Today’s Ask WP Tasty question is about recipe SEO. A Tasty Recipes customer emailed us and asked about the new Search Console Recipes report. She specifically was wondering about the video field, since any recipe without a video is considered “not fully enhanced.” Here’s her question (edited for clarity):

To have a recipe be fully enhanced, the best solution is to fill out all the fields as much as possible?

This would mean all the recipes without a video would still have the missing video warning though. Do you know how that might impact SERPS?

Ever since Google introduced the suggestion to include videos in recipe markup, this question has come up a lot. Let’s break it down!

How can a recipe be “fully enhanced”?

Recipes are considered “fully enhanced” when every single recommended and required recipe structured data field is provided with correct formatting to Google.

The list of required fields is actually rather short. Required fields include:

  • Recipe name
  • Recipe images (technically only one is required, but multiple sizes are recommended)

So technically, you can meet all the requirements by just providing a recipe name and image.

The list of recommended fields is much longer and includes:

  • Author
  • Cook time
  • Prep time
  • Total time
  • Date published
  • Description
  • Ingredients
  • Instructions
  • Keywords
  • Cuisine
  • Category
  • Nutrition
  • Yield
  • Review
  • Rating
  • And Video!

Tasty Recipes gives you the ability to add each of these pieces of information to your recipes.

And if each of these fields is included, then the recipe reaches the nirvana state of “fully enhanced.”

What happens when a recipe is “fully enhanced”?

When a recipe is fully enhanced, special search features become available for that recipe. They might be available for voice search on a Google Home, for instance. Or they might include more information in search results, which can entice readers to click through more.

To make sure that your recipes have the best chance of showing up in the most places on search with the best information, you should try to reach the “fully enhanced” state for your recipes.

What if a recipe isn’t fully enhanced?

Recipes that aren’t fully enhanced can still show up in search results. In fact, structured data isn’t even a true ranking factor for Google search. That means that you can include no structured data on the page and still potentially rank.

However. Structured data can influence your ranking in other ways, and it can definitely play a big role in how often people click through to read your recipes from the SERPs (search engine results pages).

In addition, if you recipe doesn’t include everything that’s required for a specific type of search, such as voice search, then your recipe simply can’t be used that way. So, two things are important:

  1. It’s important to include structured data for your recipes
  2. It’s important to fill out every single field that you possibly can for your recipes. Including video.

I know, I know. Videos are difficult. They take a long time. It’s a new skill to learn. You maybe just don’t want to do it.

And that’s fine!

Recipes that are missing some of the fields can still rank. In a search for “homemade lemonade,” the #5 result is partially marked up with a slew of warnings for missing or improperly formatted information. But it still shows up with some partial rich data, including the date and recipe image:

Search result #5 for "homemade lemonade" with missing structured data

However, if you take a look at the other recipes that show up above that one, the extra information given about a recipe (ratings, number of reviews, time to make, etc) make it much more enticing to click through:

The top 5 results for "homemade lemonade" search, with the top 4 showing rich information

So while getting a result on the first page is definitely admirable, the value of that result goes up exponentially the higher up on the page it is. That is, a #3 position will get much more traffic than a #4 position, and so on.

More info for the reader (provided via structured data) makes them more likely to click through, which tells Google “this is what I was looking for when I was searching for X!”, which can push your page up higher in the results.

We have a long article in the works that goes more in depth on this topic. But the important thing to note is that failing to provide all the information won’t result in a penalty from Google. But, providing all the information can help push your pages up higher in search results, which can really positively affect traffic to your website.

Do I really need to make a video for each and every recipe?

The meat of this question. The short answer is no, you don’t need to. Google doesn’t punish sites for not providing information even if that information is recommended, like videos are.

However, things like voice search might depend on a video being available for a recipe. In their blog post introducing the new recommended fields for recipes (including videos), Google says (emphasis mine):

To ensure that users can access your recipe in more ways, we need more information about your recipe. We now recommend the following properties: [ video, category, cuisine, and keywords ]

So, if you want to have your recipes searchable via voice search, Google needs that information. It’s best to provide it.

Really?? Every recipe?

Some recipes, like salads, probably don’t need a video. And that’s fine. If someone isn’t going to be searching for your salad recipe with voice search, then there’s not much sense in optimizing for it.

But if someone is going to be using voice search for a recipe, then it makes a lot of sense to create a video for that recipe and include it in the structured data (via Tasty Recipes or your recipe plugin of choice).

In conclusion…

Recipes are an extremely competitive space in organic search. If ever you have the opportunity, do whatever you can to stand out by providing the best, most complete information about your recipes to capitalize on the vast amounts of traffic that flow through Google for recipe queries.

Videos are a way to stand out from the crowd, provide extra value to your readers (now, viewers!), and take advantage of new search opportunities that make use of videos, such as voice search.

As we always say, fill out all the fields!