In episode 413, Aleka Shunk teaches us effective keyword research strategies, sharing tips about which search volumes to target, how to analyze competition, and which mistakes to avoid.

We cover information on how to rank for more than one variation of a keyword, what to consider if your keyword has a low ranking, how to approach high-competition keywords, why and how to track your keywords and progress, learn to analyze your competition and what to invest in for keyword research.

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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RankIQ is an AI-powered SEO tool built just for bloggers. It tells you what to put inside your post and title, so you can write perfectly optimized content in half the time. RankIQ contains a hand-picked library with the lowest competition, high traffic keywords for every niche.

Guest Details

Connect with Keywords with Aleka & Aleka’s Get Together

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Bio Aleka is the founder of Aleka’s Get-Together, a food and entertaining blog, and Keywords With Aleka, a keyword research school for bloggers. She has a Master’s Degree in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum and was a teacher for ten years.

Aleka took her expertise as both a teacher and blogger to create courses to help others learn how to navigate and excel at a small, but important, piece of SEO: keyword research!


  • Deeper research can open up a variety of keywords with long-tail options you can naturally rank for.
  • There are a lot of ways you can search for a recipe on Google so this opens up long-tail keywords and specific ingredients you can rank for.
  • Look for ingredients you can add to stand out if you can adapt it to the recipe without a lot of change.
  • Track your keywords with a good tracking tool.
  • Support your keywords by creating content that links to them and lifts them up, keeping users engaged.
  • Click-through rate is important to Google.
  • Separate your content to individual posts to strengthen your keywords and link them together.
  • Check the 11-15th recipes that you’re competing against on keywords and find a spot to rank there so you can grow into that keyword as you strengthen your blog.
  • Look at questions from the audience on similar recipes to see what’s important to note about a post and how to shape it for ranking.
  • Free tools alone aren’t going to cut it on its own. Keysearch or another tool can help you to do proper research.
  • It takes time to learn keyword research.
  • If a post hasn’t moved in a year, you should be updating your content or changing the outline – go a different direction to get some movement.
  • Link to your categories.

Resources Mentioned

Keywords with Aleka Use code: EBT10 for a discount!

Mailing list for free tips

Keyword research tools: RankIQ, Keysearch, Ahrefs, SEMRush

Free extensions in Chrome to use with your tools: Meta, SEO Minion, SEO quake


Click for full script.

EBT413 – Aleka Shunk (1)

Intro: Food bloggers, hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help them to achieve their freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.

I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. 

If you are a keyword research junkie like I am and like so many other food bloggers are, you are absolutely going to love this episode with Aleka Schunk from Keywords with Aleka. She provides so much value in this episode about how to do keyword research. She goes into looking for search volumes and competition and how you should be analyzing your competition. And tracking your rankings and mistakes bloggers make and so many little tips that I never thought of. So listen to it from start to finish. I promise you will find value in it. This is episode number 413 sponsored by RankIQ. 

Sponsor: Eat Blog Talk is here to support you at every stage of your food blogging journey to help you accelerate your blog’s growth so you can achieve your freedom. We offer many services that will help get you on the right path no matter where you’re at in your journey.

Don’t forget to check out our free discussion forum Go there to connect with like-minded peers, to learn and to and to share any wins that you have.

Our signature service is our mastermind program. We are currently accepting waitlist submissions for 2024. So if you want to get on the list for this year-long experience, starting in January 2024, definitely do that now.

If you are not quite ready for that investment, the mini minds program might be for you. It is a six month program that will help you achieve your goals and overcome any obstacles that are holding you back. If you’re up for getting together in person with some like minded food bloggers, consider coming to one of our in-person retreats in 2023. This is a great way to get to know your fellow food bloggers really well in an intimate setting, to learn a ton about food blogging in a short time frame, and to eat some delicious food that you will never forget. Go to to get all the information about all of our services.

Megan Porta: Aleka is the founder of Aleka’s Get Together, a food and entertaining blog, and Keywords with Aleka, a keyword research school for bloggers. She has a master’s degree in teaching, learning, and curriculum, and was a teacher for 10 years. Aleka took her expertise as both a teacher and blogger to create courses to help others learn how to navigate and excel at a small but important piece of SEO, keyword research.

Hello, Aleka. How are you today? Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. 

Aleka Shunk: Thank you. How are you? I’m so happy to be here. I’ve been a long listener for some time now and am excited to share as well as collaborate with you and chat. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, we’re excited to learn about keywords. I know that you absolutely love this topic, but before we get into it, do you have a fun fact to share with us?

Aleka Shunk: Fun fact. I’ve been thinking about a few different things, but something that has taken up most of my life has been soccer. I think a lot of people don’t realize that growing up, I was a huge soccer fan player. I played in college. I played on a Greek Olympic team after college and I coached for five, six years after that. So soccer and coaching and everything around that was such a big part of my life and taught me a lot about so many different things. The coaching aspect is something that has helped me also carry over into what I’m doing now, but yeah, I’m big on soccer and hopefully, I’m trying to push my two sons to play right now because I love it so much, but one doesn’t want to run. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s awesome. I love learning about you. So are you involved in it in any capacity now? Do you coach or anything like that? 

Aleka Shunk: No, not now. I gave that up when I got pregnant with my first son and took a break from it. But yeah, actually, I’m sorry. I did volunteer last season for my four-year-old sons. I was like, I wouldn’t do this, but here I am. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s funny. Yeah, I suppose it’s much different on a four-year-old level than collegiate level, probably. 

Aleka Shunk: It’s completely different, but it’s fun. It’s fun. Yeah. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s awesome. So cool. Okay, so you’re here to talk about keyword research. Everyone under the sun who is a food blogger wants to learn more about keyword research as it’s a very relevant and hot topic. So let’s just have a conversation about this. Do you have anywhere you’d like to start? Maybe what’s a question or subtopic that you get a lot from food bloggers?

Aleka Shunk: A question I get a lot is how do you know what volume to target when it comes to keyword research? I think that’s something that people are always going to wonder about that magic number because we want that set, this is what we got to go for. Don’t go for anything else. We just want those rules. But it’s hard to give that exact answer because it depends on so many things. Depends on where you are. If you’re a new blogger, obviously, you’re going to target a lower search volume. If you’re a little bit more authority and blogging for a longer time, you’re going to increase that volume. It depends on the competition and so many things. So that’s one question I do get a lot on is, what target volume to search for? Then also what tools do you recommend to do both keyword research and tracking, is another question I get a lot. I can dig into tools if you want. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. So before we get to tools, which I think is a really awesome one to cover too, I was going to ask you about the search volume thing. So I’ve noticed lately that nothing is really off-limits for me. If it says a hundred search volumes on KeySearch, I’ll just go for it. Usually, I end up getting more than that, than what it says. So why is there a discrepancy? 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah. So if you see a keyword that says a hundred and you are really into that variation, especially if it’s a recipe. Nine times out of 10, actually, I’ll probably say 99. 9% of the time, there’s going to be so many different other variations that you’re naturally going to rank for because, there’s how many different ways to search a query in Google, right? When people are searching recipe, you can ask that query or how to find that. You can come about it in so many different ways. I can give an example. If you’re searching, lasagna with ricotta cheese. That’s bad because all lasagnas have ricotta cheese. If I did a cheeseburger with turkey, right? Turkey, cheeseburger, turkey burger. You can say turkey burger. Say that gets 200 search volume. Then there’s another variation that may get 50 that’s a burger with turkey meat, or turkey burger recipe, or recipe for turkey burgers, or delicious turkey burger, or the best turkey burger. So all of these different variations are really important that you add them up as you’re doing your research.

Depending on the tool you use will depend on how easy it is to find that total number and that total number is something that I really stress in my course because a lot of us either will, most of the time not go for a keyword because you’re thinking, Oh, only 100 search volume. That’s not enough. I’m not going to bother when if you really do deeper research, you’re going to see other keyword variations, like 50 here, 80 here, 100 here, 20 here, 20, 20, 20, 30, 30, 50, and it all adds up to over a thousand if you really do your research properly. Those are the posts that really do better than you think, because you’re like, a lot of people are just looking quickly and they’re shoving it under the rug because they just see a number that’s too low and they don’t really do the deeper research. This is for recipes that are not so obvious, like turkey burgers. The ones that have longer tail keywords and more specific ingredients that people are searching for. 

Megan Porta: Okay. I love that explanation. I’ve never heard anyone say it quite like that, so that makes sense. So it’s like there’s more to it, like you’re looking at a hundred, but it goes deeper because you’re going to put more things in your post, obviously, and make it a more robust keyword, enriched post. The 100 shouldn’t scare us off because we are awesome and we’re going to make it more quality than just turkey burgers or burgers with turkey or whatever you said originally. 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah, exactly. Google’s going to rank you for so many more terms that you normally didn’t think about, which is why tracking and taking a look at your keywords after the fact is super important because you’re like, Oh my goodness. I didn’t even think that somebody would be searching this. Or what is this? I didn’t even know it had to do with my keyword. So there’s a lot that you don’t even realize. So having that minimum volume as the base is really important. Start there. Then usually it’s going to be much more than that. It’s only a percentage of that. I think a lot of people don’t realize. Food bloggers underreach that volume, they’ll go for something super low. Because they’re like I don’t want to go to competitive because I’m not going to rank. But if you really think you’re only getting in the first position, I think a third of that traffic is what the stats say. So out of 1000 total monthly search volume, considering all the variations that you may rank in the first position for, you’re just getting 30% of that ish, which is about what, 300 ish, a little bit more than that, monthly visits. Which isn’t really gonna move the needle that much. So just some things to think about. 

Megan Porta: Okay, so what if there’s like the perfect. keyword and we see a search volume of zero or 10, is that off-limits? What are your thoughts?

Aleka Shunk: Perfect keyword? What’s a perfect keyword? 

Megan Porta: I was just talking to a friend of mine who baked a really specific cake that she had made that I had never even heard of. But the keyword came up in Keysearch. It was there. I think it was like 10 search volumes or something like that. It was really hard for her to describe the cake in any other way. She’d already made it. It was already a post and photos were taken and everything, so it’s not like she could redo her thinking around what she was going to make. So yeah, something like that. 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah. In my course, I teach not to go that step route. That’s phase two. After you develop a recipe, then going back and do keyword research. Obviously, it’s not the ideal way to research, but so many of us have so many recipes that we really love the recipe so much and really there’s nothing more that we want to change. So you’ve got to make it fit the SEO, right? So if that happens, if you can find other words or ways to describe it, I think I just worked with somebody that had a recipe for creamy chicken with sun-dried tomatoes. She wasn’t ranking for that, but I did some deeper research and realized that instead of calling it that, we can call it to marry me chicken, which I had no idea was the name of that type of recipe. But that had a lower search volume and was a better keyword or a lower competition score and had still a pretty good volume. I told her to go for that. So sometimes there are other ways to call a recipe. When it comes to food, sometimes it’s a very strict term, where you can’t really wiggle much outside of that window, but sometimes you can change things around or be very general with your recipe.

So if she has a cake recipe that is very specific and there’s no volume for that specific recipe, option one, you can totally go for it and cross your fingers. Hope that Keysearch or whatever tool you’re using is pulling incorrect data and there are loads of people searching it, or maybe it gets more volume during a different time of year, which you may not know about. Or option two, you can call it more of a general term, like the best cake recipe or a super easy, I don’t know, five-ingredient cake recipe or something that’s so broad where most people, most bloggers aren’t going to use that term because they’re more so targeting a specific type of cake. So there are different ways you can go about that and that’s usually the second way, a second option I encourage people to take if more of the specific volume isn’t there, if that makes sense.

Megan Porta: Yeah, that makes sense. We have to get creative, don’t we? Sometimes I spend a lot of time because I have a lot of older content and I try to update my old content and just fit it into these keywords, which I know a lot of us try to do. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all and I just have to abandon it. But sometimes I’m like, dang it, I’m going to make this work. I just search and search and most of the time there’s an angle. As you said, maybe go more generic and then put a modifier on it or something like that. 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah, that’s what we do as bloggers. We’re already creative, especially if you’re a food blogger, you’re creative in the kitchen. Think a little bit outside the box when it comes to naming your recipes. It doesn’t have to be that exact title. Chicken with onions and mushrooms. It could be something, a creamy, easy weekend chicken dinner. Take a step back and think a little bit differently. Sometimes you may need to finagle some things. This is something I tell my students in the courses. If there’s like an ingredient that you didn’t or did use, that’s not very obvious in the photos, try to play around with targeting or not targeting that keyword so that you don’t have to change your photos and you can easily tweak the recipe so that maybe it doesn’t affect the overall taste at the end. Obviously, it’s not going to be the main ingredient, like chicken, removing or adding that, but maybe it has onions and you didn’t add that in the title, but you find that onions are a popular modifier and with a high volume, maybe now we throw that in the title and we target chicken with onions or whatever it is, whereas before it was more just general chicken. 

Megan Porta: No, I like that. Yeah, you’re right. We just have to think a little bit. Then I was going to ask you about those really high search volume and maybe high competition keywords. Do you recommend that we aim for some of those and how often?

Aleka Shunk: Yeah. When I started keyword researching, I was like, yeah, I’m just going to find the lowest, competition keywords with the highest volume. They’re very hard to find, but they’re out there. At the same time as I grew and learned more and, saw my own growth and lack of growth at times, I also take a step back as I analyze other bloggers that I work with, I see what keywords they’re ranking for. I’m like, wow. The competition score that this blogger is ranking high for in the top position is much higher than personally I would go for and my authority is higher than this person. So I’m thinking, why would I ever shut out all the possibilities out there? So what I’m trying to say is there’s a recipe that you really love and that you have and you really feel proud of it and you want to target a keyword that is maybe higher competition, but the volume is there, that is like my go for the gold, let’s cross our fingers, let’s keep, things positive thinking, go for that keyword. You really never know because you could have more authority in a certain area if you’re maybe a crock pot blogger or whatever it is you don’t know how Google’s going to rank, but I don’t do that for all my keywords, right? There’s some strategy. I’ll just throw one of those in maybe every month or maybe a couple of months, depending on how many recipes, and new posts I’m producing, and try to just have those on the back burner. Because as you grow, you’re going to have more authority. You’re going to be able to rank for those higher competitive keywords. You want to set yourself up for future success as well. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, there’s always those anomalies that happen that you just don’t expect at all. For me, it’s really old keywords and posts that I just threw out there. For some reason, they’ve just done well over time and they’re still doing well and it doesn’t fit within my niche at all. There’s one, in particular, I’m thinking of that’s every year, it’s a top three. Every single year over and over. I’m just like, I have no idea. So if you find those anomalies, do you recommend building a strategy around them to support them or anything like that? 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah, I mean if you have a post that’s in the top three or five positions consistently year round and they’re doing pretty well. But, we have to keep an eye on them, that’s super important. Especially if a higher percentage of your traffic is coming from those top posts. Make sure, number one, that you’re tracking it. Keeping an eye on those so they don’t fall because one position could make a huge difference, especially if you have a few. Especially if you’re like in a rich snippet, and you drop one spot, you could go totally MIA. So tracking them is important, using a good tracking tool. I teach that in my other course on analyzing and tracking. So keeping an eye on that is number one. Two, support it by offering different recipes that will go off it or go with it. So if it’s maybe a summer dish, maybe you offer a summer dessert that you can link to at the end of that post, which will keep users on the page or on your blog. Because click through rate is super important to Google. So if we can keep somebody on that recipe or on your blog, then that’s giving good signals to Google and going to help that post only more. If it’s maybe a pizza post that you aren’t linking to, or you don’t include a recipe for your own pizza dough, have another separate post on homemade pizza dough that you can link to that. Maybe your own pizza or marinara sauce as well that you link all those three recipes together. So things like that are really important to strengthen those posts as much as you can and keep an eye on them so that they don’t drop. 

Megan Porta: Okay, great thoughts there. Let’s say we have the perfect keyword. It fits exactly what we want to make and the numbers all look good. Search volume and the competition look good on paper or on the screen, but then we go and we dig a little bit into the competition and we see that maybe there are some really well-known established bloggers in the top three or five. Do we just abandon that keyword? 

Aleka Shunk: No. I think a lot of us do that and we immediately are saying, I’m just going to keep moving on. But if you really love the recipe, the potential recipe or you already have a recipe that is perfected, and you really want to go for that keyword, go for it. If you don’t already have a recipe and you’re just random keyword searching to give you more recipe inspiration, I would say try to analyze it a little better. Like what exactly are you analyzing when it comes to the competition? Page one only, are you looking at page two to see who’s hanging out in the 11th through 15th position? I keep saying page two, but it’s not really page two anymore. The 11th or 15th position in that infinite scroll. If you look at those positions and recipes that are not really related or targeting a different keyword in the same niche, then that’s something that you can heavily help determine whether you’re going to go for it, because maybe you don’t rank for that recipe this year, but maybe again, it’s something that you’re going to rank for in the future. So if you can land in maybe the top of the second page of the 11, 12, 13, one of those second set of 10 positions, then I still think putting yourself in a good position and you should still go for it. 

Other things to consider before you abandon it is to look into and open up every single post on page one page. I keep saying page. In the top 10 take a look at all of the heading structures of every other blogger’s post and see how they’re formatting their posts. Is there anything that they’re really missing? Look at the reader comments. I love looking at those. You’ll see a lot of questions that other readers are asking these other bloggers and you didn’t even think about it because when we make a recipe, we make it, we don’t step outside of that box and kind of look at it from an amateur cook perspective. So there are a lot of questions that I’ve gotten and used in my own post when creating a new recipe that I never would have thought of asking initially, just from seeing what other people are wondering. So using all of that and saying is this blogger even addressing this question? Is this blogger addressing this topic? Are they going to detail the type of variations or what substitutions? Just really digging deep to see if there are content gaps missing from your competition will help you determine whether you should really go for it or whether it’s totally forgotten about it.

One thing I’ve really focused on like the first thing is the title tag. So the H1 is usually the same thing as the SERP title. If it’s exactly what you’re targeting and the top 20 results targeting that exact keyword, that’s something that I’m really okay with, if I see that, I’m like, okay, maybe I’m going to go in a different direction. If they’re a higher authority, then let me go see if there’s something else out there. But if only a handful of those top posts or competitors are really targeting that specific keyword, then I’m like, okay, I think I have a chance. Let me dig a little deeper. So there are a lot of things you should be analyzing before you just totally throw it out the window. 

Megan Porta: That was gold, everything you just said. That was so amazing. Because I don’t think, I don’t often look really closely at the titles of all of the top posts. I just glance through Keysearch and then stop. If it’s like, Oh, Sally’s Baking Addiction. There she is again. Or, whoever, then I stop in my tracks. But yeah, to keep going and to keep digging a little bit is what you’re saying. 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah. Yeah. I was going to say, I wish Keysearch offers the title tag, and the option to see that from within the tool itself. I’m sure they will in the future, it’s something that would be super helpful because then I have to go into Google and read the title tags. Obviously, it’s not a huge extra step, but it still is an extra step, something I do every single time. 

Then another thing to think about is the organic results, the blue links compared to the rich results at the top, and the recipe carousel that a lot of people will click immediately on those three images. Do you know what I’m talking about? 

Megan Porta: Yes. 

Aleka Shunk: So if you’re in those top three images, that’s awesome. But click the drop-down when you’re analyzing and see the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh, eighth, and ninth, those other six results, and see who they are. Do they have five-star ratings or what’s their authority? Are they targeting that exact keyword in their title? What’s their niche? Are they really specializing in this type of recipe or whatever? That’s really what also helps me determine whether I go for a recipe because I feel like the chances of landing there are much higher personally than in the organic results, but that’s something I also really look at and helps me determine. If it’s like a website that’s not really optimized, just a large food website, I never let that deter me. Ever. It’s usually the bloggers that I’m more afraid of.

Megan Porta: Yeah. Same. When I see those bigger bloggers, I’m like, Ooh, that’s scary. So my takeaway here for me, myself, Megan, is just to be a better investigator when looking at competition and not being so afraid when I see those big blogger names. So I’m having a huge takeaway here. Thank you, Aleka.

Aleka Shunk: Have more hope. 

Megan Porta: Yes, I have hope okay, so is there anything else on like volumes competition? Anything along those lines before we move on to tools?

Aleka Shunk: Volumes competition. I don’t think so. I feel like there’s only so much I can repeat. But I think we’re good Okay.

Megan Porta: That was all great. Thank you. Then you mentioned earlier tools, you get a lot of questions about which tools to use. So what are your thoughts? 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah. Yeah. It’s so crazy. There are so many tools out there, whereas a couple of years ago there was like one. But I think if you are first starting off blogging and aren’t even dipping your toes in keyword research, the free tools aren’t going to cut it. So if you’re using a free tool like the Keywords Everywhere extension or some free extension that everyone started off, it’s good, but it’s not going to put you ahead of everybody else that is using these tools. So pay for a tool. It doesn’t have to be super expensive off the block but start with something basic like Keysearch, which it’s awesome. It’s only 30 a month and it does the job. So use that. It’s very user-friendly. And it gives you like 80% of what you need to do proper research. So that is a tool that I use all the time for quick volume and difficulty checks. Then I also use RankIQ, which is something that I know you talk about a lot. I love the Blogging Millionaire. He’s awesome. He offers so much helpful information. His tool is super helpful for finding content ideas that you never would have thought of. It does the research for you. So if you can afford it, that’s also a great tool to give you quick ideas without putting hours and hours into the research aspect of it.

Then another tool I use is Ahrefs. Which is, it’s hand in hand with SEMrush. Both, I feel like people either use one or the other. They’re going to really amp up the level of their keyword research. I like personally, Ahrefs, I just am used to it, I like it. SEMrush I used for a year and I liked it too. But it’s just something that, the amount of time it saves you on filters and finding, locating certain keywords, it pays for itself. Time is money. I always say, everyone’s so afraid to invest in that tool, but you’re spending hours and hours researching, using these cheaper tools that may not have the ability or bandwidth to do all the research that you really can or it doesn’t limit the results like Keysearch can limit the amount of keywords a post is ranking for. It’s one of my favorite tools and it’s something that if you really feel confident in your game and you feel like you’re really more on the proficient level, I encourage you to experiment with either SEMrush or Ahrefs and really feel them out, give them time to learn. I think you’ll really see some huge advantages to your rankings in the end because there’s so much in there. It’s awesome. 

Megan Porta: I have heard that too, but I’ve also as a food blogger who just, I personally don’t love being in the keyword research tools, which is why I love RankIQ so much because it simplifies and it streamlines and it does all the work for me and I have to spend very little time in the tool. So Ahrefs and SEMrush scare me. I know that a lot of other people feel the same. Because those have higher price tags. Convince me, because I feel like it is not worth my time. That’s my thinking now. 

Aleka Shunk: You go to Starbucks a lot? 

Megan Porta: I do not. No, I used to, but no, I don’t. But yeah, I have my own little simple pleasures. I know what you’re gonna say. Skim off those things I don’t need. 

Aleka Shunk: Easier said than done to not spend money here. But, we can’t do that for the rest of our lives. If you’re going to keyword research you’re going to have to do this for a long time. So I just feel like deciding what you want to do and go a hundred percent with it. A lot of people will pay for these expensive tools and they’ll use it half ASS. They won’t go 100% into the tool and learn and they’re not getting as much out of it. Then you really feel like you’re wasting your money at that point. You probably are because you’re paying for something you’re not using. So if you’re going to use it, just pick that tool, and learn a hundred percent as much as you can about it. When people learn it they usually never go back. If they really are using it to a hundred percent, all the tools and features that it offers but you have to have at least, I would say at least a hundred, 200 posts to really be worth digging into. It’s better for analyzing than it is for researching because analyzing and tracking your rankings is so much easier to do in this tool than I think KeySearch offers. 

Megan Porta: Okay. As a lazy blogger, I probably will not dig into it, but I can see where this could be really valuable. I’ve tried in the past and I’ve actually paid for these tools and after a few months, I’m like, wait a second. I’m not taking the time to learn, but if you do have the time or if you have the motivation to find the time, then it sounds like it can be really worthwhile. 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah. I’m a visual motivator. I have a post that I published a couple of weeks ago and I see it climbing and the chart that Ahrefs offers, the rank history, you can see it climbing up the SERPs. So it’ll start obviously like a hundred and then I’ll move up to 50 and then position 30 and then position 12. Then when I see it getting close to the top, I’m like, okay, I’m going to watch you. I’m not going to update you. I’m not going to touch you. I’m going to maybe give you a little extra boost with some more social sharing or whatever, internal linking. Hopefully, it gets there and it keeps me motivated and it helps me know where to put my energy to.

Megan Porta: Yeah, I like hearing that. I definitely appreciate other perspectives on that. I’m not saying that I don’t see the value, because definitely I hear what you’re saying. Just I’m 12 years into blogging. I feel like I’m getting lazier. I just need someone to deliver exactly what’s going to make my life easy. So I’m just at a point where for me, no, but yeah, definitely dig into it. 

Aleka Shunk: There are bloggers that are in that position that just whatever you’re using is working for you and it’s keeping you, and everything’s still going and you’re happy and that’s totally fine. So it’s not for everybody, but it is an option and something that could help. If you just started off and you really want to take things to another level. There are a lot of free tools, and extensions that I use when I’m analyzing competition like SEO Meta is a great free extension and SEO minion. What are some other ones that use SEO quake these are all free extensions in Chrome that you can pull up that will help you when you’re analyzing other competitors’ content too. So that’s something to look into. 

Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you. I’m curious, Aleka, do you have common things that you hear from food bloggers specifically that are like, ooh, just big mistakes that they might make when they’re doing their research or analyzing or anything along those lines? 

Aleka Shunk: Common mistake. There are a couple of different ones. I would say not going back and updating content that is over a year old and hasn’t moved in the rankings. That’s probably one thing that I see the most often. Some other mistakes are not linking well internally. I see so many bloggers I work with that at the end, they’ll include a couple of related recipes, but there are so many other areas in that piece of content that you can link to your other content, especially categories. Link to your categories. A lot of people forget to do that and your categories can rank on the top page for a certain term as well. So linking to every aspect of your blog, make sure that’s like up to par. That’s my favorite thing to do, but it’s the most tedious thing to do because I can spend hours going back and adding this link and adding this link. Oh my goodness, this is so tedious and you feel like you’re not doing anything. But, something as small as that. Using different anchor text and keywords in that anchor text is also something a lot of people don’t think about, but something that Google also looks into.

Megan Porta: That’s one I didn’t use to think of ever. I used to just put lemon bars in every single post and link to that. But now I think, we just hear more and more, that we should vary that. So now I try to do lemon squares or easy lemon bars or just variations. Is that kind of how to go about that?

Aleka Shunk: Exactly. That stems from your keyword research initially and just looking at the related keywords. If you look at what somebody else is ranking in the first position for, so take their URL, pop it in a tool that you use, and use the keywords, their top five keywords, as your anchor text too.

Megan Porta: That’s a great one. Hey, I’m just totally changing my game after this conversation. This is all so good. Then your recommendation is to link to category pages. I think I do that occasionally, but not hard at all. So we should do that a lot. 

Aleka Shunk: Yeah, I know.

Megan Porta: You’re like, yeah, I know

Aleka Shunk: No. It’s something that, like I didn’t used to do a couple you over a year ago. I started doing it more this past year and I think it’s really been helping as well.

Megan Porta: Awesome. Do any other mistakes come to mind when you think of us food bloggers?

Aleka Shunk: I would say if you see something that’s not ranking after a year, change directions. You don’t have to stick to the same structure that a lot of, especially food bloggers, target. It’s always the ingredient tips and know how to make it and how to store and it’s always the same headers, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s just like a recommended outline, a safe outline. Go a different direction and maybe use your first headers to answer questions instead of putting them in the FAQ all the way at the bottom. If those questions are super important, not just what are cookies? A super helpful question, users will stop in their scroll tracks and be like, Oh yeah, I was thinking that. I’m going to put that at the top of my post and maybe put a couple before I talk about the ingredients or maybe we just don’t even include the ingredients or instructions because it’s in the recipe card, right? So if something’s not ranking, don’t be afraid to go in a completely other direction and totally reformat your posts. I think that’s something that people are afraid to do. 

Megan Porta: That should be a theme for food bloggers, not just keyword research, but all across the board. If it’s not working, do something different, go a different route. If it is working, keep doing that, right? 

Aleka Shunk: Exactly. Exactly. If you update a post, keep a copy of that first draft before you update it so that if it worked, you can go back and see what you did. If it didn’t work and your rankings drop, you can just revert back to that old draft. So it’s also something that I do. 

Megan Porta: That’s a good recommendation too. Then how do you track your rankings? Do you have a special place you do that? 

Aleka Shunk: Ahrefs. 

Megan Porta: Oh, there you go. There’s a good reason. 

Aleka Shunk: I do in Keysearch as well. Google Search Console, you can also do some tracking or I should say more analyzing. You can’t specifically say, let’s track this specific keyword. You just have to go back in and go find it. But Keysearch does allow tracking, which is super nice if you’re on that plan. But I use Ahrefs to track and create certain groups and keep everything together that way. But whatever you use, tracking is like 100%. It’s 50-50. If you do the awesome keyword research and you publish it, you can’t just drop the ball on the tracking part of it. You have to follow through with tracking and analyzing because most of the time it’s not going to reach the top position on the first try. You’re going to need at least one more update to get it there, from what I’ve seen. 

Megan Porta: Okay. Then you mentioned a different plan in Keysearch. I didn’t realize Keysearch had multiple plans. I thought it was just like one size fits all. 

Aleka Shunk: Okay. I believe that you can do credit upgrades for more tracking of keywords. So I think that’s really what I’m referring to. There’s a starter plan, there’s a pro plan where you have I think it’s 500 credits, which is a little bit more, not that much money. I think that’s the only two and the more credits you buy the keywords you can track.

Megan Porta: Yeah. What else have we not covered about keywords, Aleka? I know you have a brain full of information about this topic. So is there something that we just need to touch on before we start saying goodbye? 

Aleka Shunk: I feel like there, there is so much to talk about, but I feel like we covered like the main pieces of it. If you just find the right tool and you learn it really well, you’re going to start to see success and just don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to research. 

Megan Porta: Maybe we can do a part two sometime that’s more like, would you have enough content to fill like a 2.0 version of keyword research?

Aleka Shunk: Of course. I can talk forever about keyword research.

Megan Porta: All right. Let’s do that. Because I know I just am being a fortune teller here, but I know that after this is published, people are going to be like, I want more of that because it’s such a great topic, relevant topic right now. 

Aleka Shunk: I’ll think of things I left out, of course, right?

Megan Porta: Yeah, you and I will both be like, Oh no, we didn’t ask about that. So we’ll do another part, a part two, maybe the summer or fall, whenever Aleka has time and be on the lookout for that. But thank you so much for joining me. This was such a great conversation. 

Aleka Shunk: Yes. Thank you so much. This was fun. 

Megan Porta: Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration that you would love to leave us with today, Aleka?

Aleka Shunk: I have so many quotes that I love, but I think I’m going to go towards the words of inspiration route instead, and just say, if blogging is something, if you have a passion for what you’re doing and you want to be a food blogger and make this your full-time job someday, if it’s not already, you have to manifest and believe that it’s going to happen and don’t stop until it happens. Something that like six years ago I was running and I was listening to a food podcast. I was at that decision. I was like, this is what I’m gonna do. I was listening to somebody say find your passion. You should find a way to make money doing it. I was like, this is it. The teaching isn’t really doing it for me anymore. I’m not going to stop until I get to that point. I didn’t and it happened and I feel 100% it’s all about mindset and manifesting what you want to follow in your passion. So do not stop until you get to the point that you want to be. I 100% believe in that. Don’t give up. If you want to have a certain amount of followers on a certain social media platform, don’t stop posting whatever it is until you get there because it will happen. It’s not like the universe is against you. It’ll happen. You just can’t be against yourself, if that makes sense.

Megan Porta: Oh, I love that so much. Actually the opposite, right? The universe is 100% for you. We tend to forget that all the time. 

Aleka Shunk: Yep. Yep. 

Megan Porta: Oh, an amazing way to end. Thank you. Yeah, if you want to just mention where people can find you and what services you provide to help with keywords or anything else, go ahead.

Aleka Shunk: Yeah. You can find me on Instagram, Keywords with Aleka. You can also find links to my courses on my blog, I can also be found at Keywords with Aleka at Teachable, which is where my courses are. I also offer coaching as well. If you guys want some one on one help finding, what posts to update and all of that. I am offering a 10% coupon for whoever’s listening. Use the code EBT10 and you can get 10% off any course. 

Megan Porta: Oh, amazing. Thank you so much for that. That’s super generous of you. Everyone go check out all of the amazing content and courses and services Aleka has to offer. So thank you again so much for being here, Aleka, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.

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