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How to Find the BEST Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers

Finding great recipe keywords doesn’t have to be difficult (and can even be fun and inspirational)! Here is my method for finding the best recipe keywords.

Easy tutorial for how to find and organize great recipe keywords for SEO!

Hey guys! If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a food blogger. And although this tutorial was created with food bloggers in mind, the method will certainly work in any genre. If you’re a new food blogger you may be thinking “I really don’t need to worry about this yet so I’ll wait until I have some success under my belt first.” That would be a huge mistake. I could kick myself for not focusing on great SEO years ago! Now is the time you need to start working on your SEO. And, if you’re a seasoned food blogger, you may be doing this or something similar already. And, if not….you should be!!

An SEO expert I am not. Not even close. And I know a lot of SEO gurus out there who have differing opinions on this complex topic. But after trying many different methods of SEO and struggling through it, I finally found the process that works best for me and, more importantly, has given me a significant increase in search engine traffic.

First up, you need to be using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This powerful tool will tell you exactly which recipe keywords you should be optimizing your content for and will give you the best odds of showing up in the first few pages of search engine results. {Note: You will need to create an AdWords account (if you don’t have one already) but the process takes just a few minutes. You will be instructed to set up your first ad; simply delete it immediately after creating your AdWords account. Although I’ve had an AdWords account for years, I tested this personally and found it very easy. My “ad” simply had the word “web” for its title, text, etc. then I went in and immediately deleted it. If you’re not sure how to delete your ad, instructions can be found here.}

Before we move on, let me tell you how I keep my recipe keywords organized once I have them. I keep a small leather notebook (about a 6×10 size) on my desk at all times. And in that notebook I keep “keyword categories” with a list of all the best keyword phrases in each category. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say I wake up one morning and it’s a cold, rainy day. I decide that soup sounds really delicious and I’m going to head over to the store to pick up the ingredients I need to make a big pot of soup for my family. But I’m not really sure what kind of soup I’m in the mood for. Normally I would head over to Pinterest or flip through some food magazines or maybe check my pantry to see what I already have on hand. And I still very often do those very things. But because I’ve started taking SEO seriously and I like to get traffic because this is my full-time job and I need to make a living…there are times when I ignore all of that and just go straight to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to help me decide.

So out comes my notebook and at the very top of a new page I’ll write “SOUP”. Soup is now my keyword category and I’m going to keep a list of recipe keyword phrases that will work for me in that category on that page in my leather notebook (yes, an Excel spreadsheet would be a technologically advanced alternative. I just really love my leather notebook for this purpose).

Next, I open the Keyword Planner and log in which will bring me to the screenshot below, where I’ll click “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

Pretty simple. After clicking on that, it will take me to the screenshot you see below. There are four things you need to pay attention to here:

  1. Enter your “keyword category” into the “Your product or service” section. In my case, it’s “SOUP”. But it could be anything from bread to bacon to casseroles to pasta.
  2. Enter the url of your food blog in the “Your landing page” section.
  3. Under “Keyword options”, turn on “Only show closely related ideas”. This will keep your keyword phrases relevant.
  4. Click on “Get Ideas”, the big blue button at the bottom.
Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

Now this is where the gettin’ gets good. Click the “Keyword Ideas” tab and all of your glorious soup ideas will magically show up on your screen. This section will give you your average monthly searches for your chosen keyword – soup in this case – although that’s not really what we’re looking for. If you do a Google search for “soup” you’ll find that there are 23,600,000 results*. That’s one heck of a lot of competition. Remember, your goal is to get high up enough in search results that real live people actually click on your link and go to your blog. If you try to optimize your blog post for the keyword “soup”, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be so far down the list that you’ll never see the Google light of day.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

Let’s look at the three areas that you’ll be paying attention to as you work through this wonderful list of keywords that Google has offered you. In the columns underneath the blue graph, there are three that are important:

  1. Keyword (by relevance): This is the list of all the keyword phrases that people are searching for using the word “soup”.
  2. Avg. monthly searches: You’re going to want to click on this so that it sorts the highest number of average monthly searches first. The higher the number of searches, the more chances for traffic to your blog.
  3. Competition: In this column Google is point blank telling you how much competition is out there for that particular keyword. You’ll be ignoring everything that says “Medium” or “High”. You ‘re shooting for high search volume but low competition keywords.
Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

Sounds pretty simple, right? And it is! But there are a few more things to consider before you just run off and start blogging soup recipes all day long.

Take a look at the screenshot below. You can see that “chicken noodle soup” gets 110,000 average monthly searches AND has low competition. Jackpot, right??! Well…not so fast.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

If you do a Google search for “chicken noodle soup” you’ll see that your competition is somewhere around 8,000,000. If you’re lucky, you might get a hit one day in the distant future from some person who’s crazy enough to go through hundreds of pages of chicken noodle soup search results. Or, you can move on to your next keyword on your list and see what that gets you.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

In this case, we’re going to see how many results we get with “chicken tortilla soup”. Very similar but with much different results. This keyword still has 74,000 average monthly searches and low competition. It’s a promising start.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

And when we do our Google search, this time there is only 1,950,000 for our competition. So we’ve significantly increased our odds for being higher in search engine results.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

But let’s say you’re a new food blogger and you know that even with that drastic reduction in competition there’s no chance – at this point in your blogging career, anyway – that you’ll rank high enough for any clicks. Not to worry, just keep on moving down your list.

Here we have “navy bean soup” as our keyword. Low competition and it gets just over 12,000 monthly searches on average.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

And when we do our “navy bean soup” Google search, we see that now our competition has been reduced to 300,000! That’s a huge reduction in competition and there may just be a chance for some organic search engine traffic here!

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

If you’re a very new blogger, my advice would be to start with even lower-competition keywords like the one you see below. “Avgolemono Soup” (a fantastic and easy-to-make Greek soup) gets 3,600 average monthly searches.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

And when we do our Google search we can see that our competition is a mere 150,000. Which is about as good as you’re going to get! Now, you might say, but there are only 3,600 average monthly searches – I want to rank for something that gets 36,000! We all want that, of course, and if you keep blogging and plugging away and working your craft, one day soon you will. But if you’re not getting organic traffic and you don’t know where to begin, this is really your best bet.

Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers - how to find them and keep them organized!

Your SEO plan, whether you’re a brand new blogger or someone who’s been around awhile but has neglected your SEO and you still don’t get much traffic from organic search, should be to target keywords that have as little competition as possible yet still have enough searches that you’ll see some decent traffic from it. Then, as you grow your blog and move up in search engine results, you can start shooting for some of those higher search volume keywords with a little more competition. My philosophy is that it’s better to be on Google’s page one for many smaller volume keywords than not ranking at all for the big ones.

Having said all of that, I would caution you not to blog completely this way. The vast majority of my posts are because it’s food I love and want to share. It’s important to blog first for you, second for your readers and let everything else come after that. But if you keep SEO in mind as you’re doing those things then you’re already well on your road to food blogging success!

*Google search results can vary widely from person to person and even from day to day. It’s always a good idea to keep tabs on your collected keywords and rerun your numbers on a regular basis, especially if you’re working from a list.
Kristy Bernardo
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