As we finish up 2015, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the most popular stories and recipes on Umami during the past year.
When you’re writing a recipe or story, you have very little idea how it’s going to be received when it leaves the nest and flies off into the world. There are pieces like The Stunning Beauty of the Apostle Islands Ice Caves that you spend hours on trying to get the words and pictures just right to take people along on this amazing experience you had and essentially nobody reads them.
Then there are little recipes like Hot Apple Cider with Bourbon, which are good, but happen because it’s the right time of year and somebody hasn’t had their bourbon for the day that catch on and resonate with people in some way that magically draws all sorts of traffic.
The Stories People Read
One of the things that was clear over the past year is that people like to read stories focused on learning how to do something such as How to Grill Steak Over an Open Fire and Thinking About Buffalo as an Ingredient, which was far and away our most popular pieces during 2015.
The Recipes People Ate
If you took our most popular recipes from the past year, you’d have a very interesting, slightly potato-centric, dinner. The main course would be Apple Cider Smoked Pork Shoulder, which goes with just about anything. The sides for the dinner would be German Potato Salad with Bacon Two Ways and Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes.
Either on the side or as a starter you’d get to have Not Your School Lunch Tomato Soup, and for dessert, there would be Carrot Cake. All of which sounds pretty good, the problem is I’m not sure what to put the Guacamole on.
Things We’re Sharing Because We Love Data, Sometimes Too Much
It was fascinating to look at which pieces got shared the most on social media and how many return visits they generated. A few of our most shared pieces were Before You Throw Another Shrimp on The Barbie Take a Look Back at One of the World’s Most Annoying Catch Phrases, Carrot vs. Carrot Simplifying the Conversation About Organics and GMOs, and Thai Beef with Herbs.
The holy grail for websites, particularly for sites like Umami that are focused on food and travel, is to rank high in Google search. In some ways what you’re trying to do is teach your content to be really, really bad at hide-n-seek. The reason you tell them to stand out in a crowd is that there are sites out there that get millions of visits a month that have over half of their traffic coming through search.
During the past year, a few pieces were really good at getting Google love including Sous Vide Leg of Lamb and Sous Vide Flank Steak along with Why You Should Spit Roast Your Next Leg of Lamb and Smoked Roast Beef. The best we can tell from looking at our search results and trying to understand why these pieces did so well, compared to the others, is that we have a lot more to learn about search.
When you get to the end of the year and look back there always are a few pieces that you feel were underappreciated. Late at night when we’re tucking these pieces into bed, we tell them everything will be ok and that it was our fault and that we didn’t market them right and that next year will be their year.
Three pieces we thought would do better were Fall in Love with Grilled BBQ Chicken, and it’s accompanying recipe Simple Grilled BBQ Chicken. It’s probably not a surprise that we like our recipes because we wouldn’t publish them if we didn’t; but this is some of the best BBQ chicken we’ve ever had, especially when it’s made with Old No. 44 BBQ Sauce. It is so simple to make on the grill that we really thought once people saw how to do it, everyone would be doing it all the time.
We’re also not sure why people aren’t devouring more Chocolate Bread Pudding with Cherry Amaretto Coulis, what more could anyone want than chocolate, cherries, and bread pudding.
With all the conversations going on around food right now about how people need to eat more locally grown food and how we’re losing so many of our traditional dishes we thought there would be more love for Why Midwestern’s Should Put Down Their Casserole Dishes and Create a Regional Cuisine, but as we’ve already established we only sort of know what we’re doing and kind of like to write about what we’re interested in.
The biggest thing we learned over the past year is how much we like writing these articles and creating these recipes. It was a lot of fun in our first, sort of full year, to see so many people reading and sharing our work online. We truly appreciate it and are looking forward to an even more delicious 2016.