I’ve been thinking about the growing power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts and their advice. Hiring them has been a powerful way for food bloggers to learn the SEO rules for food blogs and increase their readership.
I’m all for that. I try for good SEO in my posts as well.
But do the changes these experts advise also increase the quality of a blog post? Can you have both great SEO and a great post?
Here are 3 SEO rules for food blogs that affect a food blog’s quality:
1. Fix the big blocks of grey text your readers see on their phones.
True, you should do that. But not all solutions work.
My least favorite idea is that you should break up your text with gimmicks. Throwing capital letters and four exclamation points in the middle of your paragraph does not improve your writing. And all caps makes you look like you’re shouting.
2. To become a recipe database, your blog needs lots of recipes, including “vegan” and “gluten free.”
These days many food bloggers want readers to see their sites as recipe databases rather than individual blogs. So categories of food become more important. It’s fine if your recipes naturally qualify for everything from keto to plant-based foods, but not if you force it.
Here’s an example. I read something like this on a food blog: “If you are gluten free, substitute the bread called for in this sandwich with gluten-free bread.”
Now the blogger can list this recipe under both the gluten-free and sandwich categories.
But her gluten-free readers already know how to substitute regular bread with gluten free bread. They’ve been doing it for years. So how did this note help the reader?
A recipe needs more than a simple swap (gluten-free bread for regular; leave out the meat for vegan) to be of any real benefit.
3. And the biggest of the SEO rules for food blogs: Write long posts.
As the experts tell us, Google likes long blog posts.
I’m fine with that. But many food bloggers standardize their content before putting the recipe at the end. Their long blog posts are starting to all look the same. I see this formula over and over:
- The description of the dish, which goes above the lead photo
- The key ingredients, with explanations about them
- Narrative about how to make the dish
- A list of ways to customize the dish
- Links to similar recipes
- And finally, the recipe.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need this much discussion on how to make simple dishes like vegetable soup, pancakes or salsa. And much of the content seems obvious, generic or forced.
It’s not that I just want to “get to the recipe,” but I miss the days when there was some voice or original content. And I don’t understand how these blogs stand out from each other when they follow the same SEO formulas.
So that’s my take on the new class of food blogs. If you feel I am hopelessly naive, or I don’t understand this new corporate wave of food blogging, tell me.
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