How to optimize your recipes for search intent

Search intent has been written about extensively on the web, but very little has been written about how it applies to food and recipe content specifically.

Until now.

This post highlights some of the BIG benefits that come with satisfying search intent. Plus we share a dozen helpful examples for ways you can write (or edit) your recipe posts or nutrition articles to more closely match search intent, which is an important part of food blog SEO

Search intent defined

Search intent (also known as user intent) is the practice of more accurately describing your food and recipe content for readers so that it matches what they want in that EXACT search moment. 

It’s a big part of successful on-page SEO for food blogs.

We know it can be hard to focus on all of the aspects of on-page and technical SEO when you’re busy creating new food and recipe content.

But learn to satisfy search intent and you will get more organic traffic.

How search intent works

Let’s say you want to make a quick dinner using spinach. But you’re going to the theater with friends tonight and you only have 30 minutes to pull something together. 

You do a Google search for “quick spinach recipes”.

Screenshot of Google search bar with the search query quick spinach recipes in the search field

The first search result you click on looks good, but you see after scrolling down the page to the recipe card that the recipe takes 60 minutes to prepare and cook.

So you go back to the search results to find a different recipe.

And this next time, you land on what you’re looking for: a spinach salad with a vinaigrette dressing. It takes 15-minutes to come together, which exactly what you want. 

If enough people who search for “quick spinach recipes” feel the way you do about the spinach salad, that result is going to climb up the search rankings.

Why?

Because satisfying a user’s search intent is priority #1 for Google. 

Why you should focus on search intent

With so much high-quality food, nutrition and recipe content published each day, it’s harder than ever to stand out in the search results.

Human attention has become a scarce commodity (thanks social media!). You need to let people know immediately that you are the best, right search result for them.

Google also looks at how people interact with your search result, and all the other results around it. They can tell if people don’t love a specific search result, because those people click the back button in their web browser before they clickthrough on a different search result.

3 tips to more closely match search intent

  1. Look at your user signals
  2. Use a keyword research tool
  3. Use words in your writing that help match search intent

Look at your user signals

Rather than guessing, or making an emotional gut decisions about why a recipe post isn’t performing well, look at your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data. Number don’t lie.

At Foodie Digital we track member user signals on a monthly basis.

This includes (amongst others):

If these user signals are weak, it’s a good indication that you’re not satisfying search intent.

Use a keyword research tool

Keyword research helps you find out what people want.

Using a keyword research tool, such as SEM Rush or Ahrefs (both tools are paid products) or Keysearch (a more affordable option) you can begin to study search intent based on specific keyword opportunities.

Use words in your writing that match search intent

For example, the keywords “meal prep” and “meal planning” are used by a searcher with clear intent; someone who we can assume wants to:

  • Be organized and plan ahead
  • Save time
  • Save money
  • Have leftovers to take to work for lunch
  • Make healthy choices
  • Eat well on-the-go

When a meal planner Googles a recipe, because of the intent to “plan” that they bring to the search, they are more likely to clickthrough on an SEO title and meta description with a planning bend.

For example, here is a selection of descriptive words they may be attracted to:

  • Freezer friendly
  • Budget friendly
  • Make ahead
  • Overnight

But when it comes to weeknight meals, search intent may look more like:

  • One-pot
  • Slow cooker
  • Instant pot
  • 5-ingredient
  • Quick and easy
  • Oven-baked

While fussier and more complex recipes (we’re looking at you cinnamon buns!), benefit from descriptive words that give a reader confidence that they can master a recipe; such as:

  • Foolproof
  • Failproof
  • Step-by-step

And diet-specific recipes like Whole30 need to be very clear about ingredients up-front, such as:

  • No sugar
  • Grain free
  • Dairy free
  • No legumes

This of course is not an exhaustive list of descriptive words to satisfy search intent.

But it does give you an idea of the ways you can weave descriptive words into your SEO titles and meta descriptions and the first few sentences of a post to more closely match a searcher’s intent.

Alternatively, let us simplify your food blog’s SEO and WordPress tech support.

Satisfying search intent for food and recipe content is a big part of our SEO expertise and membership services at Foodie Digital.

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Liane Walker
Liane Walker
Liane is a mom of 3, committed meal planner, wannabe saucier chef, a seasoned systems analyst and content strategist, and Managing Director of Foodie Digital. Heaven to her is meal planning on a Saturday morning at her kitchen table while her kids run free in the backyard.
Banner Photo Credit: Tara Hurst

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