Cooking From Every Angle

UPDATE: Google's New Recipe Search

May 18, 2011 • 161 Comments

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UPDATE to the UPDATE: Julia Moskin joins the debate in today's New York Times story on recipe search engines.

UPDATE: 130+ thoughtful comments later, both David Lebovitz and one of the creators of Google's recipe search have weighed in (see below in the comments).

Google Recipe Search

- Amanda

The entity with the greatest influence on what Americans cook is not Costco or Trader Joe’s. It’s not the Food Network or The New York Times. It’s Google. Every month about a billion of its searches are for recipes. The dishes that its search engine turns up, particularly those on the first page of results, have a huge impact on what Americans cook. Which is why, with a recent change in its recipe search, Google has, in effect, taken sides in the food war. Unfortunately, it's taken the wrong one.

In late February, when Google announced that it was adding a new kind of search, specifically for recipes, it seemed like good news for a site like ours -– at last Google was shining its searchlight on content we deeply care about. But then came the bad news: once you get your new recipe results, you can refine the results in just 3 ways: by ingredient, by cooking time and by calories. While Google was just trying to improve its algorithm, thereby making the path to recipes easier and more efficient, it inadvertently stepped  into the middle of the battle between the quick-and-easy faction and the cooking-matters group.

Before these new changes, Google recipe results favored sites with lots of content and good Search Engine Optimization (that is, those that organized their pages and chose their words with Google's preferences in mind) – e.g. AllRecipes and Food. Now, recipe results favor these sites, but also those with lots of additional information, such as ratings, calories, cooking times, and photos.

Imagine the blogger who has excellent recipes but has to compete against companies with staff devoted entirely to S.E.O. And who now must go back and figure out the calorie counts of all of his recipes, and then add those numbers, along with other metadata. That’s not going to happen. So the chance that that blogger’s recipes will appear anywhere near the first page of results is vanishingly small. (See Craig Goldwyn's piece on this in the Huffington Post.)

Stove  Eggs and Toast

What this means is that Google’s search engine gives vast advantage to the largest recipe websites with the resources to input all this metadata, and particularly those who home in on “quick and easy” and low calorie dishes (which, by the way, doesn’t mean the recipes are actually healthy). In so doing, Google unwittingly -- but damagingly -- promotes a cooking culture focused on speed and diets.

Take, for instance, a recent search for “cassoulet.” The top search result is a recipe from Epicurious, one of the larger and better sites. But if you refine by time, your choices are “less than 15 min,” “less than 30 min,” or “less than 60 min.” There is no option for more than 60 minutes. In truth, a classic cassoulet takes at least 4 hours to make, if not several days (the Epicurious recipe takes 4 hours and 30 minutes; yet there in the results are recipes under each of these three time classes. One from Tablespoon goes so far as to claim to take just 1 minute. (It’s made with kidney beans, canned mushrooms, and beef, so it’s not long on authenticity.)

If you refine by calories, you can even find two cassoulets that are purportedly fewer than 100 calories per person: the Lamb Shank Cassoulet from Good To Know contains a full lamb shank and sausage link per serving, yet is supposed to weigh in at just 77 calories a serving. No such dish exists unless the serving size is a pinch.

For something more mundane like fried chicken, a refinement of “less than 15 min” takes you to a recipe on Food that claims the total prep and cooking time is six minutes, even though the recipe itself tells you to bake it for 1 hour. Even if you do find a recipe that accurately claims a fast cooking time, how will you know it’s a good recipe? Refining recipe search by time doesn’t result in better recipes rising to the top; rather, the new winners are recipes packaged for the American eating and cooking disorder.

Cauliflower 

Google's new approach is misguided even if sites don't try to game it. What does cooking time really mean, anyway? If I’m braising lamb shanks in the oven for 2 hours and am able to do laundry or watch TV during that time, then is the cooking time 2 hours? Is that the same as the 2 hours I’d spend standing over the stove stirring strawberry jam? And what if I’m making something that’s not actually cooked, like a salad -- is the cooking time the time it takes me to whisk the dressing and mix the salad?

What happens when you must marinate a dish for 24 hours? Do you count that as prep time or cooking time? If you have a food blog or website, won't you be afraid to tally up the 3 days it took to make your shortribs dish? Because if you do, your recipe most certainly won’t appear in the refined recipe results. And even if Google does miraculously find your recipe, your audience might be scared off by the putatively huge cooking time. Whereas, if they just read the recipe, rather than the “duration” time, they might grasp that it’s not much work at all but must be distributed over a few days to allow the flavors to develop.

The tradition of prep times began creeping into our cooking culture about 30 years ago with the rise of quick-cooking columns. They’ve long acted more as a marketing tool than as helpful information. The proliferation of cooking times has not only put pressure on writers to fudge times, but has encouraged editors to stop running recipes that take longer than an hour. Lost in the rankings will be such slow-build classics as paella and layer cakes.

Google must surely know that recipes are anything but precise formulas: they’re descriptive guides, and quality cannot be quantified in calories or time. The search engine’s real opportunity lies in understanding the metrics that actually reflect great quality. A very simple place to start is by tracking the number of comments relative to pageviews, the number of Facebook likes a recipe has garnered, or how often a recipe has been shared. A recipe with 74 comments is almost certainly better than one that takes 8 minutes to make. (And at some point, Google should create its own system for calculating calories.)

I’m glad Google put effort into improving its recipe search, but their solution feels robotic rather than thoughtful. If they don’t change their current approach, I fear to contemplate the future of American cooking. As it stands, Google’s recipe search gives undue advantage to the “quick & easy” recipe sites, encourages dishonesty, and sets up people to be dissuaded from cooking, as they will soon learn that recipes always end up taking more time than they expected. Alas, the search algorithm fundamentally misunderstands what recipe searchers are really looking for: great recipes.

Jump to Comments (161)

Comments (161)

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about 2 years ago shynewilliams

oh, the headaches of SEO. lol congratulations, though...I've been checking out this site for a while now and it's now my top two on my top five favorites list :)
I wonder if gourmetrecipe.com and gourmandia.com will ever be famous on Google's search engine too...they're my top one and three :)

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almost 3 years ago Manjusha Pakanati

WOW! please visit my blog
http://manjurecipes.blogspot...

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about 3 years ago MrsMehitabel

Kavi,
I read this article and your comments a while ago, and it occurs to me that it might be possible, among the other search tools, to simply let searchers to choose to only see results that appear on blogs. I only cook from blog recipes, since there's more description and I'm likely to get a better idea of what the result is like, and what the writer's tastes are.

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about 3 years ago MrsMehitabel

Kavi,
I read this article and your comments a while ago, and it occurs to me that it might be possible, among the other search tools, to simply let searchers to choose to only see results that appear on blogs. I only cook from blog recipes, since there's more description and I'm likely to get a better idea of what the result is like, and what the writer's tastes are.

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about 3 years ago zoomse

after reading your article i;ve checked the google recipes and i think google is killing the food culture. why use google recipes when there are plenty of excellent websites/blogs about recipes, cooking..
http://www.americancookingrecipes...

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about 3 years ago zoomse

after reading your article i;ve checked the google recipes and i think google is killing the food culture. why use google recipes when there are plenty of excellent websites/blogs about recipes, cooking..
http://www.americancookingrecipes...

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over 3 years ago pauldavis

If you are building your own website you will need a domain name. This is basically the address, and consequently the name of your particular site. Choosing this name is trickier than it might seem because you will need to choose something that is easy, relevant and preferably popular. You can search for domain names using a site which will do the job for you.

-----------------------
pauldavis
Domain Names Search

Doughboy_unbaked

over 3 years ago dbcurrie

I think that a lot of people are seeing that the recipe search feature isn't finding the recipes they want, whereas the broader search works better. Which is fine. If the recipe search doesn't work, people won't use it. Or maybe they'll search both ways. Most people aren't going to know WHY the results are different and they aren't going to care. They'll just choose to use the one that works better for them. I'm betting that since so many smaller bloggers aren't going to be able to invest the time in coding their recipes, those results will always be different. If there's some semi-automated way to do it, I might go for it. As it is, though, I don't have infinite time. My priority is putting out good content, not finicky coding that's probably not going to make a difference.

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over 3 years ago Creative Culinary

The burning question I was hoping Kavi would answer? How long once we comply and submit our pages that have passed the test can we expect to see our site in the results? I've got one post in particular I use to check and it's funny...how far off the mark those recipe search results become in the 12 pages of results that do show. Not ONE result comes back with the search term I use in those twelve pages. I can find a torte, a martini and more but nothing that hits the mark in my search for a particular cake. Calories and prep times aside, how relevant can that be?

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've had the same experience, and I just don't use Google's recipe search for that reason. As many have noted, I use food-specific sites instead.

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over 3 years ago vavroom

I blog about food and post recipes. From the outset I decided to not use a "food blog" format - I kept recipes as recipes and blog posts as blog posts. From the outset I started using hRecipe format. This was before Google announced that they were going to look at using Rich Snippets for a recipe search.

I defended Google when bloggers started being upset about the calories and cooking times - I understand that these are a reflection of what people look for - regardless of risks of developing a culture or not.

I argued that if you want to publish a cookbook, you need to have a certain know-how about book writing and publishing and if you don't have that knowledge, you can hire someone. In the same way, if you want to publish recipes and information about food on the web, you should expect to have a certain level of technical knowledge about web publishing. If you don't, you can hire someone.

I still stand by all that.

But I really wonder what's going on with Google Recipe search - as others stated, it isn't returning results. My recipes make the Google recipe rich snippet testing tool happy. But if I use the recipe search on google, I am unable to get any of my recipes - even if I search on the exact title of the recipe. The same search on "generic Google" returns my site in the top 3 results.

Kavi, thank you for your comment - it's good to see that someone at Google is listening. But can you, or someone else from Google, explain why sites using hRecipe are not being returned? Even when the microformats were implemented months before it was announced Google would use the format?

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over 3 years ago minsrecipes

I had almost completely given up on searching for a decent recipe any more. Then a friend told me about foodily.com Check it out. It's still not what I would consider the best, but better than the alternative.

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over 3 years ago Ms. T

Foodily is a GREAT concept, but they still have a lot of work to do on the search filters to bring it up to speed and make it a really efficient and effective way to search recipes. I'm crossing my fingers that they're still working out the kinks and will introduce some improvements soon.

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over 3 years ago LaurieConstantino

Excellent article. As a food blogger, I've been very frustrated by recipe search. For many of the reasons articulated here. But also because I've gone to the time-consuming trouble of changing my entire process of adding recipes so that I can insert proper coding for google recipe search. (Had to pay a computer professional to help me do this.) The recipes pass the test as properly formatted using google's rich snippets testing tool. Even so, none of my recipes show up in Google's recipe search. Not one. Not ever. Make that very very very frustrated.

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over 3 years ago AmyRuth

well said! We just need to keep this out there where they will hear and see it. There truly is strength in numbers folks!
Isn't that the American Way?
AmyRuth

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over 3 years ago Cooking in Mexico

With Google driving the recipe search, recipes will become more generic and lose their wonderful regional differences. Often the top recipe results. i.e., the top of the list, are basically the same thing.

Kathleen

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over 3 years ago thomasw

Kavi wrote:
So, the traffic impact to any site that doesn't yet appear in recipe view is minimal, if any.

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We have a site that's been around since 1994 and under the same domain since 1996. Over the past few years we have kept daily and monthly records from a variety of statistical sources, including Google Analytics, Quantcast and StatCounter. Each year for the past several years our traffic has steadily increased.

Since the Google search algorithm change in February our site traffic, which once averaged 20,000 pageviews per day, went down 25% per day, compared to previous weeks and previous years. That 25% drop is amazingly consistent each day and the drop is all attributable to a loss of traffic generated by Google search.

Like most other small sites, we do not have the manpower to go back through the thousands of recipes we have online and update them for metadata. (I heard via Prof. Jeff Jarvis, author of "What Would Google Do?" that back in the 90's Epicurious employed monks to manually convert all their recipes from the CondeNast magazines Gourmet and Bon Appetit into html. Dear God, maybe that's the answer!)

But the metadata issue did not affect us until February 2011 -- if that was the reason our site suddenly lost Google "juice." I have personally checked a number of our recipes that used to rank on the first page of results -- most, but not all, have been bumped down by corporate sites' similar recipes.

It is difficult to analyze what caused our site's drop when we have followed the same methods for presenting original content for so many years and have seen steady growth. I have noted little empirical evidence that the content farms, or the sites that scrape others content, have been impacted by the new search algorithm.

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over 3 years ago cookscorner

AntoniaJames: not all small sites are blogs. Some are "regular" websites created by individuals who have chosen the website format instead of the blog format.

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over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Kavi, thank you for taking time to weigh in and to thoughtfully explain how your team at Google is approaching recipe search. It's clearly not an easy issue to tackle -- but it's a really important one. I look forward to future improvements. Thanks, all, for your continuing discussion -- keep it up! And thank you for tolerating our lack of paragraph breaks -- we're finishing up a big project (will announce soon) and once that's done, we'll get this fixed!

Doughboy_unbaked

over 3 years ago dbcurrie

betterirene, if you find your recipes on someone else's site, the first thing to do is contact the blogger and ask for it to be taken down. If they don't take it down, you can contact the site host and have the whole site taken down. It's drastic, but it would get the point across. The other thing is that if your content is swiped, there's a good chance that you'll find other bloggers' content there as well. If you find that, contact the other bloggers and inform them. If enough complain, it might make a difference. I recently found a site like that and contacted about a dozen bloggers and a couple of larger publications. The site has since been cleaned up. If you do want to pursue getting a site taken down and it's just your content that has been swiped, there are people who will help you with that (for a fee) but I also found some very helpful "do it yourself" instructions.

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over 3 years ago dory

This google search feature combines with the Food Network's new plethora of "good cooking" contests which in which chefs, or aspiring chefs compete against a time clock to create supposedly appetizing food that is made in under -------------(fill in the blank) minutes. Anyone who pays a little extra attention to detail or who uses a traditional technique that takes more than a couple of minutes to prepare is automatically eliminated-- usually in a very painful way. This contributes to an evolving food "culture" (forgive the irony) that implies that all good food can/should be made in 30 minutes or less, often using pre-packaged and processed ingredients. As someone who values traditional recipes, and who prepares many foods that take long cooking times, but allow me to do other tasks in my house while cooking, (bean soup, or pot roast anyone?) I find this deeply disturbing. What a longs ways we have come from Julia Child on public TV. I don't think all recipes should be pretentious or take all day, but where is the room for cooking as a relaxed process?

Dory

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over 3 years ago betteirene

I don't blog. To do it right and to do it well is too much like work. That's one of the reasons I love food52: it's fun here, not work, and I'm perfectly content to ride A&M's coattails. Once I've decided to submit a recipe here, I do a search to help me make sure that I haven't inadvertently plagiarized someone else's work. How embarrassing it would be to get accused of stealing! (Although, given my age, my recipes probably are the original, teehee.) It's maddening to be linked to the exact same recipe (including typos) with the exact same photo (usually "stolen" from wikipedia) three different times on the first page of the search results. So. . .what do you do when that recipe is yours? What recourse do you have?

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over 3 years ago Panfusine

love the statement, riding on A & M's coattail....perfectly describes what a lot of us are so happy doing, this community aspect of food52 can't get better & I don't want to explore beyond this on Google, So there Google you can keep your imperfect search engine!

Claire

over 3 years ago midnitechef

I had no idea Amanda! Technology is only as great as the human who made it, this is certainly true for Google in this instance. The search engine doulas gave birth to something of a Frankenstein for foodies. The way you've described it, I agree that Americans will have less healthy meals prepared at home if they have no clue about how to calculate (or estimate) calories. On my blog I had one person request calorie totals of my recipes, I do try to remember to add this information as best I can using websites that give nutritional information of (whole) foods. It does take time, and I'm not a nutrition expert in the least, but I do have common sense! Does Google have anyone to consult for recipe search algorithm behavior? I'm sure you could have spared a few minutes to provide meaningful input to give to their programmers.

I hope Google's search leads someone to this essay for fast and easy American cuisine in less than 30 minutes.

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over 3 years ago italianchef

Kavi, I am sure there will be people who will call me a conspiracy theorist for this, but I find it hard to believe that if you were truly trying to create a useful tool to help people, that this would have ever been released in the state that it is. The fact of the matter is that the results from this tool are so overwhelmingly skewed towards a handful of specific websites, that it is hard to believe it is accidental. If you were not trying to feature these specific sites that dominate the results, how could this have ever gotten past testing? How could Google, who is supposedly so concerned about eliminating web spam from it's results, possibly release a search that showed page after page of result completely dominated by this handful of large corporate sites, unless that was the intention all along?

Doughboy_unbaked

over 3 years ago dbcurrie

Antonia, it's a good point that we should understand why Google can do what it does, and I for one appreciate that Google finds my site. I'm often puzzled by the fact that my site rates so high on Google searches because I haven't a clue what I'm doing when it comes to making my site more Google friendly. I know there are people who spend all sorts of time on SEO stuff, but I just write and publish recipes and release them into the wild. If I knew more, maybe I'd see even more traffic, but I'm happy with the growth I'm getting. But the way I see it, Google is constantly evolving, and although little blogs individually aren't adding to Google's revenue stream, in aggregate the small blogs are probably significant. As far as searches, I NEED Google to help me find a little blogger, but sites like Food52 are likely to be in people's bookmarks. I don't need Google to find the Food Network site or Saveur. If this new search method is weighted against the really small food bloggers, I think that Google will take another look at its approach and perhaps make things more user-friendly for small bloggers. For right now, I'm not in panic mode and I'm not adding extra coding to my site. I'm going to give it a little time and see how it shakes out. I wouldn't be surprised if Google rolled out a widget or some other fix for small food bloggers to use that will simplify things for both the bloggers and for Google.

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over 3 years ago davidiforbes

The primary challenge with Google, or any generalized web search, really, is that they are simply too broad in purpose to provide any meaningful context. And when they try to provide  context, they rely on usage patterns that, while they may provide historic insight, cannot predict the future.  Semantic technology, on the other hand, can be predictive.  When used to augment keyword searching, it can "discover" meaningful and non-obvious relationships in information, so that recipe attributes like ingredients, cuisine, time, healthiness, etc., can lead to discover of relevant recipes without additional tagging.

The other challenge in search is providing tools for searchers to search more effectively from the get-go so that they can get greater returns from the few keywords they choose use for search criteria. Again, hard to do in a generalized environment, but in more specialized domains with common attributes, like food, much more viable.

While we are still in development, a brief presentation demonstrating what I have described can be viewed at http://foodmeetsdrink.com.

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I stated at the outset that I would stand aside during this debate, and I will continue to do so, on the merits. I'd just like to observe however that we would all do better to "seek to understand, before seeking to be understood," (an ancient principle articulated in those words by Steven Covey). We might start with trying to understand why and how Google is able to provide for free to all of us the services that it does (which is the reason that most bloggers are not totally anonymous beyond their immediate circle of friends and colleagues), and then look for constructive solutions that are consistent with Google's capabilities and business model. I'd also note that people who don't want to find large anonymous sites can insert "blog" as the first term of a search in the general (not recipe) search box, and the majority of results are likely to be from blogs. ;o)

Doughboy_unbaked

over 3 years ago dbcurrie

I started a blog because I like cooking and I like writing. Coding, I'm pretty clueless. I can figure out where a bold tag has gone wrong, but I'm not that good at it. The idea of manually inserting code into the 500-plus recipes that are already on my site makes me queasy. It's hard enough to keep up with everything else I have to do, without putting that on my agenda. And I'm sure I'd miss an end-tag somewhere and lose 2 hours of my life trying to figure out why the page won't publish.

If Google came up with tags to specify the beginning and end of a recipe, I could deal with that. Then Google could search for ingredient names. How hard could that be? Ingredient searches already work with the standard search. So Google can do it without tags.

The other option would be for all bloggers to adopt templates for their recipes. But that sort of defeats the purpose of blogs. I like the individualism of blogs, I don't want to see all of us formatting our recipes exactly the same way. And again, that's a lot of work to reformat the previously published recipes.

If there was some sort of Google plugin checklist thing for recipes, so that you could say, yes, this is a recipe, and click on ingredients or specify keywords (particularly for specifying what's not in there, like gluten-free, soy-free, or whatever) I'd work with something like that. Maybe make it a sidebar widget. I wouldn't mind that at all.

But coding for each ingredient and whatever else? Nah, there's no way I can jump through that hoop for all my past recipes. Maybe going forward, but I think I'll wait and see how this gets refined before I get too carried away.

The thing is that if people don't like the results they're getting from the recipe search, or if they see that the regular search brings up more interesting options, they'll stop using the recipe search feature. I tried it a couple times, didn't like what I say, and pretty much decided not to use it.

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over 3 years ago the-ice-cream-maker

I suspect Google analysts are primarily data crunchers, not foodies.
Recipes are so much than the sum of their ingredients and data! So much of the charm and character of recipe sites lies in how the information is presented, in getting to know the blogger's or webmaster's style and personal anecdotes. No amount of rich snippet data will ever be able to replace that. To reward the impersonal sites - many of them plagiarists scrappers - over the original, personal sites is to lose much of the color and warmth of cooking. And without color and warmth, we all know food might just as well be cardboard.

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over 3 years ago cookscorner

I have tried the new recipe search and found:

1. The more detailed you get, the less useful it is;
2. Most of the recipes I found had lied (deliberately or not) about cooking time and/or nutrition information.

Given the difficulty of entering that data, I would suggest to Google that they eliminate both preparation time and nutrition from their search options once and for all.

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over 3 years ago easyfrenchfood

Kavi - If this is true . . .

"There is one last but important point I'd like to make. I've seen a good deal of concern, and even panic, from many people in the food blogger community due to the traffic impact of being absent from recipe view. But in practice this should not be an issue. "

Then I would truly like you to explain to me why traffic for keywords for which I'm number one in the Google regular results (therefore no confusion with the Panda algo change) and that contain the word recipe has consistently dropped by 20 percent February 24th? That is very much an issue for me.

David, thank you so much for your articulate post. We should all be mad as hell about this situation. Many of the sites that have been given preferential treatment by Google are the very same ones that have built their content by stealing smaller sites content.

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over 3 years ago David Lebovitz

Kavi: Thank you for taking the time to respond to Amanda's excellent assessment of the new Google recipe search. And it's nice to know that Google is listening and reaching out to people who write recipes online. As someone who has been writing recipes professionally for over twelve years (online and in books), I find it difficult to categorize recipes into a narrow formula. Some of the best recipe writers of our time - such as Julia Child, Maida Heatter and James Beard - would not have recipes that meet the criteria and would be eliminated from the recipe search. I tried marking up a recipe from my site and it was disqualified because I said something should be cooked for "2 to 3 minutes" and it was rejected because that wasn't precise enough. Also when I used the Recipe Search to see if any of my recipes were included, instead of recipes from my site coming up, what came up with a number of sites (including quite a few content scrapers) that had pilfered my recipes word-for-word either from my blog or from my books, rather than recipes that came directly from me. I am sure that is not the intended effect but I was very startled that so many of my recipes were included in the search results that were just cut and pasted from my site. I think it does a disservice to readers, the quality of Google search results, and people looking for recipes, when they find them on aggregating sites rather than on the original site where the recipes appear. Many other people with food blogs have reported that using the Recipe Search feature, they have found pilfered content as well.-------

Perhaps Google can come up with a more effective method where people can flag recipes and Google will take steps to review those sites that are included in the Recipe Search to ensure they are not merely scrapers, but honest recipe sites, like Epicurious and Food52? I did notice that there are sites in the Recipe Search that aren't marked up according to the guidelines so hopefully that means Google is experimenting to see what works and what doesn't outside of the posted guidelines.-----


In terms of the healthy nature of a recipe, it's debatable whether "low calorie" (which often use products like lowfat Cool Whip and aspartame) are more nutritious or better for you than using organic heavy cream or regular sugar. While some people likely do search for recipes based only on calories, or speed, a number of us are looking online for recipes that use everyday ingredients, less-processed foods, and even simplicity. But when long-braised dishes that take over an hour are eliminated, or recipes that don't fit into a narrow description aren't included, it kind of reduces cooking to a series of opening boxes and cans and converting recipes to fit into a formula. While many people do cook that way, and that's their decision and fine with me, I think (and hope) that there's room for all kinds of recipes in the world. And while trying to fit them into specific guidelines is a difficult task, I think broadening the parameters gives readers and cooks the choice, rather than just showing selective results based on a pre-determined formula.

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over 3 years ago CottageGourmet

I've noticed for some time that Google isn't the best resource for recipes -- I read a great recipe on a food blog then Googled to find it because I couldn't remember on which site it had appeared. In response, Google presented me with similarly-named recipes from large, anonymous collectives. Seems they've made a business decision to guide my hand across the cyber Ouija board to a predetermined answer, and I can't say that makes me happy.

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over 3 years ago Kavi

Hi, I'm a product manager on the Google search quality team and was one of the people who helped create recipe view.

First, thanks Amanda for your thoughtful post. You bring up a lot of important points, and from all of the responses it is clear that your comments have struck a chord amongst many food bloggers. Given the amount of interest and frustration that many of you are feeling, I wanted to respond to the points raised, discuss some of the ideas that went into the design of recipe view in its current form, and talk a bit about what we're working on to improve recipe view in the future based on the feedback we've seen.

When designing recipe view, we identified several common themes in terms of the way people compare recipes and decide which one to actually cook. Two of those common themes were speed/difficulty and healthiness, and the cooking time and calories filters help some people towards these ends. I think there is a legitimate concern that including those filters risks reinforcing a "culture of convenience and dieting." However, in practice the effect has been more modest -- we see that a relatively small number of people use these filters on the left to help find recipes. Most people are happy to scan down the top results in the main search results column to find the best results and don't use the cook time or calorie filters at all. In other words, the tools are there for the people who want them, but they are out of the way enough that people don't use them "just because they are there."

Furthermore, our experience shows that people are smart -- they use the tools selectively when the tools make sense for their needs. Although technically you can find a cassoulet recipe that takes 15 minutes, you're not going to find good results, and accordingly very few people actually choose cassoulet recipes this way using recipe view. Similarly, healthiness is certainly about more than just calories. We actually debated inclusion of the calorie filter within the team before releasing the feature. Our worry was that calories wasn't enough to make good decisions about healthiness. In the end, we included the filter because calories are one component that a sizable number people do in fact use to assess healthiness of a recipe, even though it isn't the only indicator. For example, we've seen some people who have other dietary goals (for example low fat, low carb, high protein) use the calorie filter as a preliminary tool to find recipes for which they can click through to look at more detailed nutrition facts. We've also talked to many other folks who care a lot about healthiness but not at all about nutrition labels, instead they pay attention to the quality of the ingredients.

Though it wasn't discussed much in this blog post, the ingredients filter is actually our most interesting recipe search tool. When we spoke with many cooks, ingredients came up over and over as an important factor in deciding on one recipe or another. In recipe mode, we list ingredients in the recipe results, and show the ingredients filter on the left. The ingredients filter gets the most usage of our recipe tools by a large margin, and fortunately, unlike cook times or nutrition information, an ingredients list is available for just about every recipe out there.

In the main column of results, our search results UI shows cook time and calories when they are provided by a site, but we also show ingredients, reviews, or images if they are available.

I think a very good point was raised that finding the best recipe in terms of "quality" or "tastiness" is not easy. Google's ranking algorithms use a lot of signals to identify popular recipes that seem to be well liked across our user base. From what we've seen, this tends to work well in most cases for people searching across Google, but cooking involves a lot of personal preferences and if someone prefers results from a handful of niche sources that aren't as popular with others, Google's results might not serve them as well. I think it's a good point of feedback that we should think about more ways to help people gauge recipe quality. By far the most common method we saw that people assess recipe quality (besides the source of the content) was reviews, so we have included this in our recipe results. But other signals like Facebook Like's could also be interesting to include.

Tools and new UI aside, one thing is clear from this post that I agree with wholeheartedly. Food blogs are under-represented in recipe view results. On the search team, our goal is to provide people the best possible search results wherever they may come from. Diversity of results is important. Food blogs contain a lot of great recipes, described in a style that is often quite different from other large recipe sites. We have been hearing over and over from food bloggers since the launch of recipe view that adding markup is a daunting task that is too burdensome and creates a disadvantage against larger recipe sites.

I care a lot about this, and our team is investigating a number of ways to make it easier to add markup and get into recipe view. Some of these changes will take time, but here are a few things we're investigating:

1. Start showing a limited number of regular web search results (pages with no markup) in recipe view.
Pages with markup will still take precedence because showing results with the richer recipe UI is one of the main benefits of using recipe view, but we want to ensure that very high quality content can get into recipe view, even if there isn't any markup.

2. Change the markup requirements for recipes to show up in recipe view.
Recipes on food blogs tend to be written differently than recipes on database-driven recipe sites. There's often more discussion of the dish and the preparation, a greater focus on photos, and visitors to the blog leave comments rather than ratings or reviews. We need to adapt our markup formats to better fit the content that appears most frequently on blogs. We've already started to make some changes on this front. We now support recipes showing up in recipe view if there are image(s) and ingredients (no reviews, cook time, or nutrition info needed), and this will soon be reflected in the rich snippets testing tool as well. Note that we've never required prep/cook time and calories in particular to be present in a recipe for the recipe to show up in recipe view. From the post and the follow-up comments, it looks like there may have been some confusion on this point. The current rule is that we require at least two pieces of information to be provided for a recipe to be eligible to show up in recipe view. Allowed information includes ingredients, reviews, prep/cook time, nutrition information, or image(s).

3. Automatically extract recipe information.
The ideal case is that we can automatically extract all the recipe information on a recipe page so that no markup is needed. This is quite difficult to do technically, so it will take longer to achieve. Nevertheless, we're exploring ways to automate or at least partially automate the extraction of recipe information to reduce the burden of adding markup.

4. Finally, we are putting processes into place to reduce the lag from the time someone adds markup to the time that their recipes begin showing up in recipe view.

There is one last but important point I'd like to make. I've seen a good deal of concern, and even panic, from many people in the food blogger community due to the traffic impact of being absent from recipe view. But in practice this should not be an issue. So far, we've taken a conservative approach with the recipe view UI. Since you must click on the "Recipes" link on the left of the search results page or click on a recipe search tool below, we see that only a small fraction of people searching for recipes go to recipe view. Most people simply use regular search results in "Everything" mode as they always have. So, the traffic impact to any site that doesn't yet appear in recipe view is minimal, if any. On the other hand, it is possible that adding markup could create a boost in your traffic due to the richer UI of your search results on Google (called "rich snippets"). We'll continue to improve the feature and assess people's reactions as they search for recipes on Google, and adjust our UI accordingly, so it's certainly possible that having markup will increase in importance over time.

Thanks again Amanda and commenters for your feedback. Although the response from people using the feature has been quite positive, the response from food bloggers has not. I apologize for the pain you all have felt. We're listening and working to make the system better. I'll continue to watch for more comments, feedback, and ideas from all of you, and I'll let you know as we have more updates to share as well.

Kavi

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, Kavi. This is interesting and most helpful. We appreciate it that you took the time to respond, and we appreciate all of Google's efforts to improve this search tool. ;o)

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over 3 years ago Waverly

Kavi,
The fact remains that when searching Google recipes, only the large, faceless collectives appear. There is no charm, but most importantly, there is no credibility in that. I am a food blogger, but I am also one who seeks out great recipes on the internet. I am busy. I do not have the time or the inclination to try out a nameless faceless recipe. I want recipes from trustworthy sources: bloggers, food writers, and food publications. Besides Epicurious, there is NOTHING of interest in a google recipe search. Please change this. The homogenization is disheartening.

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over 3 years ago Hippo Flambe

Kavi, Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I would appreciate a template or tool available on blogger to add the rich snippets to blog posts. I know there is already one for wordpress. In addition some really simple information on how to apply the new code, especially the one for photos, would be great.

I think it would be helpful for folks who click on the recipe search to be told it is a new set of data. It is natural to assume it is just a sort of the previous results and users should be told that is not the case.

Robin

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over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful comments. There were a few people who further explained the intricacies of how recipe search works -- thank you for chiming in. If you have a chance, do check out Meathead Goldwyn's story about this in the Huffington Post -- he detailed what you need to know about coding recipes, and he was very helpful to me when I was working on this post. Here's the link: http://www.huffingtonpost...

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over 3 years ago lapadia

Thank you, Amanda for all you do! Thanks to Merril and all the Food52 team, too!

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over 3 years ago votefornumbersix

This article is spot on. Google recipe search is such a good idea in theory, so its a shame that the implementation is flawed like this. It's just begging people to misrepresent their recipes.

As far as the issue of cooking time, I've always thought that it should be standard for all recipes to list both active and inactive cook/prep time.

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over 3 years ago Purple Kale Kitchenworks

yes and yes. As always, Amanda, well said.
www.purplekale.com

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over 3 years ago Daphne

Well said. Thank you for clarifying ...

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over 3 years ago chris_coyle

Good point! Personally, I typically start with a Google Image Search. If I see something I like, I'll check out the recipe, then to in search of others for comparison. You're totally correct though that the drill-down options here are abysmal. The "ingredients" option is very strange! There may be four items listed that are in the dish you are interested in, but as soon as you check a box for one of them, the others change, so now you can't select the other ingredients you were just looking at?!?! Hopefully it's still a work in progress. :)

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over 3 years ago SBMCW

Maybe we should consider a tried and true solution. Walking over to your book shelf and pulling down a few of your favorite cookbooks. We are getting so lazy. Did you know there is a vegetable butcher at Eataly. Really? There is a tool for everything in the kitchen especially when you introduce a laptop. When I exhaust all the possibilities that my nose, tongue, ears or eyes bring to the food experience then maybe I will be concerned about the limitations of Google. God! I hope the day never comes.

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over 3 years ago aujourdhui

So why not use BING for searches and not give the 'spy in the sky' (Google) any business???

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over 3 years ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

good thing I get most of my recipes from food52. when I use Google, I search through many pages of results so that I can find what i want. it's still an amazing amount of information readily available.

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over 3 years ago jordan.scovel

Thank you for posting this Amanda. I just read Craig Goldwyn's post as well...this all seems so confusing and difficult. Google has a way of simplifying things so I would hope that they (quickly) find a way to make this easier for the non-computer language savvy. However, in the meantime there must be a way for this to be seen by the google folks. {Hey Google - if you're searching for yourself, I hope this article comes up!} Thank you again for posting this.

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over 3 years ago Juergen Hartl

If you rely on Google alone for you recipe needs, you are sure right. But, normally you have your favorite cooking sites, like this one, and Google is just a supplement to that. And Google search now has a feature where you can block certain sites, your decision, from showing up in your searches. After a while you could end up just with the sites that are relevant and serious.
In summary i don't think the problem with Google's approach is a good start. I am sure over time Google will improve their algorithm.

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over 3 years ago lapadia

RE: FILTERS: I haven’t a problem with calories and times being a filter on the left hand side of Google’s recipe search - various filters can be handy for a search, just all depends what a person is looking for. RE: REQUIRED HTML TAGS: What is a problem - is that Google’s recipe search has the calorie & time filters set up as required tags to be programmed in…these should be optional tags for the recipe writer...period. RE: FOOD BLOGS: For me, the food blogs - stories, photos and information with recipes etc. VS. plain recipe sites are separate entities, and it would be great for Google (for starters) to recognize both. RE: *thelastmike*‘s comment – I say right on , well except for messing with the system, because I sometimes like seeing the calories and nutritional values, and I would hope they are correct, not one that is messed with just to trick the system. How about trying for a win-win situation? I believe the actual recipe search Google has presented can help (especially once refined), and on the flip side why not add a filter for food blogs – for instance; Google’s new Food Blog search, one that is user friendly for recipe writers and easy for a “Food Blog surfer”? These are just my last thoughts - always open for some positive brainstorming. RE: *alyce_mantia_price*’s calorie comment – please check this link for the Caloric Value of Lamb, which lists various cuts of lamb per 3 ounces, find your cut of meat divide by three, factor into the sauce and cooking method used on the recipe you found…I find it reasonable to state that 1 ounce of lamb = 63 calories. Here is the link: http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu...

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over 3 years ago thelastmike

I think google generally is a company which tries to do the right thing.
What is needed is to get your argument to the fore with them to consider.
So I would take a first approach of petition.

Get some food sites together to sign a petition themselves and also post it to have their readers sign if they like.
When you amass some names take this forward to google and perhaps the weight of it will get you a seat to present your case to the people that actually make that decision.

Failing that working, I would go for non-violent protest.
The way to do that is simply mess with the system.
Encourage blogs to enter erroneous data for calories and cooking time.

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over 3 years ago AlyceMantia

Not much I can add to all the excellent and thoughtful comments already made.

Here's another example. Although she cooks full sized lamb shoulder chops, she gives a calorie count of 63 per serving...based on a 1-ounce serving. Really?

http://www.facebook.com...

I put a comment on the recipe questioning the serving size. It was almost immediately removed with no response.

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over 3 years ago Waverly

At first, I thought the new Google recipe finder was an improvement. I was wrong and now I now why. You are correct on all counts - anytime I "search", I mostly get recipes from the large sites. Unless the recipe is from Epicurious, I don't bother. I am looking for credibility - bloggers, great sites. I am really not fond of "quick and easy" and even less so of calorie counters. Thank you for the explanation!

Me

over 3 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Fantastic article. It seemed that we already had enough against us in the fight to keep jello molds, canned ham, and processed eating at bay.

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over 3 years ago caddysnax

google's in business to make money. last time i checked no blogger was paying google money for any services other than maybe advertising for a small number of them and no recipe searchers were paying for any searches. the best way to get google to change anything it does especially something thats been in place for awhile is show why its in there interest to. simple as that.

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over 3 years ago thirschfeld

yes but google is not paying the bloggers either, advertisers are and at that very few really make any money, so both are serving each others interests. Google should absolutely be in the business of making money but what they do is about an exchange of information. Really the way I see it they should lay out the options for the user and let the user pick and choose the filters they want to use in order to get the info they want, which so far is what they have done they just need to add more filters to fit everyones desires. It really isn't all that different from you choosing the magazines/newpapers you wanted to buy when magazines/newpapers where how you got a lot of your information. I am certain many news organizations would go through roof if google started filtering the content they were providing which is nothing more than information so you can see why food bloggers should be concerned.

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over 3 years ago dawnviola

I don't know, guys. The regular Google search works very well for me -- my posts are still showing up somewhere on the first page of a Google search. I tried it with a recent post I wrote for mayonnaise. First I searched for "wicked good mayonnaise," then "how to make good mayonnaise" and "what is good mayonnaise" since Ina Garten always says "use a good mayonnaise." I'm pretty happy with that.

But, you're so right -- when I search in Google's recipe section, nothing shows up. I've worked really hard at my SEO over the past 5 years. What a disappointment. There's no way I'm recoding everything :-(

-Dawn

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over 3 years ago ChrisD

An opportunity to search on blekko and create a / for the cooking matters group or slow foods group...

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over 3 years ago jfinnert

I'm going to disagree with Amanda on this one. Calories and time are filters because people care about these things, and if the recipe writer doesn't, well, then they aren't doing their readership as much of a service as some of their readership would like. As for 60 minutes being the upper limit on the time to make any particular dish, presumably that was an artifact of the recipes that were found rather than a hard-coded upper limit. For example, I would not expect Google to present the same time ranges for a set of smoothie recipes.

There *are* other things that we care about, though, such as the eye appeal and certainly the quality. These are things that ratings capture to some extent, but unfortunately star ratings are not weighted by the knowledge and experience of the reviewer, and they are not standardized, so they don't mean very much. One result of this is that Google recipe search will find you a collection of recipes of uncertain quality. Maybe what we need is the ability to restrict the web sites by type... e.g. a "foodie sites only" search restriction option, etc.

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over 3 years ago Signe

I recommend using Food Blog Search. It brings up recipes from blogs only, which are a lot more interesting than plain old recipies anyway. This is the link: http://foodblogsearch.com...

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over 3 years ago thirschfeld

again, this search only searches the 2000 or so blogs that signed up for it years ago and they haven't accepted new blogs in a long time. Effectively by using foodblogsearch you are filtering out, last estimate I saw was 30,000 which I am sure is really a low estimate, a lot of potential bloggers.

Phoenix

over 3 years ago Phoenix Helix

I didn't realize that Tom. Thanks for the clarification. What about recipeblogsearch.com, which Kitten the Whisk mentioned below?

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over 3 years ago guzziguldsko

thank you Amanda, we are behind you.

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I've been muttering under my breath about all this, but couldn't put two words together to express my dismay. You speak so eloquently to this disturbing, disheartening trend. Thank you, Amanda.

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over 3 years ago meathead

The problem with foodblogsearch is that it has not accepted new blogs for years. It lacks many of the best blogs.

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over 3 years ago WinnieAb

Really? I thought all you had to do was email the admin person (used to be Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen though I am not sure if that's still the case) and you'd be added...

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over 3 years ago Slosselyong

Take a look at this video and how AdWords uses a ranking algorithm to allow "higher quality" advertisers to win bids in auction: http://www.youtube.com.... Perhaps something akin to this should be applied to filtered search results as opposed to what is currently in place.

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over 3 years ago Midge

Right on Amanda. One-minute cassoulet makes me very sad. Thanks so much for mobilizing the food52 troops on this.

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over 3 years ago lapadia

I truly appreciate your article, Amanda, but in a nutshell from another perspective, I would like to say:
Welcome to the computer programming world…all web pages are created with hidden tags, called source codes that tell web browsers what the page is supposed to look like. The tags manage column width, links, color, formats on the page and much more…just like the Food52 page you are looking at now. Browsers are programmed to interpret source codes to display the web pages as was it was written.

Google recipe search (for instance) interprets the source code, which in turn tells it how to display and list a web page…which, in the case we are talking about here, is your recipe. The “rich snippets” used are the programming codes that Google’s recipe search needs to use for their recipe search. Google Recipe search “crawls” web pages for recipes, names of recipes, ingredients, instructions etc., and without the proper codes or tags Google will not be able to read the recipe as you would like, or in some cases know if it has even found a recipe. Since Google’s recipe search change, the top recipe sites being found are those who looked to the future and began programming to play with Google. I am thinking that more than likely the Google people are not in the recipe business, they do not know recipes, but they do know how to program and find recipes during a search - or “web crawling”, this is the business they are in. The problem for us is that they need the source codes and tags talking to them in a programming language they understand.

According to Craig Goldwyn article (a link Amanda included here, an article full of information) - It seems there are three different competing languages of rich snippets today: and fortunately Google search reads all three…so in that respect you could “thumbs up” to Google, you have a choice of which “snippet” road to take and the “web crawl” will find you!

Yikes…I know it’s a pain, all this coding can make your eyes glaze over and your have so many recipes written already. However, you can check into the plug-ins that will code your recipe(s) so that you can be up on the top of recipe searches, again. You can type in your recipes click on a button and VOILA, your recipe is formatted. See this link for an example, for those who use Wordpress.org., and one that ChefsByNight touched upon.

http://foodblogforum.com...

Anyway, I agree with ChefsByNight’s comment…don’t freak out, gotta give Google a chance, a standard format for tagging will help future search engines, browser plugins, etc.

Because if you want your food blogging recipes to keep on top of the search engines, then seriously, this is something to think about. Boycotting will probably not help.

Thank You



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over 3 years ago Jean | Delightful Repast

Most of us don't want any help with our recipe formatting. It's so enjoyable to see all the different ways food bloggers write recipes. We don't need anything to put us in a box, making all our recipes uniform!

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over 3 years ago WinnieAb

I completely appreciate your sentiments lapadia...only problem is I have heard that many bloggers who have actually gone ahead and used a plugin to ensure their recipes are coded properly are still not having their recipes show up in the search results. So they are doing the extra work with no pay off. I have also heard that when a page has "too much text" accompanying a recipe, it will be excluded from the search results even if it's coded properly- this, in effect, means pretty much all food blogs, because there is usually a narrative and not just a recipe in each post...
I for one am waiting this out- not changing anything I do on my blog for the time being- I am not going back to code all my recipes if there's no guarantee my recipes will even show up :(

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over 3 years ago italianchef

It also says in one of the FAQs that your recipes will not show up if you don't have enough recipes on your site coded with the rich snippets. What "enough" is they don't actually specify, however.

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over 3 years ago lapadia

I am all for voicing our opinions, and just to clarify, I stand behind Amanda’s article and the point it conveys 100%; however I decided to take a standpoint of the reality of an ever- changing industry - and we all know there is the good and the bad that comes with it. This change = YIKES! Yet, I am all for progress and try to do my best to accept and understand why changes happen. Truth be told - I could live without “Google” anything! Yet, in this case, they do have the capability to read the three different language “rich snippets” being used, so if/when we format, our recipes will have a higher percentage of being seen there. That is the reality of it all. @Winnie: thanks for your kind words and I like your standpoint – to wait it out, let them work out the bugs, before going ahead and adding the HTML codes needed to talk with Google’s new search. BTW - I have recipes on WordPress, however I did not start that for the same reasons your all have; for me, it is just an easy place to keep everything (photos & recipes) and fun to do, easy to share with friends and family….just send them a link. I am not worried about showing up in the searches, but, I wish you all luck with your blogging mission(s). Sincerely, Linda

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over 3 years ago lapadia

Back again....I forgot to thank Meathead Goldwyn for all his research re: this subject. Amanda did include a link to that in her article :)

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over 3 years ago ChefsByNight

I think we all agree that Google's recipe search results become absolutely deranged when you enter a time or calorie filter. As a user, once I read through a couple of recipes that clearly don't take 1 minute to prepare I will just stop using that feature. However, as a user I also find the idea of searching for recipes by ingredient (and more importantly, seeing a list of ingredients in the search results) quite intriguing. I can see myself using this feature. For instance, a standard search for "peanut-free brittle" yields results like "sugar-free peanut brittle", whereas with the new search "brittle recipe", "no peanuts" gives a useful answer. As a proprietor of a food blog, more accurate search is always preferable to me, and this is a start.

My point is, let's not completely freak out about this. At least some of the bias in the search results is simply that many blogs have not gone back and tagged their content. I would recommend doing it because even if Google's search is weak, a standard format for tagging will help future search engines, browser plugins, etc. (I highly recommend this plugin for WordPress: http://sushiday.com/recipe...)

Most searchers are not aware of this new feature yet anyway - they will do a normal search before they even get to the new options. So let's give Google a chance to improve their filters before we boycott them completely.

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over 3 years ago ATG117

Couldn't agree more. Amazed me, even before this change, how a google search for a recipe led me to totally unreliable sites and blogs that I would never trust for a recipe. Instead, I search sites I trust. But for those who don't frequent food blog or trusty food websites, google's search algorithm is a shame.

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over 3 years ago gt9

thanks Amanda and jackhonky. tweeted as per your much appreciated instructions.

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over 3 years ago eatthelove

There's a forum for this specific issue on Google Help Forums. Please comment there at http://www.google.com/support... or send a tweet to @kelly_fee who is the Google Employee Search Community Manager. Let her know your thoughts.

I have created two tweets that are under 140 characters if you'd like to use them.

"Dear Google Employee Search Community Manager @kelly_fee, I'm unhappy w/ @Google's Recipe mode as a food blogger. (Please RT)"

"The algorithm that @google has created for their recipe mode is unfair to small food bloggers like myself. @kelly_fee (Please RT)"

Perhaps if enough people tweet it to google and kelly_fee she will hear it.

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over 3 years ago wendygoodfriend

Bay Area Bites addressed this issue as well from a food blogger's perspective - the difficulties involved qualifying for inclusion in Google Recipe Search, the lack of easy-to-use tools to do it, trying to catch up with the larger recipe sites who had advanced warning that specific coding was needed to be included in the new Recipe Search...and the wait... hoping your recipes will show up once you think you have complied with the new rich snippet requirements. Amanda addresses other problems which are important as well like trying to figure out how to define prep time and cook time when you have waiting periods like dough rising or marinating time - the rigidity of the system that takes some of the fluidity and creativity out of writing recipes. Here is the BAB post for another perspective: http://ow.ly/4lXUq

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over 3 years ago italianchef

What bothers me the most about this is that it is deceptive. If it was a completely separate feature from the main search with a link to it in the menu on the top I wouldn't object to it as much. But it's attached to the main search, masquerading as a way to filter the search results you already recieved. But it's not a filter, the second you click any of the options you are being taken to a completely different search of a completely different universe of web sites. And if anybody thinks that Google doesn't benefit financially in some manner by purposefully tilting this towards the larger corporate sites, they are being very naive.

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over 3 years ago picnicpicnic

There is also an American bias to the google recipe search and this doesn't necessarily suit cooks in other parts of the world (or even cooks in the US when searching for certain recipes.)

When searching for recipes its worth remembering that there is an amazing difference in search results between countries. cassoulet recipe on google.com.au will turn up mostly mainstream Australian publications and broadcasters online sites for instance.

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over 3 years ago mcs3000

Perfectly said and I'm glad you said it, Amanda!

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over 3 years ago UrbanFarmer

Just because Google has recipe search, does not mean you have to use it. The old way of searching will still work as always. So the best thing for us all to do is refuse to use recipe search.

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over 3 years ago Jean | Delightful Repast

Thank you, UrbanFarmer! That's exactly what I keep saying here, on other blog posts about it and on Twitter! JUST SAY NO!

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over 3 years ago betteirene

I just got done kneading the dough for Homemade Focaccia with Rosemary and Sea Salt by Nocole Franzen, posted here 8 months ago, which I'm making to go with spaghetti and meatballs (testing meatballs before posting here). At 4 pm, I realized I had only a loaf of whippy white sandwich bread in the pantry, which doesn't exactly make for wonderful garlic bread. All my breads take hours to make, so I searched here for a suitable bread that would be done at the same time as the spaghetti. So anyway, as I'm kneading it, I got to thinking about this essay, and this thought hit me: food52 is like having a living, breathing cookbook at your fingertips. Unlike other recipe sites, this one's alive. It's alive, I tell you, it's alive! I'd like to see google develop an algorithm for that. Forget waiting for google to build a Watson for recipes (they could call it "Rombauer," from "The Joy of Cooking"). I say we all tell a friend to tell a friend to search here first, and we make a point to check out the week's "Reciprocity" selection, and before you know it, we'll have toppled the google regime! Cin-cin!

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over 3 years ago mboerner

You're so right. How can we petition Google?

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over 3 years ago DailyMeals

Thanks Amanda! Such good info. We don't have Recipe Search in Australia yet, and hopefully we won't get it anytime soon!

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over 3 years ago [email protected]

Good thinking, Amanda. Yet another threat to good cooking.

One is not always looking for a great recipe, sometimes just a usable one if, for example, you come into a shoulder of kid at the Greenmarket. For this, Epicurious can be useful.

But the best source for great recipes is and will remain great cookbooks--at least until the extinction of books. I know young aspiring home cooks who 1) have never heard of the masterful recipe writers, such as Paula Wolfert, Marcella Hazan, Judi Rogers, Paul Bertolli,Pierre Herme,and so many others; and 2) regularly use recipes with no provenance, no friends or fans--nothing going for them, chosen for no reason or for bad reasons. And then they report to me how awful the meal was. Do we need courses in connoisseurship? My wife tells me that this has become a dangerous word to use in today's art history classes and museum exhibitions.

Pot

over 3 years ago MotherWouldKnow

Many thanks Amanda. Hope your informative and well reasoned piece gets to the right people at Google pronto. Maybe it's a pipe dream, but I wish they would read the comments too. The sites and recipes that Google now pushes to the back of its recipe search results are a treasure trove. The best way for Google execs to understand that is to introduce them to the sites and bloggers being left behind/out of the new search system.

Andreachini_bigger

over 3 years ago dabblingchef

Don’t get me wrong, I love searching for recipes online. But bloggers are a key part of that. They are an instant connection to the home cook. When you find a recipe through a blog post, you feel much more connected to the history and tradition behind it. Isn’t that one of the best things about sharing recipes in the first place? When it’s a big corporation at the helm, some of that gets lost. You can’t pass down an empty search engine box to your grandkids. Hopefully Google can figure out a way to honor the recipes we all love to share. If all else fails, there’s always foodblogsearch.com, which is powered by Google. Maybe they could link that to their new search function somehow?

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over 3 years ago Whats4Dinner

Very interesting article! I never knew Google gave results this way because I NEVER Google recipes! Honestly. I'm at the point now that I know where to go look, albeit onine. I'll go directly here or epicurious or elsewhere. I receive Fine Cooking mag at home and I buy cookbooks by my fav cooks. What do those techies know about MAKING good food anyway, eh? ;-)
(Please not sarcasm, I'm sure there are a few of you out there who are incredible at both)

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

It sounds more like fast food search than recipe search. I agree, Google's response will be interesting.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks for highlighting this topic, Amanda. I’ve never used the Google to search for recipes. Today, I’ve been Googling around the Google Recipe Search/Webmaster Tools pages for a little while, trying to figure out what exactly they decided to change/add. So tell me if this the bottom line…seems to be, when Google crawls your blog/site using their new Recipe Search criteria, your blog/site better have the Google’s required “rich snippets” (I like that phrase; it makes me giggle) written into your html code or else your blog/site won’t show up at all in the search results. Have I gotten this straight? Perhaps Google based their new SEO criteria only on the content already present in the Big Food blogs/sites, which is why those blogs/sites appear so prominently in the Recipe Search results. Maybe Google didn’t realize there’s a whole host of food bloggers out there who haven’t fully customized their content to suit the new Recipe Search criteria. So here’s my memo to the Google. Dear Google: Not sure if you thought of this, but your Recipe Search SEO team should meet with food bloggers (there are, like, a gazillion of them!) and brainstorm on what search tools and Rich Snippets are necessary for a productive recipe crawl. That said, you should fly Amanda Hesser and other like-minded food bloggers out to Mountain View for a little chit chat. Maybe she’ll even cook cassoulet for you, if you ask nicely. Oh, and you should move the “cook time” and “calorie” search tools into the advanced search box, or toss them altogether. They’re silly and pretty unrealistic . Love, Mrs. Larkin

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over 3 years ago thirschfeld

"crawl your blog" gives me the hebegebes and for a moment I thought you might use sniglet. Very informative and I think you should go to the meeting with Amanda.

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I second the motion! You two rock!

Hib_kitchen

over 3 years ago MyCommunalTable

Can we revolt and use a different search engine? Power to the bloggers!!!

Cakes

over 3 years ago Bevi

Great article Amanda. In addition to the glorious recipes on this site, I also use it to link the to many blogs represented here. It will be interesting to see google's response, if any, to your article.

Petrit_and_aureta

over 3 years ago MySocialChef

I am so annoyed by this. My recipes that are original and creative are not coming up in searches like they use to. I'm stead i'm being beat out by the large commercial sites. I feel like a mom and pop shop being taken over by Wal-Mart.

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over 3 years ago betteirene

Wonderful comparison!

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over 3 years ago Sasha (Global Table Adventure)

Thanks for this. It's a sad time for the food world, hopefully some adjustments will be made based on this sort of feedback. I hope you gave a copy of this to google.

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over 3 years ago jenmmcd

Well, if it helps, for the life of me I can't even find the recipe search. Did they take it down?

Fancyasip

over 3 years ago kellypea

Well said! Having recently made cassoulet, I'm trying to imagine why anyone who knows anything about it would consider a "quick" version. Good example to state your case. I'm fascinated by the time factor in the new recipe search. It seems to me that understanding how ingredients work with one another is the right path to a quick, fresh plate of food instead of a search option for a recipe based on the time it takes to prepare it. It will be interesting to continue to follow this discussion.

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over 3 years ago sonya g

Brava, Amanda! Thanks for laying it out in such an articulate and thorough fashion. Hopefully Google will make adjustments to the recipe feature in the near future.

Berries

over 3 years ago nicole_pearce

I couldn't agree with you more...

As a food blogger I have found frustration with the Google recipe search that I won't even get into. I have now tried it a few times as a user and honestly it is not working for me. Being a visual person I have gone back to the way I used to do my recipe search by using the image search. Also, a flawed system for those with great recipes, but not so good photo skills. It works for me though.

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over 3 years ago Happy Healthy Mama

Thank you for this informative article. I wasn't aware of the change with google. I just googled "healthy carrot cupcakes" the old fashioned way, and my recipe was #5 on the first page. Then I clicked on the "recipes" feature, and my recipe was no where to be found in the first 5 pages. How discouraging! I guess I can only hope most people aren't using that feature.

Roundbutton

over 3 years ago Delishhh

Great article!!!!!!! I have been reading about this and trying rich snippets and do not want to do it. I hope that all of us can forward this article to Google!!!

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks for writing this, Amanda. It's a shame that something as powerful as Google can further degrade our cooking culture, as you pointed out. I'm wondering to what extent users of sites like yours even use Google to find recipes? Are we talking about two different user groups here, or is there overlap, and if so, to what extent? Even before Google implemented these changes, I never used it because it's ineffective in returning the types of recipes I want to try. It's a shame, though, that people new to cooking -- or unaware of good sites -- will now have a lesser chance of stumbling upon them.

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I need to abstain on this one, for professional reasons, but I would simply suggest that if you want to find recipes by bloggers, simply make "blog" the first term of your search request, and don't use the recipe search feature at all. And then pass this information on to everyone and anyone who might find it useful. Incidentally, I don't believe I've ever used Google to search for a recipe, but that's because there are ten years worth of great recipes to try right here on food52, and if exactly what I need isn't here, I get excellent suggestions, usually with links, from my PicklePals on foodpickle. Or, I look in hard copy cookbooks. ;o)

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Hard copy cookbooks?! Gasp! ;-)

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

On the contrary AntoniaJames, I'd be very interested in hearing your professional opinion on this matter, but I certainly understand your predicament. (Hard copy indeed!) :-)

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Amanda, I did not fully understand all that google's decision implied. Thank you for bringing clarity to discouraging news for food bloggers.

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over 3 years ago Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat)

I have a food blog that I just started last December. I've begun using a plugin that gives Google the data it's looking for from my recipe assembly. To be honest, I integrated this plugin so that I could increase my blog traffic. I have a terrific little site, but know nothing about marketing so I thought it would help drive a little traffic my way.

I too struggle with the calorie count and cooking time parameters. I focus on home cooking and by that I mean making things from scratch so you can control your ingredients and the overall healthiness of what your eating. But this doesn't always mean it will be low-calorie. Calories and fats are not all created equal and in my book, a non-fat processed store bought cookie isn't any where near as healthy as the whole grain, organic ingredient, homemade ones that I create in my kitchen.

Also, the prep time seems to get excluded from a lot of recipes and the focus is on how long it cooks. I have a great stir-fry recipe that takes about 10 minutes to cook, but it can take a half hour to chop the veggies. I recommend in the post to do as much of the chopping as you can on the weekend so that you can throw the dish together fast on a work night, but that doesn't really help you if you're looking for a 10 minute recipe 10 minutes before you need to serve it.

I think that Google is trying to connect to a growing market of \"foodies\" but is missing the boat on what the most merited criteria are.

-Elizabeth

www.foodieformerlyfat.com

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over 3 years ago MLT13

Great article Amanda! I wasn't aware of this Google gaffe and the impact it will have on finding great recipes vs. just quick recipes. Your article should be front page of the next Wed. of the NY Times Dining Section...please see if they will publish it. I would certainly generate serious buzz and hopefully Google would take note and hopefully change their ways on these new search parameters.

Thanks for writing about this, keep on going and let us know how to help make the necessary changes to keep great recipes easy to find on Google.

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over 3 years ago jmiller

Very thoughtful piece, Amanda.

Surfacing higher-quality recipes by looking at shares on Facebook and Twitter is an approach I think will work better than Google's traditional SEO-driven results, especially for food blogs and lower-traffic sites.

This is exactly what we're building over at Punchfork.

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over 3 years ago Kitten with a Whisk

Wonderful article and I couldn't agree more! For the little food blogger, like me, it will have a huge effect on how many people find my recipes. If you google "chipotle bourbon shrimp", I'm the first link, if you click on recipe search - I'm not listed at all. How is that helpful to bloggers or the home cook? They will miss out on many great recipes and food blogs. And I don't have the time or desire to change my posts so I show up in google's recipe search. So its lose-lose.

Sr

over 3 years ago urbanideas

Excellent write up! Indeed we all SHOULD voice our opinions, as such search engine app can destroy even further the methods on how to cook good meals.

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over 3 years ago zephyr050

just did a google search using the words
authentic cassoulet
The results do feature blogs on first page.

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over 3 years ago TheRunawaySpoon

I just Googled authentic cassoulet straight up and it's mostly blogs. I added the recipe filter and it is all big sites. That's the problem I see.

Kk2

over 3 years ago kaykay

I have a connection at Google. The article has been forwarded to people at Google who are involved with this technology.

Buddhacat

over 3 years ago SKK

Thank you, kaykay.

Me2

over 3 years ago lighterandlocal

Great look at google recipes. I think it won't mean much to bloggers in the short-term. Google recipes hasn't been publicized much, it's not an option on google's main search page. People, in general, still just google everything pretty generically. That doesn't mean it won't catch on in the future. This is a great look at the drawbacks of their system thus far, thanks for sharing with us!

Katemama

over 3 years ago Diethood

I am so thankful to you for writing this piece. I have noticed that my numbers dropped significantly since Google made the change. It's unfortunate that those who care deeply about food, and nourish it as it was meant to be, got pushed to the side.

Runningspoon_perre-magness

over 3 years ago TheRunawaySpoon

Great article. I have read quite a lot of discussion about the difficulties this new search poses for food bloggers, but have been bothered all along by the impact it has on folks searching for recipes. I did what most food bloggers did and searched one of my recipes. The food52 entry and my blog post were in the top three. Add the recipe filter, and it was not up on the first 6 pages ( I gave up after that). I did this excercise worried about what this meant for me, but quickly realized that if someone searching for a recipe - any recipe - or idea would not get the best selection out there, only the ones from sites with the staff and resources to code every entry. I know so many friends who combine google and cooking for a simple reason - type in an ingredient or a dish and find a recipe. It makes them buy and use produce they are not as familiar with, but would like to taste. It expands their food horizons and their cooking repertoire. Not so with the recipe search. I think articles like this one, that educate people interested in using Google to find good recipes, are a step in the right direction in explaining how flawed this new model is and will encourage people not to use the filter.



Buddhacat

over 3 years ago SKK

Glad to see the NYT also published your essay today. http://dinersjournal.blogs...
I found Food52 through their Blogroll.

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over 3 years ago Creative Culinary

This isn't the first time Google has done something so arbitrary and left a group of the population wringing their hands and playing catchup...but this is bigger than some of their previous algorithm changes that users had to work with. Their failure to notify the population of food bloggers in general prior to enacting their new rules is highly suspect and seems to consciously favor those bigger sites and leaves all of us in a state of wonderment...for all of the reasons you cite.

The only part of your article that I disagree with are the statements regarding understanding the metrics that do reflect quality. Pageviews, Facebook likes and comments do not make a recipe better, they simply reflect the popularity of a given site. Using those metrics to judge the quality of a recipe seems as devoid of real consideration as what Google is doing!

There is no easy answer. I own a web development company and I'm a food blogger...trying to play catchup for my own blog and determine how to implement a fix for my clients has made this latest Google shakeup a nightmare on many fronts. The one thing I am certain of though is that burying my head in the sand and hoping it will go away is not the solution.

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over 3 years ago queenie_nyc

In regards to Amanda's comment about blog comments, she specifically mentions the ratio of comments to page views, which would mean that a less-popular blog with fewer but still passionate adherents would still rank pretty well, assuming those passionate folks are commenting. Facebook likes are a different story, unless a similar ratio (likes to followers, for example) is applied.

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over 3 years ago WeeklyGreens

As a fairly new blogger, I intially saw this as an opportunity. But Amanda paints a stark picture for both those searching and for those of us who are out there trying to inspire others to cook. It really is possible, even for busy families on a weeknight. Spreading this notion has now become even more of an uphill battle. "Cooking disorder" is a new term I'm adopting. That's exactly what it is. Thanks, Amanda.

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over 3 years ago seanxr

The problem isn't that Google chose the wrong attributes to narrow by. It's not just about good food v. bad food. For many of us, it's a choice between home-cooked and prepared. Time and calories matter. Whether time and calories will be reliable on the pages found is another question, but even foodies should recognize that making it easier to avoid prepared foods is an important objective.

The problem is that Google doesn't have another category of refinement: call it quality. Something that will reflect the kind of validation of the recipe by comments or link. It may be that the refinement isn't necessary because it's already reflected in the initial search.

Maybe Google has made a different choice than it appears. First you get quality. Then, you get to refine for results that rank higher on other criteria.

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over 3 years ago angrywayne

This is heading towards a really terrific discussion. Amanda, you've made some insightful points about Google's lack of understanding of what recipe hunters want. It almost feels like a talk topic over at serious eats. It's really great to hear such an experienced food writer and blogger's perspective on this.

As a Chef, I've got more than my share of issues with Google's search results regarding recipes, but for me, it just goes towards the fact that swiftly, they are loosing in the game of quality search result (Confer this Quora topic: http://www.quora.com/What... ). In fact, I use Google to find recipes far and away less than any sites that I'm already of aware will meet my needs. Usually, I didn't find those with Google, unless you count the fact they host my email account, in which case you'd think they could use the anonymous data better.

I'm not sure that Google is the proper entity to even win at this game. There already are so many applications, search engines, blogs and web services related to food that meet our needs. Your site is the prime example of it. They sure as hell should try, but I think we're a long way off from them meeting the diverse needs of the recipe searchers, notwithstanding that most of the results these days are from the huge mega-sponsored-aggregator sites like Epicurious, et al.

Moreover, I think this is where the regular publishers will still be able to produce those cookbooks that have the long, involved, and thoughtful recipes or descriptions of how to cook. Personally, I'm a huge fan of books that have sparse photos or illustrations (albeit quality) and good solid writing. But I know that a lot of home cook, just want them steps and exactly how long it takes. But as any seasoned home cook will tell you, it doesn't always come out the way it should in recipes. Why, recipes can't plan for everyone's context, level of experience or elevation, and neither can Google. Looking forward to see the press release that Google is looking for experience food writers, like yourself, to help think outside of the Google box.

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over 3 years ago domenicacooks

I agree with almost everything you write, though I'm not sure that quality can be measured by the number of Facebook 'likes' or blog comments either. Some of my favorite blogs--with good recipes--get very little traffic. On the other hand, as someone who grew up in the print era and is relatively new to blogging, I have no idea what the answer might be, and I am grateful to you for shining a light on this issue that so many of us are concerned about.

Buddhacat

over 3 years ago SKK

Amanda, Thought provoking and thorough essay. I just went to the link Macheesmo posted http://www.google.com/quality_form... and gave feedback. (Thank you, Macheesmo.) Is it possible to send a petition or statement from Food52 members, which we could also forward to friends to be signed? I believe Google would respond favorably - they just didn't think this one through.

Sausage2

over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Amen sister! Thank you so much for writing this insightful article Amanda. And I really, really hope you will stay up on you soapbox and put the message out there in some other ways too. Your trenchant comments on how google's approach to searching recipes stands a good chance of hugely compounding our national eating disorder and all the most negative aspects of our culture's approach to food need to be heard! Can we write a group letter/petition from passionate home cooks of the world to google, expressing our point of view, and telling them that we believe in them and their ability to come up with something better? Maybe even something that has the potential to nudge cooking habits toward the conscientious and care full?

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over 3 years ago Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

"robotic rather than thoughtful"

Thank you for writing this. I couldn't agree more - Good cooking is more about being thoughtful and flexible rather than robotic and fitting nicely into a category. Sigh.

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over 3 years ago likestocooklovestoeat

This is certainly the best response I've read to Google's new refinements. I do think there's a place for Google in cooking; years ago, Meg Hourihan talked about "Googlecooking," inputting combinations of ingredients and "recipe" to find options for what was in your fridge. I found that adding "best" or even the superlative "world's best" to offer interesting choices I wouldn't have discovered on my own, including an essay on chili-making technique (with a tremendous recipe that I use years later). Sadly, I think these changes will just make those who think cooking isn't worth their time more sure of their opinion - after all, that fried chicken will take way longer than 15 minutes.

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

Would love to see the essay and the chili recipe!

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over 3 years ago likestocooklovestoeat

wssmom, it was called "Chili Le Bobo" but a Goggle search isn't turning it up; I'll get out my paper copy (how quaint!) and see if the site is still active - I hope so!

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over 3 years ago Jean | Delightful Repast

Well said, Amanda. I've been blogging for 13 months. Learning the "tech stuff" necessary to do that used about all the tech ability I can muster! I'm a cook, recipe developer and writer--not a computer programmer. I will not be devoting any time to learning about how to please Google and their "new improved" search and then more time each time I post to jump through their hoops. If I fall to the very bottom of the search engines or disappear altogether, so be it. My answer to all this: Just Say NO!

Junechamp

over 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Amanda: I hope you are planning/have already shared your essay with Google. I can't believe they are intentionally discriminating, I'm guessing they (like so many Americans) just don't know any better.

Gwen-powderhorn

over 3 years ago Chef Gwen

Thank you for writing this, Amanda. Maybe they'll listen and figure out a way to fix it. Or, maybe they like to serve just a pinch of cassoulet and a 6-minute chicken.

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over 3 years ago Panfusine

THank you Amanda for publishing this... SO true..

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over 3 years ago SharonP

I completely agree with you Amanda. It is difficult for someone like me, who started a food blog in December, to make any headway with Google. I don't think they make it easy for anyone to find good content (which is very subjective anyway). With their new search engine, my recipes probably will be at the bottom! My blog does not have quick recipes. Sorry. Good food takes time. That also means, I get less traffic and barely any comments. It's really unfortunate, because my husband and I put a lot of effort into what we do on the blog and it's good quality work, honest, and inspiring. Yet seemingly few people will ever reach it because it's just not able to compete with the "trendy" sites out there who have all kinds of resources as you say. It's hard to make an impression when Google makes you feel so small.
http://orangemadeleines...

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over 3 years ago Macheesmo

This is an amazing article Amanda. I'm really scared of what this change will mean for recipe searches.

I haven't found a specific way to submit feedback to Google, but you can always submit info to their product feedback page. Maybe if enough food bloggers submit feedback, they'll see the error in their ways.

http://www.google.com/quality_form...

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

Thanks for finding that link, Macheesmo!!

Buddhacat

over 3 years ago SKK

I gave feedback through your link, Macheesmo. Thanks for getting us into action!

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Google is to recipes what Sandra Lee is to real cooking. I fear for the future of American cooking.

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over 3 years ago Tara Mataraza Desmond

Amanda, I had a long chat with a friend last week about Google's new recipe search and its impact on bloggers'/web content managers' SEO strategies and tactics. Your essay is must-read material for anyone who loves to cook. Your choice of words to describe our obsession with quick-easy and special diets is perfect: "cooking disorder". And I feel validated, as a writer and recipe developer, to read your acknowledgment of the pressure we're under to create recipes that take under an hour, even though we know, most of the time, it's doing our intended creations a terrible injustice. Thanks for the thoughts.

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over 3 years ago CattyA

I wish there was a search for recipes on blogs only!

Potofbeans

over 3 years ago china millman

It's not a perfect solution, but you can restrict your google search to blogs (just look at the column on the upper left corner of the page and select blogs, instead of everything, recipes, etc.). It's a fun way to find quirkier, more personal recipes, and as an added bonus, I've discovered a lot of new food blogs that way.

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over 3 years ago Rivka

There is! foodblogsearch.com, powered by google.

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over 3 years ago Rivka

A bit more about FBS: http://www.foodblogsearch... was founded by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. It's a filtered search, so it only searches food blogs included in the list Elise created. That said, I think there are about 3k blogs in the list, so that's something. Ironically, I use FBS regularly because I want to filter out exactly those recipes (from All Recipes, Cooks.com, etc) that tend to be lower in quality.

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over 3 years ago Kitten with a Whisk

There is also recipeblogsearch.com which searches food and recipe blogs. It will include blogs not found of foodblogsearch.

Phoenix

over 3 years ago Phoenix Helix

Rivka, I use foodblogsearch regularly, for exactly your reasons

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over 3 years ago eatthelove

You can also try the new site foodily.com which compares recipes from different sites side by side. It's blog friendly and they are actively integrating more and more bloggers into their searches. It's still in beta mode, so the results you get a fairly limited but they are supportive of food bloggers.

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over 3 years ago thirschfeld

Yeah Amanda, you go. The first time I started reading about this I was stunned at the stupidity of google. Then I thought what have I been doing all this for if google can come along and bury my recipes in the dust bin of cyberspace with one move, depression ensued. Then I realized people would just lie and really screw things up but then the bigger issue is how do you get past the road block they put out there for food bloggers and all the supposed code that will have to be written into a recipe or as you said the metadata. I know there are metadata programs for photographs I am not sure why something similar couldn't be written for recipes. Essentially the program ingests your photo and spits it out the other side with the info you want it to contain. Now granted on a photo it is stationary info as opposed to individual recipes with fluid components that need to be written in but surely there could be a formula that could be developed and followed that could easily solve this problem.

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over 3 years ago Victoria Carr

This is interesting. To see how the new search worked, I deliberately put in the name of a recipe on my own blog, Nanny's Mushrooms, and it didn't come up at all.

I don't write my blog to get traffic - it's basically for me to be able to get my recipes when I'm in my apartment during the week and in the country on the weekend - but I'm happy when someone finds one of my recipes and enjoys cooking it, and I love the community of cooks the Internet fosters. I fear a lot will now be lost in translation.

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over 3 years ago meathead

In order to appear in the Google Recipe search you need to add special code. Amanda has a link to my HuffPost article that teaches you how to do this.

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over 3 years ago Sarah Plumley

Good essay Amanda! Google had this recipe prep time listed as ONE MINUTE. Pie in one minute? I don't think so. http://www.tablespoon.com...

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over 3 years ago mtrelaun

Bravo, Amanda!

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Amanda, what a thoughtful and well-written essay. Speaking as someone who spends a great deal of (probably way too much) time reading recipes, food blogs and articles about food and cooking, I have never found Google to be a good way to find what I'm looking for. I've always thought that the search engine appealed to the lowest common denominator, and have rarely seen one of the (way too many) bloggers I read have their recipes come up when I've done a general search. This certainly restricts it further. I carefully watch what I eat but I want great food made well all the time. I think most of us do. I think that even people who want to make "quick" food or "easy" food or "low calorie" food still want great food. It would be nice if the good people at Google read your essay and take it to heart. I suspect they are building the "upgrade" on the way searches are conducted by most people, and aren't taking into account the difference in quality between, to use your example, a cassoulet that takes several hours or days to make vs. a faux-cassoulet that is made by throwing together canned goods.

What is the solution? A food-only search engine developed by and for people who love food? (Did I just give Peter another project?)

Thank you for the thought and time you put into this essay, and for letting us know about the changes. Do you think Google is open to feedback? It would be nice if they were.

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

I just went through the google website; if they have an option for feedback it's really hard to find! I would love for those responsible to be able to read Amanda's essay ....

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over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Amen!