This is a story about frustration in content design (and, to a lesser degree, content theft). As hinted at last week in the discussion of ‘non-recipes’, a recipe can be broken into two main chunks: ingredients and method. Alongside this you have metadata: things like prep/cook time, number of servings, category, nutritional information. For online recipes, each of these chunks and items of metadata are highly structured fields in a content management system and do very specific things.
Sat aside from these is what I’ll call ‘notes’. This is the most amorphous, unstructured part of a recipe. It’s not usually critical to the act of making a dish, yet it comprises the bulk of the recipe text and is what many people first think of when they think of online recipes.
In this ‘notes’ field you have the author discussing the dish. In the best cases, this involves situating it in its original food culture, listing potential ingredient substitutions, offering sensory checkpoints to look out for, and so on. But in the worst cases, as cooks, writers and publishers chase clicks to drive up ad views, it becomes a field to fill up with low-quality content to reach an arbitrary word count in the hope that this results in better search results.
This is mitigated in two ways—being really good at writing the ‘notes’ field like, say, Rachel Roddy
, or not focusing intently on it as an SEO magic bullet (which it isn’t anyway, correlation ≠ causation, I do have some idea
of what I’m talking about).
So the message to these Bay Area food content startups is: the recipes problem is really only a notes problem, and that’s an SEO problem which isn’t really a problem in the first place, recipes writers just think it is. Make sense? Crystal.