to get to very quickly after January, they had recovery in May, but then, you know, the sites that didn’t.. Clean Eating Kitchen is a great example.

Casey (00:38:56):

She was a negatively impacted by these previous core updates noticeably in January and May and I wasn’t able to get to her until the summer. And she has been positively rewarded since then. She’s literally gone back and re optimized most of her posts. She’s removed keyword phrases from all of her headings, and she has had a dramatic traffic increase. And I would only suspect that that will continue because she writes extremely good content. But it’s just one of those things where this is an example of where users were writing for Google when they should have been writing for users. You know, people don’t talk that way. When you’re putting a title together, very simple, Google can get the basis of the posts from the focus keyword you’ve included, be it in a URL or the H1 on the page.

Casey (00:39:41):

For example, if I own a rank for a banana cream pie, I’m not including banana cream pie in every heading on my page, it’s not going to happen. And I think where a lot of bloggers got confused is that they’ll go into Google and they’ll see these top three, four posts. In many cases, these bloggers have incorrectly done their headings, but they’re huge sites. And I know it’s hard for bloggers to understand, but Google doesn’t treat everyone the same way. I have bloggers come to me all the time who are 5 million or 1 million, and they’re trying to get to 10 million and almost saying, well, you guys have an incredibly strong backlink profile that is acting as spackle. It’s covered up the incredible mistakes you’ve made in your content.

Casey (00:40:25):

And with the technical side of issues you have your incorrect use of schema here. You’ve nested your category pages incorrectly. You have internal redirects we need to update and Oh, by the way, your content template has these weaknesses. And they’re like, “Well, how have I been able to do so good?” And I’m like, yeah, because you have 7,000 linking domains. You’ve been featured. You have a very high brand identity awareness. When we talk about EAT and expertise and authoritativeness and things like that, these bloggers have done a very good job in building those mentions and building those links. And again, that covers up a lot of the mistakes they’ve made on the technical and content side. And so when they go in and realize, okay, now I’m going to start getting serious, getting my page speed up or removing all these internal redirects, fixing all these broken links, nesting my schema correctly, going in and doing a better template.. They’re just shocked. It’s like taking the parking brake off their site because they have an advantage that most smaller bloggers don’t, which is a huge repository of link equity from all the incoming links.

Megan (00:41:29):

So we really can’t compare ourselves to the bigger bloggers because it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Like there’s just no way to compare it.

Casey (00:41:37):

And that is probably the biggest issue is that I know many of you on the call have formed these masterminds. You’ve formed these masterminds with small numbers of people. And in many cases you’ve included a couple of bigger bloggers and you come to find out that the bigger bloggers are the ones that are kind of leading these masterminds by saying, “Oh, this has worked for me and you should do this,” when it’s not apples to apples. They’re putting advice that may work for them only because they have these benefits that you do not have. And it’s important that you go in with your eyes open. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to unwind advice in a mastermind for a smaller blogger. When I say smaller blogger, I’m saying anyone under 250,000 sessions or even 500,000 sessions or something like that. We just, we have to go in and unwind this advice.

Casey (00:42:27):

You know, things like wrapping headings, wrapping entire paragraphs and headings, or over optimizing your content. Or we had a big blogger to try to move her recipe card to the top of the page and next thing I knew I had all these other bloggers doing the same thing and they couldn’t figure out why their RPMs and their revenue tanked. Well, obviously you’ve changed the format of your pages. You’ve moved recipe card at the top of the page. All those will result in a lower user experience with regards to the fact that, especially from Pinterest, you’re giving people what they’re looking for at the top of the post. They’re not going to go down and create anything else. So little things like that. I mean, that’s why we have focus groups. The advice I’m giving you is based on literally 20 years of experience, 1000+ audits and the fact that we’re doing focus groups, myself, top hat rank, and others on almost a weekly basis. So that’s why a lot of these free courses can’t keep up because they don’t have that kind of data or feedback going on.

Megan (00:43:30):

That’s really interesting. I like that perspective because we do get caught up in the courses and like, you need to take this and who knows how old it is even like six months ago. I mean, things can change so much so rapidly.

Casey (00:43:44):

Yeah. That’s really why I’ve never put together a course. It’s way too much work. I’d have to update that on a weekly, monthly basis. It’s just not worth doing. And I think that’s why you’ve probably heard the phrase a 10-time benefit. That’s why my audits are a 10-time benefit because we’re going to be able to take the information at that point in time, apply it to your site at that point in time and provide you a template that you can use based on best practices that is as current as the previous week.

Megan (00:44:13):

That’s great. I have a question about optimizing headers because Yoast often, like, I’ll think, okay, this looks great. I probably don’t need to add any more of the you used banana cream pie. So let’s say that’s my key phrase. Maybe I put it into H2s and then Yoast tells me you don’t have enough. Try adding more. Do I do that? Or do I just go with my gut?

Casey (00:44:39):

You totally ignore it. Yeah. We have a lot of bloggers, especially, and I do recommend that we just turn off those recommendations. You go in under general, you go down to settings and you just turn off the readability and the SEO settings. And that way you don’t have to worry about Yoast trying to tell you, Oh my God, your keywords are too low, or you need to go ahead and make sure this keyword is represented in this heading. Honestly, if you’re on the call here, if you’re looking for a way to really insulate yourself from these kinds of over-optimization concerns, just focus on making sure that your keyword is represented in your H1 and again, in the H2 of your recipe card. And that’s fine. I wouldn’t worry about it. Again, with banana cream pie, we might have “banana cream pie” as your H1. We might have ingredients, step-by-step instructions or directions, FAQs and expert tips, related recipes, done. Then our H2 is “banana cream pie” as well.

Megan (00:45:32):

That’s like the hardest thing I feel like for food bloggers to ignore, that green smiley and to just override that with knowing that you’ve put enough content in there and you’ve optimized enough, but it is good to hear it. I think repeatedly from people who are not food bloggers, who actually, you know, like Yoast is there for a reason, obviously, but we don’t need to be a slave to it.

Casey (00:45:58):

And that’s exactly right. Yoast has a lot of value. It has a fantastic internal permalink direct manager, which helps bloggers recognize if you’ve made a mistake and help you kind of undo that mistake. It has a fantastic orphan content filter. The internal linking suggestions are usually very good. Again, there’s lots of opportunity there, but in this case, Yoast is behind the times. You do not include your keyword phrase in every heading, period. Just don’t, it doesn’t happen. Now, one of the things that you can do is you can install a little add-on to your browser called SEO Quake and that’s SEOquake.com, just as it sounds, and this little add-on will allow you to see very quickly the keyword density on your pages so that you can kind of get an idea if, Hey, you’ve over done it. It’s amazing that we’re even using the term “keyword density” in 2021, but a lot of bloggers still kind of, you know, overdo it.

Casey (00:46:52):

And so if you’re, looking for a very simple way to see, okay, I’m optimizing this page with my keyword phrase and you find that your keyword density is 2.5, 3, 4, that’s a problem. Those are very similar to the high percentages that we saw that were negatively impacted algorithmically by Google during these previous core updates. So if you’re looking for a very simple method, install SEO Quake, kind of take a look at the keyword phrase you’re using, keep it below 2% if you can. Again, understanding that keyword.. you could still rank fine if you’ve overdone it a little bit, because there’s just literally millions of algorithms for Google. As Google calls them, they have millions of baby algorithms, which is..

Megan (00:47:35):

Oh baby algorithms. I don’t like that. Okay. You mentioned internal linking briefly. Can you just give us real quick, like best practices for internal linking?

Casey (00:47:48):

And that’s a good question. You’ll see in these courses that, Oh my gosh, you’d never publish a post unless you have this many internal links or you’ve linked out externally to this. That kind of advice is nonsense. We link when it makes sense to our users. Should we try to link internally in every post? Sure. Because everything should be connected, but to say, Oh my gosh, you need three internal links or five internal links, that’s just.. Google hasn’t ever said that, that’s the case. Nothing more. So if you can link to something that’s related, we always want to do that. We have two kinds of links on a page we have in content links. And we have just a basic link lists when we have related recipes. For example, sometimes we’ll just have a list of four or five related recipes.

Casey (00:48:26):

If you’re on the block editor, a better way to do that is to use these various link blocks so that you have the, they’re very nice. If you’re on a feast theme type in FSRI block, and that’s the basic building block of the modern homepage and other things, but there’s also a way to make a related links block in feast using the FSRI block. But related linking or just internal linking in general is very important. It’s one of the most understated quick wins that a user can do on their site. I can go in, do internal linking, do absolutely nothing else, and we tend to get ranking and traffic improvement. One of the things that we want to do is we really want to focus on eliminating all orphaned content when we can. Orphaned content are posts on your sites, whether they’re recipes or how to tutorials or whatever, that are not linked from anything else. And that’s why I like Yoast because it has a filter. You can go in and click an SEO optimization tab and it’ll run through your entire site and it will build a folder for you called “orphaned content.” And when you go into that folder, you’ll see how many posts on your site contain no links from anything else. And our goal is to go in and add links to those pieces of content. Just doing that usually does get those posts to move a little bit. That’s just a simple, quick SEO way.

Megan (00:49:49):

I’m sure. I probably have a lot of orphans on my site. So that’s one thing we’ll likely uncover. But another question about internal linking. So in content links versus link lists, is there one that is better than the other?

Casey (00:50:05):

You know, algorithmically to Google, they’re both treated as the same thing, but we want to focus on both whenever we can and higher on the page is always better. One of the things to understand is that Google crawls from top to bottom. There’s no crazy, I mean.. It’s just simple, common sense. So if we have links on the top, those are going to be treated as, more valuable to Google. So we definitely want to focus on having some links in the content. Higher is always good link when it makes sense to users. If you can explain a concept or if you have the ability to link out to more information that would be a benefit to the user, always do that. A lot of bloggers are confused by external links. They think, Oh my gosh, I shouldn’t link externally, or I should no-follow all that.

Casey (00:50:44):

That’s nonsense. I had a blogger the other day who was told by someone else that she had to no-follow all of her external links and I just, that’s just crazy. I just don’t understand why anyone would tell someone to do that. You’ve literally created a black hole in the link graph by doing that. You link when it makes sense to users. The only time you should ever no follow something is if it’s sponsored, editorial in nature, or you just don’t trust the link. Now, for example, I know a lot of bloggers tend to no follow links to their social profiles. Again, no reason to do that. Do you not trust the links to your own social profiles? That’s one of the things that you just don’t need to worry about. Link when it makes sense. If you can link out to more information on a method, if you can link out to define a term, feel free to do that. We just want to link when it makes sense. Sometimes that’s three links on a page. Maybe sometimes there’s 10 more links in a recipe post, depending upon the complexity of the topic.

Megan (00:51:42):

Yeah. That makes perfect sense. I mean, it’s kind of straightforward and putting the links higher on the page makes sense too. But I am like writing right now, a note to myself, another thing that I’ve done wrong. So okay. So we covered that pretty thoroughly internal linking. I just, I know we’re running out of time, but I want to ask you real quick about guided recipes, because I know this is something that we had kind of been focused on and going into 2021. I don’t know, should we be focused on this still? What do you think?

Casey (00:52:15):

Yeah, guided recipes was something that really hasn’t taken off. And I think a lot of it has to do with when Google launched the guided recipes, that was pre pandemic when they were really trying to push these.. These home devices, it was honestly crazy how much they’ve been pushing it. They were pushing the Google home nest, the Google home mini and the Google home max and the delivery on those basically plummeted in 2020, which is, I think why we haven’t seen more. There hasn’t even been a guided recipes carousel launched yet. So we get a lot of these bloggers saying, “Should I focus much on these guided recipes?” And I’m like, well, if you’re using, for example, tasty or WP recipe maker, I know that Create really still has a long way to go with guided recipes.

Casey (00:52:58):

But if you’re using WP tasty or WP recipe maker, specifically, it’s mostly optimized, especially WP recipe maker. It was the first plugin to come out and optimize mostly for the guided recipes information. You could just go in and add all that information if you want to. But the only people that you’re going to hear really pushing guided recipes are mostly the ad companies, because they want you to add images to your recipe card, to make the recipe card longer so they can stop more ads. Just to understand, folks, if you’re on call and you’re listening to this, users do not like to print out recipe cards with images. They do not like to do this. A lot of them will subconsciously not even do it because they see the image in the recipe card. So number one, you want to make sure that if someone was to print out your card, the default is no images, but in many cases that’s not enough.

Casey (00:53:45):

Users will just not go and print out the recipe card because they see all those images. So ask yourself, is it worth stuffing on mobile another two or three ads to do that? When they know that they’re probably not going to print out the card anyway, if it’s going to look even worse when they have all those images in it, all those ads in it. So guided recipes just is not there yet. If you want to optimize for guided recipes, just trying to fill out as many of the attributes as you can. I wouldn’t necessarily start to get into the habit of including the photos in the recipe card. I want to see those photos, those step-by-step photos in the recipe post. Google treats the recipe post and the recipe card as separate entities. That’s always been the case. So if your goal is to write a complete post, that post should have those step-by-steps. I see a lot of bloggers take those step-by-steps and go down and put those in the recipe card. Personally, though, there’s really no SEO or UX benefit to doing that, that I can see. And I haven’t been told otherwise.

Megan (00:54:42):

Well, there we go, Casey, that’s something I’ve actually done. Right. So I put that on my good job, Megan list.

Casey (00:54:48):

Yeah. And I, and there are some bloggers that do this very well. For example, they use loom videos. Gosh, I’m trying to think of, gosh, I can’t think of her name. There’s several bloggers out there that have done this very well. They’ve done individual loom videos. The problem is making sure that you’re understanding that when you do this, you’re setting yourself up for very low, poor page speed metrics. So unless you really have that kind of optimization dialed in, you’ll tank your core web vitals. So then it becomes, okay, what am I going to optimize for? Am I going to optimize for the core web vitals and the page experience that’s coming in May? Knowing that by putting all these loom videos or other videos in my recipe card, I might have unnecessarily added weight to my page that I can’t lazy load or optimize? Or do I just take a pass for now, wait and see, see how the winds blow?

Megan (00:55:38):

That was very well said. So you mentioned ad companies. I know kind of your thoughts on ad companies and as they relate to food bloggers, do you have any other just really quick tips for dealing with ad companies? What to do? Is there anything we should be telling them additionally, or just kind of let them do their thing? Or what do you think?

Casey (00:55:59):

I think the ad companies do a great job with ad technology. I think Mediavine and AdThrive, especially. Not a fan of, for example, SHEmedia and some of the other ones which have very poor customer service or their ad technology is not up to snuff. For those of you on the call who are like, Oh my gosh, I can’t believe Mediavine raised their limit from 25,000 to 50,000 [sessions/month], do I really want to wait that long? And the answer is yes, you do. You want to try to not wait as long as you can to monetize because the difference in both the customer service and the product are night and day. I can’t tell you how many bloggers have slowed their growth considerably by just going ahead and signing up with Ezoic or SHEmedia or others.

Casey (00:56:39):

It just, it is what it is. And with regards to the ad companies, my advice again, when SEO and ad companies.. There are two different things. You can follow every advice the ad company gives you, and it’s never going to be as successful as an audit. Hands-Down, that’s just the case. You hear over and over again that SEO is not hard. As a matter of fact, I heard that on one of your previous podcasts, SEO is not that hard. Completely incorrect. SEO is hard because of the incredible amount of incorrect and just plain wrong information that is out there. You’re getting pulled in all these different directions. And I guess that’s what an audit is for. It’s a personalized approach to what you’re doing. We’re going to go in and do a full technical crawl. We’re going to look at your content.

Casey (00:57:22):

We’re going to look at how you set your ads up. With ad companies, again, their goal is the bottom line. Their goal is to make themselves the most money. Their goal is to make you the most money. And in many cases, that involves crazy recommendations. Like if you’re not running jump or print recipe buttons, or if you’re running jump or print recipe buttons, not kidding, we want you to change the color so it’s harder for people to see the jump and print recipe buttons. I was actually in an email that was forwarded to me the other day from someone who had an ad audit with their company. And that was one of the recommendations. Other things were like, Hey, you need to go ahead and add photos and other things to your recipe card so that we can make that recipe card longer and stuff it with ads.

Casey (00:58:02):

So when I give you these recommendations, it’s literally based on what I know they’re trying to sell you. This bill of goods. And I think that overall, they do a great job when they stay with the ad technology, you know, making sure that you run low ad settings. I know that we never want to run all the ads that an ad company provides you the ability to run. I’m a big believer that you should run the lowest density you can on your ads whenever you can. If you want to raise that up during really high periods like the holidays, great. But then we kind of lower that stuff back down, because that’s how we build traffic the rest of the year. And then there’s other ad units like we call them GumGum sticky ads that are loaded on the bottom of every image.

Casey (00:58:44):

Those are just very disruptive, or you could see that they’ve included new leaderboard ads, which push all the content below the fold, not a fan of those. So you just have to really understand that there are detriments to running every ad unit that you have access to. And that’s in an audit. I train bloggers that here, we’re going to run 40% less ads here, and you’re going to increase your traffic this month and you’re just going to do better. And there’s a reason why I have 200+ reviews on Facebook from all these bloggers who have said, Oh my God, I can’t believe that my traffic is up 40% or 200% or 1,000%. It takes a little while. You just have to work beyond it. But if you run less ads and you focus on the bottom line experience of your content, first and foremost, you will do better. That’s always been my experience.

Megan (00:59:30):

Well, the audits you do, you are obviously a neutral party. You don’t work for an ad company. You are giving a totally, just unbiased opinion. This is going to help you. I have no correlation to the ads. So I think that’s saying a lot. And ultimately it’s about the user and you preach that all the time.

Casey (00:59:48):

Yes. I mean, people will say, you know, write for users, but they don’t necessarily understand what that means. You can’t write for users and then have 15 ads on the page. You can’t write for users and have an image sticky on every page or run up a pop-up interstitial between pages, just because it’s okay for Google guidelines. It’s just a bad experience where, I run into a lot of bloggers who they’ll do popups because they’re trying to build their email list and I’m all for that. But there are other ways to do it. We can use embeds, we can use Facebook or e-marketing. We can use giveaways to build up your email list. We don’t need to have these huge popups, which can be very disruptive. Can turn off a lot of users specifically. And of course, Google has this thing called a mobile interstitial penalty. A lot of bloggers are completely like, I’ve never even heard of that. I’m like, I’m always surprised. Yeah, here it is. So little things like that. But it’s not a me versus them with the ad companies. I applaud them. I think they do a great job. I think they’ve taken plenty of shots at me over the years.

Casey (01:00:52):

It’s only helped me. I don’t mind it at all. Keep it up. Every time they take a shot, I get 10 more audits, but it’s just one of those things where, I focus on the user. If they want to retire and buy a second house, these are the things that I tell them based upon my experience, will allow them to do that. If their goal is to make this the main primary income for their bloggers, these are the experience that I have. This is what we’ve done in the past. There are no guarantees, but I suspect that it will work well for you as well. And then we go from there.

Megan (01:01:23):

Yeah. And I never got the impression that you were against ad companies. I just want to say that. I think that you definitely have a lot of good things to say, but just the fact that you are a neutral party and that you can see it from a different point of view. So I think that’s great to hear that from you just an SEO expert, someone who works with food bloggers a lot, I think that’s super valuable. Yeah. So, Oh my gosh. I have gotten a lot more time from you than I asked you for. So I apologize, but I thank you. Thank you so much for being here.

Casey (01:01:55):

Yeah, again, I think I joked with you previously that I’m always shocked that anyone would want to listen to me for any extended period of time. Trust me, just ask my wife.

Megan (01:02:04):

Oh, that’s funny. So on the topic of SEO, is there one takeaway that you would give any food blogger listening that you just would hope they would walk away with today?

Casey (01:02:13):

Yeah. Just understand that with regards to content is again, still kind of the King and queen of SEO. The content, the content, the content. But understand that longer is not better. Our goal is to write a complete recipe post that answers questions of the user that provides a dumbed down way for you to provide value to your audience. I know that I’m going to share a couple of quotes here in a minute, but mine, that plenty of you probably on the call already know: I want you to write your content for toddlers and drunk adults, Casey Markee. It’s very easy to do. I just want you to explain everything very simply. My daughter specifically has become quite a budding chef. She turned 17 in February and she follows tons of bloggers. So she made a cream puff recipe last night from Sam over at sugar spun run.

Casey (01:03:04):

And she did a fantastic job on it. And I listened to her when she’s going through because she’s writing notes and I take that experience and I will apply it to our audits. Like, okay. She had to, she had to do this and do this and I might drop Sam a note and say, “Hey Sam, so my daughter made your cream pies, cream puffs,” which are all over Facebook, by the way. And tag Sam and Sam was like, “Oh my God, those look great.” And I’m like, “Your check’s in the mail, Sam.”

Casey (01:03:32):

And you know, there are little things that probably could have been explained a little bit more clear. And so we take that information and that’s what we want to do. I want you to write your recipes in a way that there are no misunderstandings. We want to make sure that I know that.. In many cases, bloggers have made a recipe 15, 20, 30, 50 times. Maybe they forgot what happened when they made it the first time. You know, we want to write all that information down whenever we can and just try to make sure that the first time is the best time.

Megan (01:04:00):

Yeah, we do forget, right. We forget what the user is actually going through. So I love that. You’re kind of observing what your daughter is going through and then like sending that out, sending that valuable information out to the blogger. That’s amazing. I love that. Well, Casey has been such a great pleasure of mine to talk to you today. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for your time and for sharing all of this amazing value with food bloggers. Before you go, you already shared a quote you’re writing content for toddlers and drunk adults, but do you have anything extra?

Casey (01:04:32):

I do. I do. I’m a big, better Benjamin Franklin fan. That’s why I love the audits. He always said, and I quote, “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” And I think that’s why the audits have been so successful is because I do lots of live auditing. Well, I show the blogger through a Skype call, hey, this is what we’re going to do. Here’s how we’re going to change it. Here’s an example for you to emulate and here are things that you’re doing great. And that’s what we want to do, is we want to get you involved and you can take that quote and you can apply it to every other aspect of your life, as well. And with your blog, make sure that you involve your users as much as you can. Look at those comments, take the feedback. And you’re always surprised. So on that note, I wish all of you a very happy and safe 2021.

Megan (01:05:18):

Awesome. Well, that’s great advice and great information. Casey, we’re going to put a show notes page together for you. So if anyone wants to go peek at all of those resources we referred to, you can find those at eatblogtalk.com/CaseyMarkee. Casey, tell my listeners the best place to find you online.

Casey (01:05:35):

Yeah, you can usually find me in the food blogger central group. I’m happy to answer some questions for free there. You can find me online at my site MediaWyse. And I have a Facebook page /MediaWyse on Facebook. And yeah, always, always great to talk to you. Always happy to be here.

Megan (01:05:56):

Awesome. Well, thank you again for being here and thank you for listening today. Food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Outro (01:06:03):

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of eat blog talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head, to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on eat blog talk.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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