Welcome to episode 28 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! We are starting the new year off strong with a podcast all about optimizing your blog so that you can show up higher in search results.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork interviewed Ali Maffucci from Inspiralized. They talked about how she built a really strong brand in a really specific niche, and how it worked out really well for her. She now even sells her own physical product! To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
How to Boost Your Blog’s SEO
SEO can sound like a really scary acronym – what does it even mean, and how can I make it work for me?! But fear not, because even though it can be pretty complex to master, it can also be pretty easy to get started with.
Casey Markee from Media Wyse specializes in boosting SEO for food blogs. He kind of fell into this niche by accident, and by now has worked with 50+ bloggers to help them rank higher in search. In this interview, he and Bjork talk about some of the really quick and easy things you can do to improve your blog’s SEO, as well as some of the higher-level stuff that can give you an extra SEO boost.
In this super informative interview, Casey shares:
- What SEO is and why it is so important for your food blog
- What the biggest component of ranking online is
- How backlinks affect your search rankings
- How you can go about link-building in an ethical, Google-approved way
- The one thing you should make sure you have set up for your blog in 2016
- What structured data is and how it can indirectly help your organic traffic
- How Google uses authorship to gauge EAT – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness
- Why you should be updating your popular posts yearly
- How site speed will affect your rankings now and in the future
- A few small, easy things you can do to boost your blog’s SEO
Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes:
- Media Wyse
- Moz Search Ranking Factors
- Casey’s Slideshare Channel
- Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
- Google Search Rater Quality Guidelines
- Redirection WordPress Plugin
- AMP WordPress Plugin
- Tiny JPG
- EWWW Image Optimizer WordPress Plugin
- Yoast SEO for WordPress Course on Food blogger Pro
- Understanding Recipe Plugins Course on Food blogger Pro
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 28 of the food blogger pro podcast.
Hey everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom. You’re listening to the food blogger pro podcast. Yes indeed. If you didn’t know, now you know what it is that you’re listening to.
Real excited about today’s podcast. I feel like I say that every time but it’s true every time. We’ve had some awesome guests on and today’s no different. We have Casey Markee on from MediaWyse. Casey works in the field of SEO. It goes beyond that as he’s going to talk about but his focus is SEO. Search Engine Optimization. How do you build a website or build a blog that shows up high in search results. What are the different factors that go into that?
There’s some advance stuff which we’re going to talk about. Kind of 201 and 301 but there’s also some 101 stuff that we’re going to talk about. That low-hanging fruit that you need to make sure to take advantage of so Google looks at your site and say, “Hey! This is a site that we want to show up higher in the search results.” Which, as you know, results in more traffic which, as you know, is a good thing.
I’m really excited to chat with Casey about all things SEO. Without further ado, let’s jump in. Casey, welcome to the podcast.
Casey Markee: Great to be here Bjork. Thanks for having me.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m really excited. We’ve worked together in the past and I know that other food bloggers … For some reason it’s this kind of niche that you … Have you fallen into it or is it something where you’ve intentionally pursued food bloggers? I know a lot of different people that have worked with you.
Casey Markee: That’s very interesting. Basically I kind of got started with … Patti had Camp Blogaway. That was about two years ago now. I think they had a last minute cancellation. They needed an SEO to come up and I think the presentation went pretty well regardless of the fact that there was a wildfire and I had lost my voice. I thought I did terribly but, yeah, everyone asked questions and there seemed to be a real thirst for correct SEO practices within the niche. That’s kind of snowballed since then and I have probably done … Conservatively, I’ve probably worked with 50 or 60 different food bloggers, some of the bigger names in your niche. You, of course, included. Elise Bauer, tons of other people.
Bjork Ostrom: We had Elise on and she actually talked about some of the stuff that she went through with her site in episode 16 of the podcast. One of the things that cool about the food niche there’s a lot of little pockets of people that share information. I know that I’ve heard a lot of people talk about your expertise and how valuable it was for them. I’m really excited to have you on today to share that and it’s really generous that you’d come on to talk about SEO practices.
Casey Markee: No problem at all and that’s very kind. I have the utmost respect for any food blogger because I cannot cook.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Me neither. That’s the funny thing. I’m like food illiterate which is so ironic.
Casey Markee: It’s cool that I get to actually work on all these food blogs and see some of these fantastic recipes. I’m like, “Okay well hey, you know … Banana bread for example, very popular, we’re going to get your banana bread recipe to stand out a little bit more by doing this, this and this.”
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.
Casey Markee: Very interesting in that respect.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m excited to talk about some of those things. Before we do, I want to start out on kind of a high level. Even just referring back to two different things … It was the same thing you said but in two different contexts. You said, “To work with an SEO,” meaning you as a person. Then we also talked about SEO as a practice. Can you talk about the difference between what those two things are and then dive a little deeper into SEO as a practice and why it’s important.
Casey Markee: Sure, that’s not a problem. I’m really what you would call a site auditor. I’m a digital marketing professional. I do a lot of high-end training with regards to Fortune 1000 companies. I attend and speak at a substantial number of conferences every year. I do a lot of the three hundred foot view and then I delve down into the microcosms of the various sites in detail.
When I’m talking about SEO, search engine optimization, I’m talking about how can I help a site owner position a site as competitively as possible to Google? Google pushes out hundreds and hundreds of different algorithms every year. They continually update their guidelines. I try to keep abreast of those changes so I can put that knowledge to work practically in helping food bloggers specifically update their content and make sure their site is optimized.
The general SEO field, like you said, is going to be search engine optimization but really goes beyond that. We’re talking … There’s two really big components of SEO and that’s links and content. My goal is really to try and help the average food blogger or the average site owner in general, how they can best position their content so it performs as well as possible algorithmically with Google.
We also talk about link building because link building is something that most food bloggers don’t even really worry about. They tend to be … There’s a lot of these link parties which can get you into a little bit of trouble if you exchange a lot links. Most people don’t put a lot of stock in link building which is still a huge component of the algorithm so we talk about that in our audits that we do.
I’ll go over … Hey this all the things that we can do on your site to make it better. By the way let’s talk about link building which is something you really haven’t given focus on. Here are the kind of content pieces that Google is starting to reward. They’re pushing out user experience, page speed. It’s just a matter of crossing t’s and dotting i’s because there’s never really one thing you can do to a website that will improve it.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Casey Markee: It’s a cumulative effort.
Bjork Ostrom: Thousands of little things right?
Casey Markee: It really is. What I do is I … We provide checklists and what we do is we go through those checklists and as long as we have them perform and implement as many of those small items as they can. The more they’re able to check off the stronger the site is going be. The better the site is going to do long term.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. That’s great. When you say SEO for those that are just getting started, we’re talking about search engine optimization but then you are an SEO and that would mean that you are a Search Engine Optimizer. Is that right? Is that how we can use that phase specifically in the different context there? You’d consider yourself an SEO.
Casey Markee: Sure. Exactly. That would be one of the things that I do. With regards to search engine optimization … If you really want to be effective online you really kind of go beyond that. One of the things that I try to really pound in the site auditing that I do, with not only those in your niche but those outside of it, is it’s a cumulative effect.
We want to concentrate on how your branding is. What is the goal of every food blogger honestly? It’s to get a recipe book. I hear that over and over again. How do you do that? It’s not necessarily just having a great site and having a highly visited site, it’s being able to build up your brand. We talk about what brand visibility is, how you can actually do this stuff offline. What are the right conferences to attend? It’s a very cumulative effect.
Bjork Ostrom: Holistic approach.
Casey Markee: Very holistic approach exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I saw when I was looking through your site was this phrase that really stood out to me. It was something that you had just mentioned earlier about link building. On the site you say “links are the currency of the internet.”
Casey Markee: That’s true.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a really interesting phrase to me. Can you explain a little bit about what that means?
Casey Markee: It doesn’t matter what report you read. Whether it’s the Moz State of Search report or Search Metrics also publishes a what they call a “search ranking factors report.” That just came out a couple of weeks ago.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Real quick and you, the first one that you mentioned, it was Moz?
Casey Markee: Moz has a state of search report that they put out. It’s a search ranking factors report. They interview hundreds and hundreds of SEOs and they rank factors upon how they feel professionally those factors are used to rank content or rank sites.
Bjork Ostrom: If somebody searched on Google Moz state of search. Is that what you said?
Casey Markee: Yeah. Let me give that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And we can put a link in the show notes for this on the blog as well.
Casey Markee: It’s going to be Moz Search Ranking Factors.
Bjork Ostrom: People that work in the industry they say, “Here’s what we feel like is really important.”
Casey Markee: Exactly. This is about every two years they do this. The most recent on just came out.
Bjork Ostrom: What was the second resource you mentioned?
Casey Markee: That’s search metrics. Just type in search metrics and that’s ranking factors. Search metrics ranking factors 2000.
Bjork Ostrom: Similar idea to the Moz.
Casey Markee: Very similar. Moz and Search Metrics both have access to a substantial amount of quantitative data. They’re able to pull that information together and provide some … For example search metrics puts this in an infographic which is very easy to visually digest. The other information from Moz is kind of in the form of various charts and graphs.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Casey Markee: Basically what that data does is it tells you that … It kind of tells us kind of based on anecdotal evidence that links still kind of are probably the biggest component of ranking online. You have to have the right sites linking to you. Just like I said links are the currency of the internet, the richer your site is in regards to unique linking root domains … In other words, it’s like a popularity contest. If I want to win the homecoming king contest I need to get most votes to me personally to my site. Same goes with regards to having really strong long-term rankings in Google. You want to have these unique sites, also known as unique domains, linking to you. Preferably we want to have these niche-related.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain what you mean by unique domain or unique site? What’s the difference between … How would somebody know what a unique site is versus one that’s not unique?
Casey Markee: I guess it … Simply Recipes is one site. Food Bloggers Pro is another site. Those are unique sites. It’s just about having unique sites link to you. It’s better to have a link from one site than 100 links from the same site. I would rather have 100 links from 100 sites as opposed to a thousand links from the same site.
Bjork Ostrom: To go back to the homecoming thing, it’s like lots of people voting for you versus one person really being like, “You should vote for this person.” It’s like it doesn’t matter as much if it’s just one person making a really strong recommendation verses one hundred people making a recommendation.
Casey Markee: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Casey Markee: It really is a numbers game. When we have a consultation … I’ll have consultations with extremely big blogs and they’ll ask why are they not doing better and I’ll show them that, even though they’re really big with regards to traffic profiles and back links, when I compare them competitively to some of the other ones that are at a different level they can see the difference. When you look at … People want to compete with the Food Network for example. The Food Network has hundreds of thousands, well over a hundred thousand, six figures linking root domains whereas the average site online food blog might have two to four thousand domains if they’re lucky.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. When somebody … When you say a back link is that essentially the same thing as a link or is there a difference between a link and a back link?
Casey Markee: A link and a back link are the same with regards to the incoming nature of the link. In other words, if someone is linking to you externally … I’m simply recipes and I’m linking to MediaWyse, that’s a back link. If I’m food blogger pro and I’m linking to another site, that’s a back link.
External back links are really the most important thing. There are things like making sure that your internal links are competent that you’ve linked internally as much as possible for user navigation. When we’re talking about the algorithmic effect. What can I do to make my site better? It’s finding those external sites to link to your content.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. To clarify that, because I think it’s an important point, you’re saying there’s these external links … Let’s say it’s food blogger pro linking to pinch of yum dot com, that would be an external link on food blogger pro to pinch of yum and then there would be food blogger pro linking to another food blogger pro article. That would be an internal link. You’re saying those are still important but probably not as important as an external link.
Casey Markee: Exactly. We want to be able to provide clear navigation. You don’t want to have what are called orphan page on your site where they’re not linked prominently from other pages on your site because that lowers the value of that content in the eyes of Google in many ways. That’s completely another … We spent twenty minutes on …
Bjork Ostrom: My question is why is that important? What is it about a link that is significant.
Casey Markee: To Google … Google would answer that by saying, “A link is a vote of confidence to your site and your site content.” If I’ve got 100 external sites that are linking to your banana bread recipe, to Google that is an extremely strong signal of authoritativeness and trustworthiness. That is a sign that the recipe clearly is well received within a specific audience. That’s probably something that they’ll want to look at to rank higher going forward.
That’s something that people …. You can have the greatest content in the world but, if you’re not accumulating links into that content, it’s only half the battle.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. That makes sense.
I’m going to draw that homecoming analogy even further. If you were going to a high school and you were the only one there it’s not like you could get votes. Votes couldn’t come in because it’s just you. As you expand out and more people get to know who you are and place votes for you then it’s more significant to win homecoming king. Maybe that’s too far but I wanted to try for it.
Let’s move on before I draw that homecoming analogy out any further. One of the questions that I have about link building is how do you do it in an ethical way? There’s probably ways you can do it that are not very ethical.
Casey Markee: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: Is it something that you should be intentional about doing?
Casey Markee: You know it is. We also use the term link earning quite a bit. That’s really what Google wants. They want you to … In their perfect system they would prefer that you just publish great content and then the links will naturally come to you. Unfortunately that just doesn’t happen. Especially with food bloggers, a very competitive niche, millions and millions of food blogs out there. Tens of thousands of food blogs going on line very month. There are things where it’s very competitive.
What you’re going to have to do is understand that every awesome piece of content needs a push. That means making sure you’re sharing it on social networks, making sure you’re seeking out other partners who may be interested in the content and asking them directly by email, “Hey I’ve got this fantastic recipe. I think it would really click with your audience. Go ahead and check it out.” Just very forward, very overt about it.
What Google doesn’t like is for you going out and buying links or having control over how the link is going to appear. Any link on which you could control the appearance or placement of is, to Google, an unnatural link. That’s something I would hope all of your audience would understand. If I can go out and choose where I’m going to have a link from and what the link is going to say? There’s no editorial discretion in that and that’s going to get you in trouble.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Casey Markee: As long as people understand there’s an element of that. I’m just giving them the opportunity. They can choose to say yes or no. That’s where the editorial discretion comes in. One of the big issues within the food blogging niche specifically is an inability to promote the content effectively.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. One of the things I’m curious about with link building … You’d talked about the importance of those coming from multiple unique places. Can you give an example or maybe is one link better than the other? I’m guessing yes. Can you give an example of like maybe different tiers like, “This is a decent link. This is an okay link and this is a really good link to have pointing back to your site.”
Casey Markee: Link quality is a very complicated issue. It’s certainly something we couldn’t cover in the course of this. What I can briefly say is that there are things like “no follow links” and there are things like “do follow links.” What we want to have … The difference on that aspect is that a link can have a specific tag on on it. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a fantastic site. If the link is no follow, coming back to you, it’s not going to provide any ranking analysis. It’s not going to provide any ranking help at all.
The first important thing is, not even necessarily the linking site target which we’ll get into, is the link going to flow authority back to the linking root domain? If I’m going to get a link on say … Let’s say the Pioneer Woman has decided to feature my recipe. A very big site. I know many of you know it on the call. Let’s say she decides to feature my recipe and she gives us a link back. Awesome. If she no follows that link, it doesn’t really matter much algorithmically to Google. That links really not going to help you.
The link will have tangential benefits in that it will send you traffic. I might provide you some brand recognition. Basically people would see that she’s featured your recipe and the like. Algorithmically … Let’s say she’s featured banana bread. Love banana bread I’m going to use that as my example.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s roll with it. Great.
Casey Markee: She links back to your banana bread recipe, fantastic, but your banana bread recipe is probably not going to rank any higher because of that if the link is no follow.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Casey Markee: That’s a very first thing. You need to make sure that the link is going to pass authority. Making sure that the link is do follow. Making sure that it doesn’t have a tag on it so to speak.
For those of you who aren’t aware of what this kind of stuff looks like, I cover … I just gave a presentation at food bloggers Canada in Montreal and you can find that presentation and many other food blogging specific presentations on my slideshare channel which you type in Casey Markee Slideshare into Google and those will pop up. It will go over various things about what link building is. What are link building targets. What is a no follow link? Get into a little bit more on that.
Bjork Ostrom: We’ll put that in the show notes if people go to food blogger pro dot com slash blog and find this podcast blog post we’ll link up to that. Speaking of links, we will link to that and it will be a do follow link on that. How about that?
Casey Markee: That’s great. That’ll help slideshare it won’t necessarily help me.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Basic idea, to go back here talking about this idea of links are the currency of the internet, is that building … One of the ways to have Google or other search engines see your site as trustworthy and therefore show it higher is to have other people, other websites, link back to your site. It’s this little vote of confidence and the more votes you have the higher that you show up potentially in search results.
One of the things I’m curious about is maybe going beyond just the link building and saying, “you know these are a couple of other areas that are important for you to consider outside of just links.” Would there be maybe one or two other things you say, “Hey. This is something kind of SEO 101 to be aware of and to put into place?”
Casey Markee: Sure. One of the big issues with food bloggers in general is just making sure that you have structured data set up. Structured data is very, very important with Google. I know many of you are using recipe markup. Many of you might be using a specific plugin. I know there are several. Easy recipe is one of those. Google is making noticeable changes to structured data. It’s going to be a theme that you’re going to see noticeably in 2016.
Recently Genesis had to make a change to their template because Google has now said in their new structured data guidelines that they want the author name to show up marked up within the content. That was not previously done within the functions file of Genesis. They’ve now made that change. This resulted in a lot of people who were using WordPress generating these errors in the structured data testing tool and also in your Google search console showing that they were missing specific related fields.
That brings you to another point. Google is really pushing the concept of authorship again. It seems to be that this is kind of an initial practice for them. They want to make sure that every time you publish something that it’s signed. That it’s tied to a known entity.
Google got rid of authorship about a year and a half ago. There were a lot of reasons but mostly it just wasn’t widely embraced and there was a ton of computation power needed to process all that especially on mobile. This is a sign that they’re starting to revisit that concept especially in 2016.
I would really urge all of you, especially on the call, that if you want to make one change, one focus in 2016, making sure that you’ve got this authorship kind of enabled. It’s not just the regular authorship of rel = authorship, the tag that we used previously that linked to your site, to your publisher page or your individual Google plus page.
Google plus is really a dying brand. It’s really not even an issue I want to concentrate on at this point. These rich snippets, these item props, that Google has … That’s really what is going to provide that tangential relationship to Google. That, “Hey, you know, this author published this piece of content” and making sure that we have the required author name within this rich snippet markup is something that’s really going to help you in 2016.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. I’m going to take that. You speak in a way that I understand and it’s so interesting for me to hear it. For somebody that’s just beginning, I’m going to try and interpret that. Let me know if, in a simplistic way, that I’m kind of on track here.
Casey Markee: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: You’re talking about structured data. Essentially what structured data is is it’s a way that … We don’t see it when we look at a webpage necessarily but if you were to look kind of behind the webpage at the code, literally there would be HTML little pieces of code that give clues to Google or other search engines about what the content is about. When you say item prop that’s something that nobody would see if they look at it but if you were to look at the code, it’d be a little clue to Google or other search engines that this is an ingredient for instance.
What Google is able to do is take that and then use it in certain ways. An example would be structured data might be the ratings for a recipe. If you search for a recipe and you see that it takes 27 minutes to prepare and you see that on Google. Google’s not just calculating that by looking at the instructions. It’s grabbing that from the structured data. Is that right or would you describe structured data even further?
Casey Markee: Correct. The structured data is the behind the scenes work. It’s the people that are providing … It’s the code that is allowing you to show what’s called a rich snippet which is actually what you see in the search results. The rich snippet is the pretty pictures that come with the recipes, the cooking time, the ingredients, event markup, things like your byline. If you were to go to Facebook now, they have Facebook authorships that you can link your Facebook page to your blog so that you can see a nice little byline on that.
Those are rich snippets. That’s the visual representation of the behind the scenes structured data.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Google likes rich snippets because it makes the search results rich. You can go into Google and you can search for the start time of a movie and because movie theaters have structured data, Google is able to pull that from the page and provide it on the search results page. It allows the content in Google to be rich. For a food blogger, they want to make sure they have that structured data.
Two follow up questions with that. One would be, if you have structured data does it help you show up higher? The other question would be, how do you make sure that you have the structured data?
Let’s start with that first one. Does structured data help you show up higher in search results?
Casey Markee: No. There’s no ranking benefit to structured data. What structured data will do is provide increased conversion. Click through and conversion is considered a byproduct and an effect of you ranking higher.
Google has never come out and said, “Hey. We use click through as a ranking factor” yet there is lot of evidence showing that this might necessarily be the case. Another trend that you might have heard about previously, not many people on your call probably have, is a term called pogo-sticking.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. I’m not familiar so I’d be interested to hear.
Casey Markee: Pogo-sticking is when you go into Google and you’re typing in to look for a banana bread recipe. We’re just going to continue with the banana bread theme. We’re going through and I’m finding several recipes. I’m going to click through one. I’m going to look at it. Maybe I don’t like it. I’m going to click back. I’m going to go back to the main page and I’m going select a new result. That’s pogo-sticking. I have gone back to the search results and selected another query. That, to Google, communicates a sign that the first result might not have necessarily matched the user intent of the query.
Bjork Ostrom: Google can tell that because you’ve … It’s not like they can track on your page but they can tell that you searched, left and then came back. They have kind of the bookends of that interaction.
Casey Markee: Exactly. One of the things that I tell everyone usually is if Google can know something, it’s better just to assume that they do know that and plan accordingly.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Casey Markee: Pogo-sticking is something that really does come into play. What do rich snippets do? Rich snippets encourage people to take that all-important first click. Then it’s up to you, the site owner, to convert that visitor.
Bjork Ostrom: Convert meaning serve them the content that they want which, in this case, would be an incredible banana bread recipe.
Casey Markee: One where they maybe hit the print button or navigate to other pages on the site something along those lines.
The rich snippets will make your content stand out but no there’s no inherent ranking ability for that at all.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
An example is Lindsey has a chocolate chip cookie recipe and that’s just starting to make its way onto the first page of Google depending on where you are and obviously there are a lot of factors that go into that. One of the big benefits with that recipe is that … One of the rich snippets is the rating. It’s rated four point seven out of five I think last time I checked.
Casey Markee: I’m looking at it right now. Right now I’m showing it number nine on the front page. That’s great. It’s at the bottom of page one and it’s a very nice rich snippet. It shows the picture. It shows the rating. It shows the votes.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Casey Markee: So do the ones above it. What she’d want to do is just let it run a little bit and hopefully start gauging what … Not necessarily the snippet itself because there’s really not much you can do with that. I think the snippet itself is fine as it is. We want to click on that and see what is the best thing I can do to make sure my users, when they see this page, they immediately either click a button to print it out or they share it. Whatever it is. What can I do to make sure that I keep my visitor on this page for the necessary length to have them convert. Whatever that length is.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s so interesting. I was just looking at that the other day. One of the things we talk a decent amount about on the podcast, that’s kind of a trendy thing, is video. How do you integrate video into your site. The time on that page is like six minutes. I saw that and I was really surprised. One of the reasons is that Lindsey put together … It’s not a six minute video.
She put together a video and I think that anytime that you can increase engagement, whether it be through video or a slideshow or something like that, that’s another way to engage people further in that content. Beneficial for multiple reasons. One of which would be, as you’re saying, it places an emphasis on this being good content for the person who understands it.
Casey Markee: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: Really interesting. The second thing that I wanted to talk about is, before we get to far away from it, with structured data how do people know if their blog is set up correctly and they actually have structured data on it?
You can use Pinch of Yum as an example. Before this call we talked about the Food Blogger Pro blog as a bad example.
Casey Markee: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Feel free to use that as well as examples.
Casey Markee: Sure. Google makes what’s called a structured data testing tool folks. If you just go into Google and type in structured data tool and it’ll pop right up. When you see this tool, Google provides you two opportunities. You can either paste some of your source code into a field and click validate. Honestly, that’s not the fastest way to do it. You can go ahead and click on fetch URL button at the top. If I was to use that I could go to Bjork’s site and I could just grab one of the recent blog posts there. If I was to paste it over, fetch and validate, the results ….
Field number one is I’m going to input the URL. Then I’m going to click fetch and validate. Then field number two is going to pop up and it’s going to validate the structured data. It’s going to look at the entire page. It’s going to look at the code and it’s going to pull out the various schema or the various types of structured data that make up the page.
If we were to do that on one of Bjork’s blog posts, unfortunately, nothing comes up. There’s no data there.
Bjork Ostrom: Sad trombone, Wah Wah Wah.
Casey Markee: He hasn’t got around to doing it. It’s one of those things where it’s a way for you to … It’s a WYSIWYG, what you see is what you get. You could use a tool like this to get an idea of how the page is performing. You could go in there and type in … If we were to go to the chocolate chip recipe again and I was to go and take a look at Pinch of Yum’s.
I’m going to go ahead and go up and copy the url then I’m going to go to structured data tool and I’m going to paste it in here.
Bjork Ostrom: This is … I feel like a student handing in my report.
Casey Markee: Exactly. You just click the fetch and validate and hopefully it will pop up. According to this it’s all good. No problems. You guys are using hCard markup. You’re also using recipe schema which is great. It’s showing all good.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool.
Casey Markee: The author field is blank. That’s something I would correct. We’re going to talk about that. You have the author as Pinch of Yum. That’s totally fine if you want to use that as your brand. Whether or not you use … Whether it’s Lindsey or Pinch of Yum general, it’s fine. We want to make sure that we have … This is very important folks especially as you go into 2016. You really again want to make sure that all of your content is tied to an entity, someone that Google can investigate as having expertise, that has authoritativeness, that is trustworthy. That’s really what Google is looking for going forward, making sure that you have all of your content tied to you, a known entity and that you’re working to continually build up that kind of authorship going forward. Very important.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about that a little bit. Why is that important? Let’s say that somebody is using WordPress and they have yoast SEO plugin installed. Do you know offhand where people could do that.
First question would be why is it important.
Casey Markee: Why it’s important is that Google is looking to rank content upon specific earned trust metrics. What is the biggest trust metric out there? It’s the author of the piece. Google doesn’t want to rank content from someone they don’t know or someone they are not sure they can trust.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Casey Markee: Because very untrustworthy people can still optimize something extremely well and it might show up online competitively. Google instead uses a component called EAT and this EAT is an acronym that stands for Expertise Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. These are components of what are called their Google Search Quality Guidelines. Many of you may have heard the Google Search Quality Guidelines especially if you’ve seen one of my presentations at Food Bloggers Canada or Camp Blogaway or some of these others I’ve done online.
Google has this long document. It’s called Google Search Rater Quality Guidelines. They’re about a hundred and sixty pages and they just released the full version of them last November which is something they usually don’t do. These Quality Guidelines are just ripe with SEO information and things that Google is using to refine their algorithm.
What they do is they hire thousands and thousands of these quality raters. These could be college students or single moms or a plethora of different individuals and these people are assigned. They log into a console and they’re presented with search results. Using those search rater quality guidelines their goal is to rate the search results. Do those search results look qualified? Are they user friendly?
That feedback is taken by Google to refine their algorithms. If you are doing anything online and you want to make sure that you’ve positioned yourself the best way possible with your content, find these guidelines. They’re available. Just type in Google Search Quality Guidelines. Numerous versions of them are available. Bjork we can certainly link to a copy in this transcript.
Read those. It’s a very quick read. Even though it’s a hundred and sixty pages, there’s tons of graphics. It will kind of show you what these raters are looking for. One of the biggest sections in there is on the quality of the content begin presented and what Google is looking for. Does that content look trustworthy? Does the person who’s writing it have a clear expertise?
Google defines this expertise in many different ways. Just because you’re not a chef, if you’re a recipe blogger and you clearly have a cookbook, you’re going to be given a higher level of expertise assigned than someone who maybe doesn’t.
Bjork Ostrom: As long as Google understands that you are the owner of that content.
Casey Markee: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: Which gets back to the importance of tying authorship back to either you or your blog. You’re saying right now it’s tied to Pinch of Yum. If it was you, would you switch to individual or you’d go either way with brand or individual?
Casey Markee: I think you’re brand is so strong that Pinch of Yum is probably fine.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Casey Markee: Some people might have cookbook and that cookbook is not published under the name of their site. It’s published under the individual author or the individual recipe person. With Simply Recipes for an example, Elise Bauer or Drummond with Pioneer Woman, you would tie that content directly to that entity and not the site because they’re extremely well known. That’s something you’d have to think about.
Bjork Ostrom: If you have multiple authors for instance you’d want to direct that all to the brand versus just the individual and there’s multiple factors that go into it.
Casey Markee: Exactly.
If you were reprinting … If you had other authors presenting on your blog and those are extremely well-known authors, actually you’d want to tie that content to them and not your site. When their authority increases all of the content tied to them is going to increase and that’s going to benefit you’re site. That’s what we want to do. We want to get the authors themselves. Having these high-quality authors present their content on your domain, an indirect benefit of that is going to be your site rising in the rankings because you’re viewed as such a bastion of this very strong content.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. How do we know where this is? The authorship stuff, where is that on our site? People will usually have a plugin installed maybe that helps them with SEO or maybe it’s part of their theme. Where do people look for that?
Casey Markee: Most people using Yoast are going to have this automatically enabled. Especially in regards to Facebook.
If you go into your author profile and you just put in your link to your Facebook page. Yoast automatically pulls that information over into a rich snippet.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Casey Markee: Let’s use the correct term. They are going to generate a structured data citation in your code that’s going to link your Facebook page to your content. Whenever you share something online or whenever someone shares your content on Facebook which is really where most people are getting most of their traffic from Facebook and pinterest and the like. If you’re going to share a recipe on Facebook then it’s going to automatically generate a little byline there saying what site it’s from and who it’s by.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Would you recommend linking to your individual Facebook profile or your blogs profile or is this back to preference?
Casey Markee: Yeah. That’s a good question. If you do not use your personal profile to market your business, then just link to your business profile page. I think that’s what we want to do because we want to have other people check out other pieces of your content.
Bjork Ostrom: Whoo. Good stuff.
Casey Markee: Lots of information.
Bjork Ostrom: This is so awesome and I know it will be really helpful for people.
Switching directions a little bit, one of the things that i was curious about that I wanted to talk about was how recipes are evergreen. They maybe go through seasons where you’d be more likely to make lemonade in the summer or banana bread in the winter, not necessarily but to keep going with our banana bread example.
Do you have recommendations for people, things that they can do to breath new life into old content in terms of the performance on Google or SEO?
Casey Markee: Exactly. That’s a very important issue. When we talk about evergreen content, Google has what’s called a freshness decay factor that they use in their algorithms. You can have a fantastic recipe and maybe it’s as current now as it was a year ago when you published it but you’re going to see it slowly slide down the search, the search engine ranking positions. You’re going to see that slowly decay because there’s going to be newer content that maybe covers the same or similar issues that Google is going to reward with an initial, what’s called, Freshness Boost.
A Freshness Boost is based upon the publication date of the piece of content and every time someone shares that content or every time someone leaves a comment those are kind of new freshness boosts on the piece of content. Those ripple through the site and help push up the content a little bit.
What we always want to do is we always want to take note of your most important recipes and we want to revisit those hopefully every year at a minimum. By revisiting those we want to make sure that we’re updating those with maybe better graphics. Maybe there’s something about the recipe that’s changed. Maybe you’ve refined it based upon comments and feedback. You’re able to make tweaks in the recipe and you’re going re-share that. Re-share and republish that at the exact same URL, very important to do that.
Bjork Ostrom: When you say “republish” do you mean change the date so the publish date is up or that you update the post without changing the publish date?
Casey Markee: That’s a good question. When I mean republish, I mean you’re going to republish to a new date but you’re going to make sure that the URL doesn’t change and that’s very important.
If you’re doing the correct optimization focus now, with regards to your blog publishing you shouldn’t have dates in your URLs at all. That’s very important because when you have dates in your URLs … Say I have forward slash blog and then forward slash 11 7 14 forward slash the name of the recipe, you’ve dated that recipe.
Bjork Ostrom: In the URL.
Casey Markee: What does that mean? That means if I republish this, it’s going to automatically republish at a different url which is going to break the old URL unless you redirect it and it’s going to destroy the earned relevancy and currency that you’ve got from the old URL.
Bjork Ostrom: Because of the links that were previously pointing back to it which we talked about before as the popularity contest.
Casey Markee: Exactly. For those of you on the call, if you’re still using dates in your URLs, please stop doing that. That’s extremely poor practice especially going forward. We want to make your URLs, just like your content, look future-proofed. We want to make that evergreen. We want to have the URL function now the same way it’s going to function five years from now.
Bjork Ostrom: How do people make that update?
Casey Markee: You’re going to have to change those URLs within the structure of WordPress. Then you’re going to have to make sure that you have someone competent who can update your HT access file so that you can do redirects on everything.
When people change URLs and they don’t know how to do it correctly, they tend to have a lot of broken authority. Then they wonder why, “Well gosh. My traffic has really fallen off.” That’s because they’ve broken a lot of the initial links that came in under recipes that were performing extremely well.
Bjork Ostrom: But it’s possible to update it and not lose that link authority that you have as long as somebody is redirecting those links and knows what they’re doing.
Casey Markee: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: Would that be a 301 redirect? Is that the right term?
Casey Markee: Correct. Especially if you’re on WordPress there’s plenty of ways to do this. One of the fastest and easiest ways to do this is use a plugin called Redirection. Redirection. It’s just a plugin that manages 301 redirects, keeps track of 404 errors. It will allow you, if you make structure changes to your entire blog, if will allow you to very effortlessly redirect those changed URLs to the new, more user-friendly URLs that don’t have the date in them.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. That’s a huge takeaway for people and really interesting in terms of that evergreen-ness of content. It is a huge advantage with food as opposed to technology where, if you publish a technology post, really in a month at the most it’s going to be relevant. Then it starts to fall off.
Casey Markee: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: I want to hit a few more things here. A few things we hit before the call that I think are really interesting, kind of high-level stuff.
Before we get into it, to set the foundation a little bit … You’ve referenced this a few times but can you talk about what the Google algorithm is and why people should be aware of that?
Casey Markee: It’s not just one. Google uses hundreds and hundreds of different algorithms to determine how sites are going to rank on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis. There’s never just one algorithm that controls all of Google.
Google has … They’ve actually introduced a new signal recently called Rank Brain. Rank Brain is now, according to Google, the third most important signal behind links and content which is pretty crazy. What is Rank Brain? Rank Brain is probably words. Rank Brain is their artificial intelligence system that goes behind the scenes. A lot of people don’t realize that the majority of Google queries have never been searched for. You can’t optimize for things that have never been searched for.
Rank Brain gets these millions upon millions, millions, millions of these requests on content that’s never been searched for and they have to use their signals to formulate how they’re going to return these results. That’s very important there.
When we’re talking about algorithms, it’s hard to quantify because Google doesn’t publish any of that stuff. All we have is anecdotal information, third parties and, of course, always looking at patent findings to find out what Google has been talking about. If we know they recently had a patent on authorship for example, what they call Author Rank. That’s been around for several years. They have these things called author agents and agent rank and we kind of have to imply, based on that, where Google might be going in the future with their algorithms. It’s impossible to optimize around one specific algorithm. There are literally hundreds and Google doesn’t publicize those.
Bjork Ostrom: The reason they don’t publish them is because if people knew they would …
Casey Markee: Manipulate them.
Bjork Ostrom: Manipulate it and spam them and use blackhat, meaning unethical, ways to get their content to show up higher.
Kind of a high level question in regards to the different Google algorithms because I think it’s important for people to understand, almost philosophically you could say, the reason for these algorithms. What would you say Google is trying to do? What is the ultimate hope of continually tweaking and improving and introducing new algorithms?
Casey Markee: Google’s final result, the end result of everything they do, is increase user experience. That’s very simple. Their goal is to make sure that they have the right results at the right moment in time for the right person. They want to make sure that you are not pogo-sticking, that you are not clicking back and forth. They also want to make sure that when you’ve clicked on that result it loads fast and it provides the relevant information that you need.
Google is also really getting into the system of trying to keep you on Google as long as possible which is probably why you’ve seen so many of those really big featured snippets at the top of the search results these days. You know. Those kind of really … If you type in a question “Who won World War II?” you’ll see the answer directly right there in Google.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting.
Casey Markee: They want to keep you on Google and that’s bad. Especially for some people, especially if you type in recipes you know.
Bjork Ostrom: And it’s there. Right.
Casey Markee: It’s right there. There’s a whole step there. Why would anyone click through to get the full recipe? There are certainly benefits for you if you are able to trigger one of those featured snippets by Google. People will click through maybe to print out the full recipe or something like that. That’s really what Google is doing.
Google is just there for one reason only and that’s user experience. They want to make sure that they can answer directly and very quickly any question that may arise.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. I think it’s important to understand that philosophically because there’s two different … It’s the art and the science of SEO. The art being, how do you better understand the user and create something that is helpful to that person. It’s not a science. It’s understanding motivations and behaviors. With recipes it’s understanding what is a good recipe and what’s helpful. Multiple things, easy to read, good pictures, maybe there’s a video that walks you through how to do it, some supporting story or context around it.
Then there’s science part of it which is how do you then communicate to Google or other search engines what that content is about? Those things go hand in hand and it makes for this ever-evolving and never perfectly fine tuned challenge of SEO. It’s like your job will never get old because there’s always something changing about it and always new ways to communicate to Google and understand your users better.
Casey Markee: One of the things that … Google is really clear about what they want to accomplish. They even have a whole section on their philosophy on their website. It’s Ten Things we Know to be True. The very first thing on that list is focusing on the user. They believe if you just focus on the user all else will follow. They want to make sure that they provide the best user experience possible. Whether that’s the homepage interface or making sure all of their apps work correctly and the like. That’s very important.
The second thing, especially important we’ve mentioned this a couple of times, is fast. Fast is better than slow. For you on the call, if you want to do well, you need to focus on the user. You need to make sure your site looks really, really fast. You need to make sure you’ve answered every possible question you can think of in regards to your recipes and your content.
Bjork Ostrom: In terms of speed, one of the things that we talked about before the call, is this idea of AMP. Does that tie into speed at all? I’m just a little bit familiar with it but don’t really know much about it. I just know that it’s something that’s kind of recently developed from Google or the search world.
Casey Markee: Correct. It’s a currently ongoing issue with how Google is going to embrace this. This is something that I talked about very briefly at Food Bloggers of Canada in Montreal and I just got a lot of glazed looks over it. I won’t spend a lot of time on it today.
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and that’s really where Google is going. Again, when we get back to the fast is better than slow argument, this is Google doing that.
Many of you are aware of instant articles on Facebook. Instant articles on Facebook load incredibly fast on your mobile devices. They load substantially faster than previously when you’d click through on Facebook and you’d have to wait for it to load. Instant articles has precipitated Google’s move to this AMP.
This is the carrot folks. If you embrace AMP Google has pretty much implied that you’re going to get higher rankings with your AMP optimized content. They’ve already said that they think they’re going to prioritize this AMP content in search which makes sense because site speed is so important in their algorithms. They’re even going to go further than that and now people are saying that it’s even going to include a little tag that might say something like “fast.”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Like when people do a search result that it’s a fast-loading site.
Casey Markee: Exactly. It’s going to say like, “fast” or something on it. It’s going to be interesting because one of the biggest issues that’s going to impact food bloggers in general is how Google is going to handle ads. Google says that the AMP pages will be supported with ads and that publishers will have control over these ads but they’re completely different from the ads you’re using now. It’s going to be …
Google’s not going to allow these AMP pages to use certain type of ad units. They’re also going to make sure you can’t use interstitials at all which hopefully none of you on the call are using anyway because they’re terrible for mobile users. Interstitials are those pesky pop-up ads that take up the whole screen and can interrupt your user experience. You don’t want to use those.
We’re not sure how exactly this is going to work. I’m going to go ahead and give Bjork a resource that he can link to in this interview. You should take a look at this and it kind of asks and answers how this works, what it is, what you might need to look at in 2016.
Bjork Ostrom: I know that a lot of people who are listening to this are thinking, “Okay.” They have this long checklist of things they want to do. At the top of it is actually consistently producing content, publishing that to their blog, developing recipes, the basics. Then there’s this stuff that’s kind of the above and the beyond. Maybe stuff that is early stage and I feel like AMP would be an example of that.
What would you recommend for somebody that is strapped for time and they’re like, “Should I do this? Should I not?” What is that … Conceptually I think people can understand it but what does it look like to actually move forward with something like AMP? Is there a plugin you can use? Do you have to hire a developer?
Casey Markee: That’s a good question. WordPress has come out with a … I think they’re coming out with framework now, it might even be a plugin. WordPress. I think I can pull it up here. Pull it up here and see if it comes up.
WordPress is aware of this. Yes, there is a plugin. Plugin and support for accelerated mobile pages and it’s just called AMP. If you folks just go to WordPress and just type in “AMP” you’ll see WordPress has coming up with a plugin. Most likely this is going to go through many iterations between now and early spring.
This is something that Google is pushing very quickly folks. They’re saying this AMP pages … You’ll start to see them in February.
Bjork Ostrom: When you say “start to see them” you mean?
Casey Markee: You’ll see them in search results.
Bjork Ostrom: Is that a third party plugin or is that a WordPress supported plugin.
Casey Markee: It looks like it’s a WordPress supported plugin.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Casey Markee: It was last updated two months ago. Looks like it’s 4.3 and higher. It’s in the early stages it says. The underlying APIS are still being worked on so you’ll have to keep abreast of it. This is going to be a big deal very similar to HTTPS. I know a lot of you on the call haven’t embraced HTTPS. Guys, it’s time to stop dragging your feet. That’s one of those things where HTTPS the SSL secure thing is going to be bigger in 2016.
Gary Illyes, who is a very well-known Google spokesman now, he kind of replaced Matt Cutts a year ago. He’s the one that’s appearing at all the conferences and talking about where Google is going. He specifically said at State of Search, which was a conference I spoke at in Dallas in November, that HTTPS … You know SSL is something that he sees increasing in value in the future. Right now it’s a light-weight signal. It might be like a tie breaker signal. If you’re very close to one of your competitors and everything is the same but, if one of them is HTTPS secured and you’re not, they’re going rank higher.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Casey Markee: Now he’s saying it could be even a stronger signal than that.
Bjork Ostrom: For those that aren’t familiar, HTTP is just kind of the standard URL but if you add that little S in it is saying this site is secure more than just like a typical webpage. Right?
Casey Markee: Exactly. People wonder, “Gosh. Why do I have to do that with content?” Google’s goal is really to make a secure net and this is their way of giving you the carrot. If you don’t do this you won’t rank as high as someone who is doing it.
Bjork Ostrom: Casey these are such … Sorry. Go ahead.
Casey Markee: It’s like a checklist. It’s all about checking off these little things. If you want to do well, get your site fast. Start looking at AMP. If you want to do better, get your site secured with SSL. It’s checking off these little boxes whenever possible.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s great. We’re huge advocates of small steps over a long period of time and I think SEO is a great example of that. It’s not like you have to hit a home run. You have to hit a lot of singles. If you hit enough singles then you end up winning the game. If you swing for the fences every time it’s easy to strike out but those little singles add up over time.
We’re coming to the end here. One of the questions that I wanted to ask, knowing that you’ve done a lot of audits for people, what are the easy wins, the low-hanging fruit, the easy-action items that you most often see that people aren’t taking that you’d recommend that people do?
Casey Markee: One of the first things to do would be to look at your page titles. If you have the name of your site in your page titles, especially on the front, remove it. Page titles are very, very important to Google. It’s probably the most important on-page issue in regards to algorithm consideration that you can do.
Descriptions aren’t used much at all. They’re just kind of help conversion in the search results but page titles are very important because they tell Google specifically what the page is about. Google doesn’t need to know the name of your site on your homepage. You’re URL already qualifies who you are.
If you’re going to put the name of your site, whether it’s Simply Recipes or Food Blogger Pro or whatever it is, move that to the very end of your page title. That’s a very quick thing that you can do to give preference to some of the more important keywords in your page titles.
If you specialty is deserts, I better see deserts being the number one keyword in your homepage title because that’s going to give an extreme boost, an increased relevancy view to Google on classifying your site and helping your site overall on some of the longer stemmed keywords.
Bjork Ostrom: The title is the part where … If you look at the top of a web browser, usually, it’d be the thing that shows up at the top that describes the page. Then, usually not always, it will be what Google shows as like the blue link in search results. That’s why it’s so important. It’s also an important factor for Google to learn what the page is about. Is that right?
Casey Markee: Very much so.
Bjork Ostrom: The mistake being sometimes people will have irrelevant things at the beginning like a blog name. It’d be like the difference between Pinch of Yum dash Banana Bread or Banana Bread dash Pinch of Yum. If it’s at the beginning the emphasis is on the recipe title.
Casey Markee: Very true, especially for your homepage where you can kind of optimize your homepage for a couple of more general keywords than you can with your individual posts. Make that change very quickly.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Anything else that you can think of that would be an important factor for people to consider? Kind of that low-hanging fruit.
Casey Markee: Yeah. Don’t be so image happy. That’s a big issue in your niche especially on homepages. Google doesn’t want to see a homepage that’s nothing but images and very little text. You’re just not going to do well. We’ve had issues where people … Google has these phantom updates that go through all the time. The last one was in November. A lot of that was usability. There’s nothing, to Google, usable about coming to a site and having one image take up the entire top of the block and then having to scroll down and actually see text for the first time.
We want to make sure that you have something index-able there. Take a look at your site on mobile devices. Take a look at your site on tablets. We don’t need to have these huge, skyscraper type, images that take up the whole page. I understand that images are very important in your niche but you can have very nice images and still have them load fast and not necessarily take the user completely out of the experience.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s interesting. It’ll be an interesting debate between form and function moving forward especially with retina images.
One of the things with new screens is the retina which means that they’re super-crisp. WordPress just released and update 4.4 which allows you to have retina images but that means that your site loads slower. It’s this constant back and forth. Lindsey and I talk about this all the time. The form over function. Do I want to have a really beautiful site, lots of images that loads really slow and then potentially, statistically impacts your SEO or do you want to have one that loads really fast where maybe the images, there’s not as many or they’re not retina for instance?
Casey Markee: I personally, my opinion is that … I understand that that’s a choice for some people but it’s not from an SEO, from my perspective. You should always choose … There are plenty of ways for you to compressionlessly optimize images so that they look fantastic and still have file sizes less than 80KB and still look really really good.
Bjork Ostrom: Would that be your recommendation for file size, try and keep it under 80?
Casey Markee: Yes. 80KB please whenever possible. If I’m doing an audit and I’m seeing an image that’s 2, 3, 4 hundred kilobytes and there’s four or five of them on a page, you’re just never going to be as fast as your competition and that’s going to hurt you.
Bjork Ostrom: Are those tools web-based or would that be a Lightroom or Photoshop that would allow you to do that?
Casey Markee: I’m always of the belief that you should try to optimize your images outside before you upload them. Photoshop use the safe for web functions whenever possible. If you’re going to use an online tool, use something like tinyjpg or www … what is it? EWWW optimizer, image optimizer. Those are extremely competent tools. What it allows you to do is, once you’ve uploaded an image that you’ve already optimized, you load that into WordPress and then you run the tool again against your entire image repository and it’ll make sure that it’s optimized one more time.
Bjork Ostrom: Casey, so much stuff that we covered in this podcast and I know, as you said, we could keep going on and on and on and take all these different rabbit trails and stuff. I want to be respectful of your time and also know that people have a really long list of action items. Before we wrap up I want you to talk a bit about what you do as a consultant, how people could follow up if people want to take advantage of your services and what comes along with that.
Casey Markee: Thank you. That’s very kind. I do a lot of site auditing folks. If you have a WordPress blog or you have a food blogging setup that you want an experienced viewpoint on like, “Wow. What can I do? It seems like I’m doing okay but how do I get to that next level of traffic?” I offer a specialized food blogging site audit package that we can discuss.
You can find me at www.MediaWyse.com or just type Casey Markee into Google that’s C-A-S-E-Y last name is M-A-R-K-E-E. You’ll see that I’ve pretty much made sure that I have killed or removed every other Casey Markee in the world. There aren’t any others in the world. I pretty much dominate the first ten pages. You can take a look at that. If you have any questions just let me know. I’ll be starting to open up the calendar again in January and I’d love to work with you. It’s an exciting field and you can also pay me in baked goods which works out.
Bjork Ostrom: Chocolate Chip Cookies or banana bread.
Casey Markee: Yes. Fantastic. Banana bread and chocolate chip cookies.
Bjork Ostrom: Hey Casey, really appreciate it and I know people will get a lot out of this interview. Thanks for your time. I’m looking forward to following along with what you’re doing.
Casey Markee: The pleasure is all mine. Have a great holiday season to you and the Mrs.
Bjork Ostrom: Thanks Casey. Bye.
Casey Markee: Bye, bye.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for episode number 28. A big thank you to Casey again for coming on the podcast. I want to make a quick note of this, if you’re a food blogger pro member, I’d really encourage you to go through two courses that we have there. One is the YOAST SEO for WordPress plugin course. You can find that under essential plugins. That’s going to walk you through installing an SEO plugin that we use on Pinch of Yum that will really help you optimize your posts for high search results. Some of those basic things that Casey talked about at the end there with your title and your description. All of that stuff is really important to do with your different blog posts.
The second thing that I want to encourage you to check out, the second course, is the easy recipe course. That’s the plugin that we use that automatically adds that structured data to your recipes. As we talked about, the chocolate cookie search result that we have for pinch of yum. One of the reasons all that structured data is in there is because of easy recipe because we use this plugin.
Obviously there are other plugins that you can use but that’s the one we use so that’s the course that we built on food blogger pro. The main thing, the important thing, is that you get that structured data taken care of that is in there.
If you check out the show notes, which you can see at Food Blogger Pro dot com slash Episode 28, we’ll have all of those different links that Casey mentioned including the structured data testing tool. Be sure to check that out.
All right. That’s a wrap for this week’s podcast. We’ll see you same time, same place, next week. Until then, make it a great day. Thanks guys.
Excellent Podcast! So much great information to help a blogger keep up with all the changes with SEO. I am glad I took the time to read and listen.
Thank your for this podcast it was really great.
I have a question, you talk about recipe plugin for wordpress to be compatible with the microdata that google use in his serp.
Do you have some plugin that you use ? (this question is for both of you 🙂 )
Sure thing Jérémy. We use a plugin called EasyRecipe.
I’m a really great cook and a terrible food blogger on a mission to better my blog. Heard Casey at Camp Blogaway and was a bit overwhelmed but this made the steps so much more clear. Thanks so much for this podcast. And the list of resourses.
Hey Judy, thanks for that. A LOT has changed in SEO since Camp Blogaway. Definitely reach out if I can assist you. Thanks for listening!
Thanks for the podcast, it was very interesting to listen to, especially since I had just started reading up and improving SEO. One question I’d like to ask if there is a way you can actually see whether someone linked you, would that be a pingback?
Thanks again, looking forward to the next one.
Hey Science Chef, a “pingback” is a link notification so you can use that to see some linking from your recipes but it’s usually not very high-quality.
Instead, make sure you have verified your site in Google Search Console. Then, go in there and on the left-hand side click on SEARCH TRAFFIC. That will provide a drop-down menu and from there select LINKS TO MY SITE.
This provide some (but not all) of link data on your site directly from Google. Just click around in there and you’ll be able to see which sites are linking to you and to which specific content pages.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @MediaWyse if you have any other questions. Thanks for listening!
Thanks for the tip. I just managed to activate it and it has quite some other useful tools I saw, great!
LOVE this podcast, I know want to pay him to review my site! I’m trying to wrap my brain around all of the info, thank you for these. Though I’m not a 100% food blogger, I do share recipes, and the info applies to all.
LOVE this podcast, I now want to pay him to review my site! I’m trying to wrap my brain around all of the info, thank you for these. Though I’m not a 100% food blogger, I do share recipes, and the info applies to all.
I will gladly take your money Kristen…or baked goods. I was totally serious about that. LOL.
Woah. Holy information. I learned so much from this! I am a smidge overwhelmed by a couple things that I’m hoping you can clarify.
-I’m a FBP member, but not a food blogger 🙂 How do I add the structured data for Google without using one of the recipe plugins you mentioned? I use Yoast. Is that enough?
-Regarding authorship: Is it important for my posts to be listed as authored by my full name? (My WP username is currently “Jess @ Make and Do Crew” because when I comment on other blogs, this name is often automatically pulled and no one knows who “Jessica Coppom” is.) I guess I’m just asking for clarity about what the best practice is for authoring posts on your blog.
Thanks so much, Bjork. I learn so much from your podcasts!
Hi Jess, thanks for the kind words. Here is some information on your queries:
1 – Yoast does cover most “social markups” that you need. If you need to add other specific structured data types, check-out the plugin “All In One Schema” which is constantly updated: https://wordpress.org/plugi…
2 – Good question. If you are known more by your “brand” then just enable Yoast Facebook Authorship by linking that to your Facebook Brand Page – not your Personal Facebook page. For example, Bjork and Lindsay I believe link everything to SimplyRecipes.com and that’s fine. That’s their known brand.
Based on your example above, I would just go with “Make and Do Crew” if that’s a concern for you or “Jess @ Make and Do Crew” would be fine. It’s really up to you. It depends on whether you want to promote your PERSONAL page or your BRAND page on Facebook.
Does that clarify things a little? 🙂
Thanks a lot for the response, Casey!
I will give that plugin a try, thank you.
So Google is using FB to legitimize you and track you as an author around the web, is that how it works? Therefore, it’s less about what name I go by and more about what FB page I link to?
Do I simply need to link to my brand FB page in the “social” section of Yoast? Does that take care of it?
Thanks again. I’ve been thinking about your podcast all week. I really did listen to it twice, which I never do (way too impatient usually!)
Jess, you should read the details about Facebook Author tags directly from them here: http://media.fb.com/2015/06…
If you are using YOAST then all you need to do is make sure your page of choice is added on your Author page. Then, make sure you have enabled “follow” on your Facebook account.
It’s a very simple process. YOAST does the connecting behind the scenes.
Awesome podcast!! I learned so much. I thought about changing my URL to not include the date a while ago, and now I wish I had! I already have the redirection plugin, so I’m going to try and tackle this one soon.
Just as a note to anyone else who might comment about this…it is so simple to do. Just install the plugin then change your setting in WordPress. Redirection does it automatically, no hassle at all!
Awesome. Thanks for commenting from personal experience.
None of these tools can get my images under 80 KB. Any tips?
Hi Alysia, how ‘far off’ are you on the image sizes? I just audited a food blog today that was uploading images to WordPress that were 600KB in size so hopefully not that bad. 🙂
The 80KB is a “best standard” but there is some play there. But if you can’t get your images below 100KB then there really is a problem. You need to be looking at optimizing in a something like Adobe Photoshop or taking your existing image over to https://tinyjpg.com/ and uploading them there first, then downloading an optimized version that way.
Image optimization OUTSIDE of WordPress before you upload needs to be your first stop. Then, once you load into WordPress, you can always run a plugin against them again and maybe get some more improvement.
I had never even thought about this before, and I think most of the images I was uploading were around 400KB. I’ll need to go and update my most popular posts.
I’ve now been using Photoshop to optimize my images by saving for web. I’ve been comfortable with reducing the quality to around 70%. But for some images, anything less than that becomes too grainy. Those optimized images have still been around 150-170KB!
Perhaps it is the image dimensions making a difference? To get smaller file sizes, I made the dimensions 680 x 975 opposed to 800 x 1200 like I had been doing. 680 is the width of my blog, which is why I chose that dimension. I downloaded the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin, but that seems to only shave off an additional 10 KB.
Any other tips you have? Thanks again for all this great information. It is extremely helpful!
The dimensions really only make a “slight” difference. Are you using “save for web” in Photoshop?
Also did you actually take your 400KB image over to https://tinyjpg.com/ and see the difference? That uses what is called “compressionless” optimization. It perfectly balances the photo and removes alot of what are called “dead pixels”.
A 400KB image can easily be optimized all the way below 100KB. And it even has a Photoshop plugin! https://tinypng.com/photoshop
I was using the save for web option, but couldn’t seem to get it lower without losing quality. The tinyjpg is working great though!
Awesome. Good to hear!
Wow! Great podcast with so. much. info. Thank you to Bjork and Casey for being so generous and thorough with their precious advice.
So Casey talks about how links are important to SEO which leads me to a question. A lot of bloggers I know have been complaining about the lack of traffic that comes from submitting their recipes to food photography submission sites, but I’m wondering is it still worthwhile to submit just to have these places linking to your posts? Or do links like these rate lower in linky karma in Googles eye’s?
I use Yoast for SEO but am embarrassed to say that my permalinks still contain dates. I would love to know your take on the cost/benefit of redirecting all my old posts so I can use no date going forward. I suppose there’s no clever work around that will just change the links going forward? I worry about losing my rankings for all my past posts. Any advice appreciated. Thanks!