How to Write Future-Proof Recipe Content and Harness the Power of AI
Every recipe publisher and food blogger has their own individual way of writing top-notch recipe content for their own audience. However, recipes are now more than just an inspiration for what to cook for dinner: they are increasingly becoming the central tool for people to automate domestic chores like grocery shopping or activating connected kitchen devices.
This means that recipe creators need to start thinking about how their content works with AI and connected technology as well as attracting Google’s search spiders.
AI platforms like Whisk are becoming increasingly smart and popular with recipe creators to automate content enrichment processes like nutritional calculations and recipe tagging as well as helping structure recipe content to help AI technology access the content first time.
In this blog post, we’ve captured our advice on how to create recipe content that is easily analyzed by machine learning: whether it’s Google’s, Whisk’s or another AI. We’ve also added a link to our recipe validator to test your recipe is working properly.
Before we get to that we’ve also summarised some of our favourite tips, rules and best practice from some of the best recipe publishers out there.
How to Write Recipe Content – According to Publishers
With many style guides and sets of rules out there, food bloggers and recipe publishers might argue which style guide and rules one should follow. Comparing different styles can help you find some common patterns to improve your content and create remarkable recipes so here’s some of the best.
In their guide to writing great recipe content, Allrecipes shared tips and tricks anyone should follow if they want to make their instructions clear and precise.
Here are some insights you can get from Allrecipes:
- Write SEO-friendly titles: writing the title should include keywords that can help the reader find your recipe more easily, for example, Lentil and Sausage Soup not Delicious Tasty September Soup
- Hook the reader in with an interesting description: by providing relevant information and interesting recipe facts in the description, you’ll make sure that your recipe gets the attention it deserves. For example: “Make a spaghetti bolognese with chilly sauce for a spicy dinner with friends. Garnish with oregano and bay leaves and serve with parmesan cheese”. The description shares the relevant ingredients and encourages the reader to take action. On the other hand, a description such as: “The best spaghetti bolognese recipe” doesn’t share as much relevant information for the reader.
- Write ingredients in the order they appear: make it easy for the reader to understand in which order they should prepare all the ingredients necessary for them to create a meal of their choice. If the first thing someone needs to do when preparing quinoa with black beans is to heat the oil in a pan, then write down as your first ingredient 1 tbs of vegetable oil.
- Write diced, chopped, sliced, in the ingredients list rather than in the instructions: if the preparation method is simple and in common use, you should include it in the ingredient list e.g. freshly squeezed lemon juice not a citrussy smattering.
- Write each step in as much detail as possible: remember that the reader cannot guess all the necessary information about the oven temperature and other details needed to prepare the meal, e.g. bake at a lower temperature is not a good instruction – but bake at 100° C is.
- Add prep time and cook time to your recipe: don’t forget to let the reader know how much time it will take them to prepare and cook your recipe as it will help them plan and prepare better.
2. The Kitchn
The Kitchn goes into a lot of detail to describe their preferred style separated into suggestions for writing ingredient lists versus preparation methods, you’ll find some great tips.
We’ve picked our top three:
- Do not use two different measures at once: it just plain confusing for the reader. For example, 500 g beef mince and 125ml red wine in the same spaghetti bolognese recipe is fine, but 500 g beef mince and 4oz red wine is not
- Make sure to be consistent: if an ingredient begins with a letter instead of a number, capitalize the first letter, for example, Freshly ground cinnamon
- Use generic names of ingredients where possible: (milk chocolate, not Cadbury milk chocolate). NB Platforms like Whisk can add rules and ad units which avoid having to remember to go back and update sponsored ingredients should a partnership come to an end.
3. BBC Good Food
BBC Good Food has shared their tips and tricks on how to get the creative process started:
- Focus on seasonality: the best way to create relevant content for your audience at a particular time is to provide recipes that include seasonal ingredients.
- Always keep your target audience in mind: understanding your audience is key to providing relevant recipe content and keep them coming back.
Now some of these are helpful tips to make your recipe precise, consistent and relevant, but some of them are also in many ways connected to helping you write recipe content that can be easily understood by AI.
How to Write Tech-Friendly Recipe Content for 2020 and Beyond
Writing recipe content that is well-structured, as in the examples above, is a great start to ensuring your recipes can be easily understood and used by AI to power IoT, shopping and other smart experiences but it doesn’t stop there.
“We are teaching AI to understand food by analyzing millions of recipes across some of the biggest recipe publishing names. Whisk’s technology is chosen by some of the leading recipe sites in the world because our Food Genome allows us to combine this immense amount of data with the best-in-class technology so we can create a sustainable and seamless consumer experience.”
– Nick Holzherr, CEO and Founder of Whisk.com.
Here are our top suggestions for writing future-proof recipe content that can support the future demands of technology:
1. Separate your ingredient list from the cooking method
It sounds obvious, but separating your ingredient list from your cooking method is crucial for making your ingredient list easy to understand by artificial intelligence.
2. Only provide one ingredient per line
After you’ve listed all the ingredients in the list, check if each ingredient has its place in the list. By writing each ingredient in a separate line, you’re making your recipes clean and simple. This way data can be easily understood and matched properly.
3. Don’t give two options – e.g. a squeeze of lime or lemon or orange juice
Make sure you’re clear with your ingredient list. Giving two options makes it more difficult for AI to understand what the ingredient is.
4. Be specific – salted butter v butter, sunflower oil v oil, etc
Finally, read your ingredient list and instructions once again to make sure that your audience has all the instructions they need to create your amazing recipe.
Don’t write just oil. What kind of oil should they buy? Should they buy sunflower or olive oil?
To provide instructions that your audience will find valuable, but that will also remove any friction and mistakes in matching for artificial intelligence, you need to be as specific as possible.
5. Use industry standard micro-formatting
Whisk and other platforms, like Google, use microdata or microformat data rules to add metadata to existing content on your web pages.
What is a microformat?
A microformat is a way of structuring your recipe content so that Whisk’s and other spiders, like Google’s, can easily crawl, find and parse your content so it can be accurately understood.
Using microformatting on your recipes can have significant SEO benefits.
Bonus tip: Use Whisk’s Content Validator
You can use Whisk’s content validator to check if your recipes are immediately understood by Whisk. If Whisk does not understand your recipe content you can choose to update the structure, or with the paid version we will work with you to parse your content without you needing to make any changes.
The recipe ecosystem today is still driven by an old but well-established publisher ad revenue model. This model is changing rapidly as the potential for recipes to power the connected kitchen, help people manage serious health conditions and make the whole shopping experience quicker, smoother and, frankly, more fun start to be realised.
As Bill Gates once said “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”