Wine Writers Symposium 2011: the audience part

As you may have figured out from the most recent post, the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers was about writing. But what’s writing without readers except a solitary exercise in frustration? The Negress prefers solitary exercises that relieve frustration preferably without involving a Sawzall (All right, she digresses. But that happened close to home.)  Alder Yarrow of Vinography, Doug Cook, formerly of Twitter and currently overseeing AbleGrape, a wine search engine and Joe Roberts of 1winedude, did a panel on using search engines. You may have noticed the

Doug Cook, founder of Able Grape search engine

Doug Cook of Able Grape

somewhat orderly titles here in Negressland of late. They are due in part to what this trio told us about how people search for information online. There are 131 billion searches performed online annually and that figure is increasingly by 46 percent every year. All of our panelists suggested when writing blog posts to put yourself in the searcher’s shoes. Search engines already do that and Google and its ilk have tons of people tweaking search algorithms so they behave more like humans. Of course, repeating “Lady Gaga” or “Justin Bieber” over and over in posts seems like a strategy, but guess what? The search engines are onto you and will banish you from search results for such obvious gaming of the system. One myth for web presences is that more traffic is better. What your goal should be is to connect with people who are interested in what you have to say and nobody else. You want

Joe Roberts of  the 1winedude blog

Joe Roberts of 1winedude (pic courtesy of NY Cork Report)

to maximize meaningful interactions. Tag your posts (the Negress does that). Encourage comments (please feel free but no spam. She has an app for that.) Also, limit your blogroll. Yarrow related that he was kicked out of search results because he had a page of links to other wine bloggers. Most search engines see this as a shameless ploy for traffic and will ban you very quickly. Vinography got reinstated to searches but it took some work.

Also, while search engines like repetition, remember readers are drawn to good writing. You may move up in the ranks by repeating “Trimbach Alsace Riesling” 12 times in a 500-word post, but your readers will flee clutching their heads. The Negress admits she knew a bit more about this than some of the Symposium attendees, but she was grateful to the trio for pulling it all together in a coherent fashion. You might have been over your head if to you a computer is just a typewriter with annoyances and think MS-DOS and xywrite are still viable, but let’s hope that’s a decreasing minority in the wine blogging world, Cook has posted the Power Point. Take look for yourself.