How to search for recipes on the internet?

The best recipe search engine (other than google)
Photo by brighterworlds.

This post is a little sad for me. I have created a recipe search engine on the internet. Although it still may be useful, it has always had an uphill battle to being used by more than a handful of people. There are quite a few good recipe search sites. In a second, I’ll tell you why is still useful, but what prompted this post is a new feature of Google. Although, I don’t think there should be a law against it, Google is in a position to become the dominant player in almost any software field. Competing against Google with a search engine is the ultimate in folly.

So with regular Google search, you can now limit the purpose to just Recipes. Here I search for “great northern bean sausage”. You can see that the top results are recipe related. But if you click through, you often end up with lists of recipes or general pages, instead of a specific recipe with sausage and great northern beans in it. But click the link for Recipes on the left:

And now you only find actual recipes. You can even limit your search based on ingredients, calories, and cooking time:

It is quite an impressive new feature. It takes advantage of a different Google initiative called rich snippets. Except for display information, web pages contain only the text you read. That text is freeform without structure. But using additional information on the page, structure can be added to some types of pages. Recipes are a prime example of this.

Recipes have a common set of information to provide, like ingredients and instructions. It is up to the websites that provide recipes to add this information to their pages. When they do, Google can now add the search engine feature I just wrote about.

But there are many good recipe websites that don’t have this added information. Google is now ignoring these sites. And this is why still has some use. It doesn’t have the same features, but it does take advantage of Google to provide the search. So normal search tricks like putting a minus “-” in front of an ingredientwill eliminate recipes with that ingredient from the search. And through some careful curation by hand, I have eliminated most of the general non recipe types of results. However, I am searching for sites by hand, and Google has the website admins doing all the work for them.

In the long term Google will win. But, if you like, you can help extend its life. I can add you as a co-curator. I took some pains to eliminate duplicate results from searches. So as long as you follow some of my guidelines, I am sure you can help improve Recipe8 results.

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