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How I got my recipes indexed by Google Recipe Search. A Spanish perspective.
The first thing you need to know is that I am no expert on this subject. This article is not intended to be an infallible guide, but rather a summary of the steps I have taken to succeed in getting my recipes included in the search results of Google Recipe Search.
1. What is Google Recipe Search?
Google Recipe Search is a tool Google launched a few months ago, and is already operating in Japan and the U.S. At some point it will undoubtedly be launched for other countries as well, including Spain.
Now when you do a Google search in Spain, on the left upper side, several options are displayed for you to filter your search results: you can look for pictures, videos, news, etc. If you click at the bottom of the search box (go to Google.com), you will see that in addition to all those labels already operating in Spain, on the left side of the page there is also a new tab: Recipes. When you select this tab, all possible results are filtered to show recipes only. In addition, you can narrow your search further, indicating cooking time, ingredients, calories, etc.
How does Google know that a webpage contains a recipe? Because site managers (or us poor bloggers) introduce a hidden code into the HTML , which can be seen by search bots, indicating that the page in question contains a recipe. To translate this jargon: If you have a blog with a zillion recipes, unless you have implemented these codes in your HTML, your recipes will not appear in searches where you use the tab “Recipes”. So how did I manage to get my recipes to appear in Google Recipe View? I’m going to tell you right now, but before you go any further, you should first ask yourself:
2. Am I truly interested in getting my recipes indexed in Google Recipe Search?
This is a question you have to consider and analyze carefully. First, ask yourself how many visitors you receive through Google, and what percentage they represent of your total visitors. Secondly, keep in mind that this is a tool currently working only outside of Spain, so unless you receive a significant number of foreign visitors you probably will not be interested in this tool at this point. But you must assume that in all likelihood, it will end up being implemented in Spain and your country too, and perhaps you want to be prepared for the time when this happens. Also to be honest, my results were indexed about two weeks ago, and I have not noticed any changes in the visits I receive through the browser.
3. What steps do I follow if I want my recipes to be displayed in Google Recipe Searches?
Google has not published any guide with the exact requirements, just this page which gives a general indication of the steps to follow…but with no guarantees. So, what should you do in the opinion of this humble blogger?
- First, you need to have a star rating system on your recipes, according to what I read in several American articles talking about this subject.
- Second, you have to adapt your recipes to the rich snippet format, with no errors of any kind. This subject will be further developed in the next step. I have not adapted all my recipes, just the latest ones, about 12 or 15, representing about 10% of all my recipes. I do not know how many recipes you need to adapt to get indexed, although on the application form, you have to list links to at least four recipes which are already adapted.
- Third, you have to inform Google that you have adapted your recipes to the rich snippets format using this application.
- Finally, you need to be patient. The whole process has taken me almost three months. In the end, I contacted Google via the application form I mentioned above. Since I didn’t receive any feedback, I decided to greet Google every morning in Twitter, with messages like:
- Good morning @google ! Will this be the day my recipes will finally be displayed on Google’s Recipe Search? 🙂
- Dear @Google: it seems this is going to be a long-term relationship, so I thought I should tell u something more about me. I love reading, dancing, and cooking, in fact I have a blog with recipes I’d like to be displayed on Google Recipe Search, like this one http://bit.ly/kiS6MW Oh! I forgot to mention I am Taurus, you know, the obstinate Zodiac sign 🙂
- Dear @Google : I would like my recipes to be displayed on Google Recipe Search… do you like Iberian ham? 🙂
- Talking to @Google is like praying: one never knows if there is someone on the other side, or if your petitions will be answered one day…
A week later my recipes were displayed on Google Recipe Search, but I cannot say with certainty that these Twitter greetings were a factor.
4. What are Rich Snippets?
It is a code that provides information about the content of a page to Google bots. In this case, you want to report that your pages contain recipes. There are three types of rich snippet formats: Microdata, microformats and RDFa. From each of them you have further information on this page. I settled for microformats.
If like me, you have no idea of what a rich snippet is, the easiest way to “tag” your recipe is using the template provided by Google as example. An example of how to mark a recipe using microformats is shown below. All you have to do is replace the data in red with your own recipe data.
<h1>Grandma's Holiday Apple Pie</h1>
<img src="apple-pie.jpg" />
By <span>Carol Smith</span>
Published: <span> November 5, 2009<span title="2009-11-05"></span></span>
<span>This is my grandmother's apple pie recipe. I like to add a dash of nutmeg.</span>
<span>4.0</span> stars based on
Prep time: <span>30 min <span title="PT30M"></span></span>
Cook time: <span>1 hour<span title="PT1H"></span></span>
Total time: <span>1 hour 30 min <span title="PT1H30M"></span></span>
Yield: <span>1 9" pie (8 servings)</span>
Serving size: <span>1 medium slice</span>
Calories per serving: <span>250</span>
Fat per serving: <span>12g</span>
1. Cut and peel apples
2. Mix sugar and cinnamon. Use additional sugar for tart apples.
It may seem quite complicated, but the fact is that once you have adapted your first recipe, the rest goes quite quickly and easily. You do not need to provide all information about a recipe either. According to Google, you just need to indicate at least two of the following items of information : preparation time, cooking time, total time, calories, rating system, or image.
If you are using WordPress, there is a plugin which seems to simplify quite a lot the process.
Finally, to verify that you have correctly adapted your recipes to the Rich Snippets format, you can use this: Rich snippets testing tool. My recipes were not indexed until I got a completely error-free result on that page. You can check using the URLs of the last posts on my blog, like this one:
I suggest you do a Google search with the terms “Google Recipe Search” and you will see how many articles have already been published on this subject. Many bloggers are not very happy about this new Google feature: some because they do not want to have do extra work to get their recipes indexed; others because they have tried, but they still won’t get their recipes indexed and do not know why, and many others because even if their recipes are displayed, they have lost their first ranking positions on results which seem to give precedence to big sites. In fact, the major sites seem to be the major ones who benefit from this new Google Recipe Search tool… but that is a different story!