Blog Title: Editor in Chief at Simply Recipes
About: Emma Christensen is the Editor-in-Chief of Simply Recipes. She has over 10 years of experience creating food and cooking content for both web and print. She was formerly the recipe editor for The Kitchn and is the author of three books on home-brewing, True Brews, Brew Better Beer, and Modern Cider. Emma is a graduate of The Cambridge School for Culinary Arts and Bryn Mawr College. She lives in San Jose, California.
Notes from Episode #038: Improve your SEO strategy
Fun fact: Emma is a beer and cider maker; this is a side gig that ends with experiments bubbling away in her kitchen. She also worked at The Kitchn before coming to Simply Recipes.
Emma said she’s a super nerd and loves SEO so she’s the gal for the job!
Emma breaks SEO down like this: think first in terms of the user + [your] site first and foremost. Then Google comes in second. Google wants you to connect with your readers. Things like photos and ease of getting around, the voice you bring to the internet are important here.
If your readers are having a good experience, Google is going to see that and reward you for that. Google wants to connect readers with good content based on search terms they enter into the search engine. Google sees how connections work really well.
A year ago, Google began prioritizing what they wanted in an update a year ago. They released a super appropriate acronym – EAT (expertise, authority and trust).
You need to make sure security updates are done and a visitor is safe using your site, that they don’t have to be worried about their information being stolen.
The relationship you are trying to build with your audience + your presence and reputation on the internet are all important. Both your own name and your business name matter. Do you know what you’re talking about? What gives you knowledge on this topic? How are you documenting this so everyone knows? What credentials do you have? Are you published? Consider what improves your clout? This reputation isn’t just on your site, but this is on the world wide web as a whole. A following on social media can play a part in this too.
Can your audience find what they are looking for when they are on your site? Can they discover other content they are looking for? Did the recipe the user selected work? Will they be able to recreate what you’re instructing them to do?
Remember that building trust takes time.
If you don’t have anything published aside from your blog, how do you earn authority? What is the difference between expertise and authority? Expertise is what you write about on your site and authority is how you’re seen across the internet. Authority backs it up. However, they are intertwined and its a deep subject so if you don’t get it, you’re in good company.
Start somewhere with SEO and EAT. You can’t be an expert overnight but just take that first step. It takes time. You can help accelerate the process if you gain a larger following and have published work but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Consistency and persistence are key in working on SEO.
Take the reader with you as you grow and learn. If you’re a newbie, dive into a topic, a tool, a type of food and share the growth with your audience so you learn together. This helps form trust between you and them.
Evolution of food blogging:
Personality was all the blog was originally. Now it’s very little part of the process. What people wanted years ago was different than what it is today. When blogs started a decade ago, you had friends, co-workers and family that were visiting it. But now you have an international audience and you have a business. The people visiting your site want to cook something you’re an “expert at”.
Social media changed blogging hugely too. Instagram and Facebook have become our “blog” and the actual blog is now the technical nitty gritty way to share your recipes.
When sharing your story, it can’t just be something with your family that you did. The personality you bring to the post and your writing voice are important.
SEO can’t be all robotic. Down the road our individual voices and personalities are going to matter because that’s what our audience likes about us. But if we don’t learn to use our personality in between what Google asks of us technically, our blogs will all start to look the same. Google is going to eventually learn to pick up on those subtleties too.
Use the SEO tools that Google wants but remember it’s a tool, then form the structure of the post. However, that’s just the framework. You have to fill in the framework by bringing yourself and your personality into the middle.
Know your audience, think about them and how you’re writing. Your audience is different than other bloggers audience so you don’t want to emulate someone else. Bring a layer of your own humanness into it.
Your readers can pick and choose what they want to hear from you – they know how to check out family personal experiences on Insta and visit the blog to get the recipe.
Emma’s Top Recommended Tools:
SEMrush is her favorite tool. It’s powerful – it has so much capacity to help you. You can check out a URL of yours and improve on it. It has a magic keyword tool to help you to learn about what readers want information on. Con: it’s expensive.
Google Trends is a free option. You can research seasonality and learn when is appropriate to share these in the year. You can also set it to a 5 year mark, (it defaults to a year) so you can see a span of time to learn about the trendiness of a recipe.
Answerthepublic.com is another great free tool.
Google.com helps you see top results. You need to be using the prediction tool.
SEO Best practices:
Use the SEO tools, whatever you use, to first refine your topic. See what’s ranking, think about where you could be competitive if you dial into it, discover how your recipe fits into the space between where a basic recipe can be and find where you could see space to rank. Don’t try to get ranking on a recipe that all the big blogs are doing. Add something unique to yours to stand out.
Don’t forget to go into your kitchen and refine the recipe. We still have to do this!
Think about what questions to answer about this recipe and how much information to provide.
Formatting your story for best engagement (things to think about and incorporate into the post): writing style, bullet points, photos, colors. Avoid things that will break up your text too much. Don’t lose it amongst pics, ads and H2 text.
Create eco-systems of content on your blog, within your content. Deep dive into a topic and don’t spread yourself too thin. Find a recipe that relates to some of your other content and link them. This helps Google to see you as an authority. This is perfect when planning batching. For example: have several of tomato based recipe posts. Also have a post about freezing tomatoes or canning. Connect them so they are relevant to one another.
Weathering Google’s ups and down: How do we know that this is really want Google wants and we won’t have to do a complete 180 tomorrow?
Find a strategy you can sustain for the long haul. Always think of your user and their experience first then follow what SEO and Google are telling you. Tweak as needed but remember that you have one goal and you can’t change course all the time, it’s a long game and you have to weather through it. Try not to look at your traffic day over day if you know that it’s in a slump; instead focus on goals and steps you can keep taking. Remember, year over year, things can still improve.
Video – deal breaker for SEO?
If a post hovers on page 2 or 3 of Google, this might be the time to add a video, add a spiff up to the whole post and republish to the homepage. This often gives it a boost.
Video can be helpful and does add value but its not the only key – there are 5.5 bajillion things that go into SEO so do it judiciously.
Don’t burn yourself out to make videos if your budget can’t sustain them. Don’t stress about it.
Showing your face can help build authority in videos but there are so many ways to engage your audience. Be creative!
Don’t be scared! It can get overwhelming to look at all SEO can offer to your blog and posts and so much is at stake. But its important to hit the target, not the bullseye. Be a human being. Connect with your audience. Don’t think there’s only one way to do this blogging thing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Finish each day and be done with it.” It’s one line of a poem but she likes it.FINISH EVERY DAY | Ralph Waldo Emerson
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.
This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.