Your Best Food Blog Post: What Worked and Why?

Feb 232010
 

champion food blog postWhile replying to Cheryl Sternman Rule’s comment about how to attract good food blog comments, I got an idea:

What if we all chimed in about which post garnered the most responses on our blogs, and why we think it worked?

The first part is easy enough. It’s based on the number of responses. I don’t care how many you got, as this is not a competition. Let’s skip giveaways as a category.

Next tell us why it worked. Was it the photograph? A banana bread recipe (I’ve heard that desserts are no-fail)? A personal crisis? Your baby announcement (seriously, Smitten Kitchen readers went berserk )?

I’ll go first. My biggest response was for my post on the value of “Looks Delicious” as a comment. It worked because almost everyone has left that kind of comment on a blog, and it’s a standard comment to receive if you have a food blog. Additionally, I questioned whether that kind of comment had value, which got people talking, and about whether, as food bloggers, we have the responsibility to do better.

Your turn now. Maybe together, we can figure out what makes a darned good food blog post. So please say which one worked and why it was popular. Add a link to the post so we can all go see.

Share Button

  58 Responses to “Your Best Food Blog Post: What Worked and Why?”

  1. My most read post to date was actually yesterday’s essay on why I cook and it’s shaping up to get the most comments too (if I include comments on the blog, Facebook and email messages about the Here’s a link: http://abigailblake.com/sugarapple/?p=2529

    It was a more personal post than some I’ve written and those seem to attract a lot of feedback. It was also retweeted on Twitter by Michael Ruhlman (I’d written the post in response to a challenge on his blog) and that certainly didn’t hurt.

    The “About” pages always seem to get lots of comments, on my blog and many others I’ve read. And when I asked readers to identify a particular vegetable and suggest ways to use it, that got a lot of feedback. So asking questions seems a good way to generate conversation.

    • What a beautifully-written post, Abigail. Getting retweeted by Ruhlman doesn’t hurt either, agreed. So for you, this is perhaps your most personal post, and that’s what got people. Thanks.

  2. I don’t get a lot of comments even when I ask for them.

    A high comment post is 7-9 and usually is about something personal to my life or the blog.

    My post giving live links for food blogging competition nominees probably got the most comments. After I trashed the most obvious spam it was 19. It was also the most linked to post I’ve ever done (which has a lot to do with the high comment level).

    Most people commented that they were grateful for the live link service (before the contest ended) or appreciated a list of worthy food blogs to check out (after).

    I guess it was popular because it offered readers and other bloggers a service that made it easier to vote for/check out the food blogs.

    My most popular post (based on page views) would probably be the number of calories in a see’s candies piece. This is especially true around Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Oddly enough, that post has no comments. I think it’s just something people google and read and have no need to interact.

    • Fascinating. Thanks Faith. So your most popular post had no comments! I didn’t think about that as a possibility. And your most commented piece provided links for people to check out. Hmm.

  3. My most popular post by far is my How to Make Basic Marinara Sauce; http://formerchef.com/2009/09/01/how-to-make-basic-marinara-sauce/

    First, it got “stumbled” by someone with a ton of followers on StumbleUpon.com and in the two weeks following its posting, got over 110,000 page views. It still gets a ton of traffic, I think because it is also highly ranked on Google. To date, it’s had almost 150,000 page views. Nothing else on my blog even comes close.

    Second, it did get people talking because of an (erroneous) comment made by a poster who insisted Marinara sauce had seafood in it. BTW, this was the first time I didn’t post a comment because the person was SO rude, offensive and inflamatory.

    Third, I like to think the post was popular because it met a need for a simple, easy to follow recipe with clear instuctions and good photos. Perhaps time of year was a factor; it was posted at the end of summer when people who grow tomatoes have a glut of them and were looking for ways to use them up. I also think showing people how this basic recipe could act as a base for other sauces helped too.

    • Thanks Kristina, these sound like all very sound reasons for why your post should be so popular.

  4. My most popular post is for this brown butter raspberry tart (http://hungrybruno.blogspot.com/2009/05/brown-butter-raspberry-tart.html) and I think it worked because I was so enthusiastic about it. Also one of the photos made it onto foodgawker, wich always helps. The post also contains a lot more photographs than I usually use, and although I’m not happy with the quality of them now (my photography has improved a lot in the last six months, I think), I suspect they had something to do with the response.

    • Yes, passion can certainly drive readers’ interest. Your other reasons make sense too. Thanks, Adrienne.

  5. Besides a giveaway post or a post written for a blogging group (which naturally gets a lot of comments), my most-commented-on posts have been one on homemade strawberry ice cream (http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.com/2010/01/homemade-strawberry-ice-cream-with.html) and one on ladybug cupcakes with an announcement that I just started a new job at a bakery (http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.com/2009/07/ladybug-cupcakes-and-some-news.html).

    For the strawberry ice cream post, I think the picture was quite mouthwatering, but I also asked people about their favorite kind of ice cream, which invoked responses.

    For the ladybug cupcakes, I think it’s because of all the detail I went into about crafting the marzipan ladybugs and people congratulating me on my new baking position.

    • Perhaps they were also popular because they were sweet? That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. Asking questions is always good. Thanks, Megan.

  6. Interesting question. My blog is not specifically about food but about the history of restaurants. Maybe because it’s about history, my old posts continue getting read long beyond when I post them. The #1 post is one of the series I call “Taste of the decade,” the one on restaurants of the 1920s. I’m not really sure why this outdoes the 1960s, which is next in popularity.
    As for posts more focused on restaurant food, the most popular is “You Want Cheese with That?” which outlines the growing role of cheese in restaurant dishes and in the American diet overall.

    • Hi Jan! These are hard to figure out why they were more popular than any other of your posts. Maybe “You Want Cheese with That?” is music to ost people’s ears? Thanks.

  7. My two most viewed recipes in the last 6 months have been total comfort foods: loaded baked potato, spicy black bean soup and chocolate caramel bars. When I posted these recipes I didn’t have any idea they would be so popular (In my mind, I was thinking “What’s so special about a baked potato? It’s not exactly groundbreaking). I talked to a friend in the food business about this and she said, “It’s the economy! People want comfort food right now.” She has a point. Since talking with her I’ve tried to keep my food simplistic and comforting…when the economy picks back up, I’ll do things up a bit more.

    Chocolate Caramel Bars: http://deliciouslyorganic.blogspot.com/2009/11/chocolate-caramel-bars.html

    Twice Baked Spinach Potatoes: http://deliciouslyorganic.blogspot.com/2009/10/twice-baked-spinach-potato.html

    • Thanks, Carrie. That recipe has two things going for it: comforting and inexpensive. Sounds good right about now.

  8. Thanks Dianne for posing the question. It’s really interesting to see everyone’s answers.

    The post with the most hits is how to make Ricotta at home:
    http://blog.kathrynmcgowan.com/2010/02/09/non-union-ricotta/
    That’s mainly because it got linked from tastespotting.com and thekitchn.com

    The next most popular one (which also has the most comments) is my post on “Rediscovering the Soft Boiled Egg”
    http://blog.kathrynmcgowan.com/2009/11/11/rediscovering-the-soft-boiled-egg/

    Interestingly Brian J. Geiger, who writes the Food Geek column for “Fine Cooking” tweeted recently that his most popular posts were always about eggs. Maybe that has something to do with it? It is a very basic and comforting food.

    • How to make ricotta is certainly a topical subject — lots of interest. And we’re back to the theme of comfort food. Plus making a soft-boiled egg sounds easy. Thanks, Kathryn.

  9. My most commented posts are one about “My life in France” by Julia Child (machetiseimangiato.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/my-life-in-france-di-julia-child/) and the other about A Russian Tea Room in Rome (http://machetiseimangiato.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/russian-tea-room-a-roma/). Comments were motivated by the need to communicate how they like the movie about Julia Child, not so famous before here in Italy, or to say how much they loved the tea room and to ask where it moved to.

    About recipes the most viewed and commented was about Cacio and Pepe pasta. Commenters gave some additional value to me about the use or not of oil in the original recipe.

    I got a lot of visits with a no-food-related post (on snow in Rome with pics) but with few comments.

    I tried to “exploit” the Julia Child Effect with other posts, which collected less comments, and the Cacio & Pepe discussion with a sort of pilot post on “Discussion around Cacio & Pepe” where I simulted a phone conversation on the topic between me and a friend.
    Comments here in Italy are really difficult to obtain. Few foodblogs collect them in huge amount and I’m working hard to improve.

    • Thanks Rossella. You probably hit on a broad audience by talking about Julia Child; and with the tea room, you brought up memories.

  10. Perhaps a topic for another time, but related to this question of how much photos matter: I’ve quickly wearied of the emphasis on photos over writing, and I approach many blog photos with cynicism — is that really how the food looked, or did you spend a good amount of time on Photoshop? Given the explicit instructions some blogs give for photoshopping, I find it hard to trust the photos. I’ve been thinking about this for the past two months, when I got quite sick, and it was all I could do to write, much less take pictures (and my photos were only just starting to be something worth posting).

    And yet — it seems so many commenters on other blogs seem to feel that without the photos, they simply wouldn’t have known where to begin with a recipe.

    • I imagine that recipe-focused blogs would be less appealing without photos. But if the writing was spectacular, maybe it would work.

  11. Thanks for tackling this topic. Traffic and comments seems to be a real mystery to me. Just when I think I have it figured out, a nothing post gets great response or a guaranteed hit goes unread. I’m slowing coming to realize that each blog readership is unique. On MY blog:

    a) Comfort foods reign supreme. While most people get huge hits on desserts, my Simple Scottish Lentil Soup was my most popular page for two years — until I wrote about Matar Paneer, which beat it in a couple of months. Why so many views? I’m just guessing but few people post a recipe for this Indian dish.

    http://christiescorner.com/2009/10/26/matar-paneer/

    b) They come for entertainment, not controversy. This explains why the eye-opening video on not-so-local food got only 24 comments –half of which were my responses. (http://christiescorner.com/2009/06/10/do-you-eat-local-think-again/) while the time I set the microwave on fire? The comment section was hopping. (http://christiescorner.com/2009/12/18/microwave-mistakes/)

    I guess it comes down to knowing your audience and staying true to them. But this is easier said than done.

  12. I found this post interesting….because I have been trying to figure that out my self. Why did not one person comment on that, and then I have many comments on this. Giveaways, have been my biggest comment attractors. Also comfort food, something that people want to eat….they comment on with “oooh” and “aaahs”.

  13. Great post! I have two posts that are super popular, still garnering 6,000 + pageviews a month. The first is “Wanna Be PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps”:

    http://www.wasabimon.com/archive/wanna-be-pf-changs-lettuce-wraps-recipe/

    Popular because people love to make restaurant dishes at home, and people are apparently constantly searching Google for this recipe in a series of keyword combinations.

    The second was a comparison of two popular super-blenders:

    http://www.wasabimon.com/archive/blender-wars-vitamax-versus-blendtec/

    Popular because people are becoming very health conscious these days, and they’re making a lot of green smoothies to supplement their diets. Again, people are searching Google for this all the time.

  14. My most popular post by far was for Nanaimo Bars, which is the 3rd ranked seach result on google for “nanaimo bars” (http://www.eclecticcook.com/nanaimo-bars-the-real-deal/)

    There are a few reasons for this, I think.
    - Topical/current material: with the winter olympics in Vancouver, BC this recipe, which originates in BC, suddenly became a hot commodity
    - Familiar ingredients used in a new and intriguing way
    - Desserts are *always* popular
    - The page was a hit on StumbleUpon, which still generates a ton of traffic, and my first trolls

    The traffic on this post took me completey by surprise, but I learned a few things about what makes a post popular from it.

    On a side note: Traffic from StumbleUpon can be huge, but I’ve found that it rarely generates loyal return readers. People tend to click, skim, and leave before you can blink. I appreciate the traffic income, but I love the readers that return time after time, the ones you establish a relationship with. :)

    • Oh yes, I grew up eating those in Vancouver and still make them. I have Bird’s Custard Powder for the icing layer. But I digress. Excellent timing with the Olympics.

    • That is true re: Stumbleupon. I often have huge traffic from there but bounce rate tends to be very high (i.e. they are just clicking over but not staying around…) Like you Karen, I appreciate the clicks but I know that a successful blog, over time, is about more than just the click – it’s about engaging your readers and making them want to come back.

      • So it’s a big ego boost to be selected for Stumbledupon, but you really want readers who will return. Makes sense.

  15. I will happily accept the eensiest morsel of credit for inspiring you to come up with this thread, though I’m not sure I deserve it. Your shout-out is too kind.

    On 5 Second Rule, my photo-heavy posts tend to get the most hits since I’m regularly picked up by Foodgawker and Tastespotting, but my most highly *commented* posts don’t have food photos at all. Ironic? Perhaps.

    This one on whether I, and we, are food “outliers” got huge play in the comments: http://5secondrule.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/02/what-do-most-people-know-about-about-food.html And guess what? No photo.

    I wonder if sometimes a pretty picture actually inhibits comments. If people get caught up in the art and don’t necessarily dig as deep into the issues as they otherwise might…

    • Hmm. No photo for your heaviest hitter. But in that essay, you hit upon a theme that resonates for a lot of your readers, so I can see why it was successful. Thanks Cheryl!

    • In my experience, traffic spike generators like StumbleUpon, TasteSpotting, and FoodGawker attract skimmer-type folks that don’t stick around long enough to read a comment – they’re bouncing back out in 10 seconds or less, off to go look at the next interesting picture or post title.

  16. Such an interesting question–this is a conundrum I’ve been contemplating since I first started my blog, and I still have no idea why some posts get so many more visits than others. Another factor affecting my blog readership is that I basically changed approaches about a year ago–I had been posting whole, healthy, natural foods, but mostly desserts; then I was diagnosed with candida, so everything since last March switched to entirely gluten free and sweetener-free (except for stevia, an herbal sweetener). So basically, I lost quite a few readers back then and have gained others since then.

    If I look at the most commented post, it’s probably this one on Sweet Potato Truffles (pre-candida days); but the hits on my most-visited post, “Anti-Candida Desserts: What Do You Eat” exceed the hits on the sweet potato by about 6,000, clearly more popular in terms of visits. I think the appeal of the first was its uniqueness and, of course, the fact that it’s a dessert; the second, seems to me, is that it provides information for people who can’t find much else on this topic (I searched madly for anti-candida recipes when I first started the diet, and found precious few). I think providing something that hasn’t been covered to death is always a good idea.

    Also, don’t the keywords in your blog post titles have something to do with how many hits you get (I still haven’t figured out that one, either)?

    • Sweet potato truffles! Certainly a unique idea, and almost sounds healthy for Valentine’s Day. I saw lots of responses from vegans and vegetarians.

      A guide to information not easily found seems like a good candidate for many replies, too.

      Yes, keywords are supposed to help you with hits. But in this post, I’m particularly interested in what makes people comment, which isn’t the same thing.

      Thanks Ricki!

      • I did get sidetracked by your comment that “the first part is easy enough. It’s based on the number of responses”–had my head stuck on numbers rather than WHAT generated the comments. Another thing I’ve noticed since switching approaches is that my posts in which I write about my ordeal and experience with the diet garner more responses as well. It seems to me this is sort of the same appeal as the confessional poets (not that I’m comparing myself to Sylvia Plath or anything!) or reality TV–people like to see “inside” the blogger’s life.

        • So the confessional posts appeal to your readers. Makes sense. Thanks Ricki.

          Sylvia Plath! LOL. Can you imagine if she had a blog? What a fun idea that would be for someone.

  17. The most popular post on my blog is cheese and potato borekas. Perhaps this page is the most often looked at because its the namesake of the blog. I think my blog attracts people interested mostly in a certain ethnic niche of food. I receive a lot of very emotional comments from people rediscovering their ethnic roots to people wanting to know a secret recipe for something their grandmother made.

    I also am recieving enthusiastic responses to my how-to videos. Readers love the pictures, easy instructions and clear recipes. I think technique pictures are important for food instruction.

    • Thanks Linda. Yes, if people are searching on that term, that’s how they found your blog and the link.

  18. Most viewed:

    Lemon scented quinoa salad, because I put a link to my interpretation of 101 Cookbooks version on her blog. Only 4 comments and only 2 weeks into my blogging career! Definitely not my best post or photos…

    http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2009/07/lemon-scented-quinoa-salad/

    Macaron workshop in Paris – because it has been kind of a quest throughout the past year for me to get these babies right. I had a LOT of pageviews, it was stumbled and #1 on Foodbuzz’s Top 9 that day. All good stuff.

    http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2009/12/graine-de-macarons-ecole-de-patisserie/

    Most commented:

    When I made macarons and they WORKED. Nice to know my readers really follow my quest for the perfect macs!!!

    http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2010/01/mactweets-january/

    Yesterday’s post where I outline to Food Network Canada why I should blog for them! Brought a few lurkers out of the woodworks!!!

    http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2010/02/a-letter-to-food-network-canada/

    It’s actually really great to see that some of the most viewed and most commented relate to stuff that really matters to me. I guess that says a lot about my readers.

    • Okay, re most commented: about making something difficult that turned out well. Something to be said for that. Thanks Mardi.

  19. Our two top commented posts were two “Foodbuzz 24″ events – the first was our Chinese New Year Cioppino dinner and the second was our “behind the scenes” look at a Sarawak layer cake bakery.

    Analyzing the posts, I think it was a combination of good photos, more time spent on prose, and an interesting subject. Of course, it helped that it was a Foodbuzz 24 event, which gave it good visibility. But most of the commenters were people who’d previously commented on other posts, so I assume they were subscribers and not new visitors to the blog.

    Our two most visited posts, “Killer Kalbi” and “Easy Sauteed Brussels Sprouts” just happen to enjoy a high ranking in Google search results. SEO and a bit of good luck are responsible for that.

    Overall, I’ve found very few comments on our blog are of the kind that add to the discussion or increase knowledge. Still to much noise and not enough signal. I’ll have to go a little more carefully through the posts to spot the useful comments.

    • Interesting how the most commented upon and most viewed posts are not the same. Other people have pointed this out as well. Thanks Nate.

  20. My most responsive post was one of the Daring Cooks challenges that I participated in, where I made gluten free gyoza with a roasted duck filling and a cherry and apricot dipping sauce (http://jenncuisine.com/2009/06/dc-challenge-2-gluten-free-gyoza-with-roasted-duck-and-spinach-filling-served-with-sweet-cherry-and-apricot-dipping-sauce/). My posts from Daring Cooks always elicit a good number of responses, I think because part of being in the Daring Kitchen is about participating and fostering community among food bloggers. People are more likely to comment since we all shared the experience of making the same basic dish. I love Daring Kitchen precisely because of the community that it encourages, talking to each other, asking for advice, seeing creative ways to produce a certain dish, etc.

    Like pp, my most popular posts are the ones that got on stumble upon, but despite the hits they have not been that engaging. For example my gluten free pumpkin chestnut tortellini (http://jenncuisine.com/2009/11/pumpkin-chestnut-tortellini-gluten-free/) still receives almost 25% of my total hits each day currently, and it’s been a few months since that post went up. But it only has 7 comments.

    Ironically, both of these are homemade gluten free stuffed pasta recipes, with my own original creations for the fillings (and the pasta dough as well in the case of the tortellini). I think the success of the posts may just be b/c they a rather unique gluten free creation? I’m not even positively sure myself!

    • Sounds like the reason you got so many comments, Jenn, is because you did a challenge, and other food bloggers commented on your dish. Thanks!

  21. Such an interesting question…
    And that’s the answer.
    Ask a question, right in the title.
    My most pop post was on macarons of course-

    http://parisbreakfasts.blogspot.com/2009/10/your-opinion-requested.html

    I don’t count give-aways which I avoid as much as I can -blech
    Can you make the reader think…dream…COMMENT?
    Posing a question wins the day IMHO
    PS
    Most viewed will always turn up on a Tuesday – it’s a NET rule.

    • Sounds like a good recipe: Trendy dessert topic, ask a question, post on Tuesdays. Thanks, Carol.

      • It isn’t really a recipe or anything formulaic per say…
        I tend to post on whatever comes to mind, that I’m obsessed with at that particular moment.
        But I do see certain patterns and if you study your stats you’ll notice Tuesday is high count day.
        Monday folks have to pretend to be working…
        Fridays folks are thinking hard about the weekend
        For some unknown reason Tuesday is the day when a lot of online surfing gets done.

  22. I can’t go by most-commented on post, but my most viewed is definitely the one where I posted how to make pyrohy/pierogy. It includes step by step photos.

    http://backseatgourmet.blogspot.com/2009/03/ultimate-comfort-food.html

    Why is it popular? First, I think it is because it is something so seemingly old-fashioned as to be kind of a novelty for many. But probably more so because a far more popular blog (dinnerwithjulie.com) has linked to it repeatedly.

    After reading the rest of the comments here, it seems that the retweet/link back, Stumble-upon, etc. helps things when you aren’t necessarily the most popular blog on the block. But how will they know you exist? Hmm, goes back to the earlier discussions on commenting…

    • Yes, but most-viewed and most commented aren’t the same thing. What I’d like to figure out here is what makes people comment. Not an easy thing! Anyway, interesting about the pierogy post and the value of a link. Thanks Cheryl.

  23. Great question! I have often wondered what recipe will generate more comments, but in the end just post what is on my mind, and what I have cooked most recently. I agree with one of the other comments which stated that the most viewed recipe is not always the post which receives the most comments. For about 6 months, after I posted “Smoked Boston Butt with homemade bbq sauce”, a Paula Deen recipe, I received numerous hit every day from that post alone. Recently, the most searched recipe on my site has been Amy’s Bakery Cake with pink frosting…interesting! I receive about 5,000 hits a month, not including page views.

    • I take it you’re talking about hits rather than comments. For you, it was recipes for slow-cooked pork and dessert. Who can argue with that?

  24. Hello,
    Thank you for your nice article with lot of information. I like it.
    Thanks

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.