Foodie SEO: The 4 Parts of Running a Successful Food Site
This is a broad overview of the most important factors to consider when it comes to running a food blog or website. Some of these topics will be covered in-depth in later entries, but if you see anything of particular interest, feel free to let me know in the comments!
We can think of running a website as a Cycle with 4 main components:
You’ll create content for your users, then promote this new content, monetize your content to take advantage of the traffic you gain from promotions, and then track all of this. Once you’ve analyzed your traffic and revenue, you’ll go back to your content and edit it so that you can promote it once again.
Now we’ll go over each of these steps.
CONTENT: Building Blocks For Your Site
Your website’s content is your site's building blocks - after all, it’s the whole reason why people are even visiting your site. The purpose of your website will dictate the type of content you will have. The key is to find a balance that is interesting to your audience but also optimized for search engines.
- Text - The most common type of content, compatible with all browsers.
- Images - Users love photos, especially images of your delicious dishes and beverages.
- Videos - More popular than ever, but not always viewable on mobile devices. Create recipe videos, or simply a video with some nutrition and cooking tips.
- Flash/Java - Attention grabbing but often unfriendly to search engines
PROMOTIONS: Getting Eyes to Your Site
Once you have content, you have to promote it! Otherwise, no one’s going to see it. There are a variety of ways to draw eyes to your site. The most important are listed in the diagram below. We will go over each of these methods in great detail in later entries.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A huge, complicated topic with a million subtopics! The goal of SEO is to make your website rank higher in search results. This is a worthwhile effort, because Google receives millions of searches for recipes every single day. Which means there are millions of opportunities for visitors to discover your site on a daily basis.
You achieve higher rankings in 2 main ways:
- By optimizing your site for search engines
- By obtaining inbound links to your site from other trusted sites.
Social media is internet media used for social interaction, a departure from the older one-way model of traditional communication. Users spend 22% of their internet hours on social media (source), and the interactivity makes it a great opportunity for engagement with your brand. For example, Oreo Cookies has over 16 million Facebook fans, but only receives 290,000 monthly visitors on its official website (source). These Facebook Fans are also likely to be more devoted fans who interact with the page on a daily basis.
Social media is:
- Community based - hence the social!
- User generated - users create content and then organize, edit, comment on or share it.
- Vital for anyone who building an online presence.
- Easily integrated with your main website.
Partnering with similar sites is a great way to gain more exposure. Possible partnerships include:
- Link Exchanges - For example, two similar food bloggers may post links to to the other's blog on their own site.
- Collaborative Promotions- iFood.tv often teams up with cookbook authors for giveaways, which helps promote both the author and iFood.tv.
- Guest Posts- Bloggers can write a guest post for another blog with a similar interest, or make a guest apperance in a video.
- Partnerships- Create relationships like iFood.tv’s Featured Partner Program, where we partner with online video producers to help them raise awareness of their site.
Email marketing involves using email to engage potential customers and visitors. Examples include:
- Email Newsletters- such as iFood.tv’s Weekly Newsletter (you can see an example here: http://go.emaildir2.com/KA/Ab/facebook). You can include site news, weekly recipes and articles, special offers and more!
- Lead Nurturing- This is using email to follow up with potential leads so you can turn them into loyal customers. We will go into this in further detail when we talk about email marketing.
Paid Ads are another way to promote your website. It’s important to think about your Return On Investment (ROI) when it comes to placing ads. This return is what you actually gain from a successful ad. Is your return from your ads justifying their cost? Keep this mind when making advertising decisions.
Types of advertisements include:
- Display Ads on other sites
- Sponsored Search Results, such as those from Google AdWords
- Facebook Ads
Monetization: Earning Revenue from Your Site
Typically, site owners will want to earn revenue from their site traffic. This can be achieved through advertisements or sales of your product.
You can sell ad space on your website. Advertisers will usually pay through one of two methods:
- Cost Per Click (CPC) - You can be paid a certain dollar amount for every click.
- Cost Per Impression (CPM) - You can also be paid a certain dollar amount for every 1000 views, or impressions.
Different types of ads include:
- Text Ads - Programs like Google AdSense use contextual targeting to provide ads with certain keywords related to the content of your site. For example the right side bar of Featured Partner Saucy Mouth contains ads from Google AdSense which are related to recipes and cooking.
- Pre-Roll Ads - Short commercials that run before a video starts. iFood.tv has recently launched a new video player which can help you monetize your videos through pre-roll ads. For more information visit our blog about iFood.tv’s New Video Player Widget.
- Interstitial Ads - These ads appear between segments of a video, and are common on Hulu.com.
- Post-Roll Ads - Short commercials which play after a video ends.
- Overlays - Ads that appear at the bottom of video as it plays, common on Youtube.
- Display Ads - Visual ads which are displayed on your website. These usually come in standard sizes. The most popular sizes include 300 by 250 pixels, 728 x 90 pixels and 160 x 60 pixels.
Some partners may choose to sell products on their site. Common products include:
- Personal fitness and nutrition consultations
- Cooking classes
- Food Products - you can use your site to sell your own products. You can also take advantage of Affiliate Programs from established sites like Amazon and eBay by hosting their product listings on your site. These listings are related to your site’s theme, and you will earn commission from every sale resulting from your links.
Analytics: Making Sense of it All
Last, but not least, you need to have analytics in place to measure how you’re doing. You can think of analytics as having two main components:
If you have any type of website, you should be monitoring your traffic! Why?
- This is your biggest indicator of growth.
- Traffic analytics will also show which parts of your site receive the most views, helping you figure out your most interesting or popular content.
- iFood.tv uses Google Analytics to measure traffic. This is a free tool which gives you detailed statistics on your site visitors and what they're doing on your site.
You must have some metrics in place for defining success. Consider the goal of your website and what you are hoping to accomplish.
- Are you trying to get more views for your videos?
- Are you trying to sell more cookbooks?
- Are you trying to grow your email newsletter base?
Each of these goals has a different success metric. Establishing metrics for success will help you figure out whether or not you’re going in the right direction.
And that’s your cycle! Every stage feeds into the next stage, so it’s a constant feedback loop.
So now that you have a general overview of running a website, what are your next steps?
- If you haven’t already, start tracking your site traffic! Sign up for Google Analytics if you have not started to monitor your site visits. Visit http://www.google.com/analytics/.
- Figure out what you are already doing in terms of SEO. If you have a web designer, ask them what they have implemented to help your site rank higher in search results.
- Get on social media if you aren’t already! Create a Facebook Page for your brand (not a profile or group). Start building rapport with likeminded individuals on Twitter.
- Tell me anything I’ve missed! Post questions and thoughts in the comments below.
Next week, we’ll go over basic SEO and really start to dig in to optimizing your website! Thanks for reading.
Missed the first Foodie SEO entry? No worries: here’s the Introduction to Foodie SEO.