Search Engine Optimization for Recipes on Google

Posted by Sam Battin, Senior Natural Search Specialist SEO for Google Recipes Google Gives Food Site Owners a Great New Way to Get Cooking on Search Visibility If you’ve been searching for food online, you may have noticed that Google now has a “Recipes” link on the left side of the results page.  This link (shown below) appears when you enter in terms related to food; that is, you’ll see “Recipes” when you enter actual ingredients (steak, potatoes, etc.) or methods of preparation (au poivre, polenta, etc.): Recipes 1 When you click on the link, the results for your query show recipes related to the food item or preparation method for which you’re searching.  For example, here are some Google recipe results related to the search “carrots”: Recipes 2 Other controls on the left side of the page allow you to further refine the recipes by additional ingredients, cook times, or even calories.  The screenshot below shows you carrot recipe options presented by Google.  For example, you can show carrot recipes that include dill or parsnips, take less than 15 minutes to prepare, etc: Recipes 3 This new feature will be extremely useful for a lot of people.  The search “Cooking” is performed on Google over 13 million times each month alone; just imagine how many times people look on search engines for information related to preparing food.  If someone’s searching for a particular recipe, or even if they type something as simple as “baked potatoes” into Google, they’ve got the option now to see a variety of recipes.  Moreover, Web sites with recipe information have a whole new potential source of traffic. So how can site owners with recipes get visibility in this tab?  It’s easy! The most important thing is to structure your site’s recipe data in a way Google can understand.  Google gives complete instructions on formatting recipe data at the URL below.  We strongly advise that your site developers visit this Google Webmaster Central page and familiarize themselves with the data structuring instructions. Google allows webmasters to structure their recipe information in three different formats: Microdata, Microformats, or RDFa.  None of these formats will confer any visibility advantage; use whichever one is easiest for your developers to implement. (Also, please see Performics’ additional information on structured data). Performics’ research has indicated that the top-ranked pages on Google’s Recipes are likely to have the following items in common:

    1. Thoroughly formatted recipe data Each aspect of a recipe must be accurately documented in the format you choose, from individual ingredients to cooking times to calorie information.  For example, an omelet recipe might use the following microformat to name a particular recipe ingredient:<li class=”ingredient”>5 extra-large eggs</li> Here, the “class” attribute specifies that “5 extra large eggs” is an ingredient.  The more data you supply Google about the recipe, the more accurately Google can determine whether your information is a good match for the recipe search query (such as on the search query “eggs” – Google will know that the recipe above contains “eggs” as an ingredient, and is more likely to include that recipe page on the results). On the Google Webmaster page mentioned above, you’ll see methods to format ingredients, preparation times, and many other bits of data Google can use to help determine the relevance of your recipe page. Performics recommends you supply as much of this structured data as you can on your recipes. As previously stated, it doesn’t matter which format you choose for your data; just be consistent with your format and include as much information as possible.


    1. Photos of the recipe Photos are always good.  The data formats Google recognizes all allow you to specify an image of the completed recipe to appear in results pages.  People are more likely to click when there’s an image, so take advantage of this!


    1. Links to reviews of the recipe A lot of top-ranked recipes also had review information included in the Google description snippet, as shown below:Recipes 4 Here, this dish got 5 stars, and we also can see that the page contains links to five reviews. Reviews are helpful to Google because the more people like a dish, the more likely it is that the user searching for recipes will like the dish too.  That makes the recipe page more useful than a recipe page with no reviews at all, and useful pages are bound to get higher ranks. Do your recipe pages include reviews?


    1. Strong outbound links on the page to related information Outbound links to related information are another way to demonstrate the usefulness of a page.  Google knows Web users rarely visit one page on a site; instead, visitors will usually click a few links to see what other information is available.  For this reason, including outbound HREF links on a recipe page to related information (similar recipes, or recipes that use the same ingredients, additional information about the dish, etc.) can further demonstrate the usefulness of the page to Google.  If your baked potatoes recipe page contains links to 20 other recipes where baked potatoes are an effective side dish, Google is more likely to give it high ranks on related queries.


  1. Strong Link Popularity and Authority As always, your site’s inbound links are going to be a strong determinant to visibility.  If your site has a lot of inbound links from other food or recipe-related sites, Google is going to trust that the recipe information in your site has a high value.  Review your link portfolio and ensure that your inbound links are strongly related to your site’s content and accurately represent your site’s unique value proposition.

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