Using Advanced Search to Find Allergen Free Recipes

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Using Advanced Search to Find Allergen Free Recipes – No Allergen Food

If I want to find a recipe for carrot free chicken pot pie, the first instinct would be to fire up my favorite search engine and enter: carrot free chicken pot pie

When I did this, all the recipes on the first page included carrots prominently.

This article discusses tricks you can use have Google help find the recipes that you want.  If you use a different search engine, please feel free to research the techniques below and submit an article for your favorite.

Google usually does a very good job at finding things, why did it mess up searching for carrot free chicken pot pie?  By default, when you enter some words into the Google search engine, it tries to find web pages that have all the words in your query.  If it finds enough sites it uses some secret programming to guess what you really want.    Even though these rules are kept secret and change from time to time to keep people from gaming the system some general rules are well known.  If it is a search people do frequently, Google keeps track of where people like to click after the search and lists those sites high on the list.  It also will tend to show sites that have the exact phrase the person searched for.  In my case above it found just over 2 million sites but none of the top page sites are what I want.

What I got were sites that had recipes for chicken pot pie that had some ingredient missing from the normal recipe.  On the front page of the results these were mostly versions without dairy or wheat.

Avoiding the Obvious

The first thing to try is the minus sign.  If I change my search to be:

-carrot chicken pot pie recipe

This tells Google to show only websites that do not have the word carrot in them.  The search does not care about case and gets closer but still has some problems.  If a site has the word carrots it will still show up.  To eliminate sites that have the word carrots as well I can search for:

-carrot –carrots chicken pot pie recipe

I will get recipes for chicken pot pie without carrots as a listed ingredient.  However the current top recipe uses frozen mixed vegetables.  I also get websites which have a list links to chicken pot pie recipes.  Imagine that i am searching for a recipe I have heard about from a friend and the title of the recipe is Carrot Free Chicken Pot Pie but I can not remember the title.  That page would never be shown.

This approach can be of help most of the time but sometimes it just comes up short.  Imagine the number of things you will need to exclude to eliminate anything dairy.

The Phrase That Pays

We can also make Google search for web pages which contain a specific phrase.  If I search for the following:

“carrot free” chicken pot pie

Google will only show pages that have the words carrot and free separated by a space on the page.

Also try “without carrots” and similar searches.   Searches for carrot-free where the words are hyphenated together can be great when you can find it.  If you are putting a recipe up on the web, including named-free is huge for search engine optimization (helping people find your page).

If you search for “without carrots” and get to a page where the recipe obviously includes carrots, don’t give up yet.  Look to the bottom of the page.  Is there a comment section?  A comment section can have someone asking for a version without carrots.  Then someone responds with a link to a recipe that works or a substitution that works.  “I tried using sweet potatoes instead of carrots and it came out fine”

Explore On Your Own

To see more of what is possible on Google go to the following link and fill out the form:  http://www.google.com/advanced_search

To start on other engines: 

This looks like this could be an equivalent page for Yahoo http://ca.search.yahoo.com/web/advanced

Here is some information about advanced search in Bing: http://www.howtogeek.com/106751/how-to-use-bings-advanced-search-operators-8-tips-for-better-searches/

Yes, I know I violated a few publishing rules about use of quotes, italics and other rules but putting quotes in the proper places above would have been confusing

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