Food blogging is an increasingly popular hobby and profession, as people around the world look for ways to share their favorite recipes across the interwebs. For most bloggers, SEO is more important than ever, with bloggers needing to do strategic keyword research to find good ideas to guide their posts.
But what happens when those recipe keywords are specific to a certain diet or medical condition? What do those keyword terms mean even? Should food bloggers dive into creating these recipes?
Let’s dig into each of these topics, which you can look at from both a ranking and ethical perspective.
Disclaimer: This post was written by Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD, a fellow food blogger. It is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or licensure advice. For legal questions, consult an attorney.
What are common diet keyword modifiers?
When doing your keyword research, you may stumble across some keyword ideas that are specific to a certain type of diet or eating pattern. Let’s look at some common examples, and go over what they mean:
A vegetarian diet most commonly avoids any food that required the death of an animal. Sometimes, it is alternatively defined as not eating any animal meat.
As such, most vegetarian recipe can include dairy products, eggs, and honey – but do not include beef, chicken, pork, or fish.
It seems simple, but there are some hidden ingredients that you may not realize might be off-limits for a vegetarian.
For example, some hard cheeses (like Parmesan) are made using rennet, an enzyme found in a cow’s digestive system. Because the enzyme is obtained by killing the animal, many would not consider those cheeses as options on a vegetarian diet. (You can find cheeses made in other ways though, so it just requires doing a little digging to find a vegetarian-approved version.)
Similarly, animal gelatin is made from animal parts, and most would not consider those to be vegetarian. Gelatin can be found in many products, from marshmallows to gummy bears to Pop Tarts.
That said, the specific definition and food practices may vary between people based on whether they are doing it for health or ethical reasons.
A vegan diet takes it a step further, avoiding all animal products, including eggs and dairy. Vegan recipes also eliminate honey, since it’s an animal product.
Technically, many forms of granulated sugar are also not vegan-friendly, since they use a bone char filtering process. Some people who eat a vegan diet for general health reasons may not be concerned with this, but those who follow the diet for ethical animal reasons will likely know that bone char filtered sugar should not be used. (Some who are vegetarian for ethical reasons may also avoid this sugar for this reason).
You can find sugar on the market that is not filtered through bone char; organic granulated sugar or beet sugar is a safe option for a vegan diet.
A gluten-free diet is one that avoids the consumption of gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. People who have celiac disease need to consume a gluten free diet to avoid damaging their small intestine. Some people who have a non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity may also need to avoid gluten for health reasons.
It can be tricky to determine if a recipe is truly gluten free, since there may be hidden sources of gluten you may not recognize at first. For example, some common surprising sources include:
- Soy sauce
- Imitation crab meat
- Certain rice or corn cereals that include malt from barley
- Certain taco seasonings
- Certain veggie burgers
- Oats may also be contaminated with gluten (due to the proximity to wheat fields and processing), unless they are certified gluten free.
This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully conveys that it can be found in some unexpected places. It’s important to be aware of these when creating recipes for those following a strict gluten-free diet.
Technically, as used on food product labels, sugar free means one serving contains less than 0.5 grams of sugars, both natural and added.
This is rarely how it is used in the blogging world. More commonly, blog recipes are often labeled sugar free if they do not have added sugar of any kind in the recipe. This would be better called “No Added Sugar” or “Added Sugar Free”. (I realize it doesn’t have the same ring to it.)
If labeling a recipe as “sugar free”, it is also important to note that it should not include natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. These are all very much sources of added sugar, and the nomenclature of “sugar free” can be confusing for consumers (particularly those who have medical needs that require limiting sugar). These recipes would be better called “refined sugar free” or “no refined sugar”.
If a food package claims to be low sodium, there is a specific definition. Low sodium means less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
This is not necessarily required for blog recipes, but is wise for bloggers to consider. Consumers with high blood pressure or other conditions may be educated to look for “low sodium” on packages, and may assume recipes on the internet carry the same cut offs.
People may choose a dairy free diet for allergy reasons, health reasons, or ethical reasons. Because those with food allergies have the greatest risk of misinformation, we should try to ensure dairy free recipes are truly dairy free.
A dairy free recipe should contain no milk-based ingredients or products. This includes the obvious, like cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter – but also includes sneaky food products that you wouldn’t expect to have dairy, but do.
For example, would you believe that some spice pastes (like this garlic paste) and many “non-dairy” creamers contain dairy? (That’s right, the term “non-dairy” allows for caseinate, a milk protein, in the ingredients).
Dairy free recipes should also exclude ghee, which is clarified butter. While ghee may be a better option for people with lactose intolerance, it is not dairy free and can be dangerous for those with food allergies.
A ketogenic diet (or “keto” for short) is a very-low-carb, high fat diet. Traditionally, ketogenic diets are used to help manage epilepsy in children. In the last ten years, the popularity of keto has grown for other reasons, from weight loss to blood sugar control.
The macro breakdown can vary slightly for a ketogenic diet, but for most people, it falls to around 70-80% of calories from fat, 10-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates. Typically, carbohydrates are kept to under 50 grams per day, though they may need to be kept as low as 20 grams per day to achieve ketosis.
While pop culture has introduced terms like “clean keto” and “dirty keto”, these do not really exist in the true sense of the word. A ketogenic diet is simply a diet that is low enough in carbohydrates that it forces the body to breakdown fat creating ketones for energy (rather than relying on carbs).
This is probably the number one diet that is misunderstood. Many keto recipes on the internet may be too high in carbs or too low in fat to truly be an ideal option on a ketogenic diet. While this isn’t a big deal for those embracing the diet for weight loss, it can be concerning for those searching for ketogenic recipes for a child with epilepsy.
Should you blog about these keywords?
Like most other things in blogging, the answer is “it depends”. Here are some things to consider from both the SEO side and the ethical side:
Experience – This most recent addition to Google’s E-E-A-T portion of the Rater Guidelines is the first E for “experience.” This can be extensive personal or first-hand experience.
For example, someone that was diagnosed with celiac disease ten years ago likely has a whole realm of first-hand experience to be able to create gluten-free recipes. If may be wise to include some of this personal experience in your bio on your website.
Expertise – It’s clear in E-E-A-T guidelines that they are looking for sites which demonstrate expertise in a subject. This is more likely to be a concern when you are a food blogger choosing to blog about nutrition information in addition to recipe content. Are you a Registered Dietitian, or do you have a degree in Nutrition? If so, these credentials and education may give you the expertise you need to discuss (and help rank) for these topics.
Relevancy – One factor that may affect your ability to rank for topics is the relevancy of that topic to your overall site. If you have a site specifically for vegan recipes, you may be more likely to rank for those topics compared to a site that’s got a much broader recipe base.
If you’ve thrown spaghetti at the wall so far and haven’t niched down, take a look in Search Console and see what kinds of topics are doing well. That may give you a glimpse into what Google feels your site is about, and can guide future keyword research.
Audience – You most likely have a particular avatar in mind related to the content you create. Would this avatar like to see these new types of recipes? Going with the example of a fully vegan site, your current audience may not be thrilled if you suddenly flipped to keto.
Scope of Practice – If you understand the requirements of a particular diet, it is certainly fair game to create recipes that fit those requirements, or write about your own experiences with that diet. Providing general nutrition information online is protected by your First Amendment right to free speech.
However, providing nutrition advice – like offering 1-1 nutrition services or creating individualized meal plans for medical conditions – is typically outside the scope of practice for a food blogger, unless they have additional nutrition training.
Keep in mind each state is different as far as laws regulating scope of practice. I am not a lawyer and cannot speak to how these may apply to you. However it’s wise to think about this from not only a legal framework, but an ethical one as well. You probably don’t want to be the cause of someone making a dangerous dietary decision because of advice you provided without fully understanding the science behind their condition or your advice.
Final Helpful Tips
Hopefully, these considerations can help you decide if blogging about these keywords is right for your site. Here are a few more tips to help ensure success:
- If you choose to use diet modifiers, research the diet extensively so you understand it and can ensure your recipes truly fit the keyword.
- If the keyword alludes to certain nutrition facts for the recipe, do your best to accurately calculate the nutrition facts and include them in your recipe card.
- It may be wise to include nutrition and/or allergy disclaimers on your site. For example, on my dairy free site, I always include a note that says something like: “Always double check ingredients and labels yourself prior to making a recipe. While I try to check all ingredients for allergens, there’s always the chance I may miss something, or manufacturer formulations can change.”
- If you’re working on a sponsored blog post, they may require specific language related to diets or nutrition. While your recipe may not fall under the nutrient content or health claim guidelines from the FDA, their products do, which is why they may prohibit certain phrases.
- Keep in mind there may be legal guidelines governing scope of practice for nutrition advice for individual or group services.
- If you’re passionate about nutrition, consider pursuing an RD credential. If that’s not feasible, there are many certifications out there that give helpful baseline nutrition knowledge.
- If you are working on a project or program that involves nutrition information, consider partnering with an RD to help you! They can do accurate nutrition analysis calculations, help create and review meal plans, and more.
By considering everything above, you can make an informed choice about whether to use these types of dietary keywords in your food blogging. Good luck!