Speaking of Doug Cook (mentioned in yesterday’s post), I was lucky enough to be included on a panel with Doug and Alder Yarrow at the 2011 Pro Wine Writers Symposium discussing the importance of search and how to maximize the chances of having your wine writing noticed on-line. Alder founded the first wine blog on the Internet and deals extensively with SEO in his day job, Doug was former director of search at twitter (maybe you’ve heard of them?) and I … well, I was the guy lucky enough to be sitting next to them, adding commentary about how this stuff applies in the real world of wine writing on-line.
We based our discussion on a fantastic slide deck that Doug produced for a similar series of talks that he’s been giving, whch you can find below after the jump, as well as some video from the panel discussion. Anyone who is trying to get their wine writing found on-line needs to take this stuff seriously (within reason of course). The vid is long, it doesn’t include the full session, and the sound quality isn’t awesome… BUT… I think you’ll get some good info. out of it so, screw it, I’m including it anyway (just bear in mind this panel wasn’t designed to be filmed, ok?). Also, YouTube can totally go suck donkey bong for how painful it was to (unsuccessfully) upload the vid, which explains why it’s hosted on my own server instead…
Anyway… some highlights for the impatient:
- The best way to get your content noticed is to produce kick-ass content. This is uber-important and personally I break almost all of the rules in Doug’s presentation from time to time in pursuit of making content that hopefully humans (not search engines) actually want to read.
- Everybody finds everything on the Internet via search, and usually they’re searching for something very specific. Your website needs to be search-friendly and making it easy to find related content is important.
- How and to what content you link is important to how search engines view your website – probably way more important than you think.
- Thinking of trying to fool the search engines into giving your website prime search results real-estate? The Googles, Yahoos and Bings of the world have teams of MENSA-candidate eggheads whose jobs are to ensure that your tricks will fail. If that’s your strategy… good luck with that.
- If you use a blogging platform, most of the nitty-gritty stuff is handled for you, and the stuff that isn’t done automatically can be handled by (usually free) plug-ins. Don’t go too crazy with this stuff – like anything else, baby-stepping into the guts of how search engine optimization works is the best approach, and it should never supersede your real focus (producing the best content that you can so that people want to stick around when they do find you).
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Do wine certifications really matter? And which ones give you the most bang for the buck? Watch to find out (well, to find out my views on it, anyway). The moral of the story: experience trumps all, but certs. are a great way to enhance experience, gain knowledge, and help build that all-important network.
Mentioned in this episode:
Vintank is a wine and tech industry think tank group based in downtown Napa, full of folks for whom I hold a great deal of respect (so much so that when they asked me to partner with them on trying out the concept of using badges for wine reviews, I jumped at the chance).
As think tanks do, they periodically release reports on the industry, for the most part in Vintank’s case concentrating on the intersections of wine and technology (predominantly on-line and social media tech). Their latest report, titled To-And-Fro, was recently released and provides synopses of their 2010 work and the major developments in the on-line wine world over the last year. Most interestingly, however, is that To-And-Fro also makes some bold predictions about what we’ll see in 2011 in the culminations of wine and tech. If you’re interested in the wine biz, it’s well worth a read (and the 150+ slides in this deck go by quickly), and you’ll find it embedded below after the jump.
But I should note that I had a strange, nagging ennui when reading To-And-Fro. It’s not that I think the predictions espoused in the report are incorrect (I agree with nearly all of them), it’s just that I can’t shake the feeling that the report is too optimistic. If To-And-Fro has a flaw, it’s its pesky optimism: it seems to assume that the wine biz operates rationally and does so at the speed of normal businesses that have an on-line component – neither of which I’ve found to be true…
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1) It is the darkest of times for wine writing. The general decline in the consumption of real journalistic reporting has resulted in immensely talented people being out of regular wine-writing-work. The black cloud enveloping the wine writing sphere is actually the dark cloak of the grim reaper; that silver lining you see is his scythe, gleaming against the available light, raised to the apex of its arc in his cold, bony hands, beginning its inexorable path to cut wine writing down at its haunches.
2) It is the brightest of times for wine writing, for those who are comfortable with ambiguity and have an entrepreneurial bent. Since information about wine is now being consumed in almost an infinite array of forms on-line (with no-to-low-cost barriers to entry to almost all of them), those with passion, drive, talent and business sense can earn a comfortable living – if they’re able to market themselves and build their own personal brands. Success stories include new and traditional media types (and those like Dominique Browning who have successfully leveraged both).
3) Apparently, I have fooled a good number of people into thinking that I know what I am talking about. I think there might be a good book idea in there somewhere, but I won’t bother to pitch it because the traditional publishing industry has 14 billion levels of checks and bureaucracy and is (almost) hopelessly broken.
4) Everything positive that you’ve ever heard about the legendary Gerald Asher is probably true. His keynote speech seamlessly wove together wine writing history, wine sales, insight into the human condition, and prostitution – and that was just in the first three minutes.
5) Please stop telling me that Napa wines are never Bretty, or that their ripe fruits will outshine any Bretty stank even after years in the bottle. Because I sampled some older vintages at the post-prandial (does anyone not love that word?) tastings at the Symposium, and while most were NOT Bretty, those that were displayed way more fruit-of-the-barnyard than fruit-of-the-vine, if you catch my drift.
(more after the jump…)
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