There’s no such thing as quickly finding a recipe online. Every cooking blog, it seems, is stuffed with paragraphs and paragraphs before you get to an actual recipe, text that might tell you about the history of the dish, or even which of the author’s kids likes it best. It’s not that food writers are categorically long-winded, though. They are just responding to Google’s demands.
The company’s search algorithm appears to favor original text over a recipe you can find in many places online, so food blogs try to game traffic by adding more text. For the past two decades, even subtle changes to Google’s search algorithm have steered not only what content shows up in search results but what kind of content people actually make. “There are loops,” Chris Hoffman, until recently the editor of the technology-tutorial website How-to Geek, told me. “Google communicates what it wants. You listen and you survive, or you don’t listen and you die. So you have to follow it.”