Today’s guest on the Niche Pursuits podcast is Casey Markee. Casey is a keynote speaker, author, and SEO expert specializing in the food and lifestyle niche. In addition, he’s the founder of Media Wyse — an SEO consultancy based out of southern California.
Casey chats to Jared openly and in-depth, specifically about the food niche. Casey has carried out thousands of audits on blogs in this space, and today, you get to listen to him providing curated, expert tips and advice on all aspects of ranking these types of blogs in Google.
Casey talks about the huge mistakes blogs make in this niche and provides tips on fixing them to get better organic traffic from search engines.
The topics and advice include content length — how long a recipe post needs to be, Schema, and the importance of utilizing it correctly, including the mistakes he sees, and the best plugins to use. Moreover, Casey shares advice on optimizing images and their importance for food blogger.
Casey has a lot of experience with ads and shares advice and tips about ad density and the amount you should have when using ads. In addition, he goes into detail about jump links and their effect on the user experience alongside ad density.
- How Casey got into SEO and the Food & Lifestyle space
- What makes the niche so competitive
- The area of focus when doing audits
- The difference in SEO based on the niche
- What the successful food bloggers are doing
- Social media importance (examples included)
- Paid vs. free plugins
- What the readers dislike
- Can recipe cards rank in Google carousel without any other content?
- Structure of a recipe post
- SEO tips for a blog post
- Recipe cards and the difference between recipe content
- Monetization methods
- Optimizing for mobile
- Thoughts on Yoast and Rank Math concerning Schema
- Plus, much more!
Toward the end of the interview, the conversation focuses on E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), its importance, and why it’s not quite as crucial as you think regarding the specifics. Casey also chats about links, social media, and in particular, if you need a social media presence outside your blog to be a successful food blogger.
This is another action-packed interview with lots of data-driven advice and tips. If you’re in the food niche or thinking about getting into the niche, you’ll get a lot from this episode. If you’re not, the SEO advice is also a solid primer for anyone.
As always, enjoy the episode, and be sure to take notes.
Links & Resources
watch the interview:
read the transcription:
Jared: Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. Today we are joined by Casey Markee, who is the owner of, uh, Media Wise Internet Consultancy. Casey, welcome on board.
Casey: Thanks for having me. Super excited to have you here.
Jared: We are talking obviously about SEO and websites, but you have a great history in this industry and you have some very interesting specializations that we’re, we’re gonna dive into today and get your thoughts on.
Why don’t you kick us off, give us, um, some background and introduce us to who you are and what you do.
Casey: Absolutely, absolutely. My name is Casey Marque. I’m the owner of, as Jared said, uh, internet consultancy. Media wise, I’m based here in Powerway, California. No, actually Jared is in Powerway. I’m actually very close to him in Ramona.
It’s pretty funny. I can actually throw a stone and hit him. That’s how close we are. But, uh, he lives in the, Just throw the mountain from you. That’s right. You live in the metropolitan area? I live in the pasture. I have lots of horses areas and so it’s funny. Uh, so we’ll get into that a little later. But yeah, my wife and my daughter are equestrian, so it was necessary that we, they were very clear that they were not gonna be living in the city.
So, uh, Good times here. But yeah, as Jared said, I own, uh, internet consultancy here in Southern California called Media Wise. I’ve been in SEO since about 1999. I’ve worked with, uh, as companies as big as New Egg and Tele Flora to currently my specialty is site auditing and consulting and the food and lifestyle niche, and I’ve been doing that exclusively since about 2000.
Jared: food and lifestyle. When you say food and lifestyle, food, you know, we think recipes, we think, um, uh, what does lifestyle look like?
Uh, do it yourself blogs. Um, it would be, uh, blogs that have howto tutorials, printables. It’d be bloggers like happily Ever Elephants who specifically our donated our, our focus on children’s books and literature.
Mm-hmm. , it would just be blogs against mostly, mostly female centric, mostly small business oriented who make their livings by means of affiliate marketing and, and add income.
So you have this history going from brands like new A and you know, very large brands to then now focusing on very. Niche of site audits and consultancy for very specific industries.
How did you navigate and end up landing in that area? It
Casey: was, it’s a pretty interesting story for sure. I used to be the online, the head of SEO support for search and news.com, which is still around. It’s a, it’s a very large, one of the very first SEO training platforms on the internet. And I would train SEO teams all around the world on five different continents.
And at one point they called in, uh, 2015 or so asking for a speaker for a, for a conference here in Southern California in Big Bear of all places. And it was during one of our wildfire seasons and they had a huge wildfire in the area and I had to actually drive through. And as I was driving up to big beer, I got laryngitis.
So it was pretty hilarious. I went up, I had to go to, to give this presentation, this two day presentation to these food bloggers and was yelling at the top of my lungs just, just to, just to communicate the slides. And it must have went well because I got one audit request and I got two audit requests that I got 20 audit requests.
The next thing I knew, I was just literally overwhelmed with the request and I just decided to start doing that full time. So I worked with, uh, Some of the bigger bloggers in the world at the time, Elise Bauer, who was simply recipes.com, one of the largest sites in the world at the time. We, we helped recover her from a, from a penalty, and she was, she went on to sell that site, uh, and to other successes, and that helped kind of establish me in the field.
And, uh, I’ve been doing it ever since. So I’m very, very fortunate in that regard.
Jared: I, uh, uh, in, in preparation for today, I read several of your search engine land articles, uh, and they were, they were very good. I enjoyed them quite a bit. Um, I’m not in the food space specifically, but some of the articles you wrote were really interesting.
I think what struck me the most, and maybe I’ll use this to kick off our conversation today, is, is you brought so many unique factors about maybe the food space specifically, and the articles I wrote maybe kick us off by talking about SEO and how it nuances across different niches and what you’ve seen.
Um, are things that are very nuanced depending on what niche you’re in.
Casey: Right, right. I think the reason I’ve decided to specialize in the food and lifestyle niche specifically is it usually is a testing bed for Google in many aspects. We’ve rolled out new forms of structured data. First and foremost, we have introduced various carousel, which are now standard across various sur listings.
We tend to be a hotbed of things that can go right and wrong very quickly. There are issues where we have disappearing snippets, we have recipes and other factors falling outta the carousel all the time. It’s a very dynamic field and because it’s very schema oriented and because it’s very plug-in driven, it’s, it requires a high level of expertise and I’ve been very fortunate in that regard and that I’ve been able to keep up on the changes.
Uh, read what is necessary to read, test, uh, what is necessary to be tested and, and kind of provide kind of a, hopefully what I consider kind of the cutting edge of knowledge in that area to get the, the average recipe or do your soft rank site ranking. And it’s very challenging and it’s, I’m, I’m never bored.
And that’s for sure. ,
Jared: it’s known as a very competitive niche. It’s known as a very competitive, Very competitive, Yeah. What, um, I mean, I have a bunch of questions. Well, we’re gonna get into the details. Mm-hmm. , what it looks like to have a successful food blog and website these days. But what are I, I just one more high level question.
What are the characteristics or factors that make it so competitive compared to other, other niches?
Casey: Well, it’s just the, there’s a couple factors actually. It’s the bottom line. Sheer volume of sites that exist. We only have 10, you know, we go back to the 10 regular blue links and search results, and we only have so many sites that can rank for your chicken catch to recipe or your banana cream pie.
And so we have carousel, which are also populated both on mobile and desktop, which are also very competitive. And some of them, you know, getting into that top one or two levels, which are not collapsed incredibly important. And then, you know, we, we also have, uh, just. Just, I think what what is most challenging about the area is just that the best practices do tend to change based upon how Google changes their guidelines,
But, uh, it’s just that they’re, no, I can audit five or six different bloggers, maybe they’re all dessert bloggers. They’ll all be very successful because some of them will implement more of the advice than others, but they’ll all end up being, they’ll all end up competing against each other. And that’s really, uh, what’s what’s fascinating is that the best bloggers are the ones who have continued to strive to improve their bottom line knowledge, place to, to hire out expertise when it’s necessary and to basically understand that, hey, this is a business and they don’t treat it as a hobby.
And, and I, I see that a lot in the audits. The bloggers who are able to make the transition in the mindset from being a hobby blogger to a business blogger tend to do very well, and they do. Easier and faster.
Jared: Makes sense. Yeah. There there’s no shortage of chicken catchy recipes. I Exactly. Agree with you there.
Well, okay. Let’s talk about the audits that you’ve done and some of the trending things that you see in mistakes. And, you know, a lot of our listeners are going to be in this space. A lot of listeners aren’t gonna be in this space, but I, I’m gonna imagine a lot of ’em probably have to do with general best practices.
However, specifically in the food and lifestyle niche, what are the big things you are picking up on when you, when you do audits for, for these websites?
Casey: Well, when I do an audit, especially, uh, for food and lifestyle bloggers, we’re focusing on three areas. We’re focusing on. Think of it as share with three lakes.
We have leg number one, which is the technical issues. We have leg number two, which is the content based issues. And then we have leg number three, which are the, the off side or ephemeral issues that go into the site. The leg number three could be the size and and strength of their backlink profile. It could be their current and existing expertise and authoritativeness as a known author.
It could be the reach and scope of their social media profiles and following. It could just be the fact that. They are well known in other ways. And so they’re able to take that expertise, take that notoriety, and provide a way to jumpstart legs, number one, and leagues number two. But my ons, my audits basically focus on the technical and the content side.
And I think that’s why they’ve been incredibly valuable is just you don’t know what you don’t know. So I’ll have, you know, the average blogger will come to me and they’ve, uh, they’re, they’re very intelligent. I, so I give it to, you know, the average food blogger, very well educated, very, very thirsty for knowledge.
The problem is, is they’ve taken maybe the wrong course or they’ve followed the, the wrong advice, or maybe they’ve been coached by another blogger who doesn’t necessarily know what they’re doing. Maybe it worked for them, so therefore it should work for you, kind of thing. And we just, um, You know, it’s, it’s just basically a forensic audit.
I’m looking at how the site presents. I’m looking at the technical setup of the site. I’m looking at everything from the hosting to what recipe plugin they’re using to how they’re putting the site together. We tend to recommend that bloggers use the WordPress platform. Not only is it a very easy to use, but is incredibly, it’s still literally the top CMS platform in the world.
Plugins are specifically designed with a WordPress first intent. We find it easier to monetize WordPress blogs. I very rare for me to run across a blog that’s successful in the food and lifestyle niche that’s on Square Space or Wix or someone else. Now, I’m sure they exist. Just haven’t seen ’em. So this is just an example of where, you know, we tend to use the CMS that is most popular.
We, we tend to utilize the most popular plugins, uh, for recipe plugin. There’s basically three litters of the pack. We have WP Recipe Maker, we have WP Tasty, and then we have another plugin called Create, and they’re all good in, in their aspects. I would say that the industry leader, honestly, by far is WP Rescue Maker.
The, the support team behind that, uh, has done a fantastic job in just making sure that, hey, this is a feature that our users want. We’re gonna roll it out. Also, making sure that everything is up to snuff. They usually tend to break features first, and then the other plugins catch up with them at a later date, so to speak.
Uh, but little things like that, A lot of there, there’s a, there’s a, there’s always a, a battle between free verse paid, and I find that the bloggers who make the transition from hobby to business owners, Understand the value of the paid plugins and adjust accordingly. What
Jared: are the important features to distinguish those plugins?
What makes those better and what features does, uh, do they need to include for a recipe or a food blogger to be successful?
Casey: Uh, Yeah. And all the plugins are built, uh, with a Google First approach that they output the output, the correct ski fields as necessary. They allow you to customize the card so it’s visually attractive.
They allow you to do things like provide a custom template because our studies, I use user testing.com quite a bit over the last couple years to survey literally thousands of people all around the world in the United States, specifically about what they wanna see in recipes and on recipe blogs. And that feedback has allowed me, I think, a competitive advantage in the audits that I offer.
And one of the many interesting feedback that we, one of the, again, one of the great feedback points that we always get was over the last one that we did, which is about eight months ago. People hate printing out recipe cards that are over two pages long and it makes perfect sense. Why would you wanna print out a recipe card?
That’s three plus pages. And there are some, unfortunately, recipe plugins that have just an incredible amount of extra padding. They’re trying to aesthetically and visually make the plugin, the card look good, and you’re sacrificing functionality. Nobody is gonna care about how the card looks when you’re printing it out.
Okay? So a plugin like WP recipe maker allows you to set up a custom print template. You would think that that’s a simple addition that would be helpful for the user, and yet that’s not something that’s common across all three plugins. So little things like that, making sure that we’re able to optimize for the output, making sure that we’re always optimizing for users.
Little things like that go a long way in setting you apart as a competitor. Food blogger right away. I
Jared: have to ask you the question you must get every single time you talk , and that is the length of the article, specifically the recipe, the need to fill the article or the recipe with a bunch of text, which oftentimes, uh, anecdotally turns into a story about the, and you can insert the blank, you know, having to tell this story and the food blogger’s dilemma of needing to get articles to be a certain length, and then the user needing to scroll down or get to the bottom where the recipe is.
How do you come out, and I’m just really interested to hear your technical analysis of the need of this content or not. The need for.
Casey: Well, and, and you’re gonna find it’s very easy for you to have five bloggers in a room and look at their sites very quickly and find out which of them have had audits with me.
Because we do not have the superfluous content that, that is the disdain of most users who’ve known how much experience. In the recipe image, you’ll find that these bloggers don’t provide five or seven photos of the finished dish. You’ll find that they use jump buttons, which allow the user to navigate quickly down to the recipe card.
If they so desire, you’ll find that they, that they don’t stuff the post with superfluous personal observations or histories about how, I remember I got this recipe from my grandma when I was on my farm in Kansas and you know, this is why I’ve done this and blah blah. We, we don’t, I don’t advocate that. I haven’t advocated that in years, and that’s honestly what separates a lot of my clients from the masses is that we ride for users.
And a user does not wanna ramble down through a 11 page printout recipe. It’s also why. Uh, many times I’ve been at loggerheads, literally combative with ad companies. I am not their favorite person because ad companies will literally shout from the rooftops, Hey, I need you to make these recipes longer so that I can stuff more ads into the post.
And that’s contrary to what we’re doing with googling with users, which is we want to take a user first approach. We do not wanna provide content for the sake of, of writing to a word count, which is a complete waste of time. Word count is not, a ranking factor, has never been a ranking factor. We wanna write for usability.
We wanna write to show that here’s how, here’s what you need for this recipe. Here’s a, a nice detailed photo of the ingredients. It’s amazing, especially for millennials, is that they love to walk through the store and grab items off the shelf. When they’re making a recipe, so we have a nice labeled photo of the ingredients.
Maybe we talk a little bit about the ingredients if we have something to say. That’s how we showcase things like expertise and, and authoritativeness. But what we don’t do is, you know, provide six photos of the cheesecake from different angles. What we don’t do is provide long lists of FAQs that don’t really provide any value.
What, what we don’t do is provide a, a page and a half of scrolling related recipes as a list. We just, there’s a very specific template that I teach and I think, uh, I think the proof is in the pudding. There’s the reason that I have a seven month wait fors, and there’s a reason my clients tend to do well is that we write specifically to be useful.
We don’t write to a word can and we don’t write to increase bottom line RPM or ad income as our first motivat.
Jared: Okay, so we can rank without chalking a recipe post full of stuff. We’ll call it whether it’s absolutely story about grandma. Yep. Or the first time I made it, or the blah blah, blah. So I’m, I, I’m gonna be speak for people.
I’m guessing most are gonna hear that as good news. Yeah. Maybe walk through then a little bit of a template of what a good structure for a recipe post looks like. If we don’t have to stuff it full of words, then what is it full of? You kind of hit some of the things, by the way, so I know you already said some of them.
Mm-hmm. , but maybe we could just take it from the top and give us a little bit of an overview.
Casey: So what, what most people don’t really understand is that Google grades a recipe post by means of the recipe post. And the recipe card. They’re two separate entities. The recipe card specifically is used for carousel consideration and supplements and, and, and improves the post itself.
And then we have the post itself, which is based upon, you know, here is how you should be looking at the recipe. Maybe I start with a teaser test at the top of the post where I say, Hey, this is the be best banana cream pie you’re ever gonna have. And this is why I use this. I use nut make in my crust as opposed to these many other recipes that don’t.
And oh, by the way, because of this special, because of my special step down below, which I’m gonna tell you about, you could shave 10 minutes off the preparation. We sell the user right at the top of the recipe. That’s very. Then we have a nice featured photo. We have a featured photo of the recipe, maybe a finished shot.
Usually we wanna have that 1200, uh, pixels wide at a minimum so that we can best optimize for Google Discover. We make sure that we’re using correct alt text, which you’ve read my articles, you know, I’m a big believer in accessibility in alt text and people understanding how to correctly use that. And then we just talk a little bit about the recipe.
Here’s why I’m putting this recipe together. Maybe I, I, I teach the correct use of headings in a post. How to correctly use headings as a sign post to lead the users through what you’re gonna talk about today. Maybe I have a heading on talking about why I’m making this recipe. Maybe I have another heading on the ingredients.
Maybe I have another heading on variations in substitutions. Of those ingredients if necessary. Then I have a nice step by step section where I’m telling users here, step by step, here’s how I’m gonna take you through this recipe. And you, one of the things that I’m known for, and there’s probably shirts or buttons out there, is that I always tell bloggers to, to write for toddlers and drunk adults.
I really want them to make sure that they dumb down everything they’re talking about so that there is no confusion here. So I always tell bloggers, right, for toddlers and drunker adults, and it seems to have worked well, it’s resonated well. And so they, they have this nice step by step section. after that step by step section.
Maybe they have an expert tips, an FAQ section, maybe they’ve gone in at Google, done a little competitive research and seen what the people also ask questions are. Maybe we’ve, maybe our goal is to steal a couple of those. So maybe we try to find a, an answer and put it in our own content, make it a little bit better for users.
And then after that, maybe I have a little related recipe section. Hey, if you love this banana cream pie, it’s gonna go great with these other dishes. Maybe you’re planning a, a summer picnic or something along those like, And then I might end with a call to action above the recipe card. And then I have the recipe card itself.
And I usually don’t put much else below the recipe card that I find that annoying. Uh, especially with all those studies I’ve done. When people make it down to the recipe card, that’s about the end of the post. I don’t need to have related recipes below that. I don’t need to have multiple calls to action.
I don’t need to split up that information just because I’m trying to squeeze a couple more scrolling inches out of the blocker because of some kind of an RPM misguidedness or something. But yeah, our goal is to be complete and we mission the recipe card. You know, if you’re using a competent plugin, the recipe card’s gonna do all the heavy lifting.
It’s just a matter of you filling in all the data. I always recommend full nutritional information. I know a lot of bloggers, some bloggers are against that, but, hey, that’s what users want. That’s what the data shows. And then we make sure that there’s no, There’s a lot of people who visit recipe sites and have no desire at.
To read the post. So that’s why we have jump buttons. That’s why we, we have a fully enhanced recipe card where we have some notes and we, we just restate our, pop our top tips and information in that recipe card so that if the user prints out the recipe card, they have the information they need to make this recipe hopefully perfectly the first time.
Jared: If I were to overly summarize that, and I want to be clear that I would be overly summarizing that, but perhaps one of the differences, one of the large differences is, um, starting back where we, where we began the conversation where we don’t need to write about a history. We don’t need to write about a story.
We don’t. Still writing good content, but maybe shift from story based and into more description based, really talking about the details of the recipe and less about things that are extraneous to the recipe.
Casey: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, we just, it, a blogger is this, this is hard for a lot of bloggers to accept.
They think, Oh, I’m giving up all my personality to do this. You’re really not you. If you surveyed your audience, you’ll find that this is what they’ve wanted for years. It’s okay to provide a little bit of your own personality. Maybe you talk about, you know, I, the reason I’m making this banana cream pie today is because I’m celebrating my daughter’s fifth birthday and she loves banana cream pie.
It’s okay to talk a little bit about that at the top of the post, but what we don’t want to have is five to seven paragraphs on the party itself or other related issues that are literally subservient or not remotely related to the task at hand. We, we ride for users, we, we don’t ride to a word count and that’s honestly been, uh, something I’ve really tried to push over the years as much as I can.
Jared: You touched on something I think is interesting and I wanna highlight it. So you said that the recipe card and the recipe post are two different things in Google’s eyes. Mm-hmm. correct. For me, someone who runs a, uh, an agency but doesn’t specialize in this sort of stuff, does client work? That sounds a lot like local SEO where really we’re trying to rank separately in the map pack than we are for the content or the actual organic results.
Mm-hmm. very similar. How very similar. Okay. So I didn’t know that. And, uh, talk then about the optimizations. We already went through the optimizations of the article, but what are optimizations like with the recipe card and how to rank better for
Casey: that? Well, you could literally just publish a post that has nothing on the page, but a recipe card, and you will absolutely get into a carousel period.
Wow. Especially, especially if it’s, uh, not a high volume or competitive keyword phrase. I literally see it every day in audits, but they’re just not, you know, it, it, it’s not an attractive experience for users. And so they’ll, they’ll click over from the carousel and we’ll get a lot of pogo sticking going on.
We’ll get a lot of click backs, we’ll get a lot of low quality signals, which, you know, may or may not impact the ability of the site to rank on other queries. And so our goal is just to optimize for the carousel in the organic listings as much as we can. They work in conjunction with each other. A lot of blockers are, a lot of SEOs are confused by this.
Everything is counted in the recipe card. Those, those words are crawled, those words are counted, They’re part of the page. We wanna make sure that the whole page is holistically working together. So you could certainly get into a carousel with Jessica card on the page, but it would be a very poor experience.
And so we see this sometimes with a lot of people who change recipe plugins. Maybe they’ve created a completely new taxonomy and all of a sudden they’ve got all these pages on this site, which just had the card in them. And we need to insert those into the actual post and then do some redirects there.
But usually again, we, the post and the card, The, the, the post in a card are separate entities. It’s also very important that we tie these to the same author. And so, you know, if you read the quality rate guidelines, I’m sure that they’re on a big, I’m sure they’re in a, in a big binder at your office and you guys update those regularly.
But if you look specifically in the quality rate guidelines, there’s a, a whole section on author expertise and making sure that you tie all of your content to an author. And the two ways to do that are either have custom author pages or link to an About Me page. It’s easier for most of these bloggers to just link to than About Me Page.
So we have the recipe post, the buy lines are linking to the About Me page, and we have all the recipe cards with the exact same name also linking to the About Me page. And so that’s a strong reinforcement signal in my opinion, of showing, hey, these, both of these components are tied to the same person.
And we, we tend to wanna make sure that that’s uniformed throughout the site whenever possible.
Jared: At the risk of asking a, Oh, too much of an SEO question, Can you optimize keyword, optimize these recipe cards? Do you do that at all? Do you focus on that or is it, uh, is it more about, uh, about just getting the correct words, the correct recipe and, and that sort
Casey: of thing?
Well, there are various keywords filled. Google launched, uh, it was called Guided Recipes several years ago. It’s, it’s basically been an abject failure. Guided recipes was their attempt to optimize for their Google Home devices. And, uh, interest never took, it never took off. And so the guided recipes, whereas they, they’d launched the keywords filled where you could put these various keywords into the recipe card, which would supposedly help with voice search.
Oh, the problem was this. People just started to spam the crap out of this. And so we, I’d get this audit and we’d have this card with 11 or 12 of these keywords that had absolutely nothing to do with the keyword, and they would just terrible in the recipe card. So, uh, those started to be hidden in the card.
And then, uh, then, uh, basically Google started to. We, we kept waiting for them. They, they thought we were, we were supposed to offer guided recipe carousel. Those never launched. Then it became impossible to actually track voice, search traffic and analytics, or search console. So it just kind of fell to the backside.
So I still, you know, we, we still have these guided recipe attributes that are built into the recipe plugins, and we fill them out just because, but it’s not something that most people lose any sleepover. Usually we wanna optimize. We just, you know, we just write the card as we would regularly. If you write the recipe card with the, it’s, it’s the, the common title isn’t H two.
We just have the H two usually reflect the H one of the recipe post itself so that they reinforce each other maybe. And there’s a little bit of variation, but not usually, you know, maybe we say easy banana cream pie, and then the recipe card is just banana cream pie. Or maybe the recipe card says easy banana cream pie.
And the recipe is quick and easy. Banana cream pie. There’s a little bit of overlap there, but it’s, there’s not much to it. It’s just a matter of crossing teas, Donnie eyes, making sure that we fill in the recipe card fully. And I’m a big believer on the notes. I would never publish a recipe card. They didn’t have good notes in it.
So if someone was just to print out the recipe card, they look at that information and, and they’re not lost, like, Oh, wow, I didn’t read the post. But fortunately the author was smart enough to let me know that I need to know this about the ingredient, or make sure that I let this set for a little while before I do anything with it, or something along those lines.
Jared: That’s great, man. Really great stuff. Okay, let’s switch gears and talk about monetization and certainly so many of the myths perhaps that are around monetization. Uh, I, I, you know, have several sites of my own, not in this space, but in general. I’m told the longer the post, the more ads that get inserted, the better the, the more I get paid.
Uh, so there’s the debate about length. We’ve already sort of touched on that, but not from the monetization standpoint. Then there’s the debate in this niche specifically about jump links and whether I insert them other, I don’t. I’d also like to get your thoughts on monetization from a general perspective.
Do you see, uh, food bloggers getting, um, uh, uh, uh, success outside of just ad revenue? So lot to talk about there. Maybe let’s start with this content length debate as it relates to RPMs and as it relates to ad revenue.
Casey: Well, I can only tell you from my postal experience, but I’ve literally not had client, I mean, the average for me is that my clients from the top five to 6% of all RPMs period.
And they’re, they’re that way because they’re writing for their user and they, the users tend to stay on the pages longer. The RPMs tend to be more competitive and they tend to do well, whether it’s with Media V or Thrive, or sometimes we might have some clients on SHE media or, or Zoic. But honestly, respectfully, those are not what I would consider top tier network.
So our goal is always to move them to one of the two bigger platforms, which again, is Ad Thrive or Mediavine. And with, um, RPMs, a lot goes into that. You’re, you know, for example, you have a lot of international clients. It’s always gonna be tough for an international client with any percentage of traffic that’s non us to have competitive RPMs because the US audience pays so much more.
So I might have a site, I have a lot of clients from the uk. Our goal is to try to increase their bottom line percentage of US based traffic as much as possible because the RPM is so much more competitive. Now we, we can’t really do that in many aspects unless we change some of their writing approach.
And when we do that, we tend to alienate some of their home based audience. And so it’s a, it’s a constant fight. That we do with regard to that. But I’ll be honest with you, the biggest problem I have with Ad Company is just the bottom line, ridiculous and incorrect amount of information. They continue to push their clients.
We have situations where we’ve literally told, Okay, whatever media Avan is telling you to do, or whatever arthritis told you to do, we’re gonna do exactly the opposite for the next four weeks and just see what happens. And shockingly, we get these huge improvements. You know, we do not, uh, they’re, they’re against jump buttons.
Uh, I was a big advocate of jump buttons when they first started. I, I’m gonna single-handedly take credit for the huge embrace in that, that that’s happened in the niche. They’re the standard now, not the, the. Not the abstract norm. So with jump buttons, we’re always optimizing for users and what media Vine, for example, which is something that again, we’re really against.
We’ve continued to call them out on it whenever we can. They take over the jump buttons. They’ll take over your jump buttons and then make you jump to an ad that’s an accessibility violation. It’s a clear violation of W C E guidelines. I’m against it. They know it’s bad, but they do it because, and their, their numbers show up that, you know, they, they have a little bit of an increase in RPM or whatever.
I have personally never seen that. Every time we’ve turned it off on a site and made these other improvements, RPM has gone up, not down. And then of course we have happier clients because on mobile. Someone’s looking at the post, they click on a jump button and all of a sudden they’re jumped to an ad and they’re confused.
Why am I seeing this ad? Why am I not seeing the recipe? So eliminating that confusion to me is always a user first optimization, and we wanna do that whenever we can. So my advice is we always optimize for the user. I don’t give a Rads SAS about word count. I don’t give a rad sass about jump buttons whenever we optimize for a user and make sure that the post is easier to navigate on mobile and that it provides the bottom line best experience for the user.
We have increases in rpm, we have increases in site length and visits, and we have increases in in just bottom line traffic metrics. And that’s always been my approach. Is it as
Jared: simple for people who have a food or lifestyle blog to, Can they test this? Is it as simple as just they can see in the data for themselves?
Or is it more Absolutely.
Casey: Yeah. I’m actually gonna be speaking at state of search and Dallas, and we’ve got loads of information where we have literally turned off jump buttons and we take a screenshot of the RPMs the three weeks before, and we take a screenshot of the RPMs the three weeks after. And low and behold, we have increases there.
Now again, some of the increases are more, are larger than others, but there is literally almost always an increase because it, it makes sense. We are allowing users to more freedom in how they navigate the page. We don’t, we’re not jumping them to an ad, which honestly looks terrible on mobile and desktop anyway, and we’re making sure that we’re optimizing always for user first behavior.
And then there’s just some other, you know, Well, I’m a big believer in internal linking. Internal linking is. Is literally one of the most underutilized EO strategies that the average site owner can use to increase traffic. And you would be surprised at how many ad companies navigate or, or advocate. You removing your sidebars, which is just utter nonsense because you remove a sidebar, you remove an incredible opportunity to highlight internal linking.
It doesn’t matter if no one sees the links on mobile, the links are there, and they’re providing a site-wide internal signal to our best content. And that helps you considerably in both topic, discoverability and servicing seasonal content for users based upon their search intent at the time. So it’s just kind of that nonsense that makes me doubt all the advice that, that you get from these large corporations.
They just, you don’t know what they don’t know in many aspects. Well,
Jared: 30 minutes in, I’m clear that you are focused on user first. That’s, uh, that’s, that’s kind of the, uh, the charge that you, that you live by. Right. Um, and when it comes to monetization for food bloggers, typically a very ad heavy environment.
Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Uh, typically, I don’t know specifically, but anecdotally, from my friends that have these food blogs, often 80 to 90% of their revenue is. Ad driven? Is that what you are seeing and are there revenue opportunities being left on the table that may maybe many food bloggers are not taken advantage of?
Casey: That’s possible. I mean, there are very specific ad types that the average. Food and lifestyle blogger, and it’s not just food and lifestyle, but everyone should not be running. You should not be running. We call ’em gum, gum sticky ads, which are ads that attach to the bottom of every one of the images as you scroll down a page.
Those are horrible. They look terrible. They fill up the page, they’re, they’re not great, and we always wanna optimize for the user. Another one would be the Google, the vision net ads that you see, which activate between pages when you’re navigating from one page to another, they cover the entire screen again.
Why would you do that? Sure. The RPM might be a little bit, but you’ve lost that user. They’re not gonna come back. Why would you do that?
Jared: So those are, you wouldn’t often refer, I think, as interstitials too, right?
Casey: Yeah, they’re between page ads interstitial, but the, the Google V I G n e, TT E is the actual name type actually.
That type, Yep. Okay. Okay. Thanks for the clarifi. And so we just, we don’t, we don’t advocate those. And we also don’t advocate again, um, recommended ad densities. Um, the ad companies have recommended densities. They sign you up, they throw as much ads as they can get away with so that you can see the money you’re bringing.
And then hopefully a couple weeks later, you’ll be so satiated with the increased money that you’re making that you want to allow those ads. And then it’s the same song and dance over and over again. We get clients coming six months, 12 months, 18 months down the road. I signed up with me, Yvan, I signed up with Aright, but for some reason I just have not been able to build my traffic.
And we come to find out it’s because they’re running too many ads, they’re running the wrong type of ads, or they’ve taken advice that’s contrary to the best practices that have been stated elsewhere. And we just try to unwind all
Jared: that. Let’s talk density then, because I don’t think there’s much conversation about what is the right density.
Do you I determine that. I mean, you’re, you’re right. Whenever you’re with that networks, you can go in and hit a button and it’s not usually, uh, let’s see, qualitative, it’s or not, it’s not quantitative. Is that, am I using the right term? It’s not, It’s usually like high, medium, low. It’s not paid. That’s, Yeah.
Yeah. And so I, I admit like, but there’s gotta be a lot of uncertainty around, well, how do I measure density? How do I actually look at that instead of looking at it with words? How do I look at it with actual data
Casey: or numbers? Well, I think that’s the problem is that you have the ad settings that you can work with, but you also have literally common sense.
If I scroll down on my phone and I see that there’s too many ads, there’s probably too many ads, and I have people tell them, and this is, this is directly from Google. John Mueller has said this, Uh, Gary Esha said this, Uh, even, you know, in the good old days, Matt Cut said this. If I can visually look at a page and realize that it’s not a compelling experience for the user, maybe I need to change things.
And that’s exactly what we do. We use common sense. With regards to ad density settings. So even though I might be giving a recommended setting, I might wanna dial that setting down, or maybe, maybe I only increase that setting a little bit when I know I’m gonna have high traffic volumes to my site. It’s very common for the average blogger to increase their ad frequency and Q4 right after, uh, Halloween all the way till the end of the year because we’re gonna have higher RPMs, we’re gonna have higher bottom line payouts, and we’re gonna have higher traffic levels based upon a change in search behavior.
And so sometimes maybe we run ads a little bit higher then, and then we lower the ads again, uh, at the beginning of the year and so and so on. And that’s, there’s certainly some strategy that could be done with that. But my advice is always to air on the side of caution. We don’t need to load up. Um, the only people we’re making rich are the ad companies by doing that.
Okay, don’t do it. Optimize for user first and foremost. Please take a blog survey. It’s amazing how much insight we get. When we survey our blog audience once a year, usually we wanna do two blog surveys. We wanna do a blog survey in the first quarter of Q of of the year, so q1, and then we do a blog survey probably at the end of q3, just as we head into q4, because in both cases it’s usually a completely different audience that we could survey.
Mm. That’s interesting. Mm-hmm. ,
Jared: uh, You’ve talked about schema now many times. Mm-hmm. . Right? Uh, and you’ve also mentioned though, that you go with a good plugin, it takes care of the schema. Are there any more schema considerations a food or lifestyle blogger needs to take into consideration if they’re using a properly schema, uh, plugin?
If that’s even a term .
Casey: Exactly. So schema or structured data, uh, gets been confusing for a lot of SEOs. It’s, it’s, it’s interesting, you know, schema and Google has said repeatedly that structured data is not a ranking factor, but it certainly feels like it because if you’re arrest sign and you’re not using structured data, you’re not gonna rank well, you’re not gonna get in the carousel, and you’re certainly not gonna generate a lot of traffic because you’re generating these really cool, rich snippets which increase your conversion.
They provide these nice visual representation of the structured data on the page, So having fully fleshed out schema using competent structured data whenever possible, only as to the bottom line quality of the post itself and the recipe specifically. Now, in many cases, schema can be misused and that’s where we have the concept of spammy structured data markup or spammy structured data penalties.
And I’m very familiar with that. I’ve unw, it’s probably gonna be in the low four figures now over the years I’ve been doing, I’ve done a lot of penalty unwinding. When you’re in the food and lifestyle niche, you, there’s very little that you haven’t seen. So whether it’s a, a natural links penalty, whether it’s algorithmic in nature or spammy structured data markup, it exists and it happens when you’ve just incorrectly used the sche on a page.
So if I have a, a lot of people confuse recipe and howto schema. Uh, how to schema is very specific use cases. We do not use how-to schema. On recipe posts, if it’s edible, if it’s food or drink, you never use howto schema. And that’s confusing to a lot of people. Like how to cut a watermelon. You would think, Oh, that, that’s a how too, right?
Well, it’s not. It’s a recipe because the water watermelon is edible. It’s the same thing with other fruits. So you would, you really have to be careful. Um, as I tell bloggers all the time, one of the best ways to determine if you should be using how-to scheme is just to do a search in Google. And if you see your recipe carousel, pro tip, don’t use how-to scheme on your post.
So one of little things like that, we don’t miss the scheme as well. So if you go to the top of. You were to type howto schema, Google. There’s a nice big howto schema page and write smack at the top of the page is, Hey, do you have a food or drink recipe? Then you should be using recipe schema and here’s a link to that page.
And then if you go to the top of the recipe schema page, you’re gonna say, Hey, do you not have food and drink? Or do you have a howto? Then you should be using how to schema, and here’s a link to that page. Google’s tried to, uh, differentiate it as much as possible because this was a noticeable problem years ago with bloggers incorrectly using these schema, and then through no fault to their own other than just.
Little bit of ignorance. They were triggering these family structured data markup penalties. Wow. I did
Jared: not know
Casey: That’s, yeah, it’s a, it’s a fascinating niche to be in. I have literally seen it all. So it’s, it’s very nice. What about,
Jared: uh, bloggers using Yost, using Rank math and a lot of these natively ad schema markup?
Is that a concern? Do they need to go in and maybe deep dive and make sure they’re not accidentally adding this, uh, schema markup? Just by the nature of using a generalized SEO plug.
Casey: Well, Yost is still the most popular SEO plugin out there by far. Although it continues to lose ground every year, I think it’s still gonna be ahead for quite a while though.
Yost does a pretty good job in not exporting out unnecessary schema. Now you can definitely screw your sign up if you go in and start changing the default schema from, say, webpage to something else. But in the vast majority of cases, especially for recipe and lifestyle bloggers, we just don’t need to screw around with that.
The page is webpage. The main entity scheme on the page is usually viewed as recipe, and so that’s fine. Now, rank math though, I tell you, I, I know it’s a quality plugin, but the plugin is only as good as the user. And we have many examples where rank math, you know, you’ve used rank math and they’ve just played around with the sche or they’ve, they’ve, the schema has overwritten the plugin schema and there’s caused issues.
And of course then we have validation issues. We have recipes falling outta the carousel. We have Google not able to read the recipe. Maybe there’s a problem reading the thumbnails. That are being crawled in the schema for gallery and carousel consideration. So we definitely don’t wanna mess around with the schema as much as possible for the average site.
Maybe we go in and specify about me schema for the about me page. Maybe we go in and specify Contact me schema for the contact me page. Maybe we have a custom you page. Maybe we set that. But that’s it. Honestly, for the average site, I, the, you know, I would not, For example, I know you, you have quite a bit experience in local seo.
I would never, for example, advocate that a food blogger set up a local Google Maps listing. It’s not gonna help them. It’s not something that, and we’ve anecdotal evidence that sometimes it can really screw with targeting. So we definitely don’t wanna do that for, for an average food or lifestyle blog who has a global audience, so to speak.
So, I’m guessing
Jared: not many people search how to cut a watermelon near.
Casey: Exactly could happen, but I haven’t, I haven’t seen it myself. Wouldn’t wanna optimize
Jared: for it, I suppose. Right, right. Let’s switch gears. Let’s talk images. How important are images and talk to the, to the food blogger who is not a good photographer,
Casey: Well, yeah. The image, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words, it’s probably worth 10,000 words for the average food blogger because it’s such a, a visual, first medium, Uh, images, you know, we, we try to tell bloggers to take a food photography course as early as they can. It provides a competitive advantage for them, and there’s plenty of options in the niche.
We also wanna make sure that we’re optimizing as much as we can. I tend to recommend we future proof the images as much as possible because of the, because of how much better site speed has become, because of how much better CDMs have become because of the invention and advocation of lazy loading on images.
We don’t necessarily need to load inner images size to the theme anymore. It’s, it’s, it’s an outdated recommendation. Instead, we can, instead, maybe I tell bloggers we try to load in all of our images at 1200 pixels max width, so that at least those images could possibly qualify for Google Discover consideration, because that’s one of the recommendations in Google discoverers.
Hey, images have to be a minimum of 1200 pixels max width. And so we, we tell them to upload their featured images at 1200 by 1200. Maybe we tell them to upload a couple of their in content images at 1200 pixels wide, maybe. Maybe those images are 1200 by 1800, that’s fine. Maybe, you know, rectangular images are very popular, but what we don’t wanna do is have, you know, worry about, Okay, my theme is a 738 pixel, so we need to have all of our images of 7 38 pixels, because all what we do know is that that lowers your ability to qualify for discover consideration considerably.
And so there’s no reason to do that. If the image isn’t large enough to be pulled in, why would we waste all that time optimizing accordingly.
Jared: Do you optimize or recommend optimizing these images with a plugin or optimizing before you load in? Um, yes.
Casey: Preload op preload optimization. Pre-load optimization, We usually try to have the bloggers size all their images of 1200 pixels wide, maybe save at 60 to seven equality so that the images are around 150 to 200 cots at the most, if not smaller.
Upload from there, run a short pixel or an a magi to get even more savings, and there’s literally no quality loss to the eye that we can see. So I, I tend to recommend that. And then of course, you know, if you’re running WP Rocket or another quality caching plugin, then we have all everything’s lazy loaded.
I very seldom see issues with food bloggers, not fully passing core web vitals. Okay. As long as they’re, as long as they’re, you know, using a quality theme and that they’re doing some effort on their parts, optimiz, these images pre-load and once they’re on the site, my
Jared: background is in photography. That was what I did prior to this.
And so I tend to end up with a lot of photography clients. Mm-hmm. and we’re always battling image sizes as it relates to Yeah, yeah. Photographers and, um, and so, uh, I’m especially intrigued by, by your tips, but it’s good to hear that you’re able to to, to still. Um, and I think that’s important for people to understand.
Like if you’re in a medium that’s image heavy, that’s image, image first, really, then you have to still optimize your site for that while giving a good experience. So you have to balance that and you. You have to crack that nut as it were.
Casey: Right? Yeah. And you know, with regards tos, by far our biggest issue, whether it’s my nature or others, is still the incorrect application of all texts.
I know you’ve, you’ve read that in the articles I published. It’s still something we struggle with on a daily basis. It’s amazing. When I came into the nature of about 2015, 2016, I remember speaking at one of my first conferences was in Everything food conference. In, uh, Salt Lake City, and I remember on the top of the stage talking about SEO tips and saying, By the way, stop stuffing your alt text with keyword phrases.
That’s not what these images are for. Therefore, accessibility purposes. And the, the, the, the audible gasps that I had for the audience, I could so remember to this day. And we proceeded to talk about 10 minutes about what all text really was, and. They didn’t know. If they didn’t know, and they were all optimizing these images for Pinterest and putting these really long, flowery descriptions and stuffing it with keywords.
And it’s just, it’s just not what all text was meant for. So, you know, we, we, I’ve been very fortunate. We’ve seen a lot of improvement on that aspect. I have had friends who’ve suffered from, with visual disabilities. I know that the average site probably has anywhere from three to 7% every day of users accessing by means of screen reader.
So we always wanna optimize for that growing population and making sure that we have nice descriptive all text and that tells the user what is in the photo is very important. And, and it’s still something that we, you know, I see struggling, I see incorrect and audits almost on a daily basis. Hmm.
Jared: That is fascinating.
I did not know it was that high. I really didn’t. All right. Let’s, uh, I keep saying switch gears. , I’m trying to hit you with as much Yeah. Many questions as I can in this hour and you are doing a great job by just motoring through it. So thank you author expertise. E a t Again, I wanna center the conversation around so many food bloggers feel like they don’t have a lot of external authority.
Many are, you know, they’re home taught, they didn’t go to chefs. Sure, yeah. They’re not, they weren’t a sous chef or a chef at a major restaurant. Uh, then there’s a lot of myth around e a t. Is it a real thing? Is it only a thing for Y M Y L? So, I, I, I heard you talk about how important it is. Let’s, I wanna hear more about.
Casey: Yeah. So, uh, we’ve got, uh, and that’s a very good question, especially the thing about the home cook, because the home cook is a form of expertise that’s absolutely recognizable by Google, and it’s stated repeatedly more than once in the Google quality guidelines. Did I know that a home cook is considered, uh, someone who is an expert, especially considering their expertise, and that’s used as an example under the recipe, uh, guideline examples.
There’s, there’s many examples in the, in the quality rate guidelines of, of recipes being used as examples of low to acceptable to highest meets needs. Um, content. And so, you know, going through that with an eye towards that as something like recipes repeated like 300 times or something like that, and the recipe and the rest in the Google Quality Reader guidelines.
So it’s a big part of the guidelines and it’s amazing how many food bloggers and site owners have not read those. It’s well worth your time, but expertise is really, you know, when we talk about e a t expertise is really about how others view you. I. Would not be an Xco expert or considered a professional unless others felt or referred to me as such.
If you didn’t think I had an expertise to share, you would not have invited me on this podcast, or I would not have an article at Search Engine Land where I would not have the seven month wait for audits. I have. It’s because others view me as having an expertise in a certain area, not because I go out and yell at the top of the mountaintop, Hey, I’m really good with food and lifestyle blog.
It’s not gonna do me any good. It’s, it’s, it’s about how others perceive you. So we have the E and the E A T, and then we move to a, which is the authoritativeness, and that’s more about links and media mentions. That’s more about how others view the veracity of the content you’re sharing. And then we get into t, the trustworthiness can is, is he bat shit crazy?
Is the information that he is providing easily discernible from other sources, or is this just his opinion or can he support those opinions? And a lot of that is because of, you know, the things that I provide, I. Don’t think that there’s anything outlandish whenever you optimize for the user. I think it’s pretty common sense, but I also, we have studies, you know, when I, I, I’m very fortunate to have spoken all over the world at various conferences, and I think my presentations go into depth about what we see based upon the data at hand.
We know, okay, hey, do you know we’re gonna own presentation? I’m gonna do at state of search, for example, uh, in October we’re gonna have a section in their own expired domains. Do they still provide value for a site? Can I buy a slew of expired domains and point them at D pages and will the pages move?
And I was skeptical, but I was pretty surprised that some of the results. And so those are things that we, as an SEO or as as anyone, should be testing on a regular basis and. And adjusting accordingly. So when we’re talking about e t, when we’re talking about author expertise, a lot about author expertise is how others perceive you.
So as I tell bloggers all the time, let’s go into Google Search Console and look at the sites linking to you. Have you been linked to by parade.com? Have you been linked to by New York Times food, Uh, the food column? Have you been linked to or featured in a roundup for, uh, you know, Red Book or Better Homes and Gardens?
Because that’s a strong signal that clearly your content can be trusted. It’s been cultivated. Individually to be shared with a specific group. And so then we could take some of those mentions and maybe we make a banner and slap it on the author page. And that’s not gonna do anything for Google, but it’s gonna do something for how others perceive you.
And it’s gonna look, I’m like, Oh my gosh, look at this Blogger has been featured on Red Book and Yahoo Lifestyle and all these other places, and here’s their About Me page. And I’ve linked to some of the better examples, and that’s gonna help users trust you more with your recipes. Like, okay, I, she’s got a peach cobbler.
And then there’s this other Peach Co on this other site. You know what I, I tend, maybe I’ll go with Allison because she seems to have a better, she seems to be more trustworthy. And one of the things I try to do in the audits is if I go to the site and I can’t see a photo of the author, I’m immediately suspect that’s something that I really try to push.
You know, I, a lot of bloggers are shy. They don’t wanna put a photo of themselves on their blog, and I literally say that it’s mandatory. I’m really big about that. We want to be trustworthy. Wanna pop a photo on your sidebar? We wanna have a nice detailed about me page showing your story and what it is about your site that’s different than the million of other food blogs.
And here’s some popular questions that users might be interested in. And oh, by the way, here’s some, here’s a couple of my favorite recipes with the rating, so you can check those out. We really wanna build up the authority and the expertise around that person. By physically manifesting why they can be trusted on the site.
And we to do that, we can’t be shy.
Jared: You, so you, I mean, uh, I get a, I get a link, I get mentioned somewhere. Do you advocate and is it good for say, e a t to feature that link, to feature that prominently the showcase. I was featured in Red Book, I was featured on Better Homes and Gardens. Or do you really worry?
Are those things actually very important?
Casey: I think it’s important. I think it’s from both a visual aspect because we’re, our goal is to project trust with our audience, but also who knows if we’re gonna be visited by a coup, by a quality radar. You know, uh, the quality radar is basically tell you where the algorithms are going.
They don’t have any direct impact on your site as a whole. But hey, I would love for a quality writer to visit some of my client sites and say, Oh, wow. Look at this nice about me page. This is, this is something that we need to really reference. Maybe, maybe we can use this as an example, or maybe we can, maybe we need to change some of our items to more readily feature.
Some of the practices that we’re seeing on this site. That’s what we’re trying to do, is we’re trying to see where Google’s going, and by doing that, we try to adhere as closely to the quality rate guidelines as possible. So that helps us both prepare for potential updates and of course, recover from bad core updates or other algorithmic actions if we’ve been negatively impacted in the.
Jared: I think it’s really interesting to look at e a t from the standpoint that you brought up and looking at external expertise, looking at external authority. How important and how vital is it for me as a food blogger to have a popular social media presence, whether it’s YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram. Is it vital?
If I’m a food blogger and I don’t have popularity on some social media channel, do I need it?
Casey: And that’s a good question. And, and really, uh, the answer is it depends. I know it’s first time we’ve said that today, it, but we’ve for an hour in congratulations. An hour in, Yeah. Very, very pleased about that. Uh, we have a, a group of clients who are incredibly successful and they have no real social media reach.
They don’t have large followings on Instagram or TikTok or other sites. I would say that that’s, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s. Minority, but it’s a growing minority. I think that the bottom line content speaks for itself. That’s why we have, we’re concentrating on Google first. Now we have a lot of other bloggers who.
They, they kind of joined the SEO game late. They built their followings based upon an incredible influx of Pinterest traffic or social media traffic. And now of course the algorithms over the last couple of years, especially from Pinterest, have just crater. Yeah, you’ve had clients lose 70 to 80% of their Pinterest traffic and they’re like, Oh my gosh, what am I gonna do now?
I need to start thinking about replacing that with Google traffic. And it’s a different approach. They were optimizing for the Pinterest user with these, you know, maybe there wasn’t. It’s just a different approach. They have these really long pins on the page, which don’t really provide much value to user.
It was literally just for Pinterest. And now we have to go back and rejigger their entire template to make it more acceptable algorithmically with Google and start building in that, that traffic channel. But no, I absolutely believe that a blogger can be successful without large social media reaches.
I’ve got bloggers contacting me all the time for audits or repeat audits, and they’re like, Well, should I spend this thousand dollars on. Uh, social media managing or scheduling, or should I spend this thousand dollars on maybe getting a VA to help me update and repu these 150 old posts? And clearly I’m gonna recommend the latter.
Okay. We wanna really improve the bottom line quality of the site. We really wanna improve how this site is perceived algorithmically. And in doing that, it’s a rising tide lifts all ships. If the more top three and top 10 rankings I can generate, the higher chance, I’m going to generate increased social signals because of the increased sharing and visibility that’s gonna, that’s gonna occur, right?
Jared: My final question, I think. Mm-hmm. , I’m trying to be respectful of your time, updating old content. You, you kind of took the words on my mouth cuz that’s the last thing I have on my list. What are the big tens, uh, and bear in mind that really listen to the last hour and you probably, you need to know about updating con uh, content, but maybe to tie a bow around the going back process rather than the going forward process.
What are the big things you’re seeing in the food and lifestyle space that move the needle when it comes to updating old content? Are there certain things. Since we all don’t have an endless supply of time, are there’s certain things that tend to move the needle more than
Casey: others? Well, when we updating content, and I have a very detailed process that covers all of this, but we, we always focus on seasonal content first.
There’s no reason for us to worry about content. For example, in Christmas, that’s still a good four or five months away. Uh, the days of us having to update content three, four or five months in advance over, been over for years, Google will reindex and crawl content in minutes or hours. I can publish a new post today, have it ranking on page two tomorrow, and for a good, strong blogger with some earned authority, maybe we have that in the middle of page one within a week.
So the days of you having to like, Oh my God, I gotta start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas content in August over, we don’t do that. That that was a Pinterest first strategy. So our goal for Anata today, Visit with a big, big blogger, healthy, healthy. Basically her focus is, is healthy seasonal recipes and we focus on what is seasonal right now.
So in her case it’s grilling, it’s gonna be Labor Day, it’s gonna be back to school dinners with kids, and those are the content that we identify by means of a content audit. And we focus on having her revisit that content and update the content as fast as possible based upon the template we shared on the call.
So she probably has access to VAs and we focus on the seasonality patterns first, and then we expand our circles out from there because there, it provides you no value to get bogged down. . And then low and behold, a holiday comes up and it’s passed and you’ve missed updating recipes that now you have to wait a year for them to be relevant again.
So our goal is to always focus on the relevant seasonal patterns of our content, first and foremost. And we do that, and then we expand from there. And maybe we look at the low hanging crew, uh, posts from better ranking in four to 10. I’m a big believer in that we don’t touch top three posts, period. I mean, honestly, uh, I, I, I’ve always been very good about that.
And if we have to make dramatic changes, you know, we minimize them. You know, we, we may be the good news about using a database driven plugin for recipe blocks. Or, you know, most recipe cards have a database driven plugin is we can go in and make changes to the card, and those changes pop up on the site, and then we never have to touch the post.
So maybe I know that there’s a problem with the recipe post, so I have them go in and make a change to the card under the notes section as a clarification. That way I don’t necessarily have to touch the post at all. And so doing that provides a, a good balance between usability and not upsetting the Apple card, so to speak by, by touching a post that might be doing extremely well.
Jared: Is it, even if I’m doing everything right or most everything right on my site and I don’t have all these problems, is it vital to update seasonal content every year, even no matter what?
Casey: I wouldn’t say it’s a necessary to update every year, especially if it’s very high quality. But we can re feature it.
We can certainly go in and, uh, refe feature it by moving it to a homepage or pop popping in on a seasonal carousel on our site, or pos maybe on the home, maybe on the side bar, or maybe we just reshare it socially. Uh, it’s amazing though, how when looking at a post a year later, how much better we could probably make that post.
So it’s, I it’s something to think about. Uh, I have bloggers who look really police this seasonal content a lot, and it’s very rare for, for blocks to have 90% of their content generating traffic. But they exist and. These bloggers who are really policing this seasonal content. That’s a big part of it.
That’s a big part of it.
Jared: Woo Casey, that was, uh, that was the heck of a deep dive. That was a lot of fun. I feel like we could go on and on, but I wanna, Yeah, I wanna respect your time. How do people follow along with what you’re doing? How do people get in touch if they want to, uh, talk with you more about, uh, about what you do?
Casey: Yeah, absolutely. I’m on Twitter. Just type in media wise, m a d i a w y as in yellow se. You can find me there, you can find me on Facebook. I’m in a lot of different groups. Uh, feel free to ping me or send me a, on a connection request on LinkedIn. Uh, Find me in a local bar, can buy me a drink. We’ll have a long, long deep dive into whatever you’d like to discuss.
And there aren’t many bars in Ramona I can test to that there. You’d be surprised. There’s four. There’s four. Literally four. Yeah, there’s, there’s a, It’s more than you think people like to drink in Ramona. You’ll have to
Jared: venture down to Powerway down the hill. We gotta, We probably have six here. . Yeah.
Casey: You’ve got the, you’ve got the, the last time I was down there was at the, uh, Irish. Right of right between community, I believe what Community and power road. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, yeah, that’s right. No,
Jared: right there. Yeah. It is rare that I’m talking to someone so local on a podcast . This is really fun and totally two different worlds that never meet colliding right now.
So, um, believe it or not, for all the listeners, we have never met in person, nor we each other .
Casey: We’ll have to change that. We’ll, I’ll have you and the family up for our annual Christmas party. We have a, a Christmas, we call it Christmas Army yet, and it’s literally the largest Christmas party in Ramona, period.
So we have, it’s about 200 plus people every year and it’s a charity that we do for one of the local equine rescue, equine and dog rescue organization. So it’s, it’s a good time. Uh, some years I remember the whole party even. So that’s great. Fantastic. Uh,
Jared: that’s wonderful. Casey, thanks so much. I’ll include, um, some links to the different, uh, ways to contact you in the show notes, but.
Man, what a deep dive this was. Thank you for, uh, just coming with so much information. There’s so much to unpack here and, uh, and I really appreciate you joining us, so until we talk again, thank you.
Casey: Pleasure. It’s mine. Thanks for having me ge. Appreciate it.