From Chateau Montelena to Chateau Ste. Michelle, FINE has designed and developed winery websites for archetypes throughout the industry. When FINE acquired Big Daylight in 2011 and established a search engine marketing division, the immediate opportunity was to move beyond building glamorous online destinations and focus on directing traffic to them. We’ve learned much about how to best approach SEO and online marketing for winery websites.
One of the first revelations – many wineries simply do not own results around their OWN BRAND online. This goes above and beyond the name of your winery, and extends to every type of wine and release date featured on your website. It’s not that you don’t want wine.com or snooth.com to mention your product, it’s that ranking more highly allows you to tell your story first, especially if you also sell your wines online. With that in mind, here’s a taste of some frequently asked wine and search questions:
What should I do about age verification?
When it comes to SEO, the home page is all-important. So what happens when you are required to slap an age-verification on your homepage? We certainly don’t want Google to think your site is about “You must be 21 years of age or older to enter. Please select your date of birth below.” Your homepage also must resolve at http://www.yourdomain.com, and not redirect to http://www.yourdomain.com/ageverification.
FINE has handled this by creating a clever pop-up screen that allows the user to enter their age, while still providing plenty of search-engine friendly content directly on the homepage. You can see this in action on several FINE websites, including this Healdsburg winery.
Do I need to create a unique page for every type of wine?
YES. Don’t make the mistake of listing various types of wine on one page, instead of creating a page for each type. It may be hard for your 2007 Chardonnay to position if you haven’t really devoted a page to it. Other online retailers selling your own wine (along with tons of others) could beat you!
But I put all my tasting notes in PDFs! It’s so much easier to link to all of these from one page!
You’re right. That is easier. But sometimes building a SEO-friendly site takes some time and elbow grease. We guarantee it will be worth your while to take that fabulous PDF content, put it in a real HTML page instead, and then also continue to offer PDFs for download and printing. Some SEOs might advise you to use robots.txt or other methods to block the PDFs from being indexed since they would be duplicate content to the main pages, but we think Google is smart enough to figure this out on their own.
I want to position on Napa Valley Winery. And also Napa Valley Wines. How do I do that? Give me the secret…
Honestly, that is going to be very hard. This is what we call a “Vanity Term”. It’s an instance where you are not only competing against other wineries, but information sites, tour sites, and even hotels. It looks so attractive and shiny, but remember that every rose has its thorn. If you want to position on that term and currently are nowhere even in the top 30, be prepared to envision someone working on this 8 hours a day for an indefinite amount of time, building content and links. Probably 2 people.
Instead of focusing on on vanity terms, we suggest you focus on keywords specific to YOU. You will find these terms in the long tail, and the long tail can bring you more traffic than any vanity term ever would. This superb chart and SEO article from SEOMoz (we encourage you to subscribe to this site) illustrates this in more depth:
I want more people to come for wine tastings, and perform better in local search.
Local search is one of the best places a winery can work to optimize your brand and website. See this separate article we wrote, all about Local SEO. Also, don’t forget the huge power of Online Reviews. Also consider linking to your Google Places page from the footer of your website.
Any other tips I should know about?
Be sure to give every page on your website a unique Title Tag and Meta Description Tag that contains important keywords while also sounding great for users. Ideally you will write these by hand yourself, but if not, then create intelligent rules that auto-populate tags to make them as descriptive as possible. Back to that 2007 Chardonnay – if you created a page for it, but didn’t optimize the title tag or description (which instead only say the name of your winery), you’ve really reduced overall relevance for that page.
Also, if you sell your wine online, be sure you have registered and submitted a Google Merchant Feed.
Of course, from URL structure to website navigation, there are a variety of other factors that encompass creating a search-friendly website. But for those who run winery websites, these considerations may help guide you toward the traffic you so richly deserve.