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A Seasonal Meal to Chew On While We Consider Google Panda

A seasonal meal: That’s my hook today. Well, that and something else I hope you’ll chew on…

First the seasonal meal: I baked sweet spring onions with lemon slices, kalamata olives & rosemary. It became rich and fragrant. I could have eaten it with a spoon straight from the oven. It would also have made a fantastic topping for crostini. But I tossed it with linguine and called it default pasta. Default past with no faults! Get the recipe for Spring Onion Linguine with Lemon Slices Kalamata & Rosemary here.

It’s a terrific pasta recipe. But spring is green. So, here is a recipe for a cold crisp plate of steamed asparagus with goat cheese and arugula sauce. At the last minute, I decided maybe this dish was a little too green and threw some radishes on the plate. I felt the presentation needed something surprising. It turns out radishes and goat cheese are perfect partners (kinda like radishes and butter, only better). I am going to get them hooked up again very soon.

Of course, a seasonal meal would be lacking without something a bit sweet. So if you CLICK here I have a Norwegian Orange Cake recipe for you. I took the recipe from the LA Times this past Thursday. Sure it’s sweet and highly seasonal, especially in Norway. But I chose this cake for its coincidental timing in my life. You see I found out on Wednesday that this June I will be participating in a Culinary Travel Tour to of all places– Norway! The timing of this Norwegian cake in my life was just too eerie. I had to make it immediately.

You may have noticed that I presented a full meal here. I don’t usually do that. But you see I am trying to keep you interested because I have something else I really want to discuss.

Google Panda.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese with Arugula SauceHave you heard Google has made some big changes to its algorithm? The changes took effect on March 25th. The thinking is that certain sites with very little informational value were coming up very high in Google searches, this did not make Google happy. Google’s job is to make sure you get useful information that is on target whenever you do a search.

Good for them, I fully support improvements in this area.

But I also noticed something odd. The oddity made itself known to me quite “coincidently” on March 25th. You may know this about me already, but I can be a geek for useless information. I like to know how things work, and I want to have both the knowledge and skills to take control of the things that interest me. I drive a 1971 MGB convertible. Blogs and MGs interest me, so I want to know how they work inside and Norweigian Orange cakeout. Dual carburetors and blog analytics are two of my favorite ways to geek out.

So when I noticed on March 25th that my blog traffic was better than ever but my Alexa ranking was sinking fast and furious I wanted to know why. In case you did not know Alexa is a part of Google. So it’s safe to assume one affects the other. But how?

To find out I turned to my fellow geeks. There are bloggers out there who specialize in how blogs work. It turns out that many of them think that the Google Panda update has turned the blogosphere upside down. Sites like Huffington Post, Ezine-articles, TMZ, and the major News Outlets have all indicated that traffic has taken a hit, a very big hit.

But what does that mean for us little guys– the blogs?

Google Panda and BlogsOn the face of it (and in the long run) this update is very good for us. Especially, if you have a decent page rank (4 or better). Blogs with proven value should start appearing higher on the page than content farms like eHow, About​.com and the like. Yay, go blogs!

But when you look deeper you’ll see that one of the ways Google identifies sites of questionable value is duplicate content. Duplicate content has always been bad. But, from what I have read it is now seriously bad. So bad I am changing my format (maybe…).

I used to include the recipe in my main post. Most of us do right. And for most of us, that is a very good way to handle it. It’s what the reader wants, right? But the way my blog is set up it presents a problem. I have a separate page where each recipe lives all by itself. I did this to make it easier for you to get a printable version. But now I wonder if that counts as duplicate content. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it does. So I am experimenting with format and won’t be including the recipe on the main page. If my Alexa rebounds I may have figured out what the problem is. Or maybe I am over thinking all this… that’s a distinct possibility.

But one more point. I also read that bounce rate is going to play a larger role in evaluating the importance of your site. Bounce rate measures how long people stay on your site. I have a crappy bounce because I get about 40% of my traffic from drive-by readers. I think we all know where drive-by readers come from. And I think these sites are valuable tools in growing your blog. They bring traffic, albeit it’s not the kind of traffic that spends more than a few seconds on a site. If blogs were TVs these “readers” would be known as channel surfers. I used to think there was nothing wrong with channel surfers cruising by my blog taking a quick peek and cruising through to another blog. Hey, it’s just one more way to chill out in the blogosphere. But Google Panda has me wondering. Are these channel surfers hurting the validity of my blog? In my heart I don’t think so, I certainly hope not. But until I figure out what’s going on with this Panda update I have to wonder…

Do you have any thoughts?

SERIOUS FUN FOOD

Greg Henry

Sippity Sup