How to Make your Food Blog Successful

How to Make your Food Blog Successful

Our customers Anja & Matthias Würfl write an extremely successful food blog. How did they manage that? What can you learn from this for your blog project? And what should you keep in mind when it comes to SEO? Find out more in their guest article for wp unboxed.

Cook a dish, take photos with your mobile phone and write a few lines about it. Then place the text and pictures on a website and the first food blog post is ready. Repeat the whole thing two or three times a week in the evening and in a few months the food blog will really take off. Well, we didn't think it would be quite that crass when we launched "Die Frau am Grill" in autumn 2018. But we tended to imagine the venture of setting up and running a food blog to be a little easier...

Wrong thinking. And partly also done wrong. But no reproaches! We were new to the blogging world at the time, and terms like keywords, SEO and ranking were not even foreign words to us. We simply didn't know them. The fact that our website had almost half a million page views last December (2021) is due to a number of circumstances: perseverance, time, struggle and money.

So that you don't have to invest the same amount of time, nerves and money, we have summarised a few points for you. This way you can concentrate on the essentials: great pictures, great texts and then, with enough continuity, success will come all by itself. If we had already had the current knowledge in 2017, the number of visitors last December would have been at least twice as high.

Your own food blog - just fun or more?

You should ask yourself this question right at the beginning: are you starting the food blog for fun? Or are you doing it for fun, coupled with the intention of earning money? There are really enough people who have absolutely no monetary intentions with their food blog, I speak from personal experience.

If you only publish your pictures and recipes (with or without additional text) on your food blog, you don't have to worry about so many things. We'll take a look at what exactly in the following. But that doesn't mean that the fun-from-the-joy bloggers can stop reading now. Because even they will want to know how best to avoid a hacker attack. But more on this below with a precise description of the catastrophic event!

The universe of Google, explained for beginners

For beginners, as we once were. Not that we are now certified Google professionals. But I can certainly tell all newcomers here one or two things that literally bring a blog "forward".

So let's start with an example: Mr. Müller searches Google for tips on "grilling chicken wings". On the first site of the search results (in technical jargon "SERPs" for "Search Engine Result Pages"), he is naturally shown results that are relevant to the topic. And Mr. Müller will certainly click on one of the results on the first site .

You can state right away: if your website only ranks on site two of the search results or even further down, it almost doesn't exist at all for Google. That is a fact. The vast majority of internet searches even end with a click on one of the first three results!

Google Foodblog Search Results
So-called rich snippets in the search results for recipes

The question of all questions is of course: How do you get there, i.e. to places one to three? Let me tell you in advance: Google does not display the results arbitrarily. An algorithm uses various factors to calculate which website is at the top. I have not yet read an article by anyone in which all the factors are listed, but there is agreement on some essential ones. And these are also communicated by Google itself. Three very important ranking factors are:

Backlinks

Do many other websites link to my food blog? If so, that's a good sign for Google. At least if the links come from authoritative or prominent sites , for example from other long-established food blogs or news sites. sites with particularly high authority are, to name a few industry leaders: bild.de, sz.de or spiegel.de.

Of course, you can also buy backlinks nowadays. For example, backlinks from Russia, some of which are very cheap. But Google, on the other hand, is not stupid. Purchased backlinks can lead to a penalty in the ranking. There are countless articles on the subject of backlinks on the web, including here at wp unboxed. It's worth putting on a pot of tea and spending an afternoon at the weekend reading up on the subject. It's best to do this right after you've published your first articles on your food blog, not over a year after we started. - over a year after the start.

Age of the website

Well, the longer something is on the market, the better it must be, right? That's true in most cases. And this is also true for Google. Because Google first has to build up trust in a website. And if good content is published regularly over months and years, then the search engine knows: aha, I can show this URL of said website a little bit higher in the search results, because people can be trusted. Google measures the quality of your content, among other things, by how many visitors stay on a website and for how long.

Core Web Vitals

This ranking factor was introduced only recently. There are also interesting articles on this on the internet. Nevertheless, I would like to go into it briefly for newcomers. One of these web vitals is, for example, the loading speed. Do visitors have to wait forever for the site to build up? Or is it completely loaded in a fraction of a second? Furthermore, are there many pop-ups that negatively affect the user experience? For example, newsletter pop-ups or advertisements that disrupt the reading flow?

In addition, does site "float" or can it be scrolled up and down without any problems, especially in the mobile area? The free Google Search Console, which I strongly recommend, will tell you which improvements should be made to your site . And finally, a tip if you work with a lot of images, such as in a food blog: get a Plugin right at the beginning that compresses the images. This saves a lot of data and thus shortens the loading time.

The Woman at the Grill Foodblog
Anja at work for the food blog

Keywords and text length

You can create the best and most delicious potato soup and have taken the most beautiful pictures, but your post does not appear in the search results? Well, this may be due to the fact that you haven't written a detailed text about it, but have only published the picture, ingredients and preparation in text form. Google scans all websites in a fraction of a second when you search for "potato soup" - unbelievable, but true.

The search engine not only checks the ranking factors listed above, but also: did you use the keyword "potato soup" at all in your post? How often? And in which places? In addition: how long is your text compared to the competing websites? If you think: I'll just write some long text and use the word "potato soup" endlessly, you're barking up the wrong tree. It is true that Google has not yet reached the point where it can automatically recognise the quality of a text 100 per cent. But someone else tells Google about it: the visitors to your website.

They disappear after reading a few sentences if the content is not first class. And Google notices that very well. So: If you have dealt sufficiently with the topic of backlinks over the aforementioned pot of tea on Saturday afternoon, then you know what's coming up on Sunday: intensive discussion of the topic of "keywords" and WordPress SEO. An SEOPlugin for your website is very helpful. For example, the free version of Yoast offers a lot of support.

Video integration

Video is king. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that more image content was uploaded to Instagram in the past than video content, but now video content is on the rise. Likewise: social platforms like TikTok are very successful with their video model, not to mention YouTube. Many want more than pictures and texts, and Google is increasingly taking this into account in its search results. Those who can now enrich their food blog articles with video material, such as videos of the dishes, are in the clear.

If that's too much effort for you, there are already videos for many recipes - for example on YouTube. And you can easily integrate them into your blog post. Say: You have produced a delicious potato soup? Then take a look at YouTube to see if there is a similar recipe there. Copy the video URL and include it in your blog post under the heading "Here is also a delicious potato soup recipe in the video". The great thing about this is that when people watch the video on your blog, Google counts this time as part of the dwell time. And the longer people stay, the cooler Google thinks it is...

The right WordPress Theme

A never-ending theme that starts with the Themes. A WordPress Theme is practically a prefabricated framework for your website, without content, of course. Alternatively, you would have to have a website programmed. Themes is already available for free or at a reasonable cost, but custom programming usually costs a lot of money. We have also opted for Theme .

Unfortunately, I can't give you any advice on which one to choose. It is really a subjective decision how you want to present yourself to the outside world. So the heading above this paragraph is actually not quite correct, as there is no one right WordPress Theme . Again, look around a bit on the internet. I advise you to look at a lot of Themes and look into the topic. Changing the Theme in WordPress afterwards costs time and money. At least if you are not familiar with the IT behind your website and have to hire someone.

Monetisation

In German: Geld verdienen mit dem Foodblog. I wouldn't think too much about that, at least not at the beginning. The reason: first of all, visitors to the website site have to come here. And for that, you need good content that is published regularly. Do you want to put in the big display ads right at the beginning, set lots of affiliate links and maybe even look for possible sponsors? All of this distracts you far too much from the important tasks - namely producing good content.

The issue of monetisation usually takes care of itself for good food blogs. At least when it comes to sponsors: if the food blog is of high quality and also has a wide reach, they stumble in all by themselves.

Promotion: Social Media and Newsletter

These days, nothing works without advertising for your own business. And it should also be as cheap as possible, right? Then I recommend collecting email addresses right from the start so that you can send the latest recipes to your newsletter subscribers once or twice a month.

There are manynewsletter tools for WordPress . We use Mailchimp, which is also free up to a certain volume. I can't tell you whether it's the best tool, because I don't know the others. In any case, we are very satisfied with it so far. With a newsletter, you bring your own blog to the attention of your readers at regular intervals. And that also ensures more website visits.

The topic of social media is not that simple. Since there are different platforms, you have to find out for yourself what works best for your content. For example, we have about 20,000 Facebook subscribers, plus about 10,000 followers on Instagram. But we get very little traffic from these platforms. The situation is different on Pinterest. We entered Pinterest much later than Facebook and Instagram. Here from Google Analytics are the website visits that came to our website via social media platforms in 2021:

Social Acquisition Google Analytics
Pinterest leads by a wide margin, followed by YouTube

Security

This does not mean safety in the kitchen, i.e. not cutting your finger😊. Or forgetting, in the case of a BBQ blogger, to turn off the gas tap after grilling. The security of your website is of elementary importance. And I'm speaking from personal and very painful experience here, as a glance at the following screenshot will make clear:

Website Visitors Google Analytics
The number of visitors in Google Analytics

In the middle of the graph, you can see a rapid increase in the number of visitors. Google had started pushing our postsvia Google Discover at the beginning of 2020. The keyword rankings also developed extremely positively. Just during this period, our website was crippled by a so-called Japan hack. For a whole weekend, we were no longer able to access the backend - i.e. our system. But the hackers did. And they created thousands (!) of additional spam URLs under our root domain. What a mess!

Our IT specialist was able to restore the original version of our website from the previous week. But Google was not so quick and punished us massively. The curve crashed, as can be seen wonderfully, almost into the bottomless pit. And you can't rebuild Google's trust as quickly as you lose it.

That's why you need security right from the start. And this has to happen on two levels sites : first on the website, get the right Plugins for this. It is definitely worth googling "security Plugins for websites", or simply reading this article. Furthermore, you should make sure that everything possible is done to ensure security on sites the website hoster.

Shortly after the hacker attack, we switched to Raidboxes , installed two more plug-ins and have been surfing the internet with our food blog ever since...

Your questions about blog marketing

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