Skip to Content

BBW: Googs, Facebook, and Tomatoes

featured-060414

Hi Folks!

I’m back today with a bit of a mish-mash post: a little Blog Biz Wednesday and a little garden love.

The last few weeks have been, shall we say, interesting on the online marketing front.

The big news was that Google released a new algorithm the week of May 19th, called Panda 4.0. The initial result was a bit terrifying for food bloggers, to be honest (here’s a (a good initial analysis of the impact), but as that week unfolded, I noticed some adjustments (on Google’s end) that smoothed out some of the weirdness (including things like recipe photos that had suddenly disappeared from search results, which caused a lot of initial panic).

One disappointing outcome — disappointing as a searcher of recipes — is that the big corporate recipe sites received a huge boost in search rank results. So, when you’re searching on a dish, the first page of results will not only contain entries from the usual suspects, like allrecipes.com and foodnetwork.com, but also now from sites like bettycrocker.com, myrecipes.com, tasteofhome.com, southernliving.com, and goodhousekeeping.com. Each of these sites received specific boosts from Panda 4.0.

I suspect this change was made because of the often stated – but, I think, largely overblown – belief that recipes from “blogs” are somehow less reliable than those from the bigger corporate (usually magazine-offshoot) sites.

It’s true that there’s a degree of chance-taking when you’re cooking from an unknown blog, but, ya know, l’ve had bad outcomes with recipes from the super big brands as well. There’s a fallacy that they test their recipes to death (folks, I worked in the magazine industry for years. Budgets are slashed annually, and with that follows the elimination of the luxury of having lots of non-editorial, non-marketing staff on hand for things like research and development, whatever the magazine’s niche).

No one is testing their recipes to within an inch of their lives, except perhaps ATK (whose raison d’etre is to do so, of course). Worse, what testing does occur is probably done on professional-grade equipment, not the average household stove. Or they publish recipes that were mathematically scaled down from restaurant volumes for a family of four, without testing the nuances of seasoning and acidity balance that straight-up division doesn’t get right.

I’ve also read here and there that Googs is trying to evaluate the value of content based, in part, on the amount of interaction a web site receives (i.e., commenting and recipe ratings). That’s a particularly shoulder-slumping outcome for blogs like mine that, as a rule, don’t receive a lot of comments. But, after the Panda 4.0 Day One panic (where, in terms of my traffic referral sources, google slipped from #1 to #4 – yikes), Day Two returned to normal levels, and have been holding steady since.

In general, most food blogs, took at least a slight beating from Panda 4.0 (if you read the article I mentioned above, you’ll notice that the stalwart simplyrecipes.com took a 33% hit). I still see entries from the mega food bloggers on the first page of search results, but far fewer than before, as entries from the corporate sites I mentioned have worked their way up the Googs ladder.

So, what to do about it? Keep calm and blog on. Google search ranking is a long-term prospect and short-term changes should be taken with a grain of salt (much like your retirement savings account: the stock market goes up and down and through it all, you just need to plow forward and save). Focus on what you can control: practice only white-hat SEO, and keep publishing that great content.

Facebook Pages

Facebook is about to roll out another major layout change to Pages on June 17th. Early reports have hinted that this change will also include further suppression of organic reach (meaning, if you make a post to your Page without paying a fee to FB, even fewer of your “Likes” will see your post than are seeing your posts now).

Facebook is a fascinating case study of shooting oneself in the foot. I totally get that they have to make money (and lots of it, since they have shareholders to satisfy), but putting an unravelable stranglehold on content is not the way to do it.

Let me share a few of my numbers. My SoupAddict page currently has 1,332 “Likes” (so, I’m a small presence on FB, for sure). Here are two screenshots of recent posts. The first is just a photo with some text (no links). The second contains text, with a link to my blog that I placed in the comments (which, for whatever reason, increases a post’s reach).

fb-reach-1

FB put this post into the streams of just 61 of the 1,332 people who “Like” my page. The post received 4 likes. (FB sure does, uh, like the word “Like,” doesn’t it. Too bad FB doesn’t “like” its users.)

fb-reach-2

FB put this post into the streams of 183 of the [then – this was a couple of weeks ago] 1,297 people who “Like” my page. The post received 2 likes.

Now let’s do the reach math of my Page’s Likes:
61 reached/1332 possible = 4.6%
183 reached/1297 possible = 14%

Ugh. Just, ugh. I’m not One Kings Lane with deep marketing pockets. I can’t afford to “boost” every post. Heck, I mostly just want to share the goodies from my garden without even sending people over to my blog. There’s no win here for the little guy.

I’ll continue posting to Facebook because it takes just a few seconds, but it’s not a focus for marketing my blog, and the overwhelming majority of my followers aren’t seeing my stuff anyway. I have paid to boost posts before, but the results were completely unsatisfactory. Paying to gather more Likes in general is pointless, since FB is serving content to only a tiny fraction of Likes, and they’ve made it known that organic reach will soon cycle down to near 0%. I suspect that that will occur with this next update.

In the meantime, Pinterest remains at the forefront of my online efforts, although I’m turning more attention to Google+ and Instagram (hesitantly, because it is owned by FB, afterall). It’s sooo frustrating, because I’m starting practically from zero on G+ and Instagram, and it’s hard to develop new posting habits. It’s also on my to-do list to move to a new email newsletter service. Right now, emails announcing new posts on SoupAddict are served through Feedburner, which Google seems to have largely abandoned (in terms of new development). Email marketing is, thankfully, still reliable, as folks can easily control whether they receive emails, and once white-listed, no third-party decides which emails to serve or withhold.

Tomatoes!

Finally, this week has been super exciting for SoupAddict, the vegetable gardener, as I officially finished planting my summer gardens and … picked my first two ripe tomatoes of the season!

first-tomatoes-2014

Oh my goodness, these Sun Sugars were mind-blowingly delicious (tomatoes lovers, you know exactly what I mean). After our harsh winter, this was just what I needed to get June off on a bright and sunny foot.

I declare tomato season officially on!

Karen xo

Subscribe to the SoupAddict Weekly Digest and get new soups and other delish foods in bowls in your inbox!

Thank You For Subscribing!

So glad to have you aboard, fellow Soup Lover! Stay tuned for the first edition!

Grilled BBQ Blue Cheese Chicken Salad
← Previous
5 Tips for Successful Container Gardening
Next →

Geraldine

Monday 9th of June 2014

My sun sugars are coming in as well. Also planted celebrity, champion, sweet 100, better boy and black krim - all in containers and growing like mad. Thanks for the blog info - you break things down well and make it understandable! I'm using feed burner also - thinking about switching to mail chimp.

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl

Wednesday 4th of June 2014

Those tomatoes are beautiful! Because of the harsh winter we're 2 weeks behind with everything.. but the tomatoes have taken off and have started their climb! Can't wait to eat them up!

Christie Ciesielski

Wednesday 4th of June 2014

Sounds like we need a "Support Small Bloggers Day" to go along with Support Loacl Business Day...