Food Photography

Increasing traffic to your food blog in five simple steps

Eggplants_2

As with this beautiful congregation of eggplants, more is always merrier.

For a fairly new blogger, there’s nothing more exciting than logging into Google Analytics to see a big spike in traffic.

After only seven days of having this little ol’ blog up and running, I actually brought in 916 unique visitors in a single day. I swear I’m not bragging. There is a point to all of this.

How does such a new blog attract so many people? Pull up a chair and listen closely.

1. FoodGawker, TasteSpotting, PhotoGrazing and other “food porn” sites. I discovered these sites early on and immediately realized their power. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using them:

– These sites can be very picky with the images they accept. I’ve already spoken about the virtues of having a good camera, and it’s my belief that if you are serious about food blogging, you should invest in one. Food and aesthetic are directly related—it’s no coincidence that the most popular and well-known food blogs have beautiful pictures. I use a Canon Rebel XS, which is a great digital SLR starter camera.

– The more interesting your submission, the more traffic you will receive. One of my biggest traffic drivers was my Top Ten Photography Tips post that appeared on TasteSpotting. People see a million recipes for banana bread (mine included), but this particular article caught their eye because it was unique and helpful.

– If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If your submission is declined you have three choices: a) sulk and beat yourself up for being an awful cook/photographer; b) get back on the horse and submit your post again with a different image; c) Submit your image to TasteStopping. TasteStopping is a blog that accepts all the food-porn site rejects and pairs them with clever little headlines.

Don’t get discouraged. I thought these were pretty good, but the editors at TasteSpotting weren’t so convinced:

Red Mango_4

Tuna Melt_4

Cinnamon Sugar Fench Toast_12

2. SEO, SEO, SEO. I repeat it thrice because this is very important. Thanks to Dave’s SEO-guru coworker at Cars.com, I’m getting a significantly higher amount of traffic from search engines. SEO should really be a post in itself (and hopefully it will be soon), but here are the basics:

– First and foremost, if you host your blog through WordPress, download the All-In-One SEO pack. SEO is a piece of cake with this plugin, and you can use it to do almost everything you need in terms of basic SEO.

– Check your title tag. This is what showa up in the frame of your browser when you are on a site. It should be your blog name, as well as a few descriptive words. Mine is “Better With Butter, A Blog About Adventures in Food, Recipes, Eating Out and Entertaining.”

Title Tag

– Update your meta description (I did this with the All-In-One SEO plugin). This is the sentence that you will see in Google when your blog comes up in a search (after the title tag). By default it’s usually the first few words that appear on your home page—not ideal.

– Make sure your URL structure is optimized. By default, your permalinks, or the links that go to each individual post, will usually start with your blog URL and end with a series of numbers/letters. Google and other search engines use these URLs, along with meta descriptions and title tags, to decipher the content of your blog. You can typically change your URL structure in the settings area of your blog admin page. Change it to “title” or “date and title” for best results.

Here’s an example: http://betterwithbutter.com/guac-it-out/. This is a good example of a post that has a more inconspicuous headline. In this case, I’ll add a more logical title tag to the individual post so Google will see “Guacamole | Better With Butter,” rather than “Guac it out” which, needless to say, probably isn’t an oft-searched phrase.

– Name your images accordingly. For a while, I was adding images with the file name “Image 1234.jpg,” for example. Naming photos, I soon found out, can be good for SEO when it comes to Google Image searches. An image titled “Guacamole” will come up in an image search for the term, where as “Image 1234.jpg” will not. And to think, all this time you thought that Google was actually SEEING your images.

3. Blog communities. I am a FoodBuzz featured publisher, and I also contribute to Yahoo Shine’s Food Blog—both offer additional exposure for my blog by allowing me to publish my posts. Putting your content on other sites may seem counterintuitive, but it can actually drive traffic. Especially if you try this little trick: link to back to your blog within the content you publish on other sites. Because most of these sites do not have your blog name and link in plain view, readers would actually have to click on your name and read your profile to get your blog’s URL. If you have a link back to your blog within the post however, you are much more likely to get traffic.

See that “food pick of the day” below? That baby got me more than 200 unique visitors in one day. There’s no telling how much less that would be if I didn’t have a link to my blog in the post.

Oh, and the “Gorgeous” part of the headline came from the Shine editors. OK, now I’m bragging a little.

Food shine

4. Social Networking. Yes, it’s an overused buzz phrase. But you may be surprised by the amount of traffic you can get from sites like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious and more. Add social media buttons to your posts so readers can easily add your posts to these sites, and don’t be afraid to be a little self-promotional. “A LITTLE” being the operative words. I use Twitter and Facebook to occasionally, but only when I have a post I’m really proud of that I think other people will actually enjoy.

5. Comment on and link to other blogs. The foodie blog community, like most niches in the blogosphere (Did I really just say “blogosphere?”), is fairly tight-knit. I find new blogs through Tastespotting and blogrolls/links on blogs I read.

Start commenting now. And don’t stop. You’ll not only get traffic from the blogger, but they may return the comment love.

So what are you waiting for? Go get blogging.

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