SEO for Food Bloggers | Part IV: Recipe Format
Are you all ready for this? Grab a fresh cup of coffee and let’s dig in. Today we are discussing Recipe Formatting as it relates to search engine optimization. You will often hear this referred to as rich snippets and also as structured data. As we have mentioned before, all we are doing when we optimize our sites for search engines is helping them to know what kind of data is on our sites.
And wouldn’t you know it – they are picky about how they read recipes. They want to know that specific information is included before they’ll bring it up in search results. So let’s start with a few simple steps that you can take.
1. Use at least two of the following fields: prep time; cook time; total time; nutritional information; yield
2. Use a recipe plugin (like ZipList, EasyRecipe or a custom format)
3. Just make it a habit. Again – this strategy is a long-term strategy that will need to become part of your post-writing process. Don’t feel like you have to go back to every one of your recipes and update it right away, just start somewhere and do a handful per week.
4. Always title your recipe the same as your post title.
5. Use Google’s Structured Data Testing tool to see if your posts are “marked up” correctly.
it looks like this: you can see that the author is verified and a preview of what it looks like in a search result; you can then scroll down and you’ll see what Google can read as part of the recipe (time, ingredients, instructions, etc.)
Homework: start this week with your five most popular recipes on Pinterest and update the Rich Snippets that go along with that recipe and post.
After I started this series, Jacob of MyUntangled Life reached out to me – he is a SEO guy and offered to help explain some of this stuff to us. Take it away, Jacob!
If you’ve ever wondered how all the incredibly cool and organized information about people or companies started popping up in your Google searches:
Or how those images, ratings, or cooking times appear when you’re searching for recipes:
The answer is rich snippets, also called markup, sometimes referred to as structured data. Still with me? As Cassie explained in her previous posts, search engines and their crawling little spiders don’t see things the way we do, so we need to help them. There are a few different ways to accomplish this, but most search engines love microdata. (And though I usually talk in terms of Google, this is a widely accepted format for all search engines now.)
Let’s take the search above as an example to better illustrate what’s going on. You’re looking for red velvet cake recipes and are presented with some options with ratings and a picture and everything a foodie blogger has ever dreamed of! All that information is there because of the underlying microdata.
Let’s break it down even more…you then click and land on the Food Network page for the Southern Red Velvet Cake, you may see a beautiful slice of red velvet cake…mmmm….but search engines only eat code, and what they gobble up is the underlying data from the http://schema.org/Recipe:
By marking up the data, the Food Network website has spoken to the search engines in a language they understand and told them, “hey search engines, this webpage is a recipe so put it in that category, and here’s the title of the recipe, here’s a picture of the recipe, here are ingredients for this recipe”, and on and on. With a slight change in code, search engines could just as easily take this slice of cake for a photo of Brad Pitt, crazy huh!?
Still with me? It’s at this point that the geeks of the world (like me) become the coolest people to have in your circles! But don’t despair, it’s not as bad as it seems and these days there are lots of tools and resources to get you going. Start by trying out the Structured Data Testing Tool (as mentioned and pictured above) and evaluating your own blog posts simply by entering a URL. Once you have an idea of where you’re at, your options are coding each line of your recipes manually (not my recommendation), or implementing a strategy like a plugin.
For WordPress blogs, I love the Easy Recipe Plugin, in fact that’s what we use. Schema Creator is another great plugin if you’re looking to go beyond recipes. I’m sorry Blogger bloggers, I haven’t yet found similar solutions for you. More detailed information on recipe markup is available from Google Webmaster Tools and if you love infographics as much as I do, don’t miss this one on How to Add Rich Snippets to your website or blog.
Thank you, Jacob. We hope this gives you a good place to start with Rich Snippets. Bottom line – if you are using WordPress, use a recipe plugin – they do all the coding for you and all you have to do is fill in all the fields with your recipe information! And don’t forget the photo…
The most-asked question I received when starting this series was “how do I get my food photo to show up in a search?” At first, I thought there was something magical to it. And after research, and more research, and pulling my hair out, I have found that the answer is so plainly simple. You must have a featured image in your recipe post – which is part of the Rich Snippet for the recipe. Taking this step lets search engines know which specific photo should be used for the recipe. When you start doing this, don’t worry if it takes a couple of weeks for them to start showing up!
If you want more, check out these links on Rich Snippets:
And if you have any questions for Jacob or me, please email me (bakeyourdayblog (at) gmail (dot) com).
Next week it’s some more tips, tools, info about SEO plugins and how to set up Google+ Authorship. Send your questions my way or leave them in the comments below!