26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 1
26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers
Raise the Visibility of Your Recipes and Enhance
Your Site with Food-Friendly Features
ZipList, Inc. (www.ziplist.com)
26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 2
26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers
Raise the Visibility of Your Recipes and Enhance Your Site with Food-Friendly Features
If you’ve been putting off SEO for your food blog, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon,
particularly in light of Google’s Recipe Search, which de-weights unstructured recipes in favor of
those coded in hRecipe and Schema.org’s recipe format. Fortunately, it’s not hard to make your
blog more SEO-friendly and maintain your findability with the search engines.
These new recipe formats tell Google in no uncertain terms “This is a recipe.” It lets search
engines know that a post includes specific ingredients, ratings and cook times, for example, and
therefore should be treated specifically as a recipe.
However, even if you are unable (or unwilling) to re-code
your recipes, you can still enhance your findability. Search
engines like structure and clear patterns. Content may be
king, but structure is queen. The more your food blog
mirrors a recipe site as defined by the biggest on the web –
and the more your recipe pages are consistent from page-to-page – the better they will be
understood, indexed and best of all, found, by search engines
If you do nothing else, however, take advantage of the following nine must-do’s for every post
to make them more findable by top search engines, namely Google and Bing.
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9 Must-Do’s for Every Post Not in Google’s Rich Snippet Format
1. Keep Your Recipe Titles Consistent Throughout Your Post. If your recipe is “Black Bean
Casserole,” title your post Black Bean Casserole, have your title tags read Black Bean
Casserole and include Black Bean Casserole in your URL (e.g., www.myfoodblog.com/black-
bean-casserole.html). Keep title tags to 70 characters and put most important words first.
2. Always Use the words “Ingredients” and “Instructions.” Whether you use “Instructions,”
“Directions,” “Method” or something else to describe how to prepare your recipe, choose
one heading and use it 100% of the time. It’s confusing to readers to see terms
interchanged, and worse, it creates inconsistency for search engines which can hurt SEO.
3. Keep Heading Styles Consistent. Your post titles may automatically appear as <H1> or
<H2> tags, making them appear larger on the page (which is important for recipe titles).
For sub-heads like “Ingredients” and “Instructions,” make sure that you use the same style
for both of them (you may have to manually apply header tags to these headings, based on
your blogging platform). And remember, Google ranks a larger heading <H2> as having
more importance than a smaller <H3> and will get confused to see an <H2> later on in the
post, so make sure that your sub-heads are smaller. Good example: <H3>Instructions</H3>.
4. Use HTML lists for Ingredients and Instructions. Using HTML list elements such as bulleted
lists for ingredients (which are “unordered list” <UL> elements) and numbered lists for
instructions (“ordered list” <OL> elements) helps provide both visual and SEO structure to
your recipe posts. This is as opposed to typing
free-form text using <BR> or <P> elements, which
prevents search engines from differentiating
content on your recipe post. Ordered and
unordered lists can easily be formatted using
buttons in your blog editor.
5. Place Only One Recipe Per Page. More than one recipe on a page creates a watered-down
view of your content to search engines because they cannot reliably determine the focus of
that page. One recipe per page not only increases SEO value, but creates additional page
views, leading to more targeted ads (e.g., Google AdSense) being served. This also creates
another doorway to your site, giving the search engines another URL to index.
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6. Call Out Special Sauces on the Ingredients List.
Some recipes contain ingredients that are “sub-
recipes,” such as for a special marinade or
glaze. List these ingredients in the same
ingredients section, but call them out with a
sub-head of a different style with text starting
with the exact words “For the” and ending with
a colon. For example, “For the glaze:” If you
have used HTML list elements for your
ingredients as described above, do not place
the “For the” headers inside that element, as
they are not ingredients themselves.
Source: Steamy Kitchen
“Mother’s Famous Chinese Egg Rolls Recipe”
7. Strive for 200-700 Words. The search engines need to read relevant content, so provide
them with enough keyword-rich content (more on keywords later) to help your post rank
higher in relevant searches.
8. Don’t Forget a Meta Description. The meta description for each post shows up in search
results just under the title tag. Include the name of your recipe and do not exceed 150
words. This is what people see first before they choose to click on a search result, so make
yours count to enhance your click-through rate.
9. Pay Attention to Details. Never put the Ingredients title over the cooking instructions, nor
the list of ingredients under the Instructions title. It seems obvious, but mistakes happen,
26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 5
and this small oversight can be detrimental to your placement in search results. Separately,
don’t put non-ingredients on the ingredients list, like cook time or yield. Not only can it
confuse your readers, but search engines don’t like it either. Anything that is inconsistent
or out of place is bad for SEO.
Sadly, in the world of Google Recipe Search, nothing is better for your SEO than coding your
recipes in a compatible format like hRecipe or Schema.org’s recipe format. But if that is just not
possible, the simple tips above (which require virtually no additional effort) can bring more
consistency and structure to your recipe formatting to the benefit of your readers and search
4 Tips for Optimized Blog Photos
Photos are essential for food and recipe blogs. Here are four must-dos to help optimize your
photos to achieve success with search engines. Taking these steps will help your recipes appear
higher up both in Google Search and Google Image Search.
1. Make the First Photo That of the Finished Recipe. Place the photo of the completed recipe
after the post title and before any description. This increases the likelihood of this photo
getting picked up since search engines will not confuse this photo with any other photos.
The largest recipe sites put their photos at the top and again, you want to mirror the biggest
sites in format as much as possible.
2. Your Post Title and Photo Name
Should Match. Both the photo title
and alt text (tag) should exactly
match the name of your blog post,
which again reinforces your content
with the search engines.
Source: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
“Homemade Butterscotch Pudding”
3. Describe Photos Beyond the First Photo in Your Post. The search engines can’t read
photos, so the alt text is important. Only the first photo should match the recipe; any
subsequent photos should include the recipe name and a brief description of the image.
Here’s how you might name this sequence of photos:
26 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers 6
Source: $5 Dinners, “Spanish Stew – Vintage Recipe”
4. Put Dashes Between Each Word When You Save a Photo. The search engines know each
word is separate when they see dashes (e.g., black-bean-casserole.jpg).
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4 Keyword Best Practices
1. Research Keywords for Post and Recipe Titles. One piece of advice you’ll hear over and
over relates to keyword research. For recipe sites, your recipe names are your keywords.
You’ll be best served by keyword research when you’ve yet to name your recipe.
2. Choose Targeted Keywords for Better Conversion. When naming your recipe, for example,
use a free tool like Google AdWords Keyword Tool to give your recipe a title that will reach a
more targeted audience. For example, “Quick & Easy Meatloaf” is a good title, but just
“Meatloaf” is a bad title. Good titles attract readers more interested in your site who are
more likely to bookmark or sign up for your feed or email newsletter.
3. Integrate Keywords into Key Parts of Your Blog Post. Be sure your primary keywords (your
recipe name, like Quick & Easy Meatloaf) are in your title, meta description and URL, as well
as in your alt text and in any internal links you have directing readers to this page on your
site. Google no longer uses meta keywords when ranking sites, so it is of less value to add
keywords to this entry box on your blog.
4. Use Keywords in the First 25 Words of Your Post. Inserting your keywords into the first two
sentences of your post can enhance your search rankings when they pop up in another
place early on in your post, again giving you more authority on the particular topic. It is very
important to include keywords in your paragraph text, not just titles and headings. You’ll be
more relevant in Google’s eyes.
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6 Overall Site Strategies
1. Own Your Own Blog URL. Not only is it more professional to have your own domain name,
but you may find that it’s difficult to get listed in directories and even spidered by search
engines when you are hosted by a free web hosting service (e.g., myblog.blogspot.com or
2. Fix Broken Links. A quality blog that ranks well with search engines has no broken links. If
you use WordPress, you can install a free plugin called Broken Link Checker that will alert
you to links to be fixed. Or, try Xenu’s Link Sleuth, which finds and fixes broken links on any
3. Don’t Let Your Blog Software Auto-Create Post Titles. WordPress, for example, defaults to
name blog posts as www.blogname.com/?p=123. This does nothing for your SEO, so adjust
this setting. You’ll find it in Settings, Permalink Settings. Anything but the “default” or
“numeric” settings is best.
4. Optimize Your Blog Post Titles. By default, the title of your blog post is “Blog Name >> Blog
Archive >> Post Title” in WordPress. This also does nothing for your SEO, except dilute your
traffic. Search engines put weight on early words, so you want your keywords to be toward
the start of your title.
5. Use Anchor Text Properly. Use relevant keywords to link to relevant pages on your site to
enhance your SEO. For example, this is well-optimized: Check out my black bean casserole
recipe. This is not: Click here to check out my black bean casserole recipe.
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6. Your Blog Name Should Go After Your Post Name. In your title tag, you should set the
default setting on your blog so that your blog name either appears at the end of the title tag
or does not appear at all. For example, “Black Bean Casserole | My Food Blog.”
4 Social Strategies to Enhance SEO
1. Optimize your Posts for Full Text Feeds. You should be able to set this up automatically
with your current blog software. Not only are people more likely to read your posts, but
you’ll be able to better incorporate and display important keywords.
2. Have Multiple Doorways to Get to Your Blog. Be everywhere your readers or would-be
readers are, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or StumbleUpon. This will enhance
your traffic and encourage people to link to your site, which can ultimately have a positive
impact on your SEO. Links from trusted websites are important to search engines and will
enhance your findability.
3. Help Your Readers Share Your Content. Make it easy for readers to share and socialize your
content. The free Sociable plugin in WordPress will let you add buttons to the bottom of
each post to make it easy for readers to share on social services. Blogger also offers widgets
to help readers share your posts. Google and Bing index social media content in searches, so
if someone tweets a link to one of your posts, it may turn up in search results.
4. Encourage Social Bookmarking. Social bookmarking involves saving links to posts on public
websites, like Digg and del.icio.us. Users can follow or share your bookmarks, encouraging
the spread of your content. For new sites, social bookmarking can also help get your site
indexed more quickly by the search engines. Creating tags for your content can also help
your search ranking for these keywords.
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ZipList is a market-leading online and mobile universal shopping list and recipe management
service that enables shoppers to create and share grocery lists with family members. Users can
arrange their lists by aisle or store and can save recipes to a central recipe box. ZipList can be
found on MarthaStewart.com, Simply Recipes, Skinnytaste, Pepperidge Farm, Ming.com,
Martha’s Everyday Food iPhone app, and on hundreds of popular food blogs.
ZipList makes it easy to add recipes from anywhere across the web to a central recipe box at
ZipList.com. Simply add a button to your toolbar called the Web Recipe Clipper and when you
see a recipe you like, click the button to add the recipe to your recipe box. See below for a
recipe added from My Life as a Mrs. at http://www.mylifeasamrs.com/2012/05/pw-
Find out more about ZipList’s Recipe Box at http://get.ziplist.com/how-it-works/find-save-
Free ZipList Recipe Plugin for WordPress
For food and recipe bloggers using WordPress, ZipList has made available a free, easy-to-use
plugin that will give your recipes better structure, thereby enhancing your SEO and findability.
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Even better, the plugin enables your readers to add your recipes to a recipe box and shopping
list right from your site, along with any other recipes they may find across the web. You can find
out more about the plugin at http://www.ziplist.com/recipeplugin.
Simply download the free plugin and type your recipes into a form within WordPress. Based on
the open-source RecipeSEO plugin built by Allison Day, the ZipList Recipe Plugin enables you to
quickly and easily put your recipes into the Google-preferred Schema.org recipe format
required to increase your search ranking within Google and other leading search engines.
This free plugin also adds a small button to your recipe posts so your readers can save your
recipes for the future, making them more actionable and helping your readers to find and make
your recipes again and again. In their recipe boxes, users will find your recipes and ingredients
plus a link back to your recipes for preparation instructions.
For more on ZipList’s Wordpress Recipe Plugin or to download it now, please visit us on the web
at http://www.ziplist.com/recipeplugin. Here is a recent post at Buns in My Oven so you can
check out the implementation: http://bunsinmyoven.com/2012/05/30/the-very-best-waffles/
A screenshot is below (see blue “Save Recipe” button).
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It’s also easy to customize the look and feel of our free recipe plugin using styling codes or by
working with your designer to create a custom stylesheet so that the plugin output matches
your website. You can learn more here: http://blog.ziplist.com/ziplist-recipe-plugin-
personalizing-your-recipe-card-design/. See examples below:
A Farmgirl’s Dabbles: http://www.afarmgirlsdabbles.com/2012/03/28/sauteed-
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ZipList Save Recipe Buttons for Any Platform
Not on WordPress or don’t want to reformat all of your recipes but still want to be able to
enable your readers to save your recipes to a recipe box? No problem. It’s easy to integrate a
standard or custom Save Recipe button into your recipe posts. Take a look at a few examples:
Kalyn’s Kitchen: This food blog is on Blogger, and since Kalyn has good recipe structure it was
no problem for Kalyn to add our blue Save Recipe button to a template so it sits atop each post,
like this post that can be found at http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/05/recipe-for-lisas-
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RecipeGirl: We’ve also worked with bloggers on WordPress to integrate a custom Save Recipe
button created by their designers. Lori at RecipeGirl uses a recipe template created by Purr, so
custom red buttons show on posts like this one: http://www.recipegirl.com/2012/06/04/tex-
Plain Chicken: Many more food bloggers, like Stephanie at Plain Chicken (on Blogger), choose
to simply paste a strip of code into each recipe post to display the blue Save Recipe button, like
in this post here: http://www.plainchicken.com/2012/06/cheesy-chicken-casserole.html.
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If you have any questions about ZipList recipe tools or about best practices with regard to SEO
for your food blog, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Additional SEO Resources
How to Create a Search Engine Friendly Website, The Site Wizard
How to Make Your WordPress Blog Search-Engine Friendly, The Site Wizard
WordPress SEO Plugins
8 Excellent WordPress SEO Plugins, Six Revisions
Top 50 WordPress Plugins for 2011 to Zoom SEO, SMO & Audience Engagement,
Social Media Today
10 Ways to Orientate Users on Your Site, Webcredible
Web Site Interface Style and Consistency Builds Trust, Pinsonnault Creative
Google AdWords: Keyword Tool
WordStream (free trial)
WordTracker (free trial)
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Google Adds Support for hCalendar and hRecipe Rich Snippets, Microformats
Microformats: Mark Up Your Recipes Online with hRecipe, SEO Gadget
ZipList Wordpress hRecipe Plugin
WordPress hRecipe Plugin