The Wine Curmudgeon blog has a new editor/publisher, but I knew nothing about it until I compiled the top 10 most popular posts from the past 12 months. It’s Google, which now decides what you read on the blog. I can try all I want — and I try very hard — to write relevant, informative, and helpful content, but my efforts matter less and less. That’s because Google directs people to the posts it decides are the most important, and for the first time in the blog’s history, those aren’t necessarily the posts I consider the most important.
Case in point: The top post from November 2014 to November 2015 was a five-year-old effort about Barefoot wine that didn’t make the top 10 last year. It’s bad enough that Google sent readers to the blog for something that wasn’t current, but the Barefoot post replaced the $10 Hall of Fame — my reason for being — as the most popular post.
Ain’t the Internet grand?
Almost none of the stuff that I wrote over the past 12 months that should have been in the top 20 was. None of the stuff that I thought was clever or funny made the top 20. Just old wine reviews — literally. Seven of the 10 best read posts over the last year were reviews of wines from 2014 or before.
This, for a writer, is as depressing as it gets, not unlike someone telling Michelangelo that the Sistine Chapel is nice, but an estimate for painting the house would be even better. What’s the point of reporting, and then crafting and sweating over a piece, when Google says not to bother because no one wants to read it? The search giant equates popularity with trust, so it sends people to the most popular posts because its algorithm says they’re the most trusted. Because, of course, they’re the most popular. That this is the Internet version of a Catch-22 doesn’t seem to matter.
Even the good news, that my traffic recovered in 2015 from the slump caused by Google’s ever-changing search methods and from revamping the website two years ago, was depressing. I’m getting more than 51,000 visitors — that’s visitors, not page views — a month, an amazing number for a one-person site. But what’s the point if they’re coming here to read stuff that doesn’t necessarily matter anymore?
Not to worry, though, if you like the stuff no one else does. I won’t change the blog’s format just because an algorithm says I should. Everyone should know me better than that by now. The most popular posts from 2015, plus a couple of other notes, are after the jump:
The top 10 posts of 2015:
1. Barefoot wines (again): Value or just cheap? At least this demonstrates that I write about wines that no one else does, and that people want to read about those wines.
2. The 2013 Barefoot wine review, which was also second last year.
3. The 2015 $10 Hall of Fame. Third? For the best cheap wine list on the Internet? No wonder I’m so cranky.
4. The 2013 Cupcake review, which was third last year and 287th in 2013. Does anyone at Google actually understand how its algorithm skews this stuff?
5. The 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.
6. The 2014 Barefoot wine review, which was 54th last year.
7. My week drinking five, $3 wines for dinner — which is two years old and was 15th last year.
8. The review of Vina Decana tempranillo from Aldi, and which doesn’t seem to be available anymore.
9. The 2012 Cupcake wine review, which hasn’t been in the top 10 since 2013.
10. The wine terms post explaining the three-tier system, and that it made the list probably saved me from throwing things at the dogs.
? Dropping out of the top 10 were the $10 wine, wine of the week, and wine review categories, showing that people don’t come to the blog for cheap wine stuff, but because Google sends them to a specific post.
? Rose and sparkling are faring worse than ever. The highest rose post was 116th and the best sparkling was 301, both much worse than least year. And the brose post, which was damn funny and insightful, was a sad 152nd.
? One of the worst-ranked posts, with just three visitors and which deserved better, was a three-year old discussion about whether cheap wine costs too much money.