133: Optimizing Your Food Blog’s SEO with Casey Markee

Welcome to episode 133 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks with Casey Markee about the changing landscape for online searches, recipe cards, and more.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork talked with Laurie Buckle from CookIt Media about the importance of the story behind your brand. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Optimizing Your Blog’s SEO

We’re so excited to welcome FBP SEO Expert, Casey Markee, back to the podcast today! At his company Media Wyse, Casey handles site audits for algorithm and rank issues, spammy structured markup actions, and unnatural link issues for food blogs, and he is one of our go-to resources for all things recipe SEO.

SEO can be confusing, but this episode will help you understand nofollow links, optimization (both on-page and off-page), the mobile-first index, and more. So grab a pencil and paper, and let’s jump in!

In this episode, Casey shares:

  • How he got into food and recipe SEO
  • Why SEO is important
  • What on-page optimization means and why it’s different from off-page optimization
  • When you should use nofollow links
  • What the mobile-first index is
  • When long-form and short-form content is best
  • What recipe cards and the mobile carousel is
  • What JSON-LD is

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Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Gaby from Veggie World Recipes! If you’d like to be featured, leave a review for us on iTunes and include your name and blog name in the review.


If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

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If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.


Bjork Ostrom: In this episode I’m going to share why I don’t like mice, and we’re going to be talking to Casey Markee from Media Wyse about the most important things that you need to know for SEO in 2018.

Hey there everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom, and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Today we are coming to you with a Tasty Tip from our sponsor, WP Tasty. Now, we’re going to be talking a little bit about WP Tasty actually in this podcast with Casey, and talking about Tasty Recipes, and so we’re going to have plenty of SEO related content in this podcast. For the Tasty Tip today, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite apps on my computer. That is an app called Alfred.

In the beginning of this podcast I said, “I’m going to be talking to you about why I don’t like mice,” and specifically I don’t like my mouse. What I mean by that is I want to spend as little time as possible using my mouse when I’m using my computer.

Because of the work that we do, I use the computer a lot. It’s not uncommon for me to have a day where I’m spending eight hours, on really busy days it might be 10 hours, of my time on my computer, so it’s really important for me to figure out ways to effectively and efficiently use my computer.

One of the ways that I do that, one of my favorite apps to help me be productive and efficient is called Alfred. What Alfred is, is it’s a productivity app. It’s a launcher for MAC computers. Now, if you have a Windows PC, you can use one that’s very similar called Wox, W-O-X, and you can download that at getwox.com. Then, if you’re a MAC user, you can use this one that I use called Alfred, and you can get that by going to alfredapp.com.

What happens is, when you install a launcher, you’re able to use this to open files and navigate to files, or I use it a lot to do Google searches without having to use your mouse. That allows me to keep my hands on my keyboard for the longest amount of time possible so I’m not switching back and forth.

What you’ll find after you install these is that the things that usually take you a little bit of time, maybe it’s navigating to a certain folder, or pulling up your web browser to do a search, those are going to be super efficient with these launchers. The way that I use it is pretty simple. I have a shortcut, which means I can type something in on my keyboard, and that pulls up the launcher, that pulls up Alfred.

Then I’m able to say what I want to do. In a lot of scenarios all I’m doing is I’m launching Alfred, and then I’m typing in a Google search. I could say something like, “What’s the weather in St. Paul today?” If I wanted to be really efficient I would say, “Weather, St. Paul,” and that would pull up a Google search that would show me the weather.

I can also, though, look for files, so I could say, launch it by pressing Command and then space bar, and then say, “Find,” and then I would just search for the file name. Another key takeaway here is whenever I have a file, maybe it’s a PDF, I’m really intentional to name it in a way that I remember what that name is so I don’t have to navigate deep into the folder to find it. I can just use Alfred to launch that file, and quickly search for it.

Again, if you’re on a PC, you can use an app called Wox, getwox.com, which I haven’t used before, but from what I’ve read and researched that’s a really popular launcher as well. Like we’ve done before in the past episode, I want to take a little bit of time to do this Tasty Tip, and so today’s Tasty Tip was all about these launchers, Alfred and Wox.

If you want to check our products at WP Tasty, you can go to wptasty.com. We have two feature products right now. Tasty Pins, which allows you to optimize both for Pinterest and SEO when you’re using images on your blog posts, and Tasty Recipes, which we’re going to talk about today, which allows you to optimize your recipes for search results in other social platforms like Pinterest, so you can have really quality-rich pins. That is our Tasty Tip. Thank you to our sponsor, WP Tasty.

All right, let’s jump into the interview today with Casey Markee. Casey is a Food Blogger Pro expert. He’s one of our official experts, and he focuses in on the niche of food and recipe sites, and really understanding how to optimize those sites for SEO.

He’s going to be talking about some of the things to be aware of in general, and then also some of the trends that he’s seeing as the new year unfolds here in 2018. There’s going to be a lot of actionable advice, so get out your pens and pencils, get out your notebooks, or use Alfred to launch your note-taking app as you listen to this podcast. I think that you’ll get a lot out of it. Casey, welcome to the podcast.

Casey Markee: Bjork, thanks for having me. Happy 2018.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we are here kicking things off, and we’re going to hit the ground running with a in-depth podcast interview about SEO, which I’m super excited about. Before we jump into our long agenda, with lots of important topics, one of the things I love to do is to hear just a quick story or a little bit of background on the people that we’re interviewing on the podcast.

You have an interesting story because not only are you an expert in search and optimization, but you’ve really owned the space of food and recipe. Before we jump in, we’d love to hear a little bit about your story, and how you got into this space, search engine optimization, as well as the niche of food and recipe sites.

Casey Markee: Sure, thanks so much. Here’s a very interesting story. I’ve been doing SEO since about 1999. I started with my father-in-law, current, wasn’t father-in-law at the time, but my father-in-law now. We ran a outdoor gear retailer called coastlineadventures.com. It’s where I was first able to get my foot we here in San Diego. We sold adventure gear, of all things, online and that was really before Google really took off. We were using Dogpile, we were using Ask Jeeves, we were using all these smaller engines.

It went well. We managed to sell the business, and then I put out my shingle in 2000. Gosh, I have been doing this a long time, so I probably audited, my specialty is side auditing, so people hire me to basically tear their sites apart, tell them what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, how the constantly shifting landscape will impact them on a link content, and user front.

I’ve been focusing on a lot of different niches, gosh, until about 2014, I believe, 2014, 2015, and I was speaking at various conferences, and it just so happened that I was associated, and I’ve been associated with searchenginguse.com, which is a training and education platform that’s been online since about 1998. I’ve been with them since 2004.

They’ll occasionally get requests for speakers, and one of the requests that they got was for a conference here in southern California called Camp Blogaway. Camp Blogaway was one of the earlier, I’m not even sure if it’s still active right now. I know that Patti, who’s the organizer, took a couple years off, but it was a just kind of SEO, kind of a food blogging conference, very informal.

It was a retreat, you’d go up to Big Bear, you’d be away for two days and not really do anything. They needed an SEO speaker, and so I was relatively close, I drove the two plus hours up there. Very interesting because it was during the wild fires. We had some wild fires here at the time.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh wow.

Casey Markee: I had a horrible case of laryngitis, so I get up there…

Bjork Ostrom: Perfect for speaking.

Casey Markee: I was basically yelling to everyone when I was speaking, but it was a good experience. It went well, and I had got a lot of requests. It was kind of my first exposure to the food blogging niche at that time. It kind of blew me away because I had tried to make the presentation as accessible as possible, but I was still getting so many questions that I basically turned the hour presentation into a four-hour workshop up there, and tried to lead everyone through what was going on, what Google was looking for, and the like.

After that, you know, it just kind of took off from there. It was kind of interesting. I didn’t really think that I was going to focus on food bloggers, but I found that there was just so much incorrect, missing, or imprecise information that I seemed to be doing a lot of correcting of best practices. People kept adding me to Facebook groups, and it kind of grew from there, so I do a lot of work within the food blogging niche, and that’s good because I’m very pro-food, so it works out.

Bjork Ostrom: It works out.

Casey Markee: It works out for me …

Bjork Ostrom: You like eating.

Casey Markee: … very well.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Casey Markee: I do like eating so yeah it’s …

Bjork Ostrom: I’m the family Chief Tasting Officer. I call myself the CTO.

Casey Markee: Absolutely. Absolutely, so yeah, over the last couple of years, I have probably conservatively audited 150 food blogs, and I have spoken at everything from Everything Food Conference to Food Bloggers Canada, to the IACP National Conference last March. It’s been a good experience. There’s lots of great people. I’ve met some really good friends, you included, and it’s a fantastic niche, so I’m very fortunate to have found kind of a good specialization there over the last several years.

Bjork Ostrom: Absolutely. You are a type of interview that’s the best type of interview for this type of podcast because not only do you have the expertise, but you have the expertise as it relates to the niche. You have experience in a lot of touch points along the way, so it’s not just interviewing somebody who generally understands SEO, it’s also interviewing somebody that understands recipe SEO.

Before we get into the specifics of recipe SEO, I thought for those that aren’t as familiar, that are maybe newer in the journey, it’d be helpful to take kind of the 50,000 foot level, and then slowly come down until we’re at the more ground-level tactical type conversation. Let’s start off high. Let’s talk about SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Can you talk about what that is, and why it’s so important for people that are listening to this podcast?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. In the simplistic, kind of the simplest way I could state it is that my goal is to best position you for a competitive online landscape. In many cases, that’s Google. Google still controls about 78% of the search percentage or search market here in the United States. It’s even higher in many other countries.

My goal is to kind of take a look at your site from an SEO perspective. I’m looking at your content. I’m looking at how the site performs. I’m looking at how fast it is. I’m looking at your page titles. I’m looking at off-site signals. I’m looking at you as an author. I’m taking all that information, and I’m applying it to what we know that Google is looking for competitively. They publish these by guidelines.

Unfortunately the Google guidelines are extremely simplistic in many cases. They publish their own SEO guide, which they actually just updated, for the first time in five years, in December. That guide, of course, is very simplistic.

It’s basically quality page titles, quality descriptions, making sure that your site is accessible to search engines, or robots, or crawlers, making sure that you ask and answer questions of users, making sure that you don’t participate in things that they feel are violations of their guidelines. Things like buy-in links, or sponsored content, or cloaking, or various other what they would call triggers that might penalize you unduly.

When we talk about SEO, really what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to optimize our content for Google, but in the end, we’re really trying to optimize our content for the users because that’s really what Google wants.

Google takes a user-first mentality in everything. They really want to, they’ll tell you this over and over again, they want to rank the content, they want to rank the sites, they want to rank the end result that, to them, is a best example of what the user is looking for. Sometimes that can be a very tricky prospect.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things I wanted to clarify. You said, you had talked about the things that would maybe be breaking Google’s guidelines or going against them.

Casey Markee: Mm-hmm (affirmative), sure.

Bjork Ostrom: Talked about the idea of buying links, and somebody would go out and purchase a link, but the other thing that you mentioned was sponsored content, and I know a lot of people do sponsor content that listen to this podcast. Is there a type of way that you can do sponsored content that is within Google’s guidelines?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. Absolutely, as a matter of fact, Google published a very detailed resource that all food bloggers should read. They published it in March 11, 2016. It was just a very, it’s published on the main log, on the main blog, and it’s just a notice to bloggers about sponsored content, and Google lays down three very important characteristics that if you’re going to be using sponsored, and in many cases, affiliate content, you just need to do three things.

Number one is make sure that you have a nice, clear notice above the fold, preferably at the top of the post, that this is a sponsored or advertorials content, on working in conjunction with the brand, just so that your users can know right away that hey, there is a consideration aspect in this content.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Casey Markee: The second notice is that all of that stuff has to be no-follow. If you mention a sponsored site, if you mention a product, if you mention their social profiles, even if you mention their app, that’s a link that would not be there but for that sponsored post, so you have to no-follow that because that’s an unnatural link to Google. Step one, of course, is the disclaimer. Step two is making sure that you use the no-follow judiciously.

Then step three, that Google puts in that notice from March of 2016, is that is this a high-quality post? Is it clear that you’ve put in the time to put together a post that asks and answers questions of the user, plenty of pictures, is the content good? Quality if something that they really push, even with sponsored content. If you’re going to do sponsored content, it needs to be up just as high-quality as if you weren’t sponsoring a post.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, that makes sense. The first two, disclosing that it’s sponsored, and one of the things that’s important that you mentioned is above the fold. Basically before people start reading the content, they should be able to see that it’s sponsored as opposed to at the bottom, people might not get there, they might not see it, so that would be important.

For those that aren’t familiar with the idea of no-follow links, can you talk about what that is, and why a no-follow link is really important to understand if you’re doing affiliate marketing, or a sponsored content?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. A no-follow link was an invention by Google. It’s basically been around since about 2008. A no-follow link was Google’s way of putting together a parameter. It’s a parameter that you add to your link, rel=nofollow, and it tells Google, and it’s, of course, supported by being in other search engines now as well, that this link should pass no authority or ranking power to the site that you’re linking to.

This is just Google’s way of saying hey, you know you can use no-follow for a variety of ways. You’re using no-follow because it’s sponsored or advertorial. We don’t want to reward sites that are paying you for your time, or we don’t want to reward sites that are giving you some sort of a consideration for being on your site.

The second reason that no-follow came about was because of untrusted content. Google is saying that if you’ve got a no-follow link, maybe you want to provide this as a resource, but you’re not sure if you trust the site very much, so therefore use the no-follow.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Casey Markee: That’s really what they’re saying is that the no-follow is really for sponsored and advertorial content, or untrusted content. When you go into Google, and you look at their web guidelines, and you type in no-follow, those are the two cases that they specifically talk about.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. That’s maybe a good transition into talking about these two important types of SEO. There’s on-page SEO, and off-page SEO, as kind of these two big categories. Can you explain what each one of those is, and like is one more important than the other, or should we focus on both? What are those, and why are they important?

Casey Markee: That’s a very good point, and I do believe that both are extremely important, and I don’t believe you can have one without the other. When we talk about on-page optimization, it’s the things that you’re doing directly on the web page to help it rank better with Google. Those are things like making sure the content is high-quality, making sure that the content is easy-to-read and digest on a mobile device.

If you’ve got a page with nothing but images, that’s not really a mobile-friendly example. If I’ve got to scroll down, for example, in a recipe post, and I have a huge block of text that takes up a whole screen, and the next thing I know, it’s photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, it’s not very user-friendly on a mobile device. That’s something that you might want to address.

On-page would also involve things like page titles, page descriptions, h1 tags, nice coding, structured data. I want to make sure that I mark up my content with the appropriate structured data so that programmatically I can make it easier for Google to discern what I’m trying to do with the page.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Casey Markee: Those are all on-page factors.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it, and then how about the other one, off-page?

Casey Markee: Off-page might be signals like links coming into your site. If I’m looking to give my content the best chance of success, I might want to make sure that I’ve submitted it to places where people would most naturally find that content. If I’m participating in a conference or I have the ability to, for example, contribute content somewhere else, I can probably get a link, and I can have those links come back to my content. Those are kind of off-site signals.

Other off-site signals might include things like brand expertise. You are a known entity outside of your site, and you might … Google takes that information of you as a known expertise or entity. There’s actually a concept, it’s called EAT, Expertise Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. If you are a food blogger, and you are, for example, a known chef, you’re going to tend to have a little higher level of expertise than someone who’s maybe a home cook.

Now, I don’t want to get into the various levels of that, but that can have a lot to do with how you perform with off-site factors. Google can take all that information and determine okay well, this is a known chef. Look at our various cookbooks here, and might apply some of those off-site signals to your site in a way that would help you more competitively rank for various other keyword phrases.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. I think it’s an important thing to distinguish because for people that are starting out, if they hear the idea of getting a link, they might think, “Oh, it’s really important to get a link back to my site because then people click on that link, and I get traffic.” That’s true, but the other benefit, what I hear you saying, is with off-page SEO, or off-site SEO, is that a link also it maybe could even considered like a vote for that site, and that is communicated to Google.

Getting a link might not get you a ton of traffic just from that link, but it could help because Google views that as a little vote for your site, and it could play into that page showing up a little bit higher in search results.

Casey Markee: Yeah absolutely. I wish that there was a way for us to know all of the ranking factors that Google uses, but it’s impossible. Anyone who says that they have any idea of how many there are, or what they are, how many exist, that’s just craziness. That’s just crazy talk.

I’ve read a ridiculous amount of patent filings, which, in many cases, patents you can access patents within 12 months of their filing, so we can know, for example, patents filed in 2017 kind of what Google’s looking for to push out changes in 2018 and 2019. Even keeping on top of that, and following other people like Bill Slawski, who concentrates on nothing but patent law, I only have a small microcosm view of how Google operates.

Google continues to kind of move the bar a little bit, but when we talk about ranking factors, we’re really talking about you, the user, and the site, and there’s a linked synergy there. Your goal is really, as I tell food bloggers all the time, build your brand. When you build your brand, that’s going to push your site as well competitively. There’s a lot of off-site stuff that goes into that.

If I can have the blogger generate web mentions, a web mention might be their name, so if, for example, every time someone mentions Bjork Ostrom or Pinch of Yum offline, even if they’re not linking to that, those are mentions that Google can use to provide some linking authority towards the site because they know that’s a known entity, and we know known entities are related and used to rank various contents, so Bjorn Ostrom, Lindsay Ostrom, Pinch of Yum, those are three known entities that are related and connected.

If we can make sure that the blog author is a known entity, and connect it with their brand, even if that mention is unlinked, that’s going to provide you with some sort of a level of power.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yeah, and to bring that full circle, that’s why Google says you can’t pay for links because that would be artificially interfering with that algorithm and to tie that back to what you’re talking about, no-follow, that’s why it’s important if you’re getting paid, or if it’s an affiliate link, that you no-follow those so Google knows hey we’re not factoring these in as something that’s brand-building, they’re getting paid for this, which I think is a good connection to make.

Casey Markee: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. That’s a good tie-in actually to this next thing that I wanted to talk about, and that you brought up as we were emailing back and forth. Google doesn’t tell you what their algorithm is because if they did, everybody would just manipulate their content, and just would adhere to exactly what they want to, and span it, and it would be bad, but they do give you a heads up sometimes.

They say, “Hey, this is something that we’re focusing on, and something you should be aware of. One of those things is starting to focus on mobile. There’s this thing called the mobile-first index that you referenced. Can you talk a little bit about what that is, and why it’s important for bloggers and especially food bloggers?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. The mobile-first index is something that Google has been alluding to for quite a while. The mobile-first index is basically going to be a paradigm shift in how Google crawls the internet. Right now they use desktop crawlers predominantly. They use a desk top index, and that desktop index is used to populate mobile results.

The mobile first index is going to reverse that completely. Now we’re going to be using mobile signals predominantly to rank sites, so you’re going to have a mobile crawler coming through and raking mobile content first. Now, that doesn’t mean that if you don’t have a mobile site you’re going to be in trouble. Google will just rank whatever it finds, but clearly the mobile content is going to get preference first.

Currently, for example, Google is slowly rolling out the mobile first index, and they’re taking their time because they want to make sure that they get it right. Now, many of you in the food blogging niche have responsive design to sites, and that’s fantastic.

If you’ve got a responsive site, a responsive site is one that looks the same on mobile and desktop. If I change to my browser view, or if I play around with my window, the content automatically forms to fit that space, viewpoint optimization. That’s what we talk about with the responsive design. That’s what Pinch of Yum has done.

That’s what my site has done. That’s the predominant standard that we’ve been pushing, I’ve pushed for years. Search Engine News has been pushing it since around 2008. That’s really what Google wants. If you’re listening to this, and you know that your blog is responsive design, then congratulations. You don’t really have to worry much about the mobile first index.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. The reason that’s important is because the search, what they’re seeing is more people are using mobile devices. Are there other factors that go into that?

Casey Markee: Again, and it’s because, again, Google is 70% to 80% of all the traffic now is mobile. It’s going to be basically 80% by the end of the year. I’ve already audited sites where it’s already close to that. Google is a mobile first world.

That’s really what we’re looking to switch to. They’ve decided that instead of using the mobile crawler, or instead of using the desktop crawler, we’re going to start using the mobile crawler, and we’re going to give preference to content that is optimized for the majority of users worldwide. The majority of those users are mobile users.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting for me to think about that, and to remind people that are listening, because I think almost all of us create our content, and draft our content, and review our content on a desktop device …

Casey Markee: Very true.

Bjork Ostrom: … but then we all publish it and everybody looks at it on a mobile device, so there’s this disconnect from what we think our content looks like versus what it actually look like. Do you have any recommendations for content creators? How they can go about being intentional to think in a mobile way. Should they always check on their mobile device what it looks like?

I know for people that use a MAC, you can do this. I forget what the name is, but it’s a developer tool that allows you to simulate what a mobile device would look like. What would your recommendations be for kind of the content side of it, to think in a mobile way?

Casey Markee: Yeah, and that’s a very good point. As you mentioned, Chrome has a built-in developer suite, so if you use Chrome at all, you can go up and use the Chrome tools, and there’s a mobile view so that you can see how your content looks on mobile devices. I would urge all of you … I assume most of you have Chrome installed, and that’s a built-in functionality, that’s easy for you to replicate.

When we’re talking about mobile first design, we’re talking about making sure that you understand that you have a smaller viewpoint to work with. Content should be shorter. We’re looking at content of one to three sentences at the most.

Now, I’ll tell you that there’s been a trend by some bloggers to basically make a paragraph after every one sentence and that’s crazy. I’m going to tell you, that’s a bad design choice because it’s making your content needlessly long. You don’t need to do that.

You need to start thinking about well, I’ve got this paragraph of content. It’s maybe three or four sentences. I’m just going to cut that in half. I’m going to make it two sentences each, and lo and behold, look at that. Look at how much easier it is to navigate or view on a mobile device. That’s really what you want to focus on is how easy is it for you to view it on a mobile device?

I shouldn’t have a whole block of text that takes up a whole screen. Just like I don’t want to scroll down through six pages of images if there’s no text in between. Really, you’re optimizing for the mobile users, short snippets of information. Also, don’t be afraid to use formatting.

That’s the whole point of bold, and italics, and underline. Use that. That’s a weakness in the niche. I find that all the time. When I’m looking at a page, and I have seven paragraphs of information, and it’s all white text, there’s nothing attractive about that, especially on a mobile device. I want to be able to know by scanning with my eyes quickly, what’s the most important takeaway?

You may think all seven paragraphs of that is important, but why don’t you go ahead and bold, or italicize some of the most important content in there so that I can, at a glance, know and pull out the most important information.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the understandings that I have of search engine optimization kind of in the back of my head is this idea of long form content, and long form content being a good thing, but also, like you said, I see a lot of sites that are shorter form that perform really well. Does that depend on the niche, or does it depend on the content? How do you know if something should be long form, having a lot of text, or a lot of content with it versus short form?

Casey Markee: That’s a good question. I think the issue is, I think the answer to that is it depends because if you were to go and type in is it Christmas, if you were to go right now and type in the phrase is it Christmas into Google, the very first result is a site that is a one word, and it says no. It’s extremely competitive, so when we talk about text link, when we talk about text link, when we talk about long form content, people tend to equate longer content as better quality content.

That’s not necessarily the case. We want to make sure that your content fulfills user intent. Sometimes that means content that’s only 150 words. Sometimes that means content that’s one word. Sometimes that means content that is seven to 1,000 plus words. These people who think that I’m just going to publish longer and longer content because that’s what Google wants, don’t understand the concept of user intent.

If I’ve got a recipe, my goal with the recipe should be something like, okay, well here is a featured image at the top. Here is some background information on the recipe. Here are some questions that the user might have when making this, so I’m going to go ahead and ask and answer those.

Here are process shots because I want to make sure that my recipe is fully enhanced. I want to make sure that if someone is making this for the very first time, I’m going to provide them with the information they need. Then, I’m going to go down into the recipe card. The recipe card’s going to be fully enhanced.

Maybe I go ahead and end it with a little bit of a blurb that says, “Hey, did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it in the comments below,” or “Follow me on Instagram. Don’t forget to fully rate this,” whatever. Some kind of a, as I tell all my food bloggers in the audits, I want you to treat your customers as children or drunk adults, and I’m not kidding.

If you treat your users in a way where you’re spoon-feeding what you want them to do, tell them what you want them to do. Leave a comment, did you make this? Rate the recipe. I want to be very overt in what I want to do, and so when I see the mistake being made with a lot of food bloggers is that they will latch on to one or two really big blogs that have a plethora of other things going on, and as a result, they don’t do all the best practices on their recipes.

They might have one photo, two paragraphs of information, and a recipe card, and Google’s ranking them on page one. The reason Google’s ranking them on page one isn’t because of the content. Sorry, it’s because of many other off-site signals. It’s because of incredible amount of incoming link authority. It’s because of other factors, so be aware that it’s not apples to apples.

When I do an audit, I’m teaching a specific approach to those recipes, which when formulated as close as possible, can result for smaller blogs, a huge paradigm shift in their overall traffic. I’m always thinking of the user.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, and it seems like a good way to describe it would be a multiplier.

Casey Markee: Yeah, exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: That if you have the best practices in place, your multiplier is higher for when some of those other factors are also increased. Maybe you have a period of time in a certain quarter where you get a lot of links, then the multiplier of those best practices is going to result in an even better outcome, which I think is awesome.

To go back, you had mentioned something about a fully enhanced recipe card. Talk about what that is, why it’s important, and how do people know if they have one or not?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. If you’re using one of the more popular recipe cards, whether it’s something like WP Tasty, WP Recipe Maker, some of the other ones out there, your goal really needs to make sure that you’re filling out all the attributes that come within that recipe card. If you’re putting together a recipe, we want to make sure that you’re filling out prep time, and cook time, and that we have an author that’s stated.

A lot of people are against nutritional information, but I’m going to tell you that you always think of the users, and users want nutritional information. Now, Google has kind of progressed where if you want a fully enhanced recipe card, you just needed to fill out calories, and that’s still kind of the case, but they’re eventually getting to the point where they want you to fill out full caloric information, full nutritional information.

That’s a full label. That’s protein, that’s carbohydrates, that’s everything. Most of the recipe cards, most of the quality recipe plugins now make that very easy. They’re built with their own nutritional APIs so that you can type in the ingredients, and it automatically calculates the information.

You can input that into your recipe cards. It’s all about best practices. Just like a best practice would be for you to put a quality page title on your recipe. A best practice should be fully enhancing your recipe card, making sure that you fill in all of the spaces, all of the fields within your plugin.

Then you can check that by taking the recipe and putting it into the structured data testing tool. Just type in structured data testing tool, it will pop up, you can paste your recipe post in there, and it’ll show you very quickly do you have any errors? Do you have any warnings? Did you miss a field or two?

Google does a really good job of helping you here because within your Google search console, you have a report called a Rich Card Console. The Rich Cards Console is Google telling you, “Hey, we want to make sure that you get the best consideration possible on our mobile carousels. A mobile carousel is a dynamically generated list of what Google considers the better qualified recipe content.

If you want to give your site and your recipes the best chance at getting pulled up in that carousel, we don’t want to half-ass the optimization. We don’t want to make sure that you’ve only filled out half of the fields. We want to make sure that you filled out all of the fields so that you can say mentally, “Hey Casey, I’ve done all that I can. Now it’s all on Google. Am I going to get pulled up, or am I not?” Now you know that you fully enhanced those recipe cards. You’ve done all you can at your end.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. The one thing that people can’t do on their own with that is to put in a rating. Can you talk about why that’s important that people understand that if they’re looking to get the fully enhanced card, and also why it’s important that they see that warning if they don’t have any ratings?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. The rating is user generated. The rating is, it’s called an aggregate rating. Aggregate meaning that there’s usually more than one, and it’s on a five-star scale, so if you want to fully enhance a recipe card, the recipe card should have at least one user or customer rating. That’s usually done at the bottom of the post.

For example, if you’re using WP Tasty, using WP Ultimate Recipe plugin, you’re using WP Recipe Maker, some of these other plugins, it’s very easy for you. Those stars are generated on the page, and it’s just a matter of you convincing users to go down, leave a comment, and leave a rating, which is why I tend to be very overt.

I tell bloggers, “Hey, if you’re having trouble generating ratings, ask for them.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Send out an email saying, “Hey, I’ve got some recipes on my site that need a rating. If you’ve made these, or even if you’re considering making these, please go in, and leave a rating, and let me know.” Very simple.

Now, I will tell you right now, Google does not give a crap how those ratings are generated. If you want to go in, if you want to have mom spend a weekend going in and generating a couple ratings on your recipes, awesome. More power to you. Google doesn’t track your IP address. Google doesn’t do any of this other ridiculous stuff that you hear more and more about. Google just wants the rating. It needs to be from a valid person. That’s it.

If you want to go in and generate your ratings so you can complete your circuit, hire a VA, or spend some time over the weekend, and have some family members go through your site and just leave you a rating. The goal, of course, is to generate at least a one rating so we can complete the circuit on the recipe card.

Bjork Ostrom: It may be similar to like a product review too. Like if you came out with a book, you would ask your friends and family to go and, “Hey, can you positively review this so we have some momentum behind it?” Kind of a similar thing. One of the things you had mentioned was the mobile carousel. I know that there’s a lot of different kind of side search results, or different categories of search.

Usually when we think of search, we think of that main page, but there’s these kind of bonus additional search results. One of those is mobile carousel. There’s also the featured snippet. I’d love to talk about those, and ways that we can be optimizing for those. Let’s focus in on the mobile carousel first. Can you explain what that is so people can understand? Like if they’re on their mobile device, how would they see that, and what are the ways people can increase the potential of showing up there?

Casey Markee: Right. The mobile carousel is generated by means of Google deciding, “Okay, here’s a banana cream pie. Here are five or six examples of the best banana cream pie.” Sometimes they’ll pull those up at the top and do a various carousel. Now, this is really all about Google determining these are the best versions of the content. Well, what does that mean? In many cases, there’s a lot of brand signals that go into that.

For example, I had a client, the site is amazingribs.com. Amazingribs.com is probably one of the top barbecue sites in the world, if not the top barbecue site in the world. When there are barbecue results, especially on mobile, users expect to see certain sites.

One of those is amazingribs.com. Amazingribs.com previously, they’re currently working to correct it, had little, if any, structured data. None at all, and yet Google was pulling them up into this carousel because people expected to see them there. Just like if you were searching for cars, there’s a car carousel you would expect to see the known brands.

Google doesn’t treat everyone the same with regards to these carousels. Please understand that. For those of you on the call that are like, “Gosh, why is Allrecipes getting pulled up into this?” Well, it’s because people expect to see them.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Casey Markee: Now, you can do things that will help encourage Google to see you as a quality result, and those things involve structured data, making sure that you’re using adequate structured data, making sure that you’re using a quality recipe card. If you’re listening to this, if you’re listening to the soothing sounds of my voice, and you are still using Easy Recipe, or something that’s built in Microformats, or old Microdata, stop. This hurts you.

You really need to be moving to a quality plugin that is actively maintained. There are many. Something that’s JSON or JSON LD optimized. You need to be filling in all those fields. You also need to focus on the mobile speed and performance of your site. Those are signals that Google is using as well behind the scenes with regards to those carousel population quotas.

Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Casey Markee: If your site is a horrible performer on mobile, it doesn’t matter how great you’re doing, you’re going to find that you’re going to be stifled with how Google serves you.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think a good side trail to go off on is, and it’s a little bit technical, but I think it’s important, is this idea of the different types of structured data, and when you talked about JSON LD and Microdata, and one of the things that might even be out by the time this podcast is published, but some time in January for Tasty Recipes, which is WP Tasty plugin that you’d mentioned, is removing Microdata, and just having it be JSON LD.

That was something that for a while co-existed, and you have a recipe plugin with both of those things, so can you talk about why it was, for a time, it was important to have both of those, and now why it makes sense to only have JSON LD?

Casey Markee: Exactly, and the reason that both of those came to be was because Pinterest for quite a while was not supporting JSON LD, and so there was a concern that Rich Pins would not function for a recipe plugin that just had JSON LD or JSON LD as their preferred language even though Google has been pushing that as the standard since about 2015.

About September of 2016, one of the bigger plugins, WP Ultimate Recipe came on the market. It was one of the first plugins to use both cards. They used both cards because one card was in JSON LD, so that you could get the benefit of Google saying, “hey, we want to be able to call JSON LD,” but then they duplicated the card in Microdata as well so that you could have still Legacy Support for Pinterest.

Before long, every other plugin did the same thing, and that’s where we kind of are right now. Now, WP Recipe Maker and WP Ultimate have gotten rid of their Microdata card. They got rid of it probably October of 2017, and they’ve been running just one card since, and there’s been no issues.

The reason there’s been no issues is that Pinterest has been supporting JSON LD since as early as last April of 2017. They just never bothered to tell anyone.

Bjork Ostrom: Through documentation right?

Casey Markee: Exactly, and numerous people brought this to attention. It was a discussion at SMX West last spring. I believe that … I’m trying to think of the person who was running tests at the time. I think his name was Jason Flannel, I’ll have to look it up.

He was using a JSON LD playground, and he was putting in Pinterest, and they were validating, so at that time, we started to play around with it, myself and Brett. Brett is behind the WP Recipe Maker, WP Ultimate Recipe plugin, and he confirmed that yeah, Pinterest was fully supporting JSON LD at the time. They just weren’t publicizing it, so he decided to make the decision just to pull the card, and that’s basically where we are now. I’m glad to see WP Tasty is doing that as well.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah, and our experimentation was it was the same thing. We’d been running just JSON LD as our recipe card for two months now as a part of recording this, so beginning of November. I haven’t had any issues, and just didn’t get any official conformation from Pinterest, but then went back and forth with their support team, and finally they replied back and said, “We don’t support it.” I said, “Well, technically it looks like you do.”

Casey Markee: You do.

Bjork Ostrom: Then they responded back and said, “Actually, that’s right. We’ll update our documentation,” which they haven’t done yet. They did officially reply back and say, “We support JSON LD for Recipe Rich Pins.”

Casey Markee: That’s good.

Bjork Ostrom: We feel good removing that, which we’ll do here in January. As you said, WP Recipe Maker and WP Ultimate Recipe also are just running JSON LD. I think it’s worth pointing out just to clarify that we don’t know a lot of things from Google, but some things Google does tell us pretty explicitly, and that’s one of those, so can you talk about where they talk about that, and where they explain why they prefer, or just the fact that they prefer JSON LD?

Casey Markee: Yeah, they refer to … They say basically, “JSON LD is our preferred structured data,” repeatedly on all of their structured data documentations. If you pull up the … They have an introduction to structured data page. It’s right there at the top, and then it’s repeated two more times on the page. If you pull up their Rich Pins or their Rich Cards page, and you scroll down to recipes, it’s right there where they say, “We prefer JSON LD.”

Then if you go and look at all of the structured data examples that Google uses, all of them are in JSON LD. I don’t know how you can get more clear than that, than to use that. If you’re using a plugin that just doesn’t support JSON LD or is using something old like h-entry, or even RDRA or something like that, it’s time to switch. It’s time to switch to a quality plugin.

For those of you on the call who are using Simple Recipe Pro, or Cookbook, or one of the other plugins out there, they should have made the move by now. They’re behind. They’re behind the times, so start pushing them. What else are they forgetting to do? What else are they missing? Why have they been slow to update to what has been the best practice now for a while? Just be aware of that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Casey Markee: You hear all of this nonsense about this is the best SEO plugin, or you hear it’s puffery folks. Most of the SEO plugins are very similar, but yeah, again, there are some that are quite a bit better than others, and it’s because they’re very proactive with regards to making sure that their plugins are as SEO friendly as possible.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. I think for those that are maybe scared of the technicalness of the languages and stuff, or the structure data, I think it’s helpful to think of it as languages. It’s Google saying, “Hey, this is our preferred way to speak and communicate.”

Technically they still speak in that old way, the Microdata, but like any language, you can be bilingual, but if you use it less, you’re going to retain it less, and be able to speak it less, and not be as able to clearly communicate. That’s how I think of the languages of the structured data with search engines is they’re saying, “Hey, we’re going to speak this language more, so it’s important for you, if you want to speak clearly with us, to speak this language as well.”

Casey Markee: Right, right. I think it would be … We just want to emphasize as well that the reason JSON LD is the new iteration of structured data is just because it is a better programming. It’s a better structured data language. There’s less resources involved. It can load faster. It’s easier for developers to use. There’s various reasons why it has become the accepted standard now, so just be aware that it’s definitely not an apples to apples thing.

Bjork Ostrom: Great. One of the things I love seeing, and I’m so interested to hear your thoughts on is featured snippets. Whenever Pinch of Yum has a recipe that’s a part of a featured snippet, it’s always exciting because I know that it’s kind of the most valuable real estate in Google, or one of the most valuable spots. Can you talk about featured snippets, and also this thing of PositionZero, and what those are, and why those are important?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. Absolutely. PositionZero, again, is just another name for that very top space for the featured snippet. Featured snippets Google, if you type in featured snippets or Google featured snippets, Google has an informational page on what these are. They’re basically just a … This has nothing to do with structure data. This has nothing to do with things like brand authority or even back links.

This is Google deciding that the information that they’re seeing is the best, and they’re going to show that higher in a very preferred way dynamically, which can lead to quite a bit of traffic. I believe the term PositionZero is actually used for the first time by Dr. Pete Meyers. He’s a very well-known SEO with Moz. He and I spoke together at the, gosh what was it? It was at the Formerly Engage, it was at the SEMpdx conference in Portland in 2016. Now it’s known as Engage.

At that time he came out with the presentation, very well-received, where he coined the term PositionZero. It’s kind of become accepted around us. These featured snippets are just a special search layout that Google algorithmically serves based on data that they do not publish, and they’re very clear about this.

This is a very dynamic search styling that Google continues to refine. As a matter of fact, they came out about a month ago and said, “The reason we haven’t published any optimization tips for featured snippets is because it’s so dynamic and changing. We are changing our algorithm all the time.”

Which is why, in many cases, I’ll have clients who have a featured snippet for Salisbury Steak, and this featured snippet will be there at 1:00 Pacific Time on a Friday, and by Saturday at noon, it’ll be gone.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh wow.

Casey Markee: Then it’ll pop back in maybe next week, and then the like, so these are very, very dynamic things, which are constantly changing.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and when I, as an example, if people want to test this out, I just did this because this has been top of mind for me lately, how to brush your dog’s teeth.

Casey Markee: There you go.

Bjork Ostrom: The first thing that shows up is, and I’m on a desktop computer, is it says, “At home teeth-cleaning tips,” and it’s four tips, and it’s from banfield.com, and it says, “Teeth cleaning for your dogs.” It shows those four tips for how to brush your dog’s teeth. A couple of follow-up questions for you, Casey, on this.

I would think some people would assume that hey Google is just showing the information. Doesn’t that mean I get less clicks, not more clicks?

Casey Markee: That’s a good question. Let’s use the example that you just put up. Folks, if you were to type this in, you would see that this is, again, let’s use this query again, how to brush your dog’s teeth. The volume on this phrase is about 1,013 searches a month, so there is the possibility of very good traffic here, decent traffic, especially considering you could get anywhere from half to 70% of the traffic here in PositionZero.

The result is from banfield.com. The four steps are listed, and then right below it there is a more items button. Now, I don’t know about you, Bjork, but are you going to just use those four steps, or are you going to click on more items or teeth cleaning, and see the full process about how to clean?

There is a reason right there why the notion that you could garner less clicks is just really kind of untrue. All of the studies that have been done on this are vary niche-heavy. Some of the niches are not … One of the niches not represented well in those studies is the recipe niche because I can basically guarantee you that if you can garner more featured snippets, your traffic, it’s like taking the parking brake off your site.

I have seen, from my own audits, various sites that have generated three or four featured snippets and have doubled their traffic from Google in a month because how popular those featured snippets were. That’s good and bad because then they’re like, “Oh my gosh, my traffic is unbelievable.”

I’m like, “Well, again, I want you to be aware that it’s because you’ve got these featured snippets. Those could disappear at any time. Let’s go ahead and talk about how we can possibly generate more featured snippets for you, but also let’s go ahead and work at getting your other content featured snippet worthy.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, and a couple of follow-up questions with that. One would be maybe kind of a quick one. When I do that search, I see that the image is actually from another place. It’s from pets.webmd.com. I’ve noticed that with featured snippets for Pinch of Yum.

A lot of times it’ll be a certain result, and it will show a Pinch of Yum photo, but it actually won’t link to Pinch of Yum in that featured snippet. Is that something that’s a hiccup with Google? Is that something they’re doing intentionally? What’s the deal with that?

Casey Markee: That’s intentional. This is called a featured snippet mismatch. Very, very common, and what Google has decided is that, in this case, we’ll use the Banfield example again, they have decided that, at least in this case, the image for pets.webmd.com is a better indication for user intent than the image that was tied to this banfield.com post.

If you were to scroll down, you can see that the number one organic result for this teeth cleaning, how to brush your dog’s teeth, is pets.webmd. They’re the number one result, but if you scroll down a little further, you can see that Banfield is the number three result with the number two result being a YouTube video.

In this case, there is clear benefit. Banfield gets both the featured snippet at the top, and they get the number three organic listing, whereas pets.webmd is going to get traffic from the image. If I click on the image, it’s going to immediately send me to the image page. It’s going to immediately send, and then if I click again, it sends me to the site.

It’s not idea, but if you can only get in the image, that’s still not something I’d want to give up. There are various explanations as to why Google does this. For those of you on the call, if you wanted to go to SlideShare and type in Casey Markee featured snippets, I have a very detailed presentation that I gave last year at the Everything Food Conference in Salt Lake City, and it was all about featured snippets for food blogging, and there’s a whole detailed breakdown at the various reasons that this stuff happens.

Why do image mismatch happen? Is it because of the image size? Is it because of the image file size? In other words, Google tends to show images that are a specific size, so in this case it’s 235 pixels by 160, so it’s possible that this image is 500 by 320 or larger, and allows you to scale down appropriately. Google will tend to take an image that’s easier for them to scale down to an appropriate display.

They also use things like the URL. Just like all tag optimization, if this pets.webmd.com photo is a better optimized example for at-home teeth cleaning tips for dogs, Google will use it over the Banfield one that they’re using for the regular snippet.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. What are the ways that, for Raspbian food bloggers, that they can increase their chances of showing up in the featured snippet area?

Casey Markee: I think that really there’s a couple things that you can do. Number one, focus on nice, clear steps. Nice, clear steps, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, especially within your Recipe Card. Focus as well on making sure that you ask and answer questions of users. Now, if I was to type in most of the featured snippets for bananas, I’m sorry most of the featured snippets for the recipe niche, example, if I type in banana cream pie, the number one result right now is for tasteofhome.com.

They are taking those steps from the Recipe Card. Now, that’s not necessarily the case for most everything, but you want to make sure that your steps in the Recipe Card are very easy to navigate to. You want to make sure that they’re very easy to see that you’ve spent some time doing that, and that you’ve used numbered lists or ordered lists whenever possible.

That always helps. That’s the best advice I can give you is that when we talk about what Google is returning in the recipe niche, it’s ordered lists. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Making sure that those directions are nice and clear, and that you’ve asked and answered what the user, you’ve communicated clearly what the user intent is on that Recipe Card.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Great. Last thing I wanted to check in on is kind of a fun one, and also a little bit of a mystery to me because I don’t yet have a Google Home device. When I’ve been searching recipes lately, I see this little link below some of the recipes that say, I think it says, “Send to home.” This idea of voice search becoming more important thing.

You see that whether it be with Google Home, but also some of the other devices…Alexa, not to trigger everybody’s device, but some of these other search devices. Siri would be an example as well. Are there things that we should be looking out for? Maybe resources that we can check out as it relates to voice search?

Casey Markee: There is. There is, especially considering … Let’s talk first kind of about Google Home since Google Home is really getting a lot of press, especially currently this week, then in Las Vegas doing the International Electronics Show. Google has basically spent a fortune making sure everything is voice search. Everything is Google Home. All of the monorails in Vegas right now have been decorated to say, “Google Home.”

Everything is voice search enabled. As you walk into the convention center, it’s pretty crazy. Google is really pushing hard on the Google Home front right now. Let’s talk a little bit about that specifically. Google has, when Google Home launched, they launched with a list of supported voice partners.

I had a lot of people contacted me asking like, “Casey, how do we get on this list?” I can’t really paste over the list here, but Google provided only a very specific amount of partners to support. They call these cooking partners, and these cooking partners range from allrecipes.com to Serious Eats. Simply Recipes is on the list. Buzz Feed, Taste of Home, and Martha Stewart. There’s like 12 of them altogether.

I always ask, “Casey, how do we get on that list?” I went to Google Home, I started to chat, and they basically told me that the only way that you can get on this, so I want all of you to listen up very carefully here. If you have a Google Home device, this is what you need to do. If you want to go ahead and push your own blog for possibly inclusion in Google home, this is what you have to do.

You basically have to say, “Hey Google,” then you say, “Send feedback.” Google Home with then record the message, and send the feedbacks once you’ve completed describing the request. That request needs to be, “Add pinchofyum.com as a supported cooking partner for recipe search.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Casey Markee: Okay? You want for Google Home to confirm that the feedback was submitted, and then Home is going to say, “Thanks, all feedback helps.”

That’s it. That’s actually the only thing that you can really do right now to try to get your site, to kind of get your food blog, to show up as a supported voice partner.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yeah, so the idea being connecting with Google, giving them that feedback. Also, it probably, the structured data piece probably plays into it. Like making sure that your recipes are marked up in a way that it can communicate to Google what those ingredients and those steps are.

Casey Markee: Exactly. I mean we could go over some ways, if you want to very quickly we can talk a little bit about how you can better voice optimize your content. There’s some various tips I can give you. When you’re writing for voice search, let’s talk a little bit about actual tips. The very first step is to wrap your head around is that you want to be very succinct. Google has actually published guidelines very recently about what you want to do to optimize for voice search.

These are called Evolution of Search Speak Guidelines. They just published these in December, and they’re very simplistic, so I would urge all of you to take a look for them. It’s a PDF, and the PDF is just basically shows you what Google is looking for. What do they consider something that meets highest needs?

They go in, and they talk about what this means. For example, they talk really about speech quality ratings. I’m going to go briefly over kind of the four main areas. The four ares are formulation, elocution, rating. Basically it’s just length, formulation, elocution, and ratings. What does this mean?

Well, it means that when you’re writing up your content, think about the length of the verbal response that you might want to pull from your content. Some might require more in-depth and longer questions. This is something that you want to start thinking about is like if someone was to do, ask for questions on your recipes, we wouldn’t want them to be a paragraph, we’d want them to be short, succinct questions like, “How long does this Beef Wellington need to cook?”

Maybe that’s something that you specifically talk about as you’re putting the recipe together. That’s link, then formulation is this is Google, including thing, such as how grammatically correct the answer was. We wouldn’t want to … Proper English is very important. If you’re putting together something, it needs to speak conversationally.

Just start thinking about that, and go with the like. Then allocution, this is like Google’s trying to prevent issues where the assistant voice sounds too robotic, so this is you kind of based on the verbal speed of the response. That’s really why you want to start speaking aloud some of the content in your recipes. Is there a way, making sure that your allocution is correct.

If you’re researching questions to ask in your content, how do those questions sound or how do those answers sound when you say them out to another person? Very simple. Then, of course, the rating. This is just the rating of those snippets. Google is using voice quality raters, folks. Many of you are probably familiar with the quality rater guidelines.

The quality rater guidelines are a large document that Google uses to train their machine learning algorithms. They have tens of thousands of people world-wide that go through Google every day and rate the results through these Google quality rater guidelines.

Then they take that data and send it into Google, and Google uses it to refine their algorithms. They’re doing the same thing now for voice search. They got this voice quality raters who are using these guidelines in determining well this is a good rating, this is a bad rating, and this is the like. I don’t know, are we going to be able to include a list of resources on this?

Bjork Ostrom: We’ll do that, yep. Both within the podcast app itself as well as on the show notes page on Food Blogger Pro.

Casey Markee: Absolutely, so we’ll include links to this. We’ll include links to the evaluation of Search Speech Guidelines all include a link to Jennifer Slegg, who’s already done a little bit of background in how you can read these guidelines. I’ll include a link to the Cook With Google Assistant, so you can kind of see what the list of partners is there, and go from there.

Voice Search is something that … 2018 has already started with a bang. Bjork and I were already talking when we got on the screen. Last night, Google sent out literally thousands of these notices to food blogs. They sent them out to three groups of people. They sent them out to podcasts, recipe sites, and new sites who might be able to take advantage of Google Assistant.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Google Assistant, is their kind of forward-facing voice tool. It allows you to actually ask Google questions, kind of in a, I guess you’d call it, a evolution of Google Now. This is, Google Assistant, is how Google is trying to drive attention to Voice Search, so they’re actually, they auto-created directory pages associated with your site.

That’s what those messages are that many of you probably received over the last 24 hours. These are notes just telling you, “Hey, this is Google letting you know that Voice Search is very important in the United States. You’ve invested in structured data. You’ve invested in AMP, so now we’re going to provide you the ability to think of some actions that we can tie to your site.”

Let’s say you’re a recipe site. You can go in and claim your directory listing right now for Google Assistant, and you don’t have to do anything else other than that. If you just do that, that’s fine because now the directory page, Google’s going to associate that directory page with finding content from your site.

They’re going to do a lot of the work in the back end for you, but if you wanted to go in and take it to the next level, you could go in and start reading about actions. Actions are basically, these are things people can ask the Google Assistant to do. If you’re in your kitchen, and you’ve got Google home, you’ll say, “Google, bring up the pot roast recipe from Pinch of Yum.”

If you’ve put in the actions, and you’ve claimed your directory, and you’ve done these various things, it’s very possible that Google will be able to connect Pinch of Yum and the pot roast recipe, and be able to pull that up. Now, one of the things you might be thinking is, “Well, what does that do for me? I could see how it would be cool for branding. How am I going to generate traffic from that?”

That is a good point because this is really what Google’s doing. Google doesn’t care about driving traffic to your sites, folks. Google cares about fulfilling user intent. However, I believe there are plenty of benefits that you should … enough benefits, with regards to branding and even traffic, that you should consider investing in this.

Let’s say, Bjork, using that example there with pot roast, they’re going to not only pull up the information on pot roast, but I think they’re also going to say, “Send the link to my iPad, send the link to my phone, send the link so that I can visually review that.” I’m going to get credit for that visit.

I’m going to track that visit. I’m going to probably generate an income increment from that visit. This is where it’s important is that it’s not just the Voice Search actions, it’s the fact that you’re going to provide users another avenue to access your content.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Casey Markee: That’s really the takeaway here.

Bjork Ostrom: In so many ways, it’s better to be the person that solves the problem than to not, or be the brand that solves the problem because if they don’t find it, your stuff, then probably they’re going to move on and look for another solution to that. Better for that to be you than for that to be somebody else.

Casey Markee: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: Casey, we covered a ton of stuff, super helpful, and I know that people are going to have a lot of action that they can take on it. I also know that a lot of people are going to be interested in connecting with you, and potentially working together in one of the audits that you had mentioned. Can you talk a little bit about how that works if people are interested in doing an audit, how they can connect with you, and then just follow along with you in general?

Casey Markee: Absolutely. Thanks for that. For those of you on the call, again, I do a lot of work with the various Facebook groups. I try to go in there and answer questions as needed. I do the same thing in Food Blogger Pro with the forums when I have the chance. Make sure that you make a note of my site. My site is mediawyse.com, that’s M-E-D-I-A W-Y as in yellow- S-E.com, mediawyse.com.

If you’re interested in, for example, possibly scheduling an audit to take your site to the next level, that’s always an opportunity. You can go ahead and reach me through my Facebook page, which is Media Wyse, two words, or you can reach me, again, through my website, and just send me a note, and I’ll send you all the information I need, or that you would need to make an informed decision.

There’s lots of podcasts out there I’ve done. Not only, of course, are you listening to this, but I’ve done podcasts with Chopped, Chopped Con. I’ve also done podcasts with Dishing with Delishes, which has been a very popular podcast. I did that last November. There’s lots of information there as well. Take advantage of that because I know how overwhelming some of this stuff can be.

Our goal here is to kind of just … I always tell people how you eat an elephant, and it’s one bite at a time. That’s very, very true, is you have to take a priority list. You’re not going to be able to do everything, but if you can prioritize a plan for 2018, you’re going to be shocked at what your income is going to look like as you head into holiday season 2018, which is my goal.

Whenever I’m doing all these audits, my goal is to position you in a way that the last quarter of the year blows all the doors off, and that’s the goal is understanding that if we set everything up in a right way, and we get your paid speed dialed in, and we get the content in a way that’s user-friendly, and we talk, and we get your SEO in order, the rest is going to take care of itself.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great, and some actionable stuff in this podcast, and people can dive even deeper with an audit. That’s one of the things that I constantly think about with our businesses is how can we invest back into our business?

Casey Markee: Absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: In which ways can we do that, and that’s a great way to do it, so I would encourage people to connect with you, and reach out. Casey, I want to say thank you, both for your expertise on the forums, and for coming on the podcast today. Always a joy to talk to you, and so much we take away, so thanks for being on the podcast today.

Casey Markee: Pleasure is entirely mine, Bjork. Thanks so much. Best of luck in 2018, and we’ll see you on the other side.

Bjork Ostrom: Sounds good.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey party people. Alexa here bringing you the Food Blogger Pro podcast review of the week. This one comes from Gaby from Veggie World Recipes. She says, “I have always been interested in food and creating recipes, but it was something I thought would never amount to anything because why would anyone care about my recipes and photos? I accidentally stumbled upon Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro one day, and started listening, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it changed my life.”

“Lindsay and Bjork inspired me to give me the confidence to start my own food blog. I have now had my blog for six months, and it’s brought me so much joy. It is something I love to do, and always brightens up my mood. Even though it’s a hobby for now, I am on the Food Blogger Pro waiting list, and eagerly waiting to join, and hopefully even learn how to make a small income from something that I love. Bjork and Lindsay, please keep doing what you do and inspiring others. You make a bigger impact that you think.”

Thank you so much, Gaby. We are so excited for you that you’re taking steps towards building a food blog that you love. Thanks, friend, for tuning into this episode with Casey Markee about SEO.

I always find SEO is a bit difficult to understand, but once I hear Casey talk about it, and break down all of the difficult topics, I have a much better handle on all of the information. I hope you feel the same after that interview. From all of us here at Food Blogger Pro HQ, make it a great week.

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  1. Just got done listening to Bjork and Casey chat about SEO. I am blown away with the wealth of information that was shared and for FREE! A piece of advice for food bloggers – Drop everything you do, grab a notepad and pen, and listen to this podcast. Don’t multi-task 🙂

    This podcast is THE best way to keep yourself up to date on the latest and greatest that is happening in the food blogging world. Thanks a ton, Bjork. Keep up the good work!

    P.S – I couldn’t leave a review on iTunes for this podcast for some reason – tried with my phone as well as Mac. That’s why I decided to stop by the blog and share my feedback 🙂

  2. This was a fun listen! SEO is so confusing but Casey makes it sound do-able! I can’t wait to get audited by him. It’s on my to-do list this year! Great episode with lots of quality information!