This is post #100 on Grabbing the Gusto. Instead of one of my usual cooking posts, I’m taking this opportunity to review the five posts with the most views to see what I can learn.
When you have a post that piggybacks onto an event and appeals to a passionate social-media savvy crowd, you may have a winner on your hands. I was asked by the organizers of an NC Brewers Guild event to live-blog their brewers panel. My post, the only summary of the talk, got a lot of Twitter buzz from attendees and participating brewers, particularly when it sported the #ncbeer hashtag, plus it received link love from Thomas Vincent’s blog.
The craft beer community is growing in North Carolina. Just this morning, Andrea Weigl of the Raleigh News & Observer reported on ten Triangle breweries and brewpubs, with more on the way. Another indicator of its popularity: “Red Oak Brewery” is the fifth most used Google search term to find my blog. Timely topics with enthusiastic niche followings are ingredients for high view numbers.
This post was the surprise of the bunch. In a precursor to my current Sunday Table series, I wrote about some items that caught my interest that week, including a film about the closing of the oldest Lithuanian restaurant in Chicago, viryta (homemade Lithuanian spiced honey liquor), the Lithuanian Festival in the Baltimore suburbs and kugelis (Lithuanian potato, onion, bacon and egg dish). It was a bit of a wistful dip into my Lithuanian heritage.
But why so popular? The fourth most popular Google search term to find my site is “lithuanian festival baltimore 2010” so that’s probably part of the answer. I’m guessing there are other Lithuanian half-breeds (or quarter-breeds like me) who are looking for Lithuanian recipes and find their way here.
I’m not too surprised that this is the third most popular post. Over the past few years slow cooker recipes have been getting a lot of buzz in cookbooks, magazines and blogs. The recipes are easy to make and flexible enough for those with hectic schedules. Plus they appeal to our nesting instinct — comfort foods that fill the house with their appetite-whetting aromas – and football watching habits. In addition to the popularity of slow cooker recipes, this post has the New Orleans connection too. Americans fell in love with Cajun and Creole cuisine decades ago, and the affair is still going strong.
My boyfriend will be happy to learn his dish is the second most popular post on Gusto. My theory is that chile heads are always looking for new ways to deliver the heat and I have the data to prove it. “Stuffed jalapenos” is #2 and “spicy sausage stuffed jalapenos” is #7 on my Google search term list. Take that burning desire and combine it with a really good recipe and you have a winner.
#1 – Fried Green Tomatoes
Way out in front of the pack is my Fried Green Tomatoes post. A few hours after I published this post, I checked my stats and discovered traffic like I had never experienced it before. It turned out that the post had been picked up by WordPress.com and featured in its Freshly Pressed section on their homepage. I later learned about the criteria used by the WordPress editors when selecting Freshly Pressed posts:
- unique, valuable, interesting and timely content
- stunning images
- compelling headlines
- appropriate tags
- good error-free writing
You can write all your posts following those five criteria and get a dozen hits or a few thousand hits. What’s the difference? Luck. Hitting a collective nerve at the right time. Getting buzz from influencers. It’s hard to predict. Sometimes I write what I think is a killer post and it languishes, and the unlikely one gets all the love. I blog for pleasure so I don’t obsess too much over the numbers. But I still shake my head sometimes. Fried green tomatoes? Really?