As some of you may know, I’m a foodie, which is to say that I love to cook (when I have the time), enjoy any opportunity to expand my understanding of food and wine, and that I have a rather debilitating cookbook addiction. I am therefore especially pleased to announce the newest of Epik’s development platforms: Epik | Recipes.
With Epik | Recipes, you now have a platform with which to build out high quality, high performance food and drink sites that are genuinely useful to site visitors.
Main Ingredient: Recipes
The greatest challenge for the owners of great food- and drink-related domain names such as grilled-chicken.com or alcoholic-drinks.com is how to populate them. Even the best name is useless without a sizable cache of legitimately acquired recipes. Epik has solved this problem by building a database of over 10,000 recipes, which we plan to grow to more than 100,000 over the coming months. With this storehouse, we have ample content to match to almost any recipe-related domain—you just need to provide the domain name.
More interestingly, all these recipes are saved in a very particular format, one that offers significant benefits to the domain owner and the site visitor.
Recipes and the Semantic Web
Taken as a whole, a recipe is an inherently structured data type; it necessarily contains concepts such as ingredients, amounts, steps, and durations. Consequently, recipes are an ideal data type with which to bind semantics and data together in order to create recipes easily readable by both humans and computers.
The mechanisms for doing so are microformats: simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Microformats enable the representation of semantic information within a web page; in simplest terms, the HTML markup now includes the data as well as the meaning of the data. And with this meaning, information can be leveraged in ways never conceived by the author of the data.
In the case of recipes, this format is called hRecipe. And recipe sites encoded in hRecipe offer significant advantages to the domainer and users:
- Contextual search: Consider a user reviewing a recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls. Any recipe site worth its salt (pun intended) can handle that. But with hRecipe, the site could offer suggestions for other Vietnamese dishes, or other appetizers, or even other recipes that use similar ingredients. And it can easily do so precisely because the concept of Vietnamese as a cuisine, and shrimp as an ingredient, is understood by the site. The ability to offer superior navigation and menu planning suggestions is thus enabled by the microformat in a way not easily possible for a “plaintext” version of the very same recipe. We plan to leverage and extend such abilities in the coming months.
- Improved monetization: Initially, Epik Recipe site will monetize through fairly standard ads and then through systems like Shopzilla that can display, say, a list of cookbooks appropriate to what the user is viewing. But with the semantic encoding of microformats, more interesting monetization avenues open up in a way not possible with plaintext recipes. Consider being able to click an “Order All Ingredients” button that places an order on Safeway.com or AmazonFresh. How? Because the site knows all the ingredients and the amounts necessary to make that dish!
- Improved page rank and click throughs: Consider the challenge Google faces. It must scan, try to understand, and classify every web site on the planet. Well, Google likes it when they get help, and encoding sites with microformats is a huge help to Google. Instead of crawling a site and trying to figure out whether the page contains a recipe, a microformat provides that information to Google “predigested”; Google doesn’t have to infer the meaning of the data because the meaning has been directly encoded into the site data. Thus, Google then knows not just that it is a recipe, but that it is a low-cal chicken breast recipe because information like calorie counts are encoded on the page in a standard way. Classification by crawlers becomes both faster and more accurate. Better yet, Google shows its appreciation by ranking and displaying microformatted data preferentially because the data is already semantically encoded; this is all part of Google “Rich Snippets” initiative. And because it has more definitive information to render, it can display search results in a more attractive and useful way.
Google’s preference for rich, microformatted data results in better page rank and more click throughs.
In addition, Epik | Recipe sites will enable and encourage users to upload their own recipes to the site, helping keep the site content fresh and crawlable while creating a sense of community, ownership, and virality.
For anyone who has ever heard Rob discuss the “semantic web”, Epik | Recipes is a perfect example of the power of encoding meaning and data together. It offers a improved experience to the user, and greater opportunities for monetization to the domain owner.
Building out an Epik | Recipe site is very cost effective: only $349/site. Better yet, order before Dec. 31, and our 25% off year end discount applies. I am hard pressed to think of a better platform, or a better time, to build out your food and drink recipe domains. Both Rob and I are very excited about this platform, and we hope you feel the same.
John Lawler, SVP Products