101 Cooking For Two - Everyday Recipes for Two: Google Recipe Search, Rich Snippets, Microformats, etc...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Google Recipe Search, Rich Snippets, Microformats, etc...

Food blogs are a changin'. If you didn't know, the new Google recipe search promises to change a lot in food blogging. With about 1% of all searches being for recipes, it's a big market out there. The "big boys" have full time IT departments and programmers. They have also had many months head start converting their vast recipe library. The home food bloggers not so much.

Most of us have just heard of this in the last month or so. No IT or on staff programmers here. Just little old me. I may be a little more able than some bloggers due to a lot of computer experience (BS Iowa State 1972 with a minor in computer science which is worth zero now) and a lot of programming years ago, but really neither I nor other food bloggers are able to easily convert to this new format.

We have all developed our individual "styles" of posting. Really the exact format didn't really matter to anybody much. It's the recipe and the story not the format.

Food bloggers on Wordpress have several options with plugins but none for Blogger. But really those plugins will help with new posts but won't convert old post to the new format. New post will be only minimal more work and since I'm using a technique that includes a print option I will no longer need to "double post". I have really two sites, this one and a site on GoogleSites that serves as a file server for printable versions of my recipes. By not doing the second post I may actually save time.

But what to do with the old posts??????????? There will be no "automatic" method. You can hope but it would take a lot of AI (artificial intelligence) to correctly interpret your old posts. Not going to happen. So your only answer will be to manually convert. But it does not mean you need to do hand entered HTML.

UPDATE Aug 20 2011: There is a print button issue with this method at least on blogger. See my post dated Aug 20 2011.

Helpful Links:
RecipeSEO - has a Wordpress plugin and an online application. I had not too much luck with the online converter and had to manually edit some of the HTML to get what I wanted. See more discussion here.

AmazingRibs.com has an excellent post with lots of detail that is a ton more readable than the Google help pages. Give Meathead a try.

The Google Help Site - Tells you what you need to know but maybe so you really can't understand it.

The Rich Snippet testing tool - A MUST USE to tell you if you did it right.

The "Interested in Rich Snippets" page. It appears just using Rich Snippets is not enough but you need to tell Google you are doing it. Apparently takes a while if at all.

Recipe Wiz - I  love you... really this is making my live easier. See my method below.

My Method
What I wanted.
1) I type OK but not really fast so I needed to "drag and drop" parts of recipes.
2) I wanted a print function. This would save the double post I have been doing.
3) It had to pass the Google test tool.
4) It had to be quick. At 30 minutes per post over about 160 posts that is OH MY GOD... It needs to be faster.
What I got.
1) I can do the Snippet in about 10 minutes give or take some depending on the number of ingredients and instructions.
2) I will need to manually add code lines if I want nutrition info.
3) A zero cook time (like a rub) requires manually editing but only a little.
4) Changing the font size etc is ok.

1) Open two browsers side by side. Your blog on the left and Recipe Wiz in the right window.
2) Fill in the date of your post in Wiz and then start highlighting things in your post and drag and drop them in the Wiz fields. If your ingredients have sections like mine they can go in as a ingredient. For example, if my ingredients have a section that is a "Rub" I enter "Rub" as an ingredient but no amount. I will later after I paste the code into my post make Rub bold and in the editor.
3) When done. Get the code and go to your posting editor. Pick Edit HTML and go to the bottom of the HTML code and past your Snippet to your post.
4) While your are there, you should also tell your readers and Google you update your post so enter something like this (with the correct date) at the very end.
5) Now flip back to your Compose tab (in blogger) and check it out. This is where I would change the formatting on the "Rub" subingredient header. I also enlarge the Instruction and Ingredient headers.

6) You can now publish or edit your post otherwise. It takes me about 15 to 20 minutes to do this additional editing on top of the snippet and I may not do them all. I have done most of my most popular posts but just starting to working my way back though the recipes. 
7) Test your post with The Rich Snippet testing tool  .
8) Don't forget to tell Google what you're are doing.

At this point I'm working my way though my recipes and have snippets on maybe 20% and post edits on about half of them. 

BLOGGER ALERT:If you are a Blogger user, you need to disable the pictures on comments or you get errors. I don't know how important this is because even though I have asked on their help board. No answer was posted. Go to the Settings tab, the comments and go down to "Show profile images on comments?" and click "no".

Post what you're doing about this.

UPDATE: Jan 2 2012 After resubmitting the site to Google about 6 times my snippets are just now appearing on the Google general search. Nothing on the recipe search yet... Maybe tomorrow...


January 2 2012


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At April 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM , Blogger Jeffrey and Juli said...

Hi, there! Juli here. I know I'm not terribly computer savvy, but I'm not understanding why Google's changes impact my blog. We seem to be growing our readership without going to the extra work of the recipe tags/formatting you describe.

I went to the AmazingRib blog you mentioned, and I see why it makes a difference to him- he gets ad revenue. Can you help me understand why Google's changes would make a difference for a "small-potatoes" blogger like me? 'Cuz if it does, Jeffrey and I will definitely have to change the way we input recipes.


At April 22, 2011 at 10:59 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

Excellent question. I think it comes down to why you are blogging. For me it is a stress revealing hobby. I have ads only because I wanted the William Sonoma recipe and video widgets and you needed to do ads. I see ads, page view and visit stats as goals. I want to see how well I can do this and to see that others enjoy my "work".
Many of my recipes are first or second on a general Google search. But if you do a "recipe search" they don't even appear. So I either get my formats in order or the Google traffic (about 80% of the total) will slowly disappear. I believe I'm already loosing about 10% of my traffic. While this would not hurt me in any real way (a few dollars a month does not matter) It would make my hobby less enjoyable to me.
Enough about me. On your site your ingredients are already visually almost there. Like me you have pictures in the instruction area. That would be the main change in the appearance. I looked around and only found a few blogs doing much on this. The one that "fits my style" was Pioneer Woman Cooks. She does a discussion followed by pictures and instructions. She then has her snippet at the bottom similar to my more resent posts that I have already edited. I think this is visually very nice.
Should you do it? Well on new posts, it will not be much work and you can add a print function. I think a definite must do going forward. The old posts are the problem. I would at least do your most popular posts. Email me directly if you want to discuss it more.

At April 25, 2011 at 8:01 PM , Blogger Chris said...

I haven't decided to do anything yet. I figure the technology will evolve pretty quickly and someone will come up with a blogger tool soon. If there's 1% to be had, everyone is going to want their part of that pie. With blogger being Google owned, you'd have thought they would have jumped on that.....they didn't "NOT" jump on it by accident. They are getting $$$ from the big boys.

At April 25, 2011 at 10:36 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

I jumped but maybe I just like playing with code. I did program for years as a hobby.
I think 1% of Google searched is HUGE and you must "follow the money". I think Google is in the search business not the recipe business. But you can't launch something like this without the big boys on board and some results there for the early adopters. What do they get? Top ratings for now on that part of Google.
From what I can tell the "big" food bloggers like Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen have converted but their search results are not at the top like I think they would be in a general search.
My fear for bloggers is that Recipe Search does for food blogs and cook books what the internet and Google has done to the encyclopedia market. They don't make them any more. I LOVE reading food blogs... I hope more of us jump on the boat. The more blog recipes diluting the big sites, the better.

At May 20, 2011 at 10:44 AM , Blogger Jeffrey and Juli said...

Hi DrDan! Jeffrey and I just got an email about a widget that would do most of the format/HTML snippet creation for us (on new posts). Have you heard about Shopglider? If so, what are your thoughts?



At May 20, 2011 at 7:55 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

Never heard of them and I doubt they have much ability to "drive traffic". I did check their Term of Service. Section 5 in which you give them the rights to all your material... not good deal. You still need to enter the material, copy the HTML and paste it into your post. You get to do the work and they get it free and all rights forever.

At May 21, 2011 at 9:41 AM , Blogger Jeffrey and Juli said...

Thanks for the feedback, Dan, and good catch on the Section 5 stuff.

Have you seen any good widgets for this purpose yet?


At May 21, 2011 at 10:32 AM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

Recipe Wiz seems to work for me see above link. There is also http://recipeseo.com/ which seem to give me errors but may be working well now. That was a month ago. For wordpress people there is the recipeseo plugin.
Having done conversion on about 150 recipes, I'm still not appearing on the recipe searches. If you check some random searches, the only two "regular blogs" are Smitten Kitchen and Pioneer Woman. And those two are in a class by themselves in many ways. I'm beginning to think they have other criteria like size that they aren't saying.
I'm seeing recipes that were always in the first to third spots on searches start to slip as the big sites with snippets accumulate hits and move up in the general ranking.

At May 27, 2011 at 7:11 PM , Blogger Dulce Dough said...

I am working to convert my recipes using Recipe Wiz too. I'm glad my blog is pretty new so I don't have that much to convert. Thanks for the tips on disabling pictures on comments and adding the "update" info. I know so very little about coding!

At May 27, 2011 at 8:50 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

I really wonder if Google has any plans to include the smaller bloggers. I have yet to see any recipes on a search from what I would say is a "normal" food blog. Smitten Kitchen and Pioneer Woman are the only two that appear outside of the full blown commercial sites.

I would feel my advice was better if my snippets appeared on the searches. But at least they do pass the test page.

At May 28, 2011 at 12:36 AM , Blogger Dulce Dough said...

Have you read this article: http://www.food52.com/blog/1838_googles_new_recipe_search

In the comments someone from google wrote and seemed to express concern for bloggers.

But I have not seen any food blogs show up either. It is very disheartening when you spend lots of time converting recipes only to have them not show up.

At May 28, 2011 at 7:22 AM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

Yes I have read it several times and mostly agree with it. The link to the Meathead article is there. Interesting enough AmasingRibs is still not listed either...

I'm really having a hard time understanding this "approval" thing. The results now on recipe search are full of lies and fraud but so are any other search on any search engine. I think people understand that. Their crawler obviously "knows" the sites with recipe snippets. They know what results went through their test page.

Do they think they are getting some sort of higher quality with the the approval? I think not. They need to automate the process and get on with it.

At February 12, 2012 at 10:18 AM , Blogger Jacqueline said...

I have been using this for some time now too. I adjust the date, and add links to my google + account to verify me as author. I also get rid of everything but the total time.

I just noticed the print problem. It is only giving you the print friendly page for the first recipe on your page, no matter which recipe print button you click on. I have worked on this all day and not found an answer yet. In the meantime I have added a Printer Friendly Button at the end of each post and I am pointing my readers towards that in the meantime.

My recipes are coming up in with photos in google results, but we don't have recipe view in google yet here in the UK, so I cannot check that.

At February 12, 2012 at 10:47 AM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

I have found no way to fix the print problem directly on pages with more than one posts. I have given up and will discuss that below. There is another print problem also. The code from recipe wiz is ok initially but if you save the post then end up saving it a second time (like you edited a typo) part of the code disappears and it will no longer print properly. See the comments on my Print Issues post 8/20/2011 http://www.101cookingfortwo.com/2011/08/printing-issues.html.

For a while I kept editing the HTML anytime I touched the post but then I realized the other issue with multiple posts on a page. I gave up and now I use a Google Site as a file server for pages with printable recipes. I then manually edit the rich snippet to redirect the print function to the print function there. This takes only a few minutes.

Regarding the photos. What you have is what I have. I do not appear in recipe view. My crockpot chicken stew is a solid #1 on a standard Google search but nowhere to be found on recipe view. I doubt if it will ever appear


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