I’ve tried every SEO tool possible, and SEMrush was the first one that had me say, “Oh, I get it! This is a powerful tool and I know how I’m going to use it.”
About Simply Recipes:
Simply Recipes’ mission is to help readers get dinner (and breakfast and lunch!) on the table with less stress and more joy. Simply Recipes was founded in 2003 by Elise Bauer as a blog to record her beloved family recipes. Today, simplyrecipes.com has grown into an invaluable, trusted resource for home cooks, with over 3,000 tested recipes, guides, and meal plans, and new content published daily. The site draws over 14 million readers each month from around the world and employs a team of full-time editors, professional recipe developers, cookbook authors, and culinary instructors.
Business Challenge: declining organic traffic
Back in 2016, Simply Recipes had an extensive recipe library, yet its traffic was in decline. The website relied on organic search for 70% of its traffic and the company was determined to overcome the negative trend. That's when the Simply Recipes team decided to take a hard look at their SEO practices and turn the tide.
Solution: SEO optimization of new content and archive
Since then, Simply Recipes’ approach to SEO has been twofold: optimizing new content and updating the website’s archive, which dates back to 2003. When working with older recipes, Emma Christensen, Editor in Chief at Simply Recipes, starts with SEMrush Domain Analytics tool: “I’ll plug in a URL, see how it's doing, what keywords it’s ranking for, and use it as a first step of evaluating: is this recipe worth updating, does it have potential? What else could it rank for?”
She then moves on to competitor discovery and research with Domain Analytics: “I look up what’s trending for our competitors, what they are ranking for, and if we want to do something similar. I’ll pick a keyword and see what a competitor’s URL looks like, what their traffic is and how a Google update affected them,” she shares.
Next, Emma turns to the Keyword Magic Tool
, both when updating their older content and creating new content. “I love the questions part of it. I used to use a trinity of tools for exploring questions and trends related to a keyword, but now I use SEMrush for it. I open the Keyword Magic Tool in the early phase of my research: I know I want to make a banana bread recipe, our website already has a basic recipe, so what else is ranking here: banana nut bread, chocolate chip banana bread, easy banana bread?
“I also look at the question section – I use questions a lot for filling out the story part of the recipe. I want to answer how do I store banana bread, how do I freeze it, how do I make it more moist. I’ll use SEMrush suggestions to inform what I write. Sometimes I go into broad match/phrase match/exact match for more options,” she says.
When the writing is done by freelancers and contributors, Emma prepares assignments that include three top competitors for the recipe and a set of questions to answer.
For updating existing recipes, Simply Recipes’ strategy has been improving the ranking of the middle-level keywords that are hovering on the 11th or 12th position, to try and get them on the first page. The team picks a set of keywords to rank for and tracks them in the Position Tracking tool.
Simply Recipes’ Organic Traffic Trend
The results of the diligent work at Simply Recipes weren’t visible at first, but after a March 2019 Google update the company started seeing significant improvements in traffic for all of the recipes they have been creating and updating. In 2020, Simply Recipes’ traffic is growing 80% on average each month, year-over-year. Emma is confident that the Google update wouldn’t have helped the traffic nearly as much if her team hadn’t been doing all the SEO preparations.
Today, she can’t imagine her daily work without SEMrush: “Having everything in one place is big. Looking up a URL to see the keywords it’s ranking for and then doing a back-end research of keywords is really helpful, being able to track the keywords. I could not do my business without SEMrush anymore, it’s an irreplaceable research tool for me,” she concludes.
- 56% organic traffic growth
- Simply Recipes’ visits grew from an average of 9 million in 2016 to 14 million in 2020.
- Easy and comprehensive competitor and keyword research
- With the help of SEMrush, Emma is able to streamline both her in-house work and collaboration with freelancers.