Today’s Obsession: Recipes on Google

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African peanut and chicken stew from Elise Bauer's excellent

The other day, Google announced on its developer blog that it’s going to begin including rich snippets of recipes from the web. This is great news for idiots like myself and my boyfriend who insist upon cooking based upon complete strangers’ websites. (Related: would you like to try some peanut and chicken stew from Ghana? It’s amazing.)

If you’re a developer, what this means is you can rest assured that if you have HTML5 microdata in your pages specifying them as containing recipes, Google will find it and separate them into a recipes section of their search results.

How is this possibly pertinent to designers, you ask? Easy. It means that you have more immediate ways of defining your pages to systems that don’t understand abstract collections of facts as a single type of information. A logical system can’t intuit that a list of food items measured into specific quantities = a recipe. Now you have a way to tell it that.

(This is a pretty specific example of a larger concept, obviously. You can define much more than recipes.)

This also means you can also make your own visual design more intuitive to people without worrying about your SEO wonk screaming, “be sure to accurately describe your cooking, recipe, dinner, ingredients, meal, food!” because Google might not understand. Now you can just tell Google what it is.

Here’s my original post on HTML5 microdata, and essentially what it is. Now that we’re a few months away from that post, I’m pretty sure microdata is doomed to be the next RSS—meaning four people total will understand how it really works, but everyone will find it inherently useful. Start using it!