SEO for Wineries: Why Your Winery Needs Search Engine Optimization
Do you know the difference between a strategy and a set of tactics?
When it comes to SEO, it’s not enough to try sporadic tactics, writing an occasional article or posting random updates on your website.
Sure, you might accomplish your sales goals for your next campaign if you push hard enough, or if you happen to luck out and select the right tactics.
But to grow your wine business over the long haul, get more website visitors, and maintain a sustainable edge against your competitors, you need a full on wine-specific SEO strategy.
Creating an SEO strategy for your winery means organizing your existing content by topic, making your sites rank higher in the search algorithms used by search engines like Google.
Ready to get started with winery SEO? Here's what you need to know.
Benefits of Having a Winery SEO Strategy
The main advantage of an SEO strategy for your winery is that it provides long term direction and provides the framework for your content marketing and website choices.
A clear SEO strategy will help you cut through the clutter on your website by aligning what you post, and when you post it, with your overall business goals.
For example, if you're a winery in Sonoma, and your overall business goals are to be the go-to wine destination in your area, you can select keywords and use local SEO tactics to serve that goal.
At the same time, you should look at your current search rankings, the type of purchases people are already making on your site, and how they're discovering your website, and consider using that information to help direct your strategy.
Key Components of SEO for Wine Brands
Wine SEO can be divided up into three categories: On-page, Off-page, and Technical SEO.
On-page SEO refers to everything visible on your winery's website, including your main page content, blogs, sales pages, product descriptions, and about section. It’s what people expect to see when they visit your site.
Off-page SEO refers to everything that links to your site. Search engines rank your site based on the quality of the websites that send people to you.
If other websites (maybe wine review sites) link to your content a lot, search algorithms assume that your site is an expert and worth a higher ranking.
On the other hand, if nobody links to your page, or if the only sites that link to your page are poor quality, spam-filled sites, then your page will rank lower.
Technical SEO refers to the back end of your website—the content hidden in your code, including tags and meta descriptions.
Together, On-page, Off-page, and Technical SEO can be coordinated to target specific topics and search terms and search phrases so that you rank highest when people look for content that is the closest match to your products.
These components are what will make up your winery SEO strategy.
Creating and Executing Your Winery SEO Strategy
Step 1: Goal Setting
We've all heard the saying, "What gets measured, gets done."
The first step in creating an SEO strategy for your winery is to set goals.
What is it that you're trying to achieve? Are you seeking to grow sales of a particular product? Increase foot traffic in your tasting room?
Or maybe you're trying to increase your page rank for strategic searches, like "best family-friendly winery" or "best winery to avoid holiday crowds."
Whatever your goals are, you must identify them before you move on to stage 2, otherwise, you won't know where to invest your budget.
And remember—you can always change goals as your business needs shift.
Step 2: Competitive Analysis And Market Research
Competitive businesses make data-driven decisions about strategy.
When you're a startup, or if your business is in an industry with little competition, you might be able to get away with following your instinct.
But in wine, where competition is fierce, you need to know what you’re up against if you make a strategic decision to focus on a particular market segment or product.
That’s where competitive analysis and market research come in. You need to understand your positioning against your competitors, what the market is doing, what consumer preferences are changing, and more.
Unless you have an experienced internal research team, it's probably easier (and more cost-effective) to hire experts to help with competitive analysis and market research.
If that’s the route you take, I suggest looking for research firms who are familiar with the wine industry and who can leverage economies of scale in their past research.
Step 3: Website Structure And Technical Considerations
With every website, the most basic place to start is with pillar posts and topic clusters.
Basically, in step 3, we are looking at how to organize the content on your winery's website to be as effective as possible in appealing to search engine algorithms.
In the pillar post/topic cluster structure, for each of the main topics on your website, you create a lengthy pillar post containing an overview of the topic, that links out to multiple specific blog posts and product pages, that in turn, link back to your pillar post.
By creating so many links with both general and explicit content, you are essentially telling search engines that your page is an expert and worthy of a higher ranking.
Step 4: Local SEO
Most wineries aren’t just concerned with selling wines—they also want visitors to their tasting rooms.
Investing in local SEO is one way to increase visibility.
With SEO in general, you are focused on ranking for keywords, content and search intent (see step 5), but with local SEO, you're also looking for people searching within a specific geographic region, for example, those who search for “best wineries near me.”
With strong local winery SEO, you'll be one of the top wine businesses that appears on the Google map.
In order to appear in these results, make sure your Google business profile is up-to-date, as this is where your address, reviews, and hours are pulled from.
Nothing frustrates customers more than showing up at a business after hours because a website wasn’t updated!
Other factors that play into your winery being ranked at the top of these results is the number of reviews on sites like Yelp, as well as links from your website and other third party sites that contain your address or user reviews.
Step 5: Relevant Keywords, Content, And Search Intent
A few years ago, keyword optimization was SEO, but now it’s just one part of SEO strategy.
Keyword optimization entails:
Choosing a keyword or long-tail search term (three words or more) that is relevant to your site,
Checking to see if that term or phrase is popular with consumers,
Ensuring that competition from other sites isn’t too high, and then
Creating content that ensures Google will recognize your page’s applicability to searchers.
Step 6: Content Distribution Channels
This step is critical but often overlooked by companies that have otherwise great websites.
If you're publishing weekly articles, regularly updating the content on your site to keep it fresh and relevant, and have optimized for keywords but aren't getting the amount of traffic you expected, it may be because you have no distribution channels.
Instead of relying solely on inbound traffic, start pushing your content out via social media, email newsletters, digital ads, and third-party platforms.
For the latter, try submitting content to local newspapers and magazines (as the largest news media group in Northern California, Hearst Bay Area can help initiate this process).
The point is, don't just create content and leave it on your website.
It can take months for even the best pieces to rank well in search. You'll need to consider other ways to drive traffic to your posts until the SEO kicks in.
Look for creative ways to share and spread the articles and blog posts you worked so hard to create!
Step 7: KPIs And Measuring Success
How will you know if the SEO strategy you created for your winery is working? You won’t, unless you created goals in step 1 and then identified key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow you to track your progress.
Perhaps the simplest KPI is just traffic—how many people visited your website before implementing a strategy, and how many people are visiting six months later?
Watch for spikes in visits, and see if you can emulate the factors that caused them.
For example, if sharing an article in a local publication led to significant traffic, publish another piece with them. Or if purchasing print and digital ads and linking to news about a seasonal promotion helped you reach your goal, replicate that ad and promotional process for different articles.
Remember—if you don't measure it, it probably won't get done. More importantly, if you don't measure your progress, you won't know if your strategy is working!
And don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away.
In a lot of cases, it takes time to build up significant traffic flow. You should see a small increase within a week or two, and that should increase gradually over the next 1-6 months.
If you do not see any changes, or if the changes are negative, make sure you have the technical components of your website in order.
While difficult to ascertain without an experienced eye, there can be issues with the way your site is structured that blocks you from ranking.
Make sure your website is crawlable by search engines and spend some time learning how to use analytics tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics so you can monitor the health and growth of your website.
If nothing turns up after doing a technical SEO audit, you might want to consider how your content resonates with your customers.
One of the most common mistakes wineries make is to focus on their products without considering what their target customers are interested in.
Go back to your ideal customer profiles (you do have those, right?).
Is your strategy aligned with your customers? If it’s not, go back through the steps and make sure that every decision you make is aligned with who your target buyer is, and helps you achieve your revenue goals.
This article first appeared at Hearst Bay