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How a Food Rankings & Reviews Site Grew Traffic by 1,036% YoY
SEO case study of


44.7K to 508K Monthly Visits


Food & Drink


Food Blog

Reporting Date

August 2023

Food blogs are booming, and they mean business.

A study by RankIQ reveals that food blogs are not only the most profitable niche but also claim 42.8% of the market share, outperforming other niches.

But don’t be fooled; breaking into this culinary world is no cakewalk.

In this SEO case study, we’ll look at how a newcomer to the scene exploded its organic traffic by an incredible 1,036% year-over-year (YoY).

We’ll share their recipe for success and strategies to implement on your website.

Let’s get started.

About Sporked is an online source for food rankings, new product reviews, and culinary commentary.

It was the first website venture of Mythical, an entertainment company and lifestyle brand.

Mythical founders, Rhett and Link, already had established channels via their other companies but wanted a place to centralize their team’s supermarket escapades.

Enter, the go-to “guide through the grocery aisles.”

Sporked homepage, a food rankings and reviews website.

Sporked officially launched in March 2022.

Its top traffic-driving category is Food Rankings. The Sporked team conducts taste tests (which you can watch on their YouTube channel) and then ranks items onto best-of lists.

New Product Reviews are also popular, which share candid thoughts on new items that just hit the market.

Overall, Sporked is quirky, fun, and experimental in its food adventures. Their website reflects the brand’s image and compliments their other platforms, like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.

Historical Performance

In 2022, averaged 35,278 monthly visits—an already impressive number for a website that just went live in March.

As we analyze the site through August 2023, Sporked averages 218,653 monthly visits.

That’s almost a quarter of a million visits every month.

April 2023, in particular, marks the beginning of dramatic growth.

Line chart demonstrating the 2-year organic traffic at and a traffic spike in August 2023.

We’ll reveal what Sporked has been doing right since the get-go and recent moves from the past 4 months that have skyrocketed its traffic to new heights.

The Catalyst: How Sporked Achieved 1,036% Organic Growth YoY grew its organic traffic by performing the following:

  1. Niching down in content
  2. Applying Google E-E-A-T principles
  3. Implementing schema markup
  4. Acquiring more backlinks

Let’s look at each item in detail to understand their significance and impact on Sporked’s growth.

1. Niching Down in Content

Google loves niche subject experts.

Their websites are easier to “figure out” and categorize, making them more relevant for search results.

Sporked recognized the value of a niche focus early on.

Since Day 1, it has set itself apart from other food blogs with its niche: grocery food item reviews and rankings.

This focused approach has paved its success and set a distinctive path for its audience and search engines.

By niching down, Sporked effectively positions itself as an authority in the packaged food domain.

It also makes it easier to rank.

In general, it’s not as difficult to rank for niche keywords because there’s less competition.

Here, we can see some keywords Sporked ranks for with a keyword difficulty (KD) of 35 or less:

List of Sporked ranking keywords with low keyword difficulties.

This strategy proved to be a smart move, considering the growth in organic keyword rankings that followed.

Column chart showing's growth in keyword rankings.

The growth in the past 4 months is particularly impressive.

In April, was ranking for 83K keywords.

Come August, they’ve more than doubled their rankings, at 183K keywords.

So, how did having a niche help them get here?

That’s a two-part answer:

  1. In Google’s April 2023 Reviews Update, Google aimed to reward reviews “written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well.” Sporked fulfills its niche’s search intent with targeted content. The site appears to have been positively impacted by the update.
  2. Sporked has established its presence using Google E-E-A-T since its launch. We’ll explore this idea when we discuss their next growth strategy.

Why this matters:

Sporked has fine-tuned its content strategy to reach and resonate with its target audience. By sending clear signals to both users and search engines, Sporked has established authority within its niche. This focused approach has also won the website a rich portfolio of keywords (and traffic) within a short amount of time.

How to optimize your website for your niche:

Keyword research and search intent are at the heart of effective niche optimizations.

Let’s look at how to optimize for each:

  1. Keyword Research: Identify relevant keywords that align with your niche and resonate with your target audience. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, or Ahrefs can assist in this process. You can also perform keyword research in WordPress with the All in One SEO (AIOSEO) plugin. For a full breakdown of steps, this tutorial shows you how to do keyword research.
  2. Search Intent: Understanding search intent starts on the SERP. Google has already identified the pages that effectively fulfill search intent. These are the top-ranking URLs. Study these pages to identify their strengths and the extra value you can bring. By understanding what your audience is looking for, you can tailor your content to meet their needs and boost rankings.

Ultimately, optimizing your site for a niche is an ongoing process. Remember to keep your content relevant and on-brand as you grow to solidify your position within your niche.

Tools for niche optimizations:

AIOSEO simplifies the process of keyword research and content optimizations.

Our Keyphrase Suggestions pull relevant keywords from Semrush and serve them to you directly in the WordPress editor.

Here is an example of keywords it collected for a patio furniture blog:

Additional keyword suggestions in WordPress from the AIOSEO plug-in.

You can then click Add Keyphrase, and our TruSEO feature will analyze your optimizations for this new keyword.

TruSEO is a powerful tool for understanding your optimization efforts. It gives you a clear idea of what you’re doing well and insights to improve your content’s SEO performance.

Here’s an example of TruSEO readability suggestions:

Readability checklist and suggestions from the TruSEO on-page analysis of a blog.

Both tools enhance your content creation process, amplifying its reach within your niche audience.

Now, let’s revisit the idea of Google E-E-A-T and see how Sporked used this principle to grow its digital presence.

2. Applying Google E-E-A-T Principles

Sporked embodies E-E-A-T, a key component of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

Here’s a breakdown of how is living out these principles and reaping the benefits for its rankings:

Experience: Sporked quite literally demonstrates Experience through taste tests. Viewers can watch them try food on social media and hear unfiltered first impressions.

Expertise: Their “Expertise” shines as they describe food. From the site’s About page, they share that when approaching taste tests, “We consider flavor, texture, aesthetics, cost, nostalgia—everything you consciously and subconsciously think of when you take a bite of food.”

Authoritativeness: Sporked knows how to leverage its Mythical team to grow Sporked’s authority. Their well-established channels support one another. Sporked regular features Rhett, Link, and other Mythical members on their food picks.

Trustworthiness: offers real reviews from real people. Team bios and social media videos humanize the taste testers, fostering a genuine relatability that builds trust.

Overall, is refreshingly honest in a saturated food blog market. It’s unpretentious and relatable, fostering trust and loyalty from its audience.

Why this matters:

Sporked’s demonstration of E-E-A-T principles offers a valuable lesson for website owners. Following this model is more than improving rankings. It’s also about building trust and credibility with your audience. Embracing E-E-A-T can help you thrive in competitive niches like food blogging and cultivate a loyal readership.

How to demonstrate Google E-E-A-T on your site:

This Google E-E-A-T article shares 7 steps for optimizing your site for it.

We’ll share a brief recap here:

  1. Know your target audience and understand their search intent.
  2. Cite data from reputable sources.
  3. Encourage customers to leave reviews.
  4. Build relevant backlinks.
  5. Include author bylines.
  6. Improve security by moving to HTTPS.
  7. Make your contact information easy to find.

Tools for demonstrating Google E-E-A-T:

The driving idea behind Google E-E-A-T is to filter out low-quality content so search engines can serve high-quality results on the SERP.

This means crafting quality content is at the core of E-E-A-T.

Our newest feature, TruSEO Highlighter, makes optimizing your content easier than ever.

The TruSEO Highlighter shows you exactly where you need to make improvements.

It specifically looks for readability issues, which can distract from a positive user experience. These issues also make it difficult for users and bots to understand your content.

In the screenshot below, we see the TruSEO Highlighter in action. It wants us to use more transition words and highlights the text where we could make this improvement.

TruSEO Highlighter shows where in the blog you need to make adjustments.

Okay, so we now know Sporked is niching down and applying E-E-A-T principles to everything they do.

But what about the elements under the hood?

3. Implementing Schema Markup uses schema markup to stand out on the SERP.

Schema markup, or structured data, is specialized code within a web page that communicates the page’s content to search engines. It can also help you get rich results on the SERP.

Rich results, or rich snippets, are enhanced search results that display additional information on the SERP.

Here is an example of a Sporked rich result:

Sporked rich result on the SERP answering the question "what does baja blast taste like?".

While analyzing, we located several examples of schema markup, including, but not limited to:

  • Web page
  • Article
  • Person
  • Organization
  • Breadcrumb
  • Image

These implementations boost visibility on the SERP, as demonstrated by growth in SERP features:

Chart demonstrating Sporked's growth in winning SERP features.

Why this matters:

Schema markup is a powerful way to influence how search engines display your content in search results. Rich results are proven to drive more traffic and increase clickthrough rates (CTR).

By using it, Sporked has secured more SERP features to boost visibility and win more traffic. Furthermore, these results establish Sporked as a trusted source within its niche.

How to implement schema markup on your site:

There are several ways to enter structured data on your site manually.

This article shows three methods for adding schema markup to WordPress without a plugin.

Each method involves a few steps and requires you to obtain and copy code snippets into the appropriate fields.

Tools for implementing schema markup:

A WordPress SEO plugin can implement schema markup for you, so you never have to touch code. AIOSEO’s Schema Generator correctly formats structured data for search engines and makes schema markup a breeze. Select the schema type you want, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Here are the schema types available in AIOSEO:

The Schema Generator in AIOSEO has a catalog of schema types for your website.

Next, we’ll look at the final contributing factor to Sporked’s organic growth: backlinks.

In 2022, left backlinks relatively untouched.

But in April 2023, we started to see evidence of backlinking efforts. This timeline also coincides with the most dramatic growth in organic traffic. backlink growth chart shows an influx of new backlinks in 2023 summer months.

July and August were the most prolific for new backlinks acquired.

In July, they received 19,861 new backlinks.

And in August, that number grew to 26,599.

Chart shows how many backlinks acquired and lost in the last 6 months with a spike in July and August.

Ultimately, 2023 reveals a conscious effort to acquire more backlinks.

And while we can’t say exactly how they obtained them, we can share this backlinking guide for your website.

Why this matters:

Backlinks are like votes of confidence in the eyes of search engines. They act like endorsements for your content, signaling it’s valuable and trustworthy. Backlinks are also among the top two Google ranking factors, making them a powerful driver of traffic and rankings.

Quality over quantity is the cornerstone of successful backlinking. Getting a few backlinks from reputable sites is worth more than thousands from spam.

It’s also important to note that a comprehensive link-building strategy goes beyond just backlinks. You should always optimize for the following three types of links:

  • Internal links (from one page on your site to another page on your site)
  • Outbound links (from your site to another external site)
  • Backlinks (from an external site to your site)

This link-building guide shares steps to optimize for each.

AIOSEO’s Link Assistant can help you find internal linking opportunities quickly. With linking suggestions that populate directly in the WordPress editor, it’s as simple as clicking Add Link.

Internal linking suggestions from Link Assistant in AIOSEO.

Standout SEO Wins

Before we wrap up, there’s one more SEO technique worth highlighting on

1. They optimize for content readability.

Content readability measures how easily users can read and understand your content. It calculates this metric using various factors, such as word choice, sentence length, and syllable count.

While it is not a direct Google ranking factor, it can improve certain SEO metrics, like time on page and bounce rate.

Sporked does the following to improve readability:

  • The language is simple and easy to understand. Sporked writers use a conversational tone with everyday language.
  • The sentences are short. Their content is easy to digest and makes for pleasurable reading.
  • They break up text with headings and images. Sporked avoids walls of text with a good subheading distribution and images.

Tool: Nailing content readability can be tricky, especially when you don’t know where to make optimizations for it. Our on-page analysis and TruSEO highlighter make fixing readability issues a breeze. We’ll provide a checklist and highlight what needs tweaking with actions to improve your content.

Here’s an example of the readability checklist:

TruSEO readability suggestions from AIOSEO in WordPress.


In our analysis of, we’ve uncovered the strategies that grew organic traffic by 1,036% YoY.

Now, we’ll recap their best practices and which ones to reconsider for your website.

Top 3 Strategies to Emulate

  1. Creating high-quality content for its niche audience. Sporked’s laser-focused approach to grocery food content has been instrumental in its success. By catering to this niche audience’s needs, they’ve secured a loyal following, stood out to search engines, and gained traction in rankings.
  2. Applying Google E-E-A-T principles. Sporked shines with its application of E-E-A-T on its website and social media platforms. Their success demonstrates how it enhances credibility, audience connections, and overall performance.
  3. Implement schema markup to win rich results on the SERP. While schema markup doesn’t guarantee a rich result, it increases your chances. By using structured data, you can win eye-catching real estate on the SERP and drive more organic traffic to your site.

Bottom 3 Strategies to Reconsider

  1. Missing easy on-page SEO wins. could fine-tune its meta titles and meta descriptions. Some exceed character limits and get truncated on the SERP. This can negatively impact CTR and traffic. An AI title/description generator makes this process quick and efficient by crafting the metadata for you.
  2. Not using image title tags. Ignoring descriptive image title tags is a missed benefit for users and search engines. Image title attributes can enrich accessibility, user experience, and SEO. They’re also easy to implement automatically with an image SEO tool.
  3. Overlooking a backlink profile audit. Given Sporked’s recent influx of new backlinks, an audit could reveal any potential toxic links. A site like Semrush can help you view your backlink profile, and a tool like Link Assistant can round out your linking strategy with internal linking suggestions.

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Spice Up the SERP and Your Organic Traffic With AIOSEO

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All in One SEO empowers you to create content with effective optimizations. With our help, you can confidently address your niche audience and make sure your content fills their needs.

All in One SEO homepage, the best WordPress SEO plug-in.

With thousands of 5-star ratings and trusted by over 3 million bloggers and savvy marketers, AIOSEO is your all-inclusive solution to making the most of your WordPress website’s SEO. We offer a comprehensive suite of tools and settings to help you drive targeted traffic to your site and earn more real estate on the SERP.

Here are some of our favorite features:

  • Semrush Keyphrase Suggestions: Find new keywords without ever having to leave WordPress. AIOSEO pulls keyphrase suggestions from Semrush and serves them to you directly in the WordPress editor.
  • TruSEO On-Page Analysis: Get a comprehensive but easy-to-understand analysis of your optimization efforts. Each page includes an actionable checklist to help you maximize your content’s reach. Our Tru SEO highlighter will then show exactly where to make edits.
  • Rich Snippets Schema: AIOSEO helps you implement schema markup without coding. It’s as simple as picking the schema type you want; then, we’ll take care of the rest.
  • Link Assistant: Run link reports, identify internal linking opportunities, and rectify orphan pages. Link Assistant puts linking best practices to use in an easy and manageable way.
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  • Image SEO: Save time on manual optimizations and enable automatic image alt text and title attributes with the help of smart tags. Image SEO has never been easier or faster.
author avatar
Gabriela Jhean SEO Specialist
Gabriela is a creative and results-driven SEO specialist dedicated to helping small businesses stand out online. She contributes in-depth SEO case studies at AIOSEO Trends to reveal the winning strategies of top-ranking websites. In her downtime, Gabriela enjoys treasure hunting for antique jewelry.