Hey guys! So this is the FIRST official post I’m doing since the launch of the FBC website 2 days ago! Exciting!
So I thought I’d kick off with something a little different! Google and search engine indexing is a huge topic. I’m no techie and I rely on plug ins to ensure my site is SEO optimised. As for my recipes themselves, nowadays, I spend a couple of minutes doing some “Google keyword research” before settling on a recipe name and keywords.
To be honest, I stumbled upon this by accident, when my brother googled for baked wings and to his shock, a recipe of mine came up first. He googled a variation (not wanting to use one of my recipes!) and again to his shock, that same recipe came again. And again.
There are a lot of variables that impact indexing and I am by no means a tech head so I won’t cover the technical side. But what I do know, very simplistically, is this:
Site SEO Optimisation + Post / Site Popularity + Key Words
= SEO Optimisation
Let’s put aside the Site SEO Optimisation for now, because I don’t do anything other than use plug ins to ensure my site is SEO Optimised as I can make it, given my (very) limited technical capabilities (and I’ll do a separate post on what I use soon!).
In relation to post / site popularity, all it means is that all other things being equal (and I really mean all other things which is impossible in this real world!), the more traffic / visits a post has, the better it will index compared to other site with recipes using exactly the same key words.
But that’s not to say it’s impossible to appear at the top of google search results if you know how to find the best key word combinations!
1. More times a word a searched = Higher Competition.
2. Low Competition words = better chance of ranking highly in search results
3. No searches = not great (unless you plan on creating a groundbreaking new recipe and you “own”
that space )
4. The more specific the words, the less competition, the higher chances of ranking highly. You need to exercise judgement to choose the balance.
5. Start small, aim high. Own your “niche” specific words, then your indexation will improve and you’ll start ranking higher for broader related search terms.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST KEY WORDS FOR YOUR RECIPES
My theory is this: I would rather be first in google search results for a particular combination of keywords than buried amongst millions for yet another “Alfredo Pasta” recipe. It is tough to compete against the “power bloggers”, major food networks and recipe sites. So why not own your niche instead?
I use Google AdWords to determine how much competition there is for a particular combination of key words. The lower the competition there is, the better the chance you’ll appear higher in search results for those keywords. But I also use this tool to figure out words that people are not searching for. And the recipe I am writing up today is a great example to demonstrate how I choose my keywords for a recipe.
At this stage, it is worth noting that there is a difference between keywords for a recipe and the recipe or post name. I cover how to use these keywords towards the bottom of this post.
1. Create a Google AdWords account. It’s free.
You will need to go through the motions to set up a new ad just once and don’t worry, you can delete it immediately after setting it up so you don’t actually have to pay anything! Just insert random details into the fields to create a new campaign (and yes, you do need to provide payment details), but then as soon as it is set up, you will land on the dashboard and you just need to delete (or pause) the ad.
I know people aren’t comfortable providing payment details for random sites…but I figure a) it’s Google b) it’s worth it for the usefulness of this tool.
Note: When I set up my account, I didn’t have to provide billing details. I know this because I keep getting a red flag saying my account isn’t active! So perhaps see if you can delete your payment details after setting up the account.
2. Keyword Planner – open the Keyword Planner, under Tools.
3. Click on Search for new keywords and ad group ideas
4. Keyword Search – the new recipe I’m writing up is a greek chicken and rice made in one pot.
A) Type in my idea for keywords
B) Type in your blog URL (I am not 100% sure this is required, I just do it just in case!)
C) Change product category to Food (I don’t do sub categories)
D) Change your target countries and language, if applicable
E) Change keyword options to “Only show closely related ideas”
F) Hit Ideas
5. ZERO Search Results! Which means NO ONE is searching that combination of key words! Or at least, not enough for Google to pick up. So it’s back to the drawing board. I retype in new keywords in the box I’ve outlined in red.
6. Irrelevant keywords – so next, I try “greek chicken rice”. The search results show that those words are searched an average of 620 times per month. And when I drilled down i.e. clicked on Greek Soup, it showed me that the words “greek chicken rice” are searched with the word “soup”.
In the context of my particular recipe, which is not a soup, that is no good to find out that the majority of times the words “greek chicken rice” are searched is for soup!
So again, I search another keyword combination.
7. Drilling Down and Choosing the Words – so the next combination I try is just “greek chicken”. And I knew there would be a lot more searches! But I was pretty happy to see that the competition is still LOW. The words “greek chicken” were searched 58,000 times in March 2015. I’d be pretty happy if my recipe ranked first for all those searches!
Now I could choose to stop here and use “greek chicken” as my key words. OR I can increase my chances of a higher ranking by making my words more specific.
To make the words mores specific, just open up some of the Ad groups (leftmost column) to see the kind of words people are search in conjunction with the words “greek chicken”. I opened up the “Greek Recipes” Ad group and here, you can see that people are searching the words “greek chicken recipe” 2,900 a month.
Adding the word “recipe” makes the keywords more specific and reduces the search numbers quite a bit. I do a quick scan of other Ad groups as well and note the same thing.
This is where you need to exercise some judgement. I could choose to go with more specific words and reduce the search frequency and increase the odds of ranking higher, faster. But I am pretty happy with the LOW competition of the search terms “greek chicken” so I settle on that.
USING KEYWORD PLANNER TO CHOOSE A RECIPE TO MAKE
I use Keyword Planner to help me decide on the best words for a recipe I have already created. You could also use it to figure out low competition search words to determine what recipes to make! Though I would urge you to use this with caution – don’t let AdWords rule you!
For example, the word “pasta” was searched 2.3 million times last month. But the words “italian sausage pasta” were only search 2,400 times. That number might not rock your boat. But if you have an iron-fist hold on the entire Italian Sausage Pasta market (and what a market to rule! ), you will start indexing higher for all related combinations – like “sausage pasta” (search 8,100 times) and “sausage pasta recipe” (searched 5,400 times) and so on. There’s an avalanche effect! It happened for me with my Truly Crispy Oven Baked Wings.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE KEYWORDS
The keywords I want to use for a recipe may not be the best to use as the recipe name. To improve indexing strength, I do like to try to ensure that the keywords are in the recipe name as well, which usually occurs naturally anyway.
For the recipe I’m using as an example, my One Pot Greek Chicken & Lemon Rice, the keywords I chose to use – “greek chicken” – are already in the recipe name. If it wasn’t, I would have added it.
The other place I add the keywords is in the SEO section of the recipe. I use WordPress SEO by Yoast which is free and by far the industry leader for WordPress SEO optimisation. Once you install that plugin, you will have this box at the bottom of every recipe. Then all I do is insert the keywords I selected into the Focus Keyword box and ensure those keywords are in the recipe name, page URL, in the content itself and in the meta description (which I also complete in the box below – the description that appears in search results). The plug in even provides a useful little check list to make sure you’ve got the keywords in all those places (the green “YES” under the Focus Keyword box).
Phew! Are you daunted? Trust me, after you’ve done it a few times, it becomes second nature. And even if you don’t use Google Keywords, you could just take 5 seconds to open a new tab, and Google the recipe name you’re about to use and you’ll bet an indication of what you’re up against.
I’ll be honest, I don’t always use it. In fact, I usually only use it for things I invent from scratch that I know aren’t common. If I didn’t do it, no one would find my crazy inventions!
Remember to ask yourself this:
Is it better to rank at the top of search results for a lesser searched recipe, or lost amongst millions for a highly searched recipe?
I choose to go with the former.
It’s only fair to share…
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