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Episode 029: Modern SEO – Revitalize Old Content For A Nice Blog Boost With Melissa Riker

In episode 029 we talk with Melissa Riker from The Happier Homemaker about updating old content to improve your blog.

We cover information about updating photos and copy on your blog, how to determine which posts to delete, redo or no index and how to utilize online tools to analyze your content and make improvements.

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


Guest Details

Connect with The Happier Homemaker
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Bio Melissa has been blogging for 8 years at The Happier Homemaker. Over that time her content has evolved from mostly DIY and decor posting to a lifestyle blog with heavy focus on recipes. After blogging 3-5 times per week for years, she realized the importance of working old content to revitalize it and republish it rather than constantly churning out new ideas.

Takeaways

  • You can produce new content but the old stuff has a lot of potential. It’s also beneficial because older content has traction and you don’t have to work so hard on new content.
  • Determine which posts to work – if they have a diary format with missing instructions. Google needs recipe names to be clear and not made up names that aren’t searchable.
  • You can delete and no index many posts. Use tools like Yoast to help her accomplish this task. Delete links to party posts. Check if you need to redirect a post.
  • Casey Markee recommends creating “buckets”. These help you organize what to do with the posts and then get started. Sort into “deleted” recipes, recipes to improve on, and then from improving on to either “seasonal” or “year round” recipes. This is a huge traffic opportunity.
  • Work on low hanging fruit – posts that are ranking 11-20.
  • A post might not be great in Google but doing great in Pinterest. So it’s important to look at a post from multiple angles.
  • There is value in adding key word rich text before the first picture on a post to help Google analyze your post. Researching keywords and then finding questions people are asking and putting them in H2 text and including those Q&As to those within the posts are also good strategies. Add video and updated pictures. Incomplete or incorrect information makes Google skip over what you’re sharing so get that corrected first.
  • You can focus on speeding up your site, fix broken links and also improve pictures and add alt-text. Make sure you have recipe plugins with schema.
  • When an old piece of content has had a full makeover, start tracking this by using a spreadsheet to see where its ranking and what key words it ranks for. You can check on it every 90 days. 
  • Final tip: Once you’ve improved a URL and updated it, made it pretty, go back into google search console and click “inspect a URL” and request re-indexing.  

Resources Mentioned

Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro:

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

Megan Porta:

Hello food bloggers. Welcome to the Eat Blog Talk podcast, made for you, food bloggers who are wanting to add value to your blogs and to your lives. In today’s episode I will be talking to Melissa Riker from the thehappierhomemaker.com and we will be discussing modern SEO, revitalizing old content for a nice blog boost. Melissa has been blogging for eight years at the Happier Homemaker. Over that time, her content has evolved from mostly DIY and decor posting to a lifestyle blog with heavy focus on recipes. After blogging three to five times per week for years, she realized the importance of reworking old content to revitalize it and republish it rather than constantly churning out new ideas. Hey Melissa, this is a hot topic for me personally, and for a lot of other long-time bloggers. So I’m really excited to dive in, but before we do that, give us a quick fun fact about yourself.

Melissa Riker:

Hi, thank you for having me. My fun fact is that I’m actually a military wife. My husband has been in the army for over 20 years and in the 14 years we’ve been married, we’ve moved 10 times, including a few years in Italy and just two years ago, we were in England for a year. So it’s been really nice to have my blog that can move with me. Next year he’s actually going to retire and be working full in our blogging business as well.

Megan:

That is a lot of moving. Oh my gosh. It’s almost like your blog is a constant in a world of constantly changing. So that’s kinda cool. And Italy, how was it living in Italy?

Melissa:

It was fantastic. It was when we were first married, so it was before kids. So there was a lot of travel and a lot of eating. It definitely inspired some recipes.

Megan:

Oh, I bet. Absolutely. That sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing that, Melissa. Now let’s get to our main topic today, which I am extremely excited to discuss with you. Boosting your blog by revitalizing old content. So this topic is a biggie right now. It is extremely relevant and for good reason. There are a lot of bloggers like you and me who have been blogging for seven, eight, nine, 10 years, and who have great recipes sitting in our distant archives. That also might have terrible photos and outdated writing, and that is getting zero traction. It wasn’t until the recent updates Google has made that I’ve recently considered those old posts and the fact that they are basically just heavyweights, pulling my newer content down. That is a shame because I put a lot of really hard work into creating those recipe posts. So I know that you, Melissa are in the same boat and going through some of your old content. Would you mind sharing your thoughts on why we should be focusing on polishing up our old content?

Melissa:

Yeah. I actually had a scheduled SEO audit with Casey Markee and I had about a six month wait on it. He kind of opened my eyes in that way through a series of webinars and sending me articles. I realized that for years I had been publishing three to five posts a week and just publish, publish, publish. When I sat there and looked at my blogs posts and the dashboard, I had over 1200 blog posts on my blog. Yet here I am sitting in publishing constantly and I realized that there were so many posts on my blog that were getting no clicks. I could look at my analytics and they were getting no traffic at all. It really struck me at what a waste it was, what a waste of all that energy. Even though some of them weren’t high quality, they had a lot of potential and I wasn’t doing them justice by just burying them underneath constant new content. I realized that by shifting my focus from constantly publishing, it took a lot of the pressure off of me, first of all, to just be churning out new ideas all the time. I realized that I could do better by my time, by going back and optimizing and reworking some of that older content.

Megan:

Yeah. I like what you said about seeing potential in older posts, because we put those posts up for a reason and they were quality at the time. Otherwise we wouldn’t have put them up. So going back and seeing the recipes that do have potential, how did you establish the guidelines for that? What made a recipe have potential in your eyes?

Melissa:

Well, for people that have been blogging a long time, like you and I, in the early days of blogging, it was almost like a diary. So you would share, well, I just got back from vacation and this is what I made. You realize that that might have seemed relevant at the time, but you know, eight years later, no one cares about the cruise going on. But the recipe that you might’ve been sharing could have good content. But I know for me, a lot of my old content, I didn’t show step-by-step process shots. I didn’t clarify, I would say one package of this ingredient, but how many ounces was that package? There just were a lot of questions that someone that would find that content could ask. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time.

I didn’t include that information. There was a lot of content that might’ve been not good for search, some recipes I just made up and just made up Fluffer Nutter butter cake that no one’s going to search for. So no one’s ever going to find it because it’s hidden under some silly name I made up. It was just a matter of digging through the archives and really looking at literally every single post and saying, does this have value to my readers? Does this have value on search? Should I improve it or should I either delete it or no index it so that it’s not showing up in search engines as something that no one’s clicking on because your site as a whole to search engines, like you might have 20 sites that are ranking really well on Google. But if you have 20 posts, if you have 800 that are getting no clicks, that really devalues your site in the eyes of the search engines.

Megan:

Absolutely. I think that audits are good, but before you get into an audit even, you can start doing this if you have a huge backlog of content. So I have not had an official site audit on my site, but I have started doing this going through this process of exactly what you’re saying, going through and evaluating each post and saying, is this valuable? Are the photos good quality? Is the writing okay? Is the recipe written well? But this can seem like a really overwhelming task, especially if someone like you and me has thousands of posts on their blog. Can you kind of walk us through how we can go about starting a huge overhaul like this? Where do we start? Are there tools available that can help us?

Melissa:

Yeah, absolutely. I actually just at the beginning of this month, purchased a second blog from a friend of mine who was stepping away from blogging. That blog is actually older than mine. It’s nine years old and I’m just starting this process with that blog as well. It’s even harder because it’s not my own content. But the first thing I did is I went into the old posts. I actually started at the end, the first blog post that she ever published. I started going in and either deleting or no indexing personal posts that have no need to be in the search engine archives. So they don’t need to be indexed. So you can either delete them completely, or you can no-index them using, I use the Yoast plugin for that. That’s for the free version or the pro version. The thing when you’re doing that is you need to decide whether you want to leave it a 404 deleted, or if you want to redirect it to something else, and you need to think about the broken link she might be causing.

So on this new blog that I purchased, I have been mostly just no indexing because I don’t think it’s things that are necessarily linked to a bunch, but I don’t know where all those links would be broken if I deleted them. One thing I am deleting is link parties. Those were really popular for a long, long time. From everything that I’m hearing in the SEO world, they’re not good for your SEO at all. So if I do delete something and I can redirect it to something else, that’s very similar. Actually on this new blog that I bought, I found a recipe. She had posted many, many years ago, and then she had redone it, but she made it a new post instead of revamping the old one. So I was able to delete the old one and redirect it to the new one.

That way she didn’t have to post going for the same keyword in the search engines. So it’s really about looking back. Then Casey advised me, and he’s just a wealth of information. He’s in a lot of the food blogging Facebook groups on Food Blogger Pro community and everything. He describes it as sorting in the buckets. So you have your things that just need to be deleted or no index. There’s no salvaging them. They’re not applicable. Then you have posts that you need to improve. He kind of divides those into just year round posts and then the seasonal ones. So right now I’m focusing on everything, pumpkins and apples and all those fall posts that are about to get a big boost. Those are the ones that I’m focusing on republishing now.

Megan:

So are you mainly focusing on your old content or are you also including new content in the mix?

Melissa:

Probably about three republished recipes for every new recipe that I’m creating on The Happier Homemaker.

Megan:

Wow. That’s awesome.

Melissa:

You really can’t tell. If you go to my website, you wouldn’t know that those were old. So much of my traffic is coming from Pinterest. It’s the first time that they’ve seen my blog or they’re coming from search. People just use blogs differently than they used to. A lot of it’s new people and they never would have known that pumpkin muffin recipe is actually from six years ago, but now I have beautiful pictures on it. I actually explain a lot more in the recipe and it looks just as valuable as if it was created this week.

Megan:

And even if someone has been reading forever, they wouldn’t know either because when I’m going through my own archives, there are recipes that I have completely forgotten about myself. I wrote them. So nobody is ever going to remember, especially if they’ve been given a facelift, and new photos.

Melissa:

I’ve done the same thing that she did on her blog unintentionally, I have made a recipe and published it and then realized, Oh, I shared that five years ago, you know? Then I’ve had to fix it and redirect it and everything.

Megan:

I mean, when you have over a thousand recipe posts, it’s easy enough to forget what you were doing and because there’s so many of them.

Melissa:

Another big thing. The first five years or so I was food blogging, we didn’t have recipe plugins with schema. So that’s a huge one because you’re not going to get any of those rich snippets if you don’t have that schema on there. So I literally spent two months after my blog audit, fixing over 300 recipes that had incomplete schema on them. It’s just a process.

Megan:

That’s an ordeal.

Melissa:

SEO work in general is kind of an exercise in patience, but it makes a big difference when you finally do get those recipes that start popping onto the first page of Google. You see it in your traffic immediately. It’s a big deal.

Megan:

Yeah. It is a huge process. Because you don’t see results immediately, I mean, like in that day or the next day or the next day, it’s kind of hard to put your faith in that process. But if you do it consistently and then you look at your analytics, you can definitely see improvements over time. So it’s something that is for sure worth doing and digging into.

Melissa:

Yeah. I’ve experienced it a lot because I’ve been working on it since my audit was in May. So it’s been a few months now, and this for me is my blog’s low period of the year. I get a big spike in the fall and through the winter. So it’s just knowing that the work that I’m doing now is going to show the results in the coming months. There’s been numerous bloggers that I’ve seen that are huge and you always see them on the first page of Google, but then it’s funny because if you go back on Casey’s Facebook page and you look at his reviews, you’ll see two, three years ago, Oh, I had my audit, those same bloggers. I just had my audit and I’m working. It really can confirm I’m doing the right thing. I’m putting the work in now so that I can reap the rewards later.

Megan:

Planting those seeds. Right. So I love that you are doing mostly old posts. I think that’s really encouraging for those of us who have a lot of content. Can you tell us what you are using? Are you using Google console, Google analytics to see which posts you should be doing first? Or how are you organizing all of that?

Melissa:

I use three main tools when I’m looking at old content and what to do with it. I do use SEMrush, which is a paid tool, but more so than that, I use Google search console and Google analytics. Because a lot of food bloggers, our content, we get a lot of search engine traffic, but we also get a lot of Pinterest traffic as well. Or another social, but primarily Pinterest for my blog. I’m looking at an old post and I look in the search console and it looks like it’s not getting any traffic, that same post could be doing amazing on Pinterest. So it’s important to look at not just the search console, but also the full analytics. So what I’ll usually do is take the URL and I’ll check it in the search console to see, is it ranking for anything?

Is it getting clicks? If it is ranking, what keywords is it ranking for? Then I also put it into analytics to see how much total traffic it is. So I can kind of compare, is it all search engine traffic? One of my blog’s most popular posts does not rank, I think it’s on the sixth or seventh page on the search engines, but it’s been pinned more than a million times. So it’s important to look at both of those because if I wasn’t paying attention that I could look at that in analytics or in the search console and be like, Oh, that’s a bad post. When it’s actually one of my best performing posts. If you do have SEMrush, that’s a good tool to use to find what hashtag Jeff calls those low hanging fruits, which is kind of the post that you can attack first for the biggest results. Those are usually posts that are ranking currently 11 through 20. So they’re just sitting there on that second page. If you can get them a little boost and pop them one at the first page, you can usually see right away a much faster result from that. So SEMrush is a more expensive tool, but I found it very useful for that as well as a number of other things.

Megan:

That’s a really smart process. I really like that you recommended using analytics alongside Google console because it’s true. You can go into the console and be like, okay, this post gets zero traffic, but if it’s killing it on Pinterest, you obviously don’t want to completely get rid of it. I too use SEMrush. I just made the decision a few months ago to invest in that. I don’t know, I just think it’s so worthwhile. I’ve seen massive results in the posts that I’ve run through SEMrush. The keyword magic tool is so magic and then the content template that you can write your post in and it tells you exactly what keywords you’re going to need, the length of the post. So I love SEMrush too. I do know that there are more affordable options out there.

Melissa:

It’s a really, really good tool. I use both of those tools within there that you talked about. Also, and under the project section, they have something called On Page SEO Checker, and that will take your entire website and it will give you actionable steps on what they say are the most high impact steps you can take for every post on your blog. So it’ll take a post and it’ll tell you, hey, try to add these keywords in here. This semantic keywords that are found in other high ranking posts and fix this broken link here. It ranks everything from top priority to low priority. It ‘s another good tool and platform.

Megan:

It’s magic. The information it gives you is, wow, that’s crazy. I have used that as well. That’s a great one. So do you have an editorial calendar? I’m just curious about going back to your process and how you go through all of these older posts. Do you work old content into your editorial calendar and just kind of have it all set up going forward?

Melissa:

I used to use an editorial calendar plugin, but because I’m revising old posts, I’m not using that as much anymore and more using a paper calendar now because I’m writing it in. So my process is I usually will try to aim for two revised posts a week and one new one. I do have a photographer that is helping me right now because I’m trying to rephotograph so many recipes. She’s our first hire and she’s amazing. As she’s sending me photos in, I will add those posts in my queue to revise them as I get the new pictures. I’m doing new pictures too. I just only have so much photography time. I use a couple plug-in tools that were recommended to me when I’m doing this. So the first one that I use is called Revision Manager TMC. What this lets you do is I can go into my dashboard and look at the posts that I want to revise.

It lets me make a revision copy of it. That makes it a whole separate copy of the post. I can work in that over the course of a week or two weeks or however long without changing the actual post that’s published. So I don’t have to sit down and revise a post all in one sitting. Because every time you update a post or pinging the search engines to index it, and if I’m not done revising it, I don’t really want to do that over and over and over and over. So I will go in and I will be able to update the recipe and I can do it little by little and it just saves it in draft. Then there’s another plugin called Enable Media Replace. What that plugin allows me to do is pull up the old picture and replace it with a new one without changing the URL.

That’s a really, really big deal because not only does that, it’s cleaner in your media library as well, but think about all of those pins that might be out there that are pulling that pictures URL. They might be an ugly picture from six years ago. If I just change that URL to point to the new picture, then all the pins on that post are going to be updated as well. A few years ago when the super crazy long pins were really popular. So that’s another thing that I’m changing now because I don’t like those in my feed anymore. I don’t think Pinterest likes them either. So I’m going in and putting a more two to three ratio pin in there so that all those long pins, while everyone pinned them years ago, can now get replaced with the more appropriate sized pins as well.

Megan:

Yeah, that’s a great point. That kind of leads me to what exactly we should be finessing in these older posts. So obviously photography, because if you’ve been blogging for a really long time, your photography certainly has improved. Writing. Then also recipe tweaks. I’ve noticed that, like you were saying earlier, there are certain things that I just didn’t know at the time how to explain and a recipe card. I wonder, why did I write that? That was weird? Or I wrote, I don’t know, juice from a lemon when I could have written a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or whatever. So rewriting recipe cards and also the actual recipes and using more appropriate ingredients or whatever that is. Then I like that you mentioned the pins because yes, those long pins were so popular. I remember spending a ton of time making those. So now we’re having to go back and get rid of those long pins and redo Pinterest graphics so that they’re shorter and just a little bit more appealing. But what else, is there anything else that you are updating as you go through your old posts?

Melissa:

When I’m updating an old post, first I do some keyword research. I look at what it is ranking for, even if it’s ranking kind of lower for that, where I can push it up. I have been adding texts like the little blurb right before the first picture I always used to post the beauty shot, the big vertical beauty shot at the top. What I realized is that doesn’t give Google any kind of words to pull up above the fold. So I’m adding a nice keyword centered two to three sentences above the first picture for the search engines to see, and obviously updating the photos. When I’m researching a keyword, I’m trying to think of what I’ve done recently. I had peanut butter frosting, so then I’m going to go and Google peanut butter frosting and look at the bottom of most search pages.

It’ll have questions related to that. Can I freeze peanut butter frosting? Does peanut butter frosting have to be refrigerated? I’m going to answer those questions in the blog post as I’m reworking it, because those are obviously things that people want to know. I am going to use SEMrush to compare how my posts compare to the top 10 ranking for that keyword. So if they all mentioned this one ingredient, then I need to make sure that my recipe, even if I don’t have it in my recipe, it will be like, well, why doesn’t your peanut butter frosting have cream cheese in it? It’s just a matter of good practice. Then again, the recipe card and making sure it’s as thoroughly filled out as possible. The only one I’m leaving empty right now is video. If I don’t have a video for it, but every other thing, even if it’s a no-bake recipe, under cook time, I’m putting zero, everything needs to be filled out.

Megan:

So regarding video, how much of your old content are you adding video to?

Melissa:

I kind of go back and forth with video because I know that everything is moving towards video and it’s important to do it, but for myself, honestly, it’s very time-consuming. For this new blog that I’ve just acquired, it had no video on it at all. I knew I needed to get some video on it, just for ad purposes to run video ads. So this past weekend I spent all day Saturday just making three videos and doing photos for three of the recipes, just to have that content there. I don’t put a super huge emphasis on it. If I am making something that I’ve already created and I feel like I’ll make a video of it, but I’m also very aware that video is changing and that those hands and pans 30 second videos might not be where video is going. I’m not as gung ho as other people on video. I think I’m getting more of a return from doing the more technical SEO things than adding video to everything.

Megan:

Kind of staying in the game with video, but not making it your main focus.

Melissa:

It’s time consuming. When you don’t have a really good process for it. I’ve considered when my husband retires and he’s working with me in the business, we’ve considered hiring a video intern. There’s a big art and design school nearby. We might do that, which I think would have a return on investment. I just can’t manage anything else by myself right now. It’s only so much time.

Megan:

There’s only so much you can do, right. I know video is so hard because there’s value obviously in doing the video. I mean, otherwise it would’ve died off, but you’re right. It is constantly changing. I think right now we’re kind of in another one of those transitions with video. I do think it’s important to stay in the game, but I think SEO, there’s so much value in that too. So I don’t know. Video is a tough one for me.

Melissa:

Every website’s different too, because if your website gets a ton of traffic from Facebook and Instagram, which mine do not, then video’s much heavier there and you probably would get a much better return on investment. But you know, my site’s really high on Pinterest and Google. So that’s where I choose to spend my time. When I have extra time, you know, I can work on those other platforms, but for me to get the results from the time that I’m investing, I’m going to focus on where I’m already getting good results and try to improve there.

Megan:

I think what you said is so smart to realize where your traffic is coming from. If you are heavy on Facebook, then yes, then video is probably your thing. But I think it takes a pretty unique blogger to get to that point on Facebook. I don’t think many of us can say, yes, I’m killing it on Facebook. Most of us are getting traffic from Pinterest and Google. So to kind of keep that in mind

Melissa:

Video has a place on Pinterest too. I’ve put video pins on there and they do perform well. So if I do have a video, I am going to put it on Pinterest. I’m going to put it in my recipe card. There’s a place for it. It’s just right now I’m solely focused on trying to boost the search engines on all this old content.

Megan:

So let me ask you, when you decide to redo a piece of old content and you’ve given it a full makeover with everything, do you keep checking back on it to see how it’s doing?

Melissa:

Yes, I have a spreadsheet and what I do is before I update it, I will look at where it’s ranking, what keywords it’s ranking for, and I’ll record that. It’s not a fancy spreadsheet, but it’s something to keep me organized a little. Then I will check in on it about every 30 days, I’ll try to go in there and record the progress that it’s made. Honestly, sometimes they drop when you update them. I never updated anything that’s in the top three because I don’t want it to drop out of there. I’ve had that happen in the past. Not huge posts, but you know, smaller keywords. I’ve had a post that dropped and I just straight up turned it back to the old version with the old revision and it popped right back up. That wasn’t one I don’t think was food content. It wasn’t one that I had updated pictures of, I had just gone in and changed the wording and it dropped out for a couple of weeks. It didn’t bounce back and I just reverted it and was fine.

Megan:

That is scary when you change something and then you go back to realize it’s worse off. You’re like, wait a second.

Melissa:

At least at minimum, keeping a list of the posts that you’re revising. So you could go and look at them in the search console and see what’s happening. You don’t have to get as nerdy is my big spreadsheet.

Megan:

I have a spreadsheet too. So I’m nerdy right along with you.

Melissa:

It helps you to see what the ranking is, how much traffic it’s getting. I can put a column in there for Pinterest traffic and I can go into analytics and compare year over year. How is it performing this month, over this month last year? Because you know, so much of our content tends to be seasonal. So I don’t want to compare my Apple bread to last month. I want to compare it to sharing time over the previous years, because it’s not going to get the hits in June that it does in September.

Megan:

Definitely. Yes. Keeping seasonal in mind is important as well. Here is some proof that paying attention to your old posts and giving them extra love is worth it. So before I started diving in, my VA, I kind of taught her how to use SEMrush and just here’s what you do, plug it in. We didn’t discuss it, but she took some of my really old content and ran it through SEMrush. At the time I was like, Oh, okay. You know, it can’t hurt. So that was back in, I want to say like January or February of this year, and just a month ago, I was looking in Google console and I noticed fried walleye. There were a handful of things that had never appeared for me. I was like, okay.

I wonder if those were the ones that she had gone through. So I looked on her spreadsheet that she keeps and sure enough. Absolutely. Yes they were. She obviously knew she was helping me out and updating content, but she has launched a handful of super old posts and they still have old photos connected to them. Now they’re being seen and getting traffic. So it is definitely worth it. I was going to ask you, Melissa, do you think it’s worth it to do it in stages? Is it worth it to go through and update writing, which will obviously be seen by Google and then at a later date, do photos, or do you think that we should be doing this all at once?

Melissa:

No, I think again, you don’t want to go in and update it every day for seven days in a row. I do recommend that revision manager, TMC plugin, because it’s free and it’s helpful. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going in and updating. Google doesn’t see the pictures, it sees the whole text. It doesn’t know that your photography isn’t a hundred percent awesome. So it’ll still help in your search rankings. Then the photography is more the user experience and just looking fancy. I have a ton of recipes that rank that have ugly photos on them. It’s just all those recipes and things like that. They come up with the ugliest photos, but they don’t carry that much. I think we care a lot more about our photos and it’s just nice to have beautiful photos on your blog, but if you don’t have time? It’s time-consuming to remake those recipes and do photos or do video. It’s still valuable to go in and really dig into the written words of the blog post. How helpful is it? Are you providing all the information that you should? Are you using those keywords, using H2 headers, text and breaking up the big, long paragraphs so it’s easier to read on mobile. All of those things are going to help you in the eyes of Google.

Megan:

So you think it is okay to do stage one, let’s go in and just update our keywords, put some questions in to make the user experience more valuable and then republish. Then at a later date, go in and maybe finesse the photos and add a video. Is that okay?

Melissa:

Yes, absolutely. When I had my site audit, Casey gave me over a 50 page document of what I needed to work on. It was overwhelming, but it was very helpful because it was a prioritized list. So there were a lot of technical things that I needed to fix right away. I was a hot mess on the tech side of things. Then one of the top content related things that he said to do was to go in and fill out my recipe cards. When I looked in Google search console, there were so many with warnings on them. The new blog that I just acquired has 300 recipes that have an error. There’s no image in the schema at all. So it’s not even a warning. Hey, you don’t have your nutrition. It’s an actual error, you know?

Even if I’m not updating anything else on those posts, I’m going in there and I’m getting those errors off there. Then they’ll actually see and recognize that recipe properly. So I think that that’s totally fine. Then as I’m doing that, if I see a post that has potential that I want to rephotograph, or I want to dive deeper into, sometimes I’ll do the writing right then. If it’s just something simple, I want to look at the keywords and update the writing a little bit. Or if I just think, Hey, this thing needs a total overhaul. I’ll make a note of it and put it on my list of posts to address. I’ll put it in my calendar to remake it and go in and just do the whole thing over, but not everything needs to be rephotographed. But I think that the number one priority should be those technical things. Like the schema. A lot of people have non-food things and they’re using tasty recipes or something for it, like a little beauty hair mask or something like that. That’s a no-no that’s really bad. You don’t want to do that. It’s food recipe plugins just for recipes.

Megan:

Oh, so you’re saying that people are using a recipe card for other things, right?

Melissa:

It’s a really bad idea. I actually had been auditing the recipe cards on my second site today and I found one, the first one I checked today was a peppermint cooling spray, and it was in a recipe card. So immediately took that down. There’s another for people that do have non recipe content on their websites as well. There’s another plugin called Create. It’s made by Mediavine, but you don’t have to be on Mediavines network to use it, it’s free. You can make a how-to schema card using that, which is what you want, not a recipe schema. But the schema is kind of a really big deal right now in SEO. You want to make sure that that is correct for everything that you’re putting out there. Otherwise, why would Google rank you if it’s incomplete or not correct?

Megan:

Absolutely. I mean, just a no brainer, right. But we tend to gloss over that and focus on the photos and the video because we’re creative people and that’s all we want to do. But yeah, getting back to those basics and just paying attention to the schema and the things that need to be there, that Google is requiring for you to be complete for a post to be complete, is really important. The how-to schema card. It was not on my radar. So thank you for mentioning that. I don’t have a ton of those on my site, but I think I do have two face scrubs that I have recipe cards for so that would probably be worth changing over.

Melissa:

Having the audit and just really deep diving into SEO this year has taught me that for us, like you said, we’re creatives. We like to create, we like to make pretty pictures and pretty food, have those big, beautiful pictures on our website. That’s like the last thing that Google’s looking at. Like I mentioned myself, I had a ton of technical errors on my site. My site was slow. I had broken links everywhere. I mean, it was just a mess and no amount of pretty pictures is going to overcome that if you don’t address it.

Megan:

Right. We have to really dig in and get to those issues. I ignored those for many years and I knew they were there. I knew that there was stuff that was slowing my site down. I knew that my recipe cards weren’t completed completely as Google wanted them. So there’s power in setting the pretty photos down and the videos down for a time and focusing on those things that we really should be focusing on.

Melissa:

Yeah, definitely. I think after my audit, I think I took a solid three weeks. I didn’t make anything. I didn’t take any pictures. I was just trying to wrap my head around the process that was in front of me and all the basic technical things that I needed to fix in order to have all that other work be seen. I don’t think it’s something that you can stick your head in the sand and just be, I don’t want to think about that. The blog fixer has a lot of the calm fixes. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them. So he has all these fixes and what he basically does is you purchase these fixes and he comes and puts a plugin on your site. He runs these fixes in it. One of them is to no-follow all Amazon affiliate links.

So if you missed any one, which could cause a penalty with Google, it can with one little 50, I think it’s a $50 fix. It can take care of that for you. Another one is I had hundreds and hundreds of broken links on my site and they were from people that had commented on my blog and put their website in that field, in the comment form. He has a fixed that just removed that field and unlinked to all of those. One little thing that he did and it removed hundreds and hundreds of broken links from my site. So things might seem overwhelming when you start to dive into it. But there’s so many tools, there’s another plugin that’s free, it’s called broken link checker that you can install on your blog and just run and then uninstall, if you don’t want to keep it.

But it’ll tell you if it finds broken links on your site, because that’s a sign of not good quality to Google. So little things like that in addition to going back and revitalizing all this old content. You have to look at your blog. It’s like a curated collection. You want to make everything there super high quality. Casey often says, it’s like a garden. If you don’t get rid of the weeds, the good stuff can’t grow. So you have to look at it holistically. Because Google looks at it holistically and you might have great content, but if there’s a bunch of broken links on there and your site’s taking a super long time to load, no one’s going to see it because it’s going to get buried in the search rankings.

Megan:

I just love everything you’ve said, and I personally can get so caught up in this stuff that it consumes me. Then I do it nonstop. I want to work on it all the time and like, Oh, I have to fix this. I have broken links and I want to update that old post. So for me, it’s a matter of scheduling out time to do it and doing my best to stick to that, because this is overwhelming. Like you said, Melissa, you had a 50 page document of all of the issues that you had to work on. So whether that means getting an audit and getting a prioritized list or sitting down yourself and prioritizing with a calendar, I think that it’s important to kind of work it into your schedule and not allow it to completely overwhelm you.

Melissa:

Yeah. I think it’s definitely a hugely overwhelming subject. That’s why I think a lot of us like I said, stick your head in the sand and I don’t know what to do. So I’m not going to do anything. I feel the same way. I had the audit on the one site, but the new site that I have, I don’t have an audit on that one, but I know from my other audit things that I need to look at, and like I said, I have 300 some recipes with errors on them, so I just made a goal. Okay. Every day I’m going to fill up the recipe card on 20 recipes. If that’s the only thing I do on that site, it would probably take me an hour, maybe an hour and a half a day just to fill out the recipe cards.

Because there’s no nutritional information. There’s nothing. But you know, in two, three weeks I’ll be done with it. Then I can move on to the next thing that I want to tackle. In the process, because I’m only spending an hour or hour and a half a day doing that, I still have time to take pictures to revamp those older posts or create videos so that I can have a video ad playing on it. You can’t let it overwhelm you. You just need to kind of break it down into bite size things.

Megan:

Even if that means putting a hold on new content for a while, I was just talking to Sarah from Sustainable Cooks and she just kind of went through this whole process herself. She said that after her audit, she literally put all of her new content on hold for six months. She did just revitalize old posts for that time. Like we were talking about before, nobody knew that she was doing that because it was so outdated and it really has helped her make a jump in her traffic and just the overall health of her blog. So this has really encouraged me to down and just make a plan because I have been pumping out new content like crazy this year. I think more importantly than that, I should be looking more at my older content and just giving it love, giving my website love in general, because I have poured my heart into this project. So I don’t want all of that old content just sitting there collecting dust. So thank you for all of your insight.

Melissa:

We have such good tools from Google to see. If you go into Google search console, look under the recipes tab and see what’s not complete and fix that. Then go into your position on different pages and look for those ones that are like placing 11, 12, 13, or the ones that might be seasonal coming up that are on the second or third page and focus there. You’ll see the faster results from all that work that you’re putting in. Then that’s a little encouraging and it helps you to kind of have motivation to keep tackling it. Because when you have hundreds and hundreds of blog posts, it can seem impossible.

Megan:

Yeah, it does. It is very overwhelming. I get it. One thing that I’ve been utilizing Google console for recently is plugging in a URL and then looking at what the top queries are that lead to that URL. That’s something that I wasn’t doing before. I was just guessing what people were typing in for like, I don’t know my chili recipe. I would assume that people were typing in, “best chili”. Then I was focusing on those keywords, but Google console is so smart and you can dig a little bit to find those extra little tidbits because they’re there. So now I just recently saw that people aren’t typing in “best chili”, they’re typing in “chili recipe”. So now I can take that key phrase and focus more on that and make my chili recipe come up quicker. It does work. I’ve tested it extensively in the past few weeks. Just a matter of getting to know those tools really well. They can seem really overwhelming. I remember the first time I had opened Google console and I was like, Nope, that is too much. I don’t know what I’m looking at. But if you start digging in, there is gold. There are little gold nuggets just everywhere if you really get to know it.

Melissa:

Yeah. It has so much information in it. So many different ways to look at the information like you said, with putting a page in and seeing what it ranks for and you can see how many clicks it’s getting or how many impressions it’s getting. If you have something that has really high impressions, but hardly any clicks. Well, why is that? It just helps you to dig in a little bit and see how you can optimize, especially in things that are already performing well, if you can get something from number 10 on the front page to number three, that’s amazing.

Megan:

Yeah. I’m glad that you mentioned the impressions versus the clicks because that’s really important too. If you sort by impressions and see those URLs that are getting tons of impressions, look how many clicks they’re getting. If you’re getting a hundred thousand impressions and you’re getting 500 clicks, then fill that gap or try to bring them closer together and focus on updating those posts and getting them higher, ranked higher with Google. Oh, such great information. I have a huge list of things that I’m going to do now after we finish this interview. But yeah, I just think that revitalizing old content, since I’ve started doing that, I’ve seen those old posts in a new light. Before they were just outdated, ugly, and almost burdensome. But now I see them as opportunities and possibilities and also as a way to gain more momentum with SEO and Google. So I’m hoping that our chat today will help to encourage other bloggers to consider this and to consider combing through some of their older content. Is there anything Melissa, that we have missed covering on this topic that you want to squeeze in before we say goodbye today?

Melissa:

My last thing would be after you update your content and it’s all nice and shiny and pretty, go into Google search console. At the very top of the page, it says inspect any URL and put it in there and then request re indexing. So that way you’re not waiting for Google to randomly re index that page. It kind of prompts it to index it more quickly than not. So you can start to see those results more quickly.

Megan:

Another great little tidbit. Thank you so much.

Melissa:

Thanks for having me.

Megan:

Thanks for taking the time today to chat with me about this relevant topic. I think that many food bloggers, me included, are going to find great value in your words. Before you go, do you have any additional words of inspiration or a favorite quote to share with my listeners?

Melissa:

Yes. And I think this plays into your recent podcasts, about keeping your eyes on your own work. There’s a quote by Tim Heller that says, don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or your middle to someone else’s end. That’s been a huge one for me with blogging because, while I’m a full-time blogger, my blog makes six figures, but then I see over there, that person that has 4 million page views a month. I can make myself feel bad by looking there, but you know, they’ve been doing smarter stuff for longer than me. Like maybe they had an audit five years ago and have been doing this, you know? Then I see people that are just starting out that might look at my blog and be like, well, how will I get there? It’s just a process. I think it’s really important just to kind of, to see where others are on that journey, but not compare yourself to them and just focus on your own journey.

Megan:

Love that. Your story is your story and you are at where you’re at. So embrace it, right?

Melissa:

Yeah, definitely.

Megan:

Well, Melissa has a list of favorite resources relating to today’s topic, and those can be found on her show notes page at eatblogtalk.com/melissariker. Melissa, tell my listeners the best place to find you online.

Melissa:

You can find me on my main blog, which is thehappierhomemaker.com. Then I also have a second blog now at shakentogetherlife.com.

Megan:

Awesome. Well thank you for listening today, food bloggers and I will see you next time.

Outro:

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


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Megan
Megan

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

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