July 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
Hi Food24 Bloggers,
I have known for quite a while that there are rumblings of discontent amongst bloggers, I’ve chosen to focus on the one I think most important… the awful LetterCrash itself. My personal focus has been trying to get our broader 24 development team to take little Food24 (and in the News24 stable, it IS little) more seriously and spend the time we need completely revamping our inadequate blogging platform. And yes… hopefully there’ll be fantastic news on that front very soon.
Clearly though, we need to be more transparent about the process we use to choose recipes to feature higher up the site and 24.com network. I apologise for not doing a post like this earlier… now, in hindsight, it obviously has been lacking.
Sorry for that, guys.
Our current system
Every morning, Cath Shone and Caro de Waal get to work and go straight to the blogs. I know this because, even though I sit a little way away, they start calling out to me:
“Hey, Sam… this one from Food and the Fab is going straight to the pool room!”
“Yeah baby! Nummy, nummy curry curry!”
“Good grief… how lickable is this pic? I am sending you a link…”
They then pick the ones to feature on News24, MWeb and higher up Food24.
I need to stress this… our blogs drive our day at Food24, and rather than ‘sitting smugly watching our traffic’, we honestly delight each and every day in how the community has grown and how individual bloggers have risen like cream over the years.
Whenever I speak about Food24, or 24.com generally, I always make mention of the fact that I am more proud of the Food24 blogging community than any other aspect of my job. And I am. I consider your work to be the finest example of UGC in the country, and I couldn’t be more impressed or thankful to be a part of it.
Recipes in the database
As many of our bloggers use Food24 as a mechanism for linking through to other blogs, we also have relationships with regular bloggers to load up some recipes (also chosen by Cath and Caro) into the Food24 recipe database, linking back to the original blog.
These bloggers currently include:
We are happy to extend that to ANY Food24 blogger interested in increasing SEO and allowing their recipe to be Food24 search-friendly. Just say the word (by emailing email@example.com) and you can join this list.
What we look for when choosing recipes
We choose the recipes we feature according to the following criteria, in no particular order:
- Community interest Clearly, after years of analysing our stats, we know the kind of recipes the 24.com community likes to click on. Main definer? Staples.
- Seasonality Winter? We’re going for curries, soups and stews. Summer? Salads. And so on.
- Picture quality The more lickable the pic, the better it looks on our homepage.
- Recipe quality Does it sound like it’ll be delicious and makeable?
- Gaps Are we missing content in that area? We have a dearth of traditional African recipes for example, so we always leap on those.
Bottom line: if you want to increase your traffic: blog solid, well-shot staple recipes with in season ingredients. I know that may feel limiting to many of you, but that’s what our readers want to read... and that’s who we are aggregating for.
I’m very concerned over the intimation of recipe ‘stealing’. Please… we take that very seriously. If we’ve missed an occasion where this has happened (and in the past, we have taken action in this regard)… please mail me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. Obviously, it’s very hard to exercise recipe copyright but I promise to look into it and keep your name out of it.
More macaroni cheese that you can shake a colander at?
Food24 started out about 8 years ago as a recipe database for the Media24 magazine titles. In fact, we were using Media24 magazines to populate our website right up until our beloved bloggers got stuck in. So yes, there are going to lots and lots ofrecipes for the same basic dishes. But you know what? Readers LOVE to click through a bunch of recipes on the same topic, and then make their own mishmash staples. So it works for us. And you.
Our Food24 stats.
Food24 gets about a 1 000 000 page impressions a month, spread across our recipes, blogs, restaurants, directories, galleries, how-tos, articles, wine and video pages.
Broadly speaking, over 85% of our traffic on Food24 comes from South Africa, the top cities being, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and then Durban. We get roughly 15% of that from direct traffic (via our homepage or bookmarks) and then 35% via search. The remaining 50% is from Facebook and Twitter, as well as our big brother sites News24 and MWeb.
I hope that info helps.
Given the mails I’ve been sent and blog posts I’ve read over the last few days, I’d like to make a few suggestions… tell me what you think?
- You choose. You know traffic concerns drive our choices, but I am happy to abandon that focus once a week and allow you to choose 3 recipes to go to the Food24 box on News24 on Friday (and then stay up for the weekend). How about we make a vote (using this template) of the ones that caught our eye on a Thursday, and then the top 3 from that vote can be featured the next day? (And if you think we’ve missed a gem, you can mention it in the comments.)
- Community building… for real? We need a morale boost. How do you feel about a Food24 www.wefeedback.org project? I was approached about this a few months back, but didn’t pursue it after I found out that they weren’t in a position to do the dev work required to convert a widget to rands. Would you be interested in us setting a joint target together and working in US dollars? Check out the link… it really is a fantastic initiative and opportunity for us to give back.
What ‘cha think? Other ideas?
Did I leave something out?
I really love the fact that this has finally bubbled to the surface of the site, as opposed to mere grumblings and ‘she said that they said’s. This way, I have something tangible to address, rather than just hearsay and rumour… so thanks very much for that, Anne. And to everybody else, I seriously encourage you to send me a personal email (email@example.com ) if you are unhappy. The bloggers who have done so in the past can vouch for my discretion in this regard.
This is your community and I am privileged to be its custodian. I promise to consider any and all ideas to make it better and will try to be more transparent from now on.
Sam Wilson (Twitter: @SamWilson1)