magnifying-glass-man-social-logos-400pYour winery may be doing just fine on the web. After all, isn’t your winery first when you type in your name on startpage.com?

And yes, that’s great – as far as it goes. Google and Bing will usually put your winery’s home page at the top of the listings if you search for the exact title of your home page. But search for a similar term – for example Test Winery versus Test Wines or Test Vineyard or Test Cellars. Your winery may appear much lower on the page. Wineries with similar names to yours can appear above your listing, confusing people and sending them to a different site.

Your winery may show up first for your name, but what about searches for your wines? If each of your wines has its own “detail” page on your site, that page should be what shows up first when someone types in its name in Google or Bing. Is it? And what about variations on the name?

Truth is, you want to show up at the top of the results for a lot of terms. You want “Your Winery Pinot noirs” or “Your Winery wines” or “Your winery info” to show your website’s pages. The list of similar terms that you need to rank first for is long. And every time a different site shows up first you greatly diminish the chance that the searcher will end up on your site.

Knowing how Google and Bing choose the pages they show can help you keep your winery at the top of the page for a larger number of similar search words.

People ask me a lot about how I got so many of avalonwine.com’s pages to show up at the top of the search listings in Google. Good content always comes first, then  knowledge of what Google wants to see, on the page, in the code, and in the way your website interacts with others. Google uses an amazingly complicated and ever changing set of factors to decide who’s on first.

If you are an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) geek like me you read a bunch of blogs and subscribe to the big SEO experts, check your Google analytics ten times a day and use Screaming Frog and MOZ and a laundry list of other tools to keep track of “the goog”. MOZ.com is one of the best sites for learning about what the experts do to get their pages at the top of the first page for search terms.

You don’t need to hire an SEO expert for thousands of dollars a month if you want to show up at the top of the listings for your winery and wine names. If you want to be at the top for the search “Oregon wine” or “Dundee Oregon” or “Pinot noir” – those terms are very competitive and much much harder to achieve. But to get visibility for terms that include at least part of your winery name you can do a lot yourself.

Winery Web Visibility: Three Biggest Factors

Of the three top factors influencing your ranking on Google for winery and wine names, two come from the extensive analyses of MOZ.com. Every two years they issue a comprehensive report listing the factors they think most influence google in deciding who gets “top billing”. I have pushed their top factor down a rung to put my own choice on top: content.

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red-rounded-square-with-number-1-mdMy number one factor for staying at the top of Google search is content. Having content people want to read about your winery and keeping it fresh and timely is the absolute sure way to show up at the top. After you have great content, knowing how Google works can help you make sure that content gets seen.

Here’s a quote about content from Google’s Matt Cutts on Search Engine Watch:

“The philosophy that we’ve (Google) always had is if you make something that’s compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it.”

He emphasizes building a “fantastic website that people love and tell their friends about and link to and want to experience”.

Bottom line and number one factor: A high ranking website has fantastic content.

Content related hints: graphics need alt tags, page text includes keywords, individual wine pages need at least 300 words of original descriptive text and one or more images, basic meta tags and title tags need to be in place, and your site should be signed up for google analytics and the code be in place.

red-rounded-square-with-number-2-thPage Authority is listed in the MOZ.com report as their number one factor in getting a top position on Google. It’s number two on my list, because page authority will develop out of great content.

Page Authority is the overall ranking for your home page and for any page within your site. PA is determined by a number of factors – time you’ve been on the web, how many unique visits your site gets a day, number of comments from readers, links in from a lot of well known websites with high page authority.

You can find out your page ranking on Open Site Explorer, along with a lot of other useful information about how your site is doing on the web. You only get two free searches a day from this site so choose carefully.

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red-rounded-square-with-number-3-thNumber of Google +1’s

If you’ve thought that g+ is a waste of time, here’s why it’s worth spending time setting up a g+ account and page for your winery.

MOZ.com says, based on their expert research, that Google gives a huge amount of weight to the number of g+ follows your pages have. How do you get these follows? You start a g+ page for your winery and grab a bit of code from Google that puts a “g+” button on your pages so readers can g+ them.

I disagree with the choice of g+ follows as the number two factor in search results success. I think that the number of relevant links pointing to your site from important news and information websites, facebook, and a few key writers and directories are the biggest link-related influence on your Page Rank and position on Google search results. But the MOZ.com experts are just that, and if they say that g+ “likes’ are what Google wants, I’m listening.

g+ Content Hint: The good news is that if you are already posting on Facebook and writing blog posts and marketing emails, you can reuse that content to make make posting to g+ quicker. Put a summary of your latest new content on g+ with an image and a link to the page on your website. G+ posts don’t have to be long, and you’ll quickly multitask that content.

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In Summary

Winery owners have a lot more to do than sit at a computer and work on the web. The three factors described here can take as much or as little time as you have to give. I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg of the Titanic sized list of time consuming tasks involved in search engine positioning.

The number one item, creating content, means taking time to write good new articles on your website. Number three, implementing g+ on your site, can be a simple matter of adding some code to your pages, but to get the most out of it, you need to build and maintain a g+ site for your winery. And just as important, you need to attract links to your site with that great content you write, plus some PR and claiming your listings in the important directories and association listings.

The number two factor is the most time consuming of all. Page authority depends on dozens of actions and I’d be happy to discuss them with you if you want to give me a call or email.

With limited time and resources, I’d suggest focusing on adding content on your site that is new and interesting to your customers. It might be as simple as a recipe for the meatballs everyone loves that you serve at your Thanksgiving open house, or a 45 second video of your winemaker showing how to swirl wine in a glass, or an update on your winery dogs. But your site should also include at least one substantive article written for you by a professional writer that combines your memories, your winery story, and your plans for the future into a thoughtful, well written piece that will be relevant and attract readers to your site for years.

As always dedicated to selling more Oregon Wine,
Jean

Author: Jean Yates

Copyright 2016 Jean L Yates

Before we go! When you search for your winery in Google, Bing, or Yahoo, you will not see the results the public sees. They customize your results based on terms and sites you have previously used. Since you have looked at your site many times, they will put your pages at the top of your results. Your results are not the same as what the public sees. To see what the public really sees when they search for your site, use startpage.com. It will show you the standard, not customized results you should consider when evaluating where your winery shows up on the web.