Is your food blog getting all the traffic you want out of Google?
Organic search (think: Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) is one of the most powerful sources of traffic out there. Google alone processes over 65,000 searches every single second. That's crazy!
As a food blogger, capitalizing on organic search is one of the best things you can do to increase traffic to your website. More traffic means more viewers, more ads seen, more sponsored content, and more of a budget to live the life you want and create the content you love.
The best thing?
Organic traffic is free.
There are a lot of factors that go into creating blog posts and recipes that put you at the top of search results. In this article, we're going to be looking at one of those factors – rich results – and talking about how to best optimize them to increase traffic from organic search.
In this article, we'll cover:
- What rich results are
- How to find out which recipes need updated information
- How to keep track of the updates you make and measure their performance
Let's get started!
What are rich results?
In their developer hub, Google defines a rich result as,
A result that includes styling, images, and other features.
Pretty simple, huh?
It's been quite a long while since Google was simply a list of “plain blue links” like the one below for every search query.
Nearly every search query you type in nowadays has some sort of rich information – ratings, images, eCommerce information, reviews… Each of these “extra” bits that go beyond the title and meta description are considered rich information.
Rich results can exist for books, products, and – of course – recipes.
Where do rich results come from?
Rich results come from special code that's located on the page source. This special code – called structured data – isn't viewable by your average every-day user. Instead, it's intended specifically for robots to read to get a good understanding of what your page is about.
Structured data can be manually created for every page on your website, or it can be created automatically. Tasty Recipes, for instance, creates all the necessary structured data for recipes. Here's what it might look like:
Pretty neat! Also not something I'd be too keen to type up myself 😬
What kinds of rich results exist for recipes specifically?
Rich results come in two different flavors for recipes: rich snippets and rich cards.
Rich snippets usually show up on desktop search and lower down on mobile search. They are what many think of as the “standard” recipe search result. Here's an example:
This search result from Pinch of Yum includes a square image, orange stars as a visual representation of the average rating for that recipe, as well as the numerical rating value and the number of reviews. It also includes the time it takes to make the recipe, the number of calories per serving, and a snippet of text from the page.
On mobile, you still see rich snippets, they're just a little bit lower down on the page. Here's what that same result might look like:
The display is a little bit different – the photo is on the right and the details are below the description – but the information included is the exact same.
Rich cards generally show up in mobile search. They can show up in two different places – in a carousel above the regular rich snippets, or in a special recipes results page. In the carousel, they contain a bit less information, but because they show up at the top of the page they have increased visibility. Here's an example:
The card above is actually missing a fair amount of information. The description isn't included, and the calories that were included in the rich snippet are not shown. The image, however, is given more room in a horizontal format. In addition, new actions such as “Send to Google Home” are available below the rich cards in the carousel.
Rich cards are also displayed in the special Recipes search view. If I click “View All” in the image above, I'm taken to yet another search results page with rich cards featured. They look very similar to the rich snippets on mobile, but the image is horizontal.
This view includes a bit of description text and lists all the details (rating, time, and calories). However, it also pulls out the ingredients from the recipe itself to give the reader an idea of what goes into the recipe. Pretty neat!
Why are rich results important for search?
Rich results are important for search because they entice the reader to click through to your page.
Let's do a quick litmus test. Given the options below, which recipe result catches your eye first?
For me, I'll probably click the third one. My mind gravitates toward the image in the second one, but the reviews in the third give me confidence that it'll be a good recipe.
The top one – the one without any rich results at all – certainly isn't going to be the first one I click.
That's where the beauty of rich results lies. Without ever going to your page, the reader gets quick, visual confidence about the recipe. They can pass over all the others that don't really match what they are looking for and find the recipe that's perfect for them.
Fully optimized rich results get readers to click through. It's not a guarantee, of course. Your recipe and content still has to be able to rank in the first place, and the page content has to actually deliver on what was “promised” in the rich results. But including rich results increases the likelihood that a reader will click through to your page, read your content, and try your recipe. 💪
What are the important components of a recipe rich result?
Each recipe rich result has the potential to show a lot of information. The page title, recipe image, rating, other details, description, and page URL are all important components. Let's take a look at each one.
1. Page title
Interestingly, the title of the result does not come from the recipe itself. Instead, it comes from the page (or from the Title attribute, which can be set in an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO). For this reason, it's important to title your recipe pages the same thing as – or very similar to – the recipe that you are placing on the page.
The title is important for two reasons:
- It's a ranking factor, meaning it directly affects whether your page will rank for a given query
- It's the first thing the searcher sees and is the “gateway” to the rest of the result
The title should match the searcher's query and provide some other limited information to make it more specific or more enticing.
In this example, the title is “Simple Enchiladas Verdes Recipe – Pinch of Yum.” A little keyword research in Ahrefs shows that the term “enchiladas verdes” is going to get a decent amount of traffic – far more than other similar terms.
So, we know it's important to include that exact term in our page (and recipe) title.
The good news is that title modifiers, such as the words “simple” and “recipe,” as well as adding the blog name, don't necessarily detract from the page's ability to rank. Instead, they help that keyword show up for the other terms, like “simple enchiladas,” that don't get quite as much search volume.
However, these terms with less volume are often much easier to rank for, which means that your potential to see actual traffic from these more long-tail keywords is actually greater than if you were to forego using them at all.
These modifiers don't have to be “fluff” words like “easy” and “best.” Try to think of words that describe the recipe that people might actually search for. For instance, “Simple Spinach Enchiladas” might be a good. In fact, when I search for “spinach enchiladas” on Ahrefs, it looks like that gets a fair amount of search volume!
Adding the “spinach” modifier can open up search traffic doors that otherwise might not be as accessible.
Key takeaway: The page title should include the recipe name, which is optimized for both major keywords and minor keywords through the use of modifiers.
2. Recipe Image
The recipe image is the next thing a searcher is going to see. The image comes straight from the recipe structured data itself. Optimizing these images for search is very important. There are a few noteworthy things about recipe rich result images:
- The images are tiny and can be difficult to see
- The images are horizontal
- The images are cropped to a specific dimension
These things depart greatly form the standard food blogger images. Food bloggers tend to use images that are giant, vertical, and most often cropped to whatever the camera's aspect ratio is – 4:3 or 16:9.
Because of these specifics, it's very important to use a photo that shows the recipe even when the image is tiny, is of horizontal format, and crops well to Google's dimensions. Cropping well means that the focus of the image is dead-center – not off to the side or near the top or bottom of the image. Dead center!
When you create a recipe with Tasty Recipes, the image preview is a square image. If this preview looks pretty good, and if your original image is in horizontal format, then you should be off to a good start.
Key takeaway: use an image that looks good when sized very small, that has the focus in the center, and that has a horizontal format.
3. Recipe rating
As a searcher myself, I love seeing the recipe ratings in the search results. Seeing a recipe with a 5-star rating and 25 reviews gives me confidence that the recipe is going to turn out well.
Bloggers themselves can't add recipe ratings. These ratings have to come from people who have looked at or who have tried your recipe. To limit the number of spammy reviews, Tasty Recipes defaults to having ratings comment-associated, which means that someone can only leave a rating if they also leave a comment.
To help your readers leave comments, specifically ask them to leave a comment at the end of the post, make it easy for them to see the comment form and ratings, and publish stellar recipes that inspire people to leave reviews.
Key takeaway: Make sure your readers are able to leave comments and encourage them to do so.
4. Other details
Recipe rich results also show a couple other details that aren't quite as visible. This includes the number of calories per serving and the time it takes to make the recipe.
These other details are set in your recipe plugin and – again – give the searcher more confidence about the recipe before they click.
Key takeaway: Be sure to include nutrition information and the time it takes to make the recipe.
5. Page description
Similar to the recipe title, the snippet of text shown in the search results comes from the page attributes, not necessarily from the recipe itself. The description should be set in the page meta description (available in an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO) and also in the recipe description.
However, Google has taken to showing what it thinks is the best information for the user from the page regardless of what you use in the page meta description. This can include text from the content, ingredients in the recipe, steps from the recipe instructions… Whatever Google thinks will be most valuable to the searcher is what it will show.
This isn't always a given, though, and the page meta description and the recipe description are often used around Google and on other search engines (such as Pinterest and Bing), so it's important to optimize them.
The best meta description will repeat the verbiage used in the search and will entice the searcher to click through by explaining how the recipe will solve the searcher's problem.
Repeating the verbiage used in the search goes back to the keyword research we did above. Include the recipe keywords as well as any modifiers that the user may be searching for. When a search word is included in the meta description, Google will call attention to that match by putting those words in bold. This helps the user see your search result and says to them, “Yes! This is exactly what I was searching for.”
Finally, entice the reader to click through by telling them how your recipe will solve their problem. Is this enchilada recipe supposed to be the best, most authentic, most made-from-scratch recipe out there? Or is it supposed to be relaxed and relatively no-fuss?
Tell the searcher what to expect from the recipe to help searchers know what they're going to get if they click through.
Key takeaway: Use the recipe and page keywords in the page meta description and recipe description and include language that entices the reader to click through by telling them exactly what they will find if they click through to the recipe.
6. Page URL
The page URL is another thing that helps searchers think, “yes! this is exactly what I was looking for.” Make sure the page URL (or slug, as it's often called) incorporates the page/recipe keywords. Seeing these keywords in the slug gives the searcher confidence that the page will contain what they are looking for.
It's also a good idea to try to keep the page slugs short and to the point. It's not necessary to include filler words and it's not necessary to match the page title with the URL. I personally try to select a single noun and one or two modifiers for the page title – and that's it.
simple-enchiladas-verdes is a great example.
roasted-cauliflower-tacos is another!
Key takeaway: Include keywords in the page URL and keep it short & succinct.
It's important to note that though not all recipe structured data information is shown in search results, it's important that all recommended fields are filled out as much as possible and that there are not any errors in a structured data test.
Structured data errors can prevent recipe rich results from showing – even if that information isn't used in the rich recipe result display.
How do I get rich snippets to show up for my recipes?
Recipe rich snippets will generally show up for any recipe that has properly-formatted recipe structured data on the page, that doesn't have any structured data errors, and that has been around for a little bit.
If you aren't seeing rich recipe results for your recipes, be sure to check the following:
- Make sure you're using an up-to-date recipe plugin, such as Tasty Recipes, that generates structured data for the page.
- Be sure to provide all the information in the correct format to the recipe plugin
- Check the page with a structured data test and with a rich results test to make sure there are no errors
- If your blog is brand new, submit your site to Google Search Console and wait a couple months – it can take Google a while to start showing rich information for new websites
The 7 steps to perfect recipe rich results
Creating a fully-optimized recipe rich result isn't very difficult – you just have to make sure to go through all the steps!
- Do a bit of keyword research and give your recipe and page a title that matches a major and a couple minor (long-tail) searches.
- Craft a recipe description and page meta description that incorporates the page keywords you are targeting and also entices the searcher to click through by describing what the searcher will find on the page.
- Fill out all the recommended recipe information – ingredients, prep & cook time, category, method, cuisine, keywords, video, and nutrition information.
- Write out instructions that are simple, not too verbose, and relatively short.
- Choose a recipe image that will look good small, horizontal, and square.
- Make sure readers have a way to leave a rating – and encourage them to do so!
- Include the keywords in the page URL, and keep the URL short
And you're done!
How do I know which recipes need updated information?
Great question! Google recently launched their Recipes Report to help bloggers keep track of which recipes need updating. You can read more about the Recipes Report here: wptasty.com/find-recipes-with-missing-structured-data
How do I keep track of recipes that I've updated and measure their performance?
Pinch of Yum does consistent content audits to make sure recipes stay at the top of their game and weather the changes made by Google and other search engines. To keep track of everything, they use a spreadsheet to make note of all the changes, then make annotations in Google Analytics for those changes, as well. The spreadsheet helps them find the information they want quickly, and the annotations in Google Analytics help them visualize the changes in the metrics.
Understanding recipe rich results, what they are, and how to improve them is the first step to organic search success. Recipes with complete rich results are more enticing for the user to click on, which can result in more page views from organic search.