In episode 372, Casey Markee gives us his best SEO predictions for 2023, describing the bigger picture and what we should be thinking about as we create our content in the new year.
We cover information about the types of updates from Google, why they’re important, how reviews on products need to be shared, the value and importance of EAT and how to grow it as a blogger and know the 3 ranking categories.
Write Blog Posts that Rank on Google’s 1st Page
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.
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.
- 3 types of updates: helpful content, product and core updates.
- Reviews on products need to unique and should not be regurgitated and include personal use.
- Be sure to understand recipe schema, especially how-to vs recipe.
- Visual content – expansion of carousel in Google Discover.
- Image search is still a big deal so optimize your photos properly.
- Video is not a ranking factor but can increase visibility in the search results.
- Shorter TikTok video style on mobile is prioritized by Google.
- Heat Mapping is a valuable tool to help you
- Optimize for entities and not keywords.
- Feature snippets will grow and increase
- FAQ blocks are valuable to Google and users.
- Reeducate yourself on what EAT is and how to show it. It influences ranking but it not a ranking factor.
- Be aware of your brand messaging.
What Site Owners Should Know About Google’s August 2019 Update – Google tends to be getting better at understanding intent.
Image SEO and Image Optimization – Top resources
What Entity SEO is – tools to use for this:
Google announced that EAT is calculated at every signal in the index.
How to Improve EAT for websites and entities by Olaf Kopp
Share a donation to Casey’s non profit of choice in Rosarito – Baja Animal Sanctuary
Click for full script.
EBT372 – Casey Markee_v01
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast, it adds value, and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now onto the episode.
Megan Porta: 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 your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your 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.
Most of you know and love Casey Markee from Mediawyse. He is our favorite SEO expert. He joins me in this episode and he gives us such an in depth look at SEO as we go into 2023. The information he delivers in this episode has a little bit of a different spin than previous episodes. It’s a big picture. It paints a picture about what we should be thinking about as we create our content in 2023. Enjoy the episode. I know you’re gonna love it. This episode is number 372, and it is sponsored by RankIQ.
Speaker, writer and trainer Casey Markee is the founder of Digital Consultancy Company, Mediawyse. He is a well-known SEO professional with 20 plus 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 television with his wife, Tiffany, and he believes bacon should be its own food group. Hi Casey. How are you? Thanks for joining me again here on Eat Blog Talk. How’s it going today?
Casey Markee: Fantastic, Megan. It’s a couple weeks before Christmas. I’m knee deep in my honey-do list from the wife. The office is filled with lots of giveaways and presents to wrap. We are fully, 100% deep and festive spirit this year.
Megan Porta: Oh, you are not alone. I think that’s a common theme amongst all of us. Do you have a fun fact, Casey, to share? I know you’ve shared quite a few here, but do you have another one?
Casey Markee: Yeah. A little fun fact is I run a charity. My wife and I have been involved with an event called Christmas Armageddon that we run out of our home. This is our 17th year of doing so. It is a charity event that we run on behalf of local charities. This year we’re gonna be doing it to benefit the Baja Animal Sanctuary, which is a no-kill shelter based in Baja, California around the Rosarita area. We’ve adopted two or three of our dogs over the years, and they always have a shortfall at Q4. So this is our little way of giving back. Basically what it is it’s a large Christmas party. We’ve run it out of our home. Usually we have anywhere from a hundred to 200 people in here. It’s a catered dinner. It’s an ugly sweater contest. We have thousands of dollars in donated goods and services from local businesses and my wife makes up baskets. It’s basically, what do you call those? Chinese auctions, I believe, are what they are. We have that and then we have massive giveaways. But yeah, that is this Saturday. So I don’t know when this will air, but it’ll be on Saturday the 10th this year. Our goal, of course, is always to raise as much money as we can and then present a check to the charity. Last year we raised $5,600.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s amazing. I love that.
Casey Markee: Hopefully we’ll be able to beat that this year.
Megan Porta: So you said 17th year, is that right?
Casey Markee: Yeah, 17 years. 17 years. It just ensures that everyone ensures that we actually have a party and it’s our chance to clear our house of stuff that we don’t want. So there’s a lot of built-in benefits to us as well.
Megan Porta: Oh, absolutely. Yep. Win-win all around.
Casey Markee: Absolutely.
Megan Porta: Good luck with that. I hope everything goes great. I’m sure it’ll be fun. But you’re here today to talk about SEO. All of us know and love Casey Markee because you provide such great SEO knowledge. Thank you for all of that. So 2023 is coming soon. By the time this is published, it will be just upon us. So, I’m wondering if you have some SEO predictions for us. But first I have a question about something you mentioned last year. You mentioned this new torrent of food bloggers coming into the scene. You just said, oh my gosh, there are so many, it’s crazy competitive. Is that still the case? Are things growing? Have they calmed down? Have they regressed? What is the situation?
Casey Markee: That’s a good question. Again, I don’t have the domain registration numbers yet. That’s usually published towards the end of December, so we’re a little bit earlier for that. But as I mentioned when we spoke last year, it’s just that everyone and their mother decided to start a food blog while they were home during the pandemic. About 30% of the audits that I had in 2022 were from bloggers who had less than one year experience. So it was pretty crazy. The thing about these bloggers is that they’ve come in quickly, they’re investing in the best plugins, they’re investing in the best themes. They’re getting audits as soon as they can to get on the right track, and it’s amazing how fast they are growing. I’ve got multiple examples of bloggers who literally have not been blogging for more than a year or two years, and they’re able to make this a full-time income. It’s very impressive. Sometimes that’s discouraging. Some of the older bloggers that I visit with, I’m like, oh gosh, what is going on? I’m like they don’t have a lot of the baggage that you have, and they’re able to pivot very quickly in the initial process to get things moving. But yeah, I’ve still seen that. I don’t know if that trend is going to carry over into 2023. We know that regardless of what all the doom and gloom has been, the job market is great. Anyone who wants a job can basically get one these days. Job numbers, especially just released here for November were very impressive. So I don’t expect that a lot of people who are losing their jobs are either pivoting to something else or, again, there’s always the chance that they’re just taking a little time off and maybe deciding to change career paths and blogging is still a viable opportunity.
Megan Porta: Are you saying that I have baggage, Casey, is that what you’re saying?
Casey Markee: Yeah. My wife would say that I have all the baggage in marriage, but yeah, it’s very common. A lot of bloggers have a lot of content that they just forgot about.
Megan Porta: So true. Yeah.
Casey Markee: I have bloggers all the time who come to me. I’m like I just don’t understand what I’m not doing as well as I should be. I’m like here’s an analysis of the 600 plus blog posts on your side and 47% of your traffic is not coming from 300 of these blog posts. So what do you think we need to do to address that? We’ll talk a little bit about that. Yeah. With regards to evictions for 2023.
Megan Porta: So why don’t you dig into some of your predictions. Be our fortune teller.
Casey Markee: Absolutely, fantastic. So we’ve got a couple ones here. The first one that we’re gonna talk about is that Google will continue to push out updates. As you are aware, Google has been doing this for years. We have a lot of updates. Sometimes they are announced, sometimes they’re unannounced. But there’s three kinds of updates that bloggers need to focus on in 2023, and those are helpful content updates, those are product updates, and those are core updates. Those are basically the three classes of updates that bloggers should be aware of. As many of you are probably aware of the helpful content update, which was pushed out by Google in August of this year.
The helpful content update introduced a new site-wide classifier, which Google is using to detect content written primarily for search engines. That’s content that you know, maybe you’ve written because you think it’ll rank, not necessarily because you’re fulfilling a need of your users or filling in content gaps on your site. These new site-wide classifiers affect entire sites. It’s a machine learning system that learns over time and it’s continually running at Google’s end. You’re gonna find that these helpful content updates are gonna be the par for the course as we go into 2023. You’re gonna see that they’re gonna be refined. We’re probably gonna see updates to the information that Google publishes. I’ll provide a link that you can put in the transcript for the information. Google has provided a whole page on what this helpful content update is and what it’s targeting.
Megan Porta: When did that initially come out? Was that in August of this year?
Casey Markee: Yeah. August.
Megan Porta: All right. So you think that is just going to continue to be revised and we’re gonna keep seeing that?
Casey Markee: Absolutely because it’s a learning system algorithm. So Google has to continually rerun it. Most likely we’re gonna see updates to the document page as well. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. The next one that we have are product updates. Product review updates are something that we saw a lot of in 2021. These are rolled out because there are so many websites that are ranking for product review content that are not helpful or uniquely valuable. Product reviews are not something that really affect a lot of lifestyle and food bloggers, but they can affect you, especially if you’re doing a lot of advertorial sponsored content or you’re doing lifestyle content, which just involves you regurgitating product reviews from other websites, which I do still see every now and then in an audit. So Google likes to see evidence of you using the product and not just rehashing what others have said online about a specific product or service that you’re recommending. So that’s something that bloggers need to be aware of. So maybe you have a piece of software that you tend to write a lot of comments or a lot of posts about that product. Very important that if you’re gonna do that, that content is unique and that you’re not regurgitating a lot of that information back and forth between those reviews, even if it’s a long-time provider, manufacturer, or tool suite owner that you’ve been working with.
Megan Porta: Does this apply to affiliates? I don’t do this much, but I know some bloggers who write posts about affiliates. So they’ll write I don’t know, an example, super cubes. Super cube trays, and then they’ll write an entire post about why it’s good. Here’s some recipes you can use. That sort of thing?
Casey Markee: Yeah, especially if they’re doing six or seven posts on super cubes. So that’s the kind of stuff that you’d really wanna work on quality, not quantity. Again, Google likes to see evidence of you using the product yourself, making sure that you’re using your own personal experiences, not rehashing what others have said online about that product. But also that the content you’re publishing has a need, fulfills a need for the users, and it’s not just you writing a review because the service expects you to do so at regular intervals on your site.
Megan Porta: Got it. Okay. What’s the next type of update?
Casey Markee: The last one is core updates. I know many of you’re familiar with the core updates. The core updates have been running for about four and a half years so far, and Google, these are the only updates that Google really announces on a regular basis. We had a core update in September that went through. We also had core update last May and the like. Core updates happen approximately quarterly. Google doesn’t give us a lot of specificity about what has changed, but they usually refer to their article on what site owners should know about core updates. So Google has an article on that, and again, I’m happy to share that link to you in the follow up. But Google determines at scale what they consider low quality content and a core update is basically designed and rolled out to impact weaknesses in the algorithms that they’re seeing at scale. So these impact a large group of sites. Content quality is a big component of core updates. So Google has always said, Hey, we wanna get better at understanding intent. That’s what these core updates are about. For example, one of the big core updates, a lot of core updates we’ve had over the years have been targeting specific mismatches in intent. The 2000 update exactly, now that I think about it, targeted a lot of issues with bloggers trying to go after keywords, like chicken recipes and dinner recipes where they weren’t necessarily the most qualified result. There was an over optimization component involved in that. We saw that, again, pushed out in June of 2021 and other updates. So again these core updates are something that Google is going to do regularly that they do announce about usually on Twitter through the search liaison account. It’s something that bloggers need to accept. It’s not something that you can really prepare for, even though Google has a whole page on core updates and what it involves, but it’s just something that we live with. Google is continually refining intent matches, to make sure that when people are looking for something, they’re finding what they need. Sometimes that can have a positive effect and sometimes that can have a negative effect. It’s certainly something that bloggers need to be aware of and try not to take personally in most regards.
Megan Porta: And not to stress about.
Casey Markee: Exactly. We can’t do anything about it. We move on. Some updates help you, some updates hurt you, but it all evens out in the end.
Megan Porta: Is there anything we can keep at the top of our minds to navigate through these? I noticed a couple themes, like just creating authentic content, quality content. What else can we do to get through this without going crazy?
Casey Markee: Just always look at what is ranking in Google. One of the things that I see a lot of problems with in audits, especially in 2022, was an incorrect understanding of how-to schema and recipe schema work. For example, if you’re looking at writing a post and it covers a how-to, like simple things like how to cut a tomato or how to peel a banana, that is not a how-to schema related post. That’s a recipe post. One of the easiest things bloggers can do if they’re ever confused by this, is to go into Google, type in that phrase, and look for a recipe carousel. Because you know that if there’s a recipe carousel, you should not be using how to schema anywhere in that post, because you will not qualify. So I run across this all the time, even from larger established bloggers. I don’t understand why this post isn’t ranking or why I’m not in the carousel. Because there’s not a carousel for that schema and they just have to go in, flip the card from how-to, to recipe and voila, they pop right into the carousel. So little things like that are very important. So whenever you’re putting together a post, always look at what the current carousel considerations are for that query. Go into Google, find what’s ranking and adjust accordingly.
Megan Porta: That’s easy enough. Okay. What about some other predictions, Casey?
Casey Markee: So the next one we’re gonna talk about is how visual content is impacted. I’m predicting to make a major impact on search rankings going forward, and we’ve seen that expand in 2022 with Google starting to prioritize shorter TikTok style videos on mobile and the expansion of carousels. For example, they added a completely new carousel for Google Discover as an example. Now image search is still a big deal and it’s very important that bloggers all over the place optimize their photos correctly. I’ll go ahead and paste over a link to our Top Hat webinar on image optimization, and then of course, the Google information on how to optimize correctly for images. But this is something that I still see a lot of. Video has always been confusing. The blogger’s video is not a ranking factor, it has never been a ranking factor, but video is something that can increase visibility in the search results. The problem is the type of video and the type of visual content you’re doing. One of the things that really caused a lot of consternation in 2022 was that Google basically expanded image search and video search, but they put it on their completely own tab. So for example, if someone is searching for a recipe video, especially on mobile, you are not necessarily going to see any of the recipe videos right on your mobile screen. You’re gonna have to go up and choose the tab that says videos. Do you know how many people don’t choose the videos tab? The vast majority of people. So concentrating a lot on that may not be the best use of your time. If you have the ability to add video to your top performing recipes, great. We certainly wanna do that. But video, for example, is not gonna miraculously take you to the next step. But what Google is working on is prioritizing these shorter TikTok style videos on mobile carousels and we’ve been seeing some limited success in bloggers uploading their regular videos to the recipe card and then putting a shorter, more optimized TikTok style video in the post. They’ve been playing around with that to limited effect. We’ll see how that goes. Now, it’s very possible that Google changes or updates video schema guidelines in 2023 to more prioritize that, since we know that TikTok and Facebook and Instagram are still going that route. But honestly, in regards to video, Google is a little slow in best practices, so we’ll just have to wait and see. But visual content is of course projected to be a bigger focus in 2023. It always is. It’s just something to keep on your.
Megan Porta: So not a ranking factor, but definitely not a ranking factor. Yeah. But definitely have it at the top of your mind when creating new content.
Casey Markee: Absolutely.
Megan Porta: Do you find that the more curated, highly curated videos are not as important anymore? I feel like that’s the trend that I’ve been hearing, just that TikTok style that’s more real and raw is seeming to be trending. Do you agree with that?
Casey Markee: I would say that seems to be stickier for users who are trying to get people to actually click over and watch the whole video or expand their cross video offerings. They watch one video, get hooked and find other videos on the site. It’s hard to say. The hands and pans videos are still very popular. I see those all the time. I don’t think that those need to go away. There is something to be said about the more general, more relaxed, I’m in the kitchen here, watch me make this, and then they change video angles and all of that. I think that there’s something to be said about that. I have a 19 year old daughter who’s in her first year of culinary school, and she’s watching videos and TikTok and stuff all day when she’s in the kitchen. As God is my witness, she doesn’t like to stop and start these videos. She’ll watch them initially the first time and then she’ll pull up the recipe and then she’ll just flip through the process shots, which is why it’s never a one or the other situation with bloggers. We always wanna focus on both of those to have a fully enhanced visual experience for a recipe post.
Megan Porta: This is a little bit of a sideline question, but it relates to videos. Where do you feel like in the recipe post a video should be embedded? This is a topic of discussion within my circle. Should we put it in the post? Should we put it in the recipe card? Is it okay to do both? Do you have an answer to that?
Casey Markee: Especially if you’re using a jump to video button and you use a jump to video button, it’s automatically going to go to the recipe card. So that’s a mismatch. If you think about it, if you provide a jump to recipe button and you jump people to the video and you’ve moved the video out of the card to somewhere else, that’s clearly something that you should avoid.
Megan Porta: Okay. So if you have a jump to the recipe button, you should have..
Casey Markee: Yeah, jump to video. If you have a jump to video, it operates differently than the jump to recipe. But if you have a jump to video, and I see this all the time, if you’re using a jump to video on your recipe post and you’re jumping people down to your video and it’s not in the card, that’s a problem. So we need to fix that or remove the jump to video link. There’s plenty of opportunity for if you upload your videos to your ad companies, and you’re using something like WPRM Recipe as an example, you can just move the video anywhere on the page and be just fine. I think that’s totally acceptable, so you can still get value. I think that if we use various things, heat mapping is something that I really recommend because some sites seem to do great when we move the video out of the card to elsewhere on the pages and other sites just do terrible when we do that. So I would say that you really need to be installing something like Hot Jar or Crazy Egg and actually just signing up and spending 10 bucks to do some very simple heat map testing to see what seems to be performing better for users. The video and the recipe card, or the video higher in the page. We could easily do both. I don’t see a real problem with that anymore. You give your video to your ad companies. We monetize those at the top so they can see it, run a little at an ad rule before the video and then the video plays. Then of course you also have the video on the recipe card as well. If users want to interact with that, I don’t see a problem with that at all.
Megan Porta: I always forget about heat mapping, so thank you. I am like, oh yeah, I forgot about that. I just wrote it down. Okay. Is there anything else about visual content that you wanted to mention, Casey?
Casey Markee: Nope, that’s good for now. So the next issue that we’re gonna talk about is optimizing for entities, not keywords. This is called the Continued Rush of Somatic Search. Now, if you’ve been listening to me over the years, somatic search is not something that should be new to you. We’ve talked about it in the Food for bloggers, the SEO for Bloggers, webinars for years. It’s something that’s always been top of mind. Somatic SEO is the optimization of content around strings, not things. It’s not really keywords, it’s concepts. This is a shift that arose out of a Google patent covering content vectors that has been around since way back in 2012. For those of you on the call who are aware that you’ve always been using keyword research, keyword research is really the kindergarten of somatic search. It’s the entry point. But Google doesn’t really use keywords like they did 10 years ago. Instead they’ve fully embraced what’s called the knowledge graph, which, again, has been around since about 2011, 2012. Put it in simpler terms, somatic SEO is all about understanding the different intentions around similar words and concepts. So I think, Megan, we’ve talked about the fact that my wife and my daughter are equestrians, so we have a lot of horses. I always make a joke that every time I make a mistake in our marriage, I have to buy a horse, so we have a lot of horses, but we really don’t have that many. They’re all bay horses and they’re all the same color, so they keep moving them around. I never have any idea how many horses we have. But for our purposes today, we’ll use that as an example. The word horse has many different meanings in a lot of different contexts. Horse is an animal for an equestrian. It’s a working tool for a carpenter, and it’s a piece of sports equipment. It’s the same thing with various other keywords that go into your content. What Google has done is they’ve trained their algorithms over the years to understand the difference and intent based around these keyword phrases. That’s why entities are so important when we put together a recipe post. We wanna understand all the different entities that go about into a post for, say, banana cream pie. If someone puts together a top post for banana cream pie. I think my client, Chef Dennis of Ask Chef Dennis, I think he has one of the top, if not the top banana cream pie recipe in the world. If you were to go and take a look at that post, there’s various entities that you could pull out of that post that he references in his H2’s that make it clear what people are looking for when they’re looking at this, putting together a post for banana cream pie. That’s what this is. It’s just understanding how Google is using keywords to refine and present entities. So when you hear things like birds, which is an algorithm that Google has used to identify which keywords and queries are important, then Google has what’s called rank brain. Rank brain helps Google understand which concepts are represented by those keywords. Then Google uses what’s called neural matching, which helps Google find pages that cover those topics well. Then finally, Google uses what’s called passage ranking, and that helps Google find sections of pages that are relevant to those concepts. So for example, if we’re trying to optimize for somatic SEO, or somatic search for the home and do-it-yourself niche, this is very important. We’d wanna make sure that when we’re writing our content, we’re putting detailed FAQs and putting together detailed guides and tutorials that make it easier for Google to understand all the various steps involved in the guides and tutorials that we’re putting together. Then for the recipe niche, very quickly, this is when you had an audit with me, there’s a very specific approach I recommend with recipes. It’s something that I’ve refined over the years. It’s something that I’ve put together based upon the many user testing.com surveys I’ve done with tens of thousands of people all over the United States. But it’s also based on a very deep understanding of how somatic search works. Which I think sets me apart from a lot of other SEOs and this isn’t stuff that we guess at. Google provides us all the information we need. You just have to understand it. So for example, for a basic recipe post, we might have substitutions and additions. We might have information on the ingredients. We might have a very select FAQ, maybe we include produce guides. Produce guides on our site that are a deep dive into very specific seasonal content we have. That’s the kind of stuff that Google’s looking for when we’re talking about optimizing for somatic SEO.
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Megan Porta: So making a very thorough post. This is what you’ve been preaching for years now, right? Like just creating a thorough post that’s providing quality information to the reader.
Casey Markee: Yeah, and I think the confusion is that thorough does not need to be wordy, thorough does not need to mean superfluous. Okay? We can write a thorough and a complete post that provides all the information the user needs. But it is not 2000 words long. I think that’s where I think a lot of bloggers get confused. A thorough post, for example, doesn’t need to have four or five shots of the finished dish. A thorough post does not need to have two or three paragraphs on why this recipe means so much to you or that it was passed down to your grandmother when you were on a farm during summers in your childhood. There’s a place for this, and that’s the goal, is understanding that there’s a balance between the personality and the information you’re putting in your post and the information that Google is looking for to return a fully complete, somatically relevant post that asks and answers the questions of the user.
Megan Porta: This is going to just continue being more prominent as the space gets more flooded, right?
Casey Markee: Yeah, it’s more competitive. The thing about the SERPs, about search engines, about rankings, it is a zero sum game. There are only so many spots. Okay. For you to win, someone else has to lose. That’s how it works. So if you’re asking yourself, what can I do to compete against these sites that are ranking above you, you have to beat those sites by writing better content. You have to understand what the intent is of the search. When we talk about categories of user intent, and this is again all coming down to optimizing for entities and not keywords, there are four categories of user intent that bloggers need to be aware of.
Those are navigational, informational, transactional and commercial. Now, for our purposes, very briefly define navigational refers to when someone is trying to visit a specific website online. It’s fine. Navigational would be, I’m specifically going to my blog and typing in a recipe I wanna get to. Information would be, those searches are done to find an answer to a specific question or to find information around a certain topic. So if I am trying to answer a specific question or find information around, okay, how can I, for example, just the other day I was looking at actually cleaning my kegerator and I wanted to find an informational article giving me the step-by-step on how to clean my kegerator. So that was an informational context. Then we have transactional, and this occurs when someone is looking to make an online purchase, which is literally what all of us are doing right now in a mad dash as we head into the Christmas season. Then finally we have commercials when people have the intention to make a purchase. So transactional and commercial are very close together. We have transactional when we’re actually looking for information to make an online purchase. But then we don’t, it doesn’t become a commercial intent till we actually make the purchase. For most cases, for food and lifestyle blockers on the call, you are in the informational intent section. You’re targeting a user who’s looking to find an answer to a specific question, find a specific recipe, find information around a specific content. That’s your focus. Understanding how somatic SEO works around that intent is really gonna help you put your recipes together and really gonna help you fulfill the needs of your user as you’re putting together your content.
Megan Porta: This is framed in such a great way because it helps me anyway, to just think about the bigger picture and not just oh, I’m gonna go after that keyword. It’s more about digging in what people want? It’s the bigger picture and not just, like you said earlier, not just keyword research.
Casey Markee: This is where the topic of topical clusters come into play. You’ve probably heard that phrase before. The topical clusters are really the building blocks of somatic seo. Who is your audience and what questions are they using to find your content? What content can you provide around this content to meet those needs now? The good news is there’s plenty of tools out there that concentrate or are built around somatic SEO to allow you to pull out these topical clusters. I know you’ve been using RankIQ; Rank Brain does this pretty well, allowing you to provide complimentary content that you can put around a post. Maybe you’ve written a post on chicken dumplings and now you’re writing a post on complimentary dishes to make around chicken dumplings or something along those lines. But there are other tools out there that really do this very well. We’ve got phrase.io. We’ve got wordlift.Io. Keysearch. You’ve heard me talk about Key search. Key Search has an LSI keywords generator tool you can use. It’s pretty good at pulling out related entities around keywords. You’ve probably heard of Surfer SEO. Market news is another option. These tools all do similar things. They allow you to service the individual topics and somatic keywords by means of and again, I don’t wanna bore your users with getting into this too much, but there’s three ways these tools use, how these tools operate. They all use three specific approaches to pull out these individual topics and somatic keywords. They use a concept called phrase extraction, which is where they crawl basically a whole document of keywords, a whole document, a corpus of documents. Pull out the keywords. Then after this phrase extraction, they have what’s called graph analysis, and that’s where they take all these keywords and it doesn’t matter which tool you use, they all do the same thing. They take these keywords and they use graph analysis to find the topics that these keywords share, and then they use NLP, which is natural language processing. They’ll run an algorithm against all those found keywords and topics to determine a relevant score. That’s what you’re using when you ever go in and you’re asking, oh my God, how do these keyword tools work? There you go. Phrase extraction, graph analyses, and natural language processing so that you can pull this information together for a relevant score. So I can say, okay, if I’m concentrating on a relevant score for this and I wanna concentrate on say, 40 or above, which is pretty competitive, then here are the options that it gives me.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I don’t think that’s boring. I think it’s really interesting to know how those come together and it makes me think deeply about food blogging. Who would’ve ever thought, right?
Casey Markee: That’s goal folks, that’s the goal.
Megan Porta: 10 years ago, who would’ve ever thought we would be having this conversation? All right. Is there anything else about somantic search Casey, before we move on?
Casey Markee: Nope. Let’s go ahead, move on to the next one. The next thing that we’re gonna be talking about is how featured snippets continue to grow and increase. You’re gonna see that in 2023. Featured snippets are something that many of you are familiar with. When those are the position zero results at the top of the search pages where you see, okay, if someone was to type in how do you cut a watermelon? You see how the position zero result is usually one big site. Maybe it’s a segmented example, or there are other options when you were to type in something like, you know who won the World Series in 1937? There’s a very quick answer to that at the top of the search with a link to more information. That’s what a featured snippet is. Featured snippets can be both generated by structured data and sometimes they can be just taken structurally off the page by Google. As food bloggers, food and lifestyle bloggers, we absolutely want to continue to target featured snippets because we don’t have a choice. There are many instances where we might be doing something that has a clear intent, and even though we think that Google should be showing a recipe post or something, instead they decide to pull up a position zero result instead, which is above everyone else very quickly answering the question. The reason they’re doing this is because, number one, they’re trying to be helpful, but number two, they’re trying to keep that traffic on their own website, on Google. They don’t necessarily want them clicking to you. They wanna keep that traffic for themselves, which is of course a trade off. So targeting featured snippets are something that all bloggers need to understand. To do that we have to basically do four things. We have to target long-tail keywords. We have to create in-depth content such as how-tos and guides, and we also have to focus on the user intent when creating content. Clearly, if I’m doing a search for something and I see that there’s a featured snippet at the top of the post or at the top of the search results, then we know the intent for Google to return a featured snippet is a hundred percent match. That’s something that we need to steal. We also want to target the people who also ask sections that you find whenever you do a search. Salisbury Steak is a great example. I love Salisbury Steak. If I was gonna go to Salisbury Steak and type that into Google, there’s a whole section of PPAs, people also ask questions, and the thing about these is that there’s a lot of miscommunication. Kind of incorrect information I see all the time in the recipe niche about the use of FAQ blocks in posts. If you were concerned that you shouldn’t be using FAQ blocks in your post or in a recipe post because there was limited benefit, please get that out of your head. Completely incorrect. No data to support that assertion. None at all. FAQ blocks are actually being used by Google to populate the people also ask questions, the PPAs. Salisbury steak is a great example. If you go to the Salisbury steak result on Google, there are no fewer than three of my clients all with different questions all pulled from FAQ blocks on their site. We want to use FAQ blocks and post whenever we can because number one, they look and they present very well. If you use something like an accordion plugin to close up the FAQs, they present very well on mobile. So if someone wants to expand the FAQ, they just click on the accordion, it pops open and they’re good to go. So FAQ’s definitely something that we want to continue to use. I think where the confusion lies, and I’ve said this myself on the SEO for publishers webinars, is that in posts when Google sees recipe schema and FAQ on the same page, recipe schema is always gonna be the primary schema. That’s fine. That’s how we want it. But Google doesn’t ignore the FAQ schema, far from it. They’re just gonna be able to more easily pull out things like PPAs from the content, and that’s what we’re optimizing for whenever possible. So understand that’s not a trade off. You can absolutely use both. But the only time the FAQ would ever be the primary schema would be if you put, for example, an FAQ block on an About me page or a guide. Or a how to that didn’t have a recipe schema, and then you would generate a little bit of a rich snippet from that. But it’s certainly no reason to choose one over the other. They both work just fine together.
Megan Porta: All right. That’s awesome. So we do wanna get those featured snippets, right?
Casey Markee: Absolutely.
Megan Porta: Even though they don’t always lead to traffic.
Casey Markee: Yeah, in many cases you have to be one of the top five for the PPAs, but understand that those are, we call those ever expanding accordions. So if I go to the Salisbury steak and I start choosing some of those PPAs, they’ll immediately start generating more PPAs right below it. Yso you’ll see one like why is Salisbury steak so tough? That’s a PPA pulled from in this example, Savor the Flavor, which is a former client. She has an exceptional answer to that. She’s literally, you can see, the PA in Search console pulling in lots of traffic for her. So they’re there and they work extremely well. So definitely understand, again, please be aware of who you’re discussing or who you’re talking to, or who you’re taking advice from. This is me telling you based upon the evidence that I clearly see in Search console, FAQ block. Nothing wrong with that. I think there was some talk previously about how you could possibly over-optimize with FAQs. Again, not really seeing that because we’re, again, the FAQs, for example, for Salisbury steak, you’re talking about Salisbury steak. It’s okay to include the right salisbury steak and each of those FAQs. It’s not a big deal at all. I don’t see any evidence to say that this is bad, and I would certainly place my reputation on it, and that’s the recommendation I’m giving you today. So take that as you want.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Thanks, Casey. All right. What’s your next prediction?
Casey Markee: So the next one is we really need to talk about making sure that bloggers are aware of EAT signals and continue to push Google’s definition of quality content. So we really need to understand and have bloggers read, educate themselves on what EAT is, and talk a little bit about how bloggers can improve their EAT. We’ll paste this over at the end of the call today, but I have a webinar that I did on E A T where I interviewed Maria Haynes. Maria Haynes, who’s a well-known SEO, whose main focus is on EAT expertise, authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It was years ago, but it’s just as relevant today as it was then. But EAT is something that Google has been really pushing and we’ve known about it for years, but 2022 was very revealing because with the August helpful content update, that was the first time that Google had signaled very clearly that high quality content writing was more important than ever. Because if you had weak or low quality content on your site, they were actually gonna hurt you. That’s why they said, Hey, we need to no-index or remove this low quality content because we’re grading your site, we’re looking at your posts individually. But on an aggregate level, if you have weak, low quality content that’s going to hurt you. So recently as well, Google just announced that EAT is calculated on every single result in the index individually. That’s the first time that they’ve admitted to doing that. I’ll paste over some great thoughts from Prabhakar Raghavan, who’s the Vice President of search at Google. He just had a keynote at the SMX Summit where he publicly talked about the fact that at no other time in history has Google used more EAT signals than right now. The thing that he pushed was that, they publish, Google publishes widely available radar guidelines that describe in great detail how their systems work to surface gray content. I think previously when we had these conversations, Megan, we talked about the Google Quality Rating guidelines. I think you might even have linked previously in one of the other webinars we’ve done or one of the other podcasts, but quality radar guidelines are something that every website owner in the food and lifestyle niche and outside the food and lifestyle niche should be reading. I know that it’s very boring material, but if you ever do a search and find by keywords, you guys are shocked at how many times they mentioned food and recipe in the Google Quality Rater guidelines. It is a lot. We tend to have a lot of EAT issues specifically. Google really wants to understand we’re recommending something that’s gonna affect our health. This is food, it’s a big deal. Google’s really clear, that they wanna surface only the best recipes and the best content. So back to this EAT issue, the thing to understand is that EAT influences rankings, but it’s not a ranking factor. I think that’s confusing to a lot of bloggers. The thing is that Google’s ranking systems have two components. They have a relevant scoring and a quality assessment. So when we talk about EAT, it can influence both of those, but it’s not a ranking factor. Now, I’m gonna again also paste over a report for you that you can share in the transcript. It’s again, by Olaf Kopp and it’s a recent whole article that he did for Search Engine Land, which I’m fortunate to be a contributor to. It’s all about improving EAT and it’s around website entities, so that’s why we’ve talked about entities and EAT today specifically.
But when we talk about improving EAT, there’s some very specific approach and Olaf goes into several of them. But for our purposes today, we’re just gonna narrow it down into a couple specific ones. The first one is just common sense. We want to create topic relevant content that allows us to demonstrate our in depth expertise. So for example if I’m writing as Chef Dennis has done or any others, if they’re writing a post that ranks number one in Google for a very specific process or something like, like for example, good example would be sous vide cooking. Is that correct? Did I mispronounce? Sous vide is something that’s a very popular topic in the Markee household because my daughter, the culinary student, is involved in a class right now doing it. So she’s probably gonna get a sous vide set for Christmas.
Megan Porta: Yes. That’s awesome.
Casey Markee: We’ll keep that, we’ll keep that between us. But that’s something that the understanding or being able to communicate that involves a lot of very in depth expertise. So you’ll find, if you look in Google around that topic, there is a very specific approach to content being taken. We always wanna look at what Google is ranking and then emulate that whenever we can around how they’re demonstrating in-depth expertise. The next one that we wanna do is we wanna expand what content you share on a topic. So I think we mentioned this before, if you were to do something on Chinese dumplings and you know that it’s ranking well, then what we’d wanna do is fill out the topic clusters around that by saying again, what would you serve other related Chinese dishes to serve with dumplings? Or, Hey, if we were to have dumplings, here are the other ancillary dishes, other ways for you to make sure to share that, supposedly. Little things like that. We’d want to expand on the content focus whenever we can. Very simple. Filling out, like you said, content gaps. I think we’ve talked about that in the past. The next thing that we wanna do is we wanna collaborate with experts. That’s what I’m doing on the podcast here. By us talking together about this information, not only do I get a bump because I’m expressing it in a forum that is related to the niche that I’m working in, but you get a bump because you’re basically associating with hopefully a known authority in the topic of SEO. Hopefully. That’s how we talk about collaborating with experts. So if you have an audit with me, and I know you did, there was a whole section in your follow up that listed various podcasts including yours, where you can submit yourself as a guest, and you can see that I’ve sent a lot of people your way. The goal is to make sure that we link out or we go and we find opportunities to reinforce and generate our own personal expertise by being on podcasts related to our target audience. By being in front of our specific audience whenever we can. Things like TED Talks, things like attending conferences, things like webinars and whatever. That’s why I do so many podcasts, webinars, and speak at conferences all the time. I’m fortunate to have those opportunities, but it’s a reinforcement of my existing expertise.
Megan Porta: This is a topic that I talk about a lot within my community too, because people are always talking about how to get that EAT. I say the same thing, go guest on podcasts, and the response I always get is I don’t really know anything to talk about. I’m like, oh my gosh, you guys are food bloggers. So much.
Casey Markee: Yeah. As a matter of fact that’s a good point. So what I do is initially when we have an audit, I usually do a 90 second, tell me about yourself, tell me about your blog. So that I can actually see, so I can visually pull out information that they’re telling me. What is unique about their blog. I’m positioning them to understand that at the very beginning of the call, because that’s gonna be important later. Your goal is to understand that you have a lot of learned experience based upon what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong, as you’ve managed your blog. That is an experience that other people would absolutely be interested in learning from.
Megan Porta: Agreed.
Casey Markee: Wouldn’t you like to have listened to yourself three years ago and not made the mistakes that you did then? This is your opportunity to talk to that younger self based upon your earned experience. That’s what we’re talking about here when we’re talking about collaborating with experts. Everyone has something worthy of sane, regardless of their personal opinion. That’s okay. Some people are just shy, and I try to get them outta their shell when we’re talking here in the consult or whatever. But yeah, collaborating with experts, very important too.
Megan Porta: There are so many pieces of food blogging that there are so many topics you could dive into. There’s endless opportunity there, I think. There’s so much reward that can come from it. So I’m really glad you brought this up.
Casey Markee: Yeah. So the next issue we’ve talked about is creating topically relevant content. We’ve talked about expanding what content you share on a topic. We’ve talked about collaborating with experts. The next real trick here is to work to link all that somatically relevant content internally correctly. Now we just had a very well received and very detailed guide to internal linking with the SEO for publishers. The webinar that we did just last month and it was jam packed with internal linking best practices. So I would urge all of you on the call to do a search for that SEO for publishers internal linking that tells you what you need to do to correctly and fully link your internal content. What anchor text to use, what not to do when you’re doing internal linking. How many internal links are enough? What happens? Does Google count all your internal links when you’re using same or different anchor text? We talk about all of that and more, and that’s gonna be really helpful for.
Megan Porta: Okay. Can we put that guide? Do you have a link to it, Casey? I was just searching for it really quick.
Casey Markee: Just type in SEO for Publishers Internal Links. I’ll paste it over in the chat.
Megan Porta: Okay. Awesome. Okay. Any other predictions, Casey, for 2023, SEO or otherwise?
Casey Markee: So the last one that we’re gonna talk about is called Increased focus by users on brand messages. This is an interesting one. We’re gonna use social responsibility as a good one. I have been seeing more and more when we’ve doing these site surveys, we’re getting a large percentage of Gen Zers and millennials, because that’s making up a growing number of people who are accessing your content online. These groups specifically are increasing, looking to only visit sites that share their opinions and attitudes on social responsibility. So this is something that bloggers need to be aware of. So we wanna really focus in 2023 on an increased kind of a, just an understanding and an awareness of your brand messaging. So what does that mean? It means that there are some people and I’m always surprised at the number, that will not even consider visiting a food blog or another blog that doesn’t share their same social leanings. Whether it’s combating climate change, fighting for racial or gender equality, supporting L G B T causes, or for example, rescuing dogs or horses. You wanna find the cause your audience is supporting and then consider options on your site or content to lean into if you think you can do that, if it’s appropriate. I’m gonna give you an example here. It’s funny because I am about as anti-vegan as you can get. My idea of a salad is a fistful of lettuce covered incredibly with bacon and eggs and cheese. That’s my idea of a salad. But I tend to have a lot of vegan clients because the vegan recipe niche is incredibly large, very large. I’ve always said this is a funny thing, but I audit more vegan blogs than any other sub niche of any other site by far. One of the recent vegan sites they audited was called a Rescue Dog Kitchen. It’s run by John Rush, who’s a Canadian former Canadian football player. His approach and the reason I believe that he will be very successful is that he has pledged to donate a percentage of all of his monthly ad income to specific rescue dog organizations because he has rescue dogs and it’s a big part of his life. That has helped set his side apart from a lot of other vegan recipe sites. It’s also going to make it a lot easier for him to garner press. It’s also gonna make it easier for him to garner a strong, supportive audience who share those similar causes and the like. That is something that bloggers who maybe are struggling to find their voice or bloggers who are maybe looking for a way to differentiate themselves online, that’s something to consider. Do a blog survey. Find the leanings of the majority of your visitors and see if there’s a specific approach or something on the site that we could lean into with regards to your brand messaging. This is just something to be aware of. I believe that we’re gonna continue to see this focus as we head to 2023 many years down the road and beyond. So that’s it. So again, those are the big issues today. So as a summary, again, number one, I think Google will continue to push out updates. We talked about the three kinds of updates bloggers should know about and understand. Number two, I do think visual content is still predicted to make a much larger impact in search rankings going forward. We talked about what this means and how bloggers can prepare both with their images, their image optimizations. We talked about optimizing for entities, not keywords, and the continued rush of somatic search. I think that’s gonna be a big deal in 2023, as it always is every year. We talked about featured snippets. I think those are gonna continue to increase. Position zero is continuing to get more and more competitive. Again, like I said, there’s a zero sum game there. We’re either number one and or we’re not ranking. Or we’re either on the first two rows of the carousel or were invisible. For someone to win, someone has to lose. So it’s something to be aware of. Then finally we talked about these kinds of EAT signals continuing to push Google’s definition of content, how bloggers improve EAT signals. Then finally, of course, we just talked about the increased focus by users on brand messages. Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s not, it’s certainly a trend I’m seeing. So if you have some social causes that are close to your heart, there seem to be clear benefits to being a little bit more front and center about that on your blogs and your marketing materials. So don’t believe that’s a bad thing in many cases to minimize, because I’m seeing evidence to the contrary.
Megan Porta: Casey, you went deep. This was the deepest SEO related conversation I’ve ever had.
Casey Markee: I’m getting this all, I’m getting this all outta my system. This is the last podcast I’m doing for 2023. As far as I know, something may come up, but I doubt it. So I wish you all a very happy and healthy and restful holiday season and we’ll speak again hopefully in 2023.
Megan Porta: You as well. Do you have some inspiration to leave us with? Inspire us, tell us that we’ve got this or something.
Casey Markee: Yeah, absolutely. If you’re listening to this call, that means that you’re listening to a lot of other resources and that you’re continuing to look to improve yourself. That’s the best thing that we can do. I know that Bjork and Lindsay over at Food Blogger Pro and with Pinch of Yum, they always have that nice phrase about 1% infinity. I know you’ve heard it. I know a lot of people have repeated that ad nauseum. 1% infinity is very important. Our goal is to improve ourselves a little bit. I wanted to get in shape in 2022, and I’m very pleased to say that I have, I’ve dropped a significant amount of weight and I finally ran a 5K last night for the first time. Like
Megan Porta: Congrats. That’s amazing.
Casey Markee: I hate running. You should only ever run if you’re getting chased by a bear. Or two, something that’s really important. That’s it.
Megan Porta: Oh, good for you. That’s, yeah. That’s awesome, Casey.
Casey Markee: Yeah. Have goals, work on those goals. You guys got this. I wish you much success as you head into the new year.
Megan Porta: All right, Casey, thank you so much for being here. We’ll put together show notes for you and all of that. Where can people reach you if they wanna get a hold of you?
Casey Markee: Absolutely. You can reach me on Facebook. Find me at Casey Markee. You can find me, my Facebook page at media Wise, m e d i a W Y S E. My audit calendar, I’m not sure when this goes live, but my audit calendar for 2023 opens on Tuesday, January the third. I’m not sure if this will be live before then, but I’ll be booking for May, June and July at that time. So I tend to fill up pretty fast. So if that’s of interest to you, definitely make a note on your calendar.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Casey. We appreciate you so much.
Casey Markee: Thank you, Megan. We’ll speak again soon. Take care.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d be so grateful if you’ve posted it to your social media feed and stories. I will see you next time.
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