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Why are recipe blogs so long?

October 25, 2021

If you cook at home, you’ve probably used a recipe from a blog. And if you’ve ever used a recipe from a blog, you’ve definitely noticed that the introduction is loooo-oo-o-ong. 

You may have scrolled right past the seven paragraphs of text, digging from the recipe, or maybe you hit the back button and ran to YouTube for a video recipe instead.

Almost everyone who uses food blogs for recipes gets frustrated with the length of the introduction — so why do food bloggers still write 1,000-word intros?

It turns out, there are several reasons.

Bloggers rely on SEO to drive traffic

If you’ve ever Googled for a recipe, you’ve driven “SEO traffic” to a recipe blog. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is the tactics used to rank in search engines like Google. 

One of the primary reasons recipe bloggers share an introduction of at least 1,000 words is because search engines are thought to give ranking preference to pages with more original content on the page. That means no matter how good the recipe if it is a brief 200 words including only ingredients and directions, users won’t be able to discover that recipe through Google search.

Why do recipes include a whole “life story”?

There are memes and articles around the web bashing food blogs for sharing the blogger’s “life story” in the introduction. These comments come across as entitled and patronizing, and bloggers, with good reason, are very sensitive about this topic.

Some bloggers are just doing what they have to do to get views from search and earn ad revenue when they craft long narratives. However, most creators are very thoughtful and actually have something to share. Recipe bloggers put dozens of hours into developing each recipe, shooting photos, and writing the post.

Food is culture, family, and emotion, and the story is an important part of sharing a meal. When someone takes a piece of their culture and shares it with you, it is incredibly rude and appropriative to demand that they share only the instructions to allow you to duplicate it, with zero regard or interest in the story behind the meal.

Why isn’t the recipe just at the top of the page?

One solution that would allow bloggers to have their 1,000 words of SEO copy, but save the reader from actually having to read it is by putting the recipe first, followed by the text about the recipe. It seems like an obvious and simple win-win solution, but there are several reasons this is not common.

Ad revenue 

Most recipe bloggers ultimately make money from ad revenue. That means the more ads you see, the more money they make. When you have to scroll down three pages, passing 6 ads, before getting to the part of the post that you care most about, the blogger earns significantly more money than if a user immediately has what they need and exits the page.

Time on page

Similarly, time on page is an important metric to bloggers. Time on page also contributes to ad earnings, and it is also thought to influence search rankings. If a user searches in Google and finds a food blog, and immediately exits the page without scrolling or clicking on the content, that may be taken as a negative signal that the quality of content is low.

Context

Food bloggers who are skilled at crafting a positive experience for their readers share important context in their introduction. This may include a cultural or historical background of the dish, or helpful tips that will help you be more successful when you try to make this recipe.

Does anyone actually read food blogs?

So, does anyone actually read the entire article attached to a recipe blog? It really depends on the blog and its audience. 

Some authors write long introductions for the sake of hitting a certain word count, but the content is not particularly relevant, valuable or important. Others share important tips and tricks to help the user be more successful in replicating the recipe, in which case it is smart to read before attempting the recipe.

Still, others share their heart and their culture in their blog post introduction, and those are perhaps the most important ones to read and internalize. 

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