2016 SEO Checklist

Lots of tech experts have poo-pooed traditional SEO in recent years. The argument being that SEO practices are largely outdated and that other elements will begin to affect site traffic in the coming years. Rather than getting the perfect keywords set up, experts have recommended that bloggers focus on other things like site speed or mobile friendliness since those are the factors Google's prioritizing for search results.

That's why we collected a bunch of incredible articles and podcasts that will help you get your SEO act together this year. Remember, though: algorithms are always changing. Use these excellent resources not just today, but bookmark them and check back regularly for updated tips!

1. Do a Content Audit - Smart Passive Income

This tip actually gets repeated by a few of the resources we mention here. By reviewing your old content, you can ensure that all links are working, any necessary redirects are in place and all permalinks are cleaned up and consistent. 

As food bloggers, you have a big advantage. Recipes equal evergreen content. Search engines love seeing old, popular content get refreshed and republished at the same link. So, if you have a recipe from a few years ago that readers loved, spruce it up and republish. If you have an old post that barely gets any traffic and/or the link is broken, think about deleting it. This link clean up will legitimize your site in Google's eyes.

2. Continue to Build Backlinks, But Do It Ethically - Food Blogger Pro

We love Bjork Ostrom's podcast and find the episodes to be incredibly informative. But this SEO episode with Casey Markee at MediaWyse took the cake. The two talk through lots of SEO tips that will motivate you to take action on your site. We especially loved the portion of the talk that revolved around backlinks to your site.

Many food bloggers are familiar with the idea of no-follow links and making sure the web that you're building leads lots of people (and search engines!) back to your site... or not, when necessary. There are some linking practices that Google hates, though, and Casey and Bjork help out with some of those dos and don'ts.

3. Pay Attention to Bounce Rate & Improve UX - HubSpot

A huge factor in modern SEO practices has to do with user-friendliness of your site. Scroll down to #7 in this post by HubSpot for a quick refresher on what this means (but not without reading the rest of their excellent article first!). UX includes your mobile optimization, which many themes or CMS systems (like Squarespace) will manage for you.

As for other user-friendly markers, look to your bounce rate. See from which pages readers are leaving your site, and after how long. Perhaps redesigning your content is necessary, maybe you'll learn something about where to place your photos or your recipe card on your page, or you might get to know which types of recipes keep your readers hooked, so you can create more of that content.

4. Structure Your Data - Google Developers

We've talked about this before and we'll talk about it again! Google, in particular, is cracking down on tidily structured data. This enables them to show "rich snippets" in search results, among other things. This same data structure will allow you to enable rich pins (and use Chicory!).

Use this tool to check if your content markup is structured properly. Most recipe plugins will do this for you on the recipe side, but there is still more data to keep tidy like your <h1> title tag and your <h2> subhead tags (side note: Google refers to your <h1> for the title of your post, so don't use more than one <h1> tag on a page). If it looks like your recipe data is not correct AND you're using a recipe plugin to format those, pressure the plugin designer to keep their structuring up-to-date with Google standards.

5. Keywords Still Matter - NewsCred

This is good news for those of you who have spent time getting to know Google's keyword planner tool with the intention of hopping on "trending" keywords for your content. While we recommend staying true to yourself with content and not chasing trending keywords, if you already have a chicken enchilada recipe ready, this tool can help you find just the right words for naming that recipe, SEO-wise.

Keywords aren't dead and this article, found on NewsCred's blog will help you to figure out just what you should be doing, in terms of keywords, in 2016.

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