Google's recipe search is still a work in progess
You've no doubt read about Google's latest tool to dominate yet another online market. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company rolled out a recipe search function today, which will instantly compete with services such as Foodily, Taste Book and other online search tools.
The key to Google's new recipe search is, according to Wired, that it's built on "structured data." Notes Wired:
But the real innovation is in the background: the entire search is built on structured data that webmasters have built into their webpages using markup code that’s invisible to humans but is extremely useful to machines. The dream of the so-called semantic web is built upon the idea that web pages will be full of such underlying tags so that search engines can parse a webpage to learn someone’s e-mail address or know exactly what a restaurant’s operating hours are by scanning underlying code invisible in the browser.
What this means, if I'm understanding the technology correctly, is that Google's recipe search will not just scan a Web page looking for words like "sweet" and "sour" and "chicken," but will actually read embedded meta-data that will assure browsers that the resulting recipes actually include the searched-for terms.
That sounds great in theory. In practice, during a few searches today, we found that the same Web sites popped up, no matter what our search terms. The recurring winners in the Google search gambit were About.com, the Food Network, Epicurious, Food.com, and All Recipes. That's not to say the recipes on these sites are inferior or not worth cooking, but it shows the limitations in the current search functionality. The recipes do not appear to be weighed on authenticity or credibility of the recipe author, but on the sheer volume of a site. Popularity is not always the best gauge for a quality recipe.
The Google recipe search also proved buggy this afternoon. Several features designed to narrow and refine searches to particular ingredients or cooking times were not available, or intermittently available. A spokeswoman for Google e-mailed this afternoon, saying that the site is a work in progress.
"Search features roll out gradually to our various data centers so it can take as long as a few days to reach everyone," the spokeswoman wrote.
| February 24, 2011; 6:30 PM ET
Categories: Media | Tags: Tim Carman
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