Everyone and their sister has a blog these days, and what better thing to blog about than food? Food is one of the highest searched content areas on the web. I tried to find how many food blogs there were but the only figure I could find with real numbers was from a 2012 post on a site called Taking back the Kitchen that quoted Technorati saying there were 16,588 Food blogs at that time. I could not update or even verify that information with Technorati since in May of this year Technorati removed all of their pages of their blog directory and associated information and hasn’t replaced it.
The thing about blogging is that it is hard to do. At least it is hard to do for the long haul. Many people start and then abandon their blogs like gym memberships in July when they find out that to blog on a consistent basis is a JOB.
The people that stick with it day after day should be commended. need to have an angle on their subject, put a site together, learn to take great photos, write well, create, test and document recipes, learn how to get traffic to their sites and engage with people to get more readers to their blog. Then they need to keep doing it.
Recently, Atlanta food blogger, Renee Dobbs and I spoke to a group of 200 food bloggers, hungry for information that could help them take their blogs to the next level, at the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida. The next day I did a workshop of live website evaluations for people brave enough to put their stuff out there for some feedback.
Here is a round-up of 20 tips that came up in the evaluations. It should go without saying that to be top of their game they should be using WordPress.org for their website platform.
- Use a clean, white or cream blog theme with good typography so that your images take center stage.
- Like clothing, theme designs go out of fashion every few years. Don’t be wearing your 2004 outfits.
- Draw people into your posts with full posts and large images rather then using teaser posts on the home page.
- Keep your logo and header on the small side so you don’t take up so much of your above the fold real estate.
- Be careful about the type and placement of ads in the header and above the fold. You have three or 4 seconds for someone to know they are in the right place and you don’t want them thinking they have arrived at Hormel.
- The navigation bar works best under your header.
- If you have too many pages for one row in your menu, use drop-downs rather than two rows of buttons.
- “Don’t make them think”. If it you have an “About” page then call it About. etc….
- Move your “Legal Information” type pages menu buttons to your footer menu so you can keep the top navigation bar for your goodies.
- Sliders may cause the site to load slowly and people won’t wait around to read them. Use a static images or a couple of slides to set a mood but don’t bury anything important in the third slide.
- Use full-posts on your home/blog page rather than automatic excerpts. Then you can insert a “read more” tag where you choose to have the content break.
- Stick to one topic per post. It is better for search engines and easier to read.
- If you have a lot of images from an event, add a couple of full size images with the text and then add a gallery of images at the bottom of the post.
- Use a recipe plugin that has semantic search so Google knows it’s a recipe. Recipe Press and Ziplist, and Easy Recipe are good.
- People read from left to right so a left sidebar can distract from your content.
- Move your social media Follow buttons to a footer widget so people read your content before leaving your site to go to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
- Don’t use a blogroll. This is your blog and you want people to stay on your site. These links also sends off search engine ranking. If you need or want to acknowledge other bloggers write a post about their site and why you like it.
- Resize your images before uploading them to your site. You do not need to upload any image larger than the width of your post content box ( 450px – 650px). Overtime these bloated images will slow your site down and cause it to time-out during back-ups.
- When adding the image to the post, use one of the three sizes that WordPress makes for you rather than resizing in the edit box. Although you can do this, the browser has to resize the image before it can load causing your page to load very slowly.
Use WP Smush.it and to optimize image compression. It takes out the meta data so the image loads faster. Another plugin, EWWW Image Optimizer will reduce the actual size of all of the images on your site and in your database.