Why Recipe Bloggers Make You Scroll so Far to Read the Recipe

Hint: Blame Google

Byrne Hobart
OneZero
Published in
3 min readJan 8, 2020

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Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

IIt’s a struggle as old as the internet itself. You Google a simple recipe and you get, at best, a fluffy description, and at worst, a lengthy narrative. You scroll until your finger falls off, and then, finally, you find an actual recipe. To anyone who previously looked up recipes in actual books, this is an egregious violation of the sacred Dewey decimal system.

Looks tasty, but I’m gonna need a LOT more backstory.

This is even true of very short recipes. Take the BLT, for example. This sandwich has most of the instructions in the name. But if you google “BLT recipe” you find stuff like:

“There are few things in life I’m more passionate about than an excellent BLT.”

And

“I recently realized just how important the humble BLT is to me.”

And

“That’s when I realized there are folks out there (even wonderful restaurant folks!) who don’t get it about the BLT.”

And

“I always sharpen my butcher knife before slicing tomatoes.”

And

“Please, don’t make me write 800 words about a dish with five ingredients assuming you count each slice of bread separately. It’s literally impossible. I’d rather compete in an episode of Iron Chef where the theme ingredient is Polonium.”

These are all from the same recipe, except the last one, which I made up, but is also what you get if you run the entire recipe through Google Translate and set the output language to “honesty.”

Why does every single entree need a more detailed backstory than the Warhammer 40,000 universe?

People ask this rhetorically, but there’s an easy answer: Recipes are a commodity; you can copy them as soon as you have the text. And Google’s search engine algorithm penalizes sites whose content duplicates other sites while rewarding sites with original content and a trusted brand name. So the competition in recipes is to either be a beloved site with short blurbs, or be a less reputable site with longer ones.

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Byrne Hobart
OneZero
Writer for

I write about technology (more logos than techne) and economics. Newsletter: https://diff.substack.com/