Analysis and advice Why recipe sites saw huge fluctuations in visibility


Ecommerce Marketing Automation

30-second summary:

  • The recipe space is a very competitive one
  • While sites like BBC Good Food and the likes saw +22 percent hikes in search visibility, the good times may be over
  • Award-winning performance marketing agency, Reprise Digital’s SEO Account Manager on how to rank while the algorithm update may still be at play

Google is a popular home for recipes. The search engine giant sees millions of recipe searches every day, with users seeking some inspiration or looking to learn how to whip up a specific meal, snack, or baked treat.

The recipe market is competitive, with big players such as BBC Good Food and Delish, brands including Gousto and Hello Fresh, and thousands of dedicated recipe blogs competing for your attention. Google does a great job of making this recipe content appealing in the SERPs with rich results showing the user ratings, how long the recipe takes, cuisine, and lots more. This means searchers can get all the information they need in a handy snapshot before clicking through.

Recipe sites saw significant increases post-algorithm update in November: sites such as BBC Good Food saw huge increases in visibility at +22 percent just a couple of months later. It was a similar story for most major recipe sites, with allrecipes.com increasing by a whopping 94 percent in the few months post-update. The aforementioned brand websites also saw huge increases. In fact, Gousto’s visibility went and increased by over 150 percent just three months after the update!

However, the good times may be over, at least for now anyway. Following the latest algorithm update in May, those generous portions of huge increases have been eaten away at and replaced with significant decreases. Sites like Gousto and Hello Fresh have been impacted the most, as these brands saw visibility dropping by half!

Recipe sites and their organic site visibility analysis per the algorithm update

Source: Searchmetrics

Blog sites have had to swallow a similar fate…

Recipe sites and their organic site visibility analysis per the algorithm update - table 2

Source: Searchmetrics

The algorithm updates have clearly had a huge impact on recipe sites, but Google has also been playing around with recipes for quite some time now. Many searchers have noticed recipe carousels being segmented by ‘recipe type’ in recent months, for example.

It is clear that recipes are a particular focus within core algorithm updates, so there has never been a better time to ensure your recipe content is the best it can be.

Tips to make your recipe page crème de la crème

Below are some top tips to make sure your recipe page is the crème de la crème. By following these steps, your content will have the maximum chance to not only appear at the top of the SERPs but also drive traffic by making it more appealing as compared to other results:

1. Provide supplementary information

This includes cuisine, cooking time, difficulty, and calories. Also, remember to implement structured data (if you haven’t already!)

2. Add optimized images that are relevant

We eat with our eyes first, images are a great way to make the recipe more engaging, as well as easier to follow. It’s also important to select the best image that will appear in rich results, it needs to be clear, of the recipe in question and of course look delicious!

In a competitive space, imagery is your chance to entice the user to click your result instead of the others. Products out of shot (as below) or low-quality images are a missed opportunity and could result in lost traffic to competitors.

Recipe sites - Google search results - rich results

Source: Google search

3. Create a video asset for high-value recipes

We all know videos work great for recipes, but it can be very time-consuming creating a video for every recipe, especially if you have a back catalog of hundreds or even thousands. Instead, focus on those recipes that hold the largest opportunity by asking yourself the below questions:

  • Are the search terms returning video results?
  • Are the main competitors using videos for this particular recipe?
  • Is there decent search volume for the recipe on Google AND YouTube (maximize ROI)?
  • Is the recipe already ranking near the top? If so, will a video take it to that next level?
  • Is it a recipe that would genuinely benefit from a video? Are there lots of steps or variations?

As the data shows, recipe content is volatile but small tweaks and improvements can ensure your recipes have the best chance possible to rank at the top and encourage users to click.


Robert Scott is SEO Account Manager at award-winning performance marketing agency, Reprise Digital. Rob has five years’ experience within SEO with a keen interest in content and holistic search.

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