Farmers' Market

SEO is dead. Long live SEO. What's for Lunch, Farmers' Markets, and being Content with Content

There is considerable buzz right now about whether Internet marketers should anticipate the death of SEO (search engine optimization). Will good content replace it the primacy of SEO? These debates will swirl around while people continue to try to monetize the giant genie that is now out of the bottle.

Wrestling with Spiders

If you write, market, sell or even dabble in the Internet, host a site, engineer sites, or "just" blog about what you're cooking; you have wrestled with and tried to master SEO at one time or another. Many will recognize that my extra long title, is not designed for clever algorithms, but for humans who think differently, process information in other ways.

Plenty of us have ignored SEO at our peril. The title, above, is an intentional example. More of us have tried to learn proper use, avoiding the appearance of “gaming the system”, while attempting to write in creative ways that don't sound leaden. I still chafe at writing for spiders. (Writing in a style that algorithms will reward, to raise the search engine profile of a given piece can be referred to as writing for spiders. Spiders are the bits of code used by search engines that crawl the “Interwebz” looking for the clues as to authentic content that deserves a higher ranking in Google.)

SEO often feels like the tail wagging the dog to those of us who have been bristling at the advice to write for search engines, preferring people to spiders. I’m not casting aspersions on spiders, I actually kinda like the little buggers. I might be compared to Miss Muffet when it comes to SEO though...

Is SEO is dead? Of course the provocative statement deftly described in this recent Forbes article by Ken Krogue will get people talking. And many of those will be part of the whole industry that has evolved to help us understand how to master SEO. They write books for us to buy, consult on how to do SEO and marketing on the web. That is how THEY monetize the web.

Of course, the article is about SEO and is running in Forbes. So, it will gain a much higher ranking than my little site, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion that will resonate. Maybe not in the halls of industry (or the cube farms, as it were) but at least some of my readers will get it.

How SEO is like Big Ag

All this talk about the death of SEO and whether good solid content & “social” will replace laser focus on SEO alone is akin to the debate between local food passionistas and big AG. How? Allow me...

We used to have a food system that was more local until it became industrialized. There were advantages for many in the industrialization process, advantages many people would rather ignore. Jobs for one, but this is not the main point here.

There’s an increasingly large and alarming body of evidence that the risks of industrialized agriculture may outweigh the benefits.

  • we are not “feeding the world” with our increased productivity, though this is often offered as a justification
  • we are polluting the earth, and draining the water table
  • we are depleting the soil and creating a second Dust Bowl, (only our grandparents remember that tragedy?)
  • we are creating chemically-dependent crops
  • we are creating smarter bugs that are now resistant to antibiotics and which have the power to kill humans (80% of antibiotics produced in the US go to livestock NOT to humans)

At the same time, we have rediscovered the joys of local, sustainable food.

  • we love our farmers’ markets even if they are often inefficient at distribution
  • we have renewed our passion for seasonal food, a tomato that actually tastes like a tomato, pork that tastes like pork
  • we have begun to realize that supporting our local economies has many, direct benefits

There are those that seek to demonize big AG and deify farmers’ markets. Simplicity loves a villain. We must find ways to support local farms, local economies and also to farm and distribute on a large scale in ways that don't create generations of disasters both economic and agricultural.

I believe the rising interest in “content” ("CONtent" which I keep reading as conTENT, as in happy...ironic, don’t you think?) echoes another key cultural shift. Whether or not we all begin eating only local food (not likely) or stop the massive recalls of tainted food, stop the Second Dust Bowl, begin farming more sustainably, find scales of production that actually work, stem the tide of farm foreclosures...one thing we all crave is more authenticity. More community. Finding "our" people and our place in the world seems more important than ever.

THIS is why affinity groups are so passionate about their topics, “their” bloggers, their recipes. This is why big corporate marketing departments are seeking out the blogging community support (witness the rise of the “yoga pants mom" demographic.) Social media has taken off partly because it is an efficient way for us to find others who share our passions, whether they live in Oslo or Oswego. I was a Twitter skeptic and now a huge fan. Ultimately, we'll look for hybrid systems - in agriculture, in online communities,

As is so often the case, the thought-leaders and self-proclaimed “gurus” will mine this new debate for their own purposes. People still need to figure out how to make money on the web, but they will need to refine it from simple SEO algorithms and gaming they system/manipulating it, until the next new thing that comes round. The debate needs to evolve into a more nuanced conversation about authentic communications, true communities. The recognition that "social" matters seems to me a very late epiphany for the "gurus" in the field. Many of us who have been ridiculed as unsophisticated are shrugging and collectively saying "duh."

Writing about what Matters

Some of us will go on writing about what matters to us, not necessarily to or for spiders. We’ll feel good when we strike a chord on a topic that never comes up in keyword search tools - but get tons of comments from readers. We’ll know we made an authentic connection with our audience. We revel in the emails from readers who never comment but share howe our stories moved them. These communities of conversation are going to exist whether marketers learn how to profit from them or not.

Depending on your goals, you may pay more or less attention to these prognostications about SEO, about CONtent, or you may be conTENT to write what you are passionate about, even if it doesn’t fit into a nice formula. I take pride in the fact that in the early days of a very well known aggregator, I tried mightily to encourage them to have a food & cooking category. They (being young male geeks who clearly knew more than I) insisted that their membership "didn’t care about food" and would consider my contributions "spam" (not the food product type).

Hey, even geeks have to eat. And yes, they do now have a food category.

This SEO debate reflects evolution in the industry. Some will get that, others will wring their hands and proclaim the sky is falling while they scramble to figure out what their next gig will be. And some will keep doing what we do. Writing what we care about for people who recognize that even geeks have to eat. Hey gurus do, too. We'll continue to try to find ways to monetize what we do and we'll rely on things like SEO or spiders to help readers who would otherwise never stumble upon us, to find us and join our online communities.

In the span of a week, we’ve had a death in the family, a serious hospitalization of a friend, crisis in the life of another loved one. We’ve shared gifts of food with new friends and anticipate the arrival of a new little one next door. No matter what happens with SEO - people matter, families matter. Family farms going under matters. Our country suffering another Dust Bowl, matters. The joy of having enough food to eat, of sharing a good meal together matters.

I’ll take that over page rank any day.

 

What do you think?

Do you write for people or to spiders?

How much attention do you pay to Meta tags, Social Media and SEO?

 

 

 

 

Valentine for the Ocean

  Did you know...

The ETP (Eastern Tropical Pacific) is the most diverse tropical marine ecosystem in the world?

 

---   I'm just learning about this amazing part of the world. Take a mesmerizing 6 minute journey with me...

 

And I'm excited to be working with the organization engaged in protecting these resources for all, The Friends of MarViva.

While English language materials are still in the works, brush up on your Español and have a look at these videos on MarViva's Youtube channel.

 

 

  • For more information on MarViva and how you can help or just to learn more, Email Me.

 

 

Life in (or out) of Balance - A Thousand Suns

 

 

 

 

Amidst the sad news from Mali this morning, a friend shared this link. The violence in Mali is very scarcely reported. There are no dramatic photos of resources flown in or world powers vying for the hearts and minds of Mali. It's a very poor country, full of wonderful people who are from diverse cultures and groups. All but one signed their recent peace accord and that group is now making its displeasure known. In some coverage, the attacks are ascribed to "Touaregs" but the responsible parties are only one faction as near as I can tell. Then of course, the opportunistic thugs that operate in any society and take advantage of disarray are also taking advantage of this time.

As I edit photos of my amazing trip, I think of the breath-taking beauty and the bone-jarring roads. I think of the how honored and humbled I was to be invited into people's homes for a meal when the price of rice and millet have skyrocketed to five times their cost last year on the heels of drought. I think of the farms many miles from villages where women walk to work in the hot sun in fields of green onions that pop up from the arid dessert in surprising intervals. The wells from which they draw water, bucket by bucket.

 

To say my trip was life-altering is no exaggeration. My heart breaks a little knowing people I met, people who laughed with me and opened their homes to me, introduced their families to me, are under siege. They are most likely scared, and many are scattered for their own safety and that of their families. Many others will not be able to afford to flee.

The tensions between old ways and the new world were evident in Mali, and they are poignantly described in this film. The wisdom of the ages and the pride of the people in the ways that have sustained them is to be honored. This film highlights some of the very issues that are not so far from many things that I observed in Mali - across the continent from Ethiopia. Whether it is religion or seed (or arms or buildings) that are offered by seemingly generous and well-meaning outsiders, some gifts are not gifts at all.

 

The short, thought-provoking documentary is well worth a few minutes of your time to watch. It is clear to see why it has won so many awards.

Photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan & Wood, Enzo Restaurant - Local Gems

Here it is October 30 and we're about to get a record-early snowfall. First ever on Halloween in Massachusetts.This comes right on the heels of a great bit of news: our Farmers' Markets are going to remain open - through Thanksgiving - to December 22.

 

 

 

We drove up to a nondescript office park on a hot July day. Can this really be it?

"Eat Local, Drink Global" is an oft repeated mantra with farmer friends.

 

gourmet clubs, Tiki aficianados,

 

We have four R&W cocktails on our list right now: The Caldwell Smash (our house cocktail) using Folly Cove Rum, Cane Nebbioso (greyhound variation) using Beauport vodka and a Negroni using Knockabout gin.  A new drink on the list is the Farmers' Market Martini - muddled fresh veg with Beauport vodka.

Farmers' Market Martini

This cocktail takes advantage of the smoothness of Beauport vodka and the fresh flavor of summer vegetables.

Ingredients:

 

  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes, or 1/4 of a medium tomato
  • 2-3 slices cucumber
  • a few sprigs of herbs: parsley, basil, chives, summer savory (whatever you have on hand)
  • pinch salt
  • 3 oz. Beauport vodka
  • cucumber wheel or cherry tomato for garnish

 

Begin with fresh veggies.

 

In a mixing glass, muddle the tomato, cucumber and herbs well with the salt.

Really make sure you mash all the vegetables up so as to extract as much juice as possible.

Add the vodka and ice and put the top on your shaker.

Shake well to make sure the you get everything super cold and well combined.

Double strain* into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cucumber wheel or cherry tomato.

*Double straining is a technique used when you make a drink with a lot of "bits" in it. In addition to a standard Hawthorne or julep strainer (or the strainer built into your cocktail shaker), strain through a fine-mesh strainer into your glass. A simple way to do it: hold the shaker/strainer combo in your right hand and hold the fine mesh strainer over your cocktail glass.

Pour directly into the fine-mesh strainer - all the small bits will get caught, leaving you with a clearer drink.  If you don't have a fine-mesh strainer, no worries, the double strain isn't essential; your cocktail will just be a wee bit chunkier!

Local fresh farmers' market vegetables, local distiller's fine spirits,