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Does your winery currently show up on the first page of Google when someone searches for wineries in your area? Learn the tactics you need to know to improve your winery’s ranking in search engine results!

Search engines exist to help people on the internet find answers to questions and solutions for problems. Google and other search engines use algorithms – often referred to as “spiders” – that “crawl” a web page to discover your content. Then they index the information in a database where it is analyzed to check for over 100 indicators including your domain age, traffic, backlinks, and new content, which determine whether your site is valuable or not. Lastly, they rank the web page in order to tell how useful the information is so the search engine can display the most relevant results for each individual search.

Search Engine Optimization is all about improving your site’s ranking in search results; it is complex and ever changing. For example, SEO used to be all about keywords. Businesses would cram as many keywords into their site as possible, sometimes even making them invisible to the reader. Of course, Google caught on, and now sites are ranked by relevance.

SEO is something that confounds many small business owners. The uncertainty seems to be rooted in the idea that it requires complicated technology know-how and advanced coding ability. (We addressed the more technical side of SEO a few years ago, and the information is still useful today.) The truth is that there are quite a few tactics you can employ on your own to improve your winery’s ranking in search engine results. Here are our top nine tips to help you:

1. Set up a Google My Business account. It’s free and automatically connects you to Google Search and Maps. Add your business address, phone number, hours, website link, images, and what’s special about your winery.

2. Claim (or create) listings on other online directories. There are hundreds of sites where your winery can have a presence, and many directories offer free listings you can claim, as well as optional paid features. It’s important to make sure that any information posted about you is accurate. Claiming the listing (or adding one) will enable you to control the information and best highlight your winery.It is beneficial to get your business listed on as many relevant sites as possible to increase your brand awareness, show up in local search results, improve your search engine standing, and boost your website traffic. The top sites for local business directories, besides Google of course, include Bing Places, MerchantCircle, YellowPages, WhitePages, SuperPages, YellowBook, Mapquest, Foursquare, Judy’s Book, Local.com, Manta, eLocal, MagicYellow, DiscoverOurTown, Dexknows, Citysearch, EZlocal, TripAdvisor, Yahoo Local, and Yelp. Then there are sites like ExpressUpdate and Yext that feed data to multiple directories; ExpressUpdate is free, but Yext requires that you purchase a package.

3. Enhance your online business listings. While adding the basics like phone number and address are a good first step, you’ll get the most out of the listing by adding pictures of your winery, owners, wine, food (if available), and so on. Also, take the time to write “about us” descriptions, and what sets you apart from other local wineries. Link to your social media sites like Facebook and Twitter where possible, as well. Bonus tip: Know where your business is mentioned, and monitor your online business listings. Keep a list of all of the sites with your login information. Then schedule a time to review all of your listings, maybe quarterly or twice a year. Business hours change. New services are offered. Buildings are renovated. Review what potential customers are seeing about your winery online and make sure all of the information is still accurate.

4. Optimize your website for mobile devices. Google’s search algorithm favors mobile-friendly sites for website traffic accessed via mobile phones and tablets. Fun fact: 75% of Americans have mobile phones and 61% are using them to search the internet. Websites without a mobile version may not show up in mobile searches at all! Your website should be responsive, which means it will look good and function as intended no matter if it’s viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. When someone visits your site from a mobile device, it should be easy to read with images displaying properly, and all links working.

5. Create new content. The more often you update your website and add fresh content, the more often the spiders will come back to check your site to make sure it is fully indexed. A blog is the perfect way to do this. Think about ways you can help solve problems for your consumers and write about them! For example, maybe they’re looking for a great place to host a Mother’s Day brunch… If you need help, we’ve talked before about topic ideas for your blog and how a blog can grow your winery. Note that adding other types of new content like original photography and video are useful, too!

6. Invest time in social media. Social channels such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent ways to build relationships with wine drinkers and drive traffic to your website. Plus, your posts and tweets can get noticed by Google, thereby further establishing you as an authority who shares relevant content. Think of your social sites as separate sources of information, and don’t automatically post or tweet about what you just covered in your blog. Each channel should provide value to the reader. Learn which social media sites your winery should be on to reach your ideal wine drinker.

7. Link back to your site. “Backlinks” are simply an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another. For example, if you’re working on a social media post, include a link to a relevant page on your website like your wine list. When you send out an email newsletter, incorporate links to your About Us page, contact us page, events calendar, etc. When writing a new blog post, add links to previous posts or pages on your site that support your story and provide more information. If you have complementary businesses in the area such as a B&B, ask them to link to your winery from their website and offer to do the same for them.

8. Encourage online reviews. Reviews are often part of business listings like Google and available on social media sites. They’re important for two reasons: essentially other people are creating content about your winery for you so they help drive your local SEO visibility, AND 86%+ of consumers are influenced by online reviews according to a 2013 Dimensional Research survey. If someone is online looking for a great winery, other people’s experiences with you carry weight. One idea: hold a quarterly gift card drawing and ask customers to review you on a specific site (Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, etc.). Provide the link, select the winner from all new review entries, award the prize, and announce the winner! Bonus tip: Consumers have a more positive view of a business if they see you responding to online reviews, especially negative ones. Your responses communicate “we’re paying attention and we value your input.”

9. Be patient. The tips here will help improve your search ranking results, but don’t expect to see your winery listed on the first page of Google overnight. Good SEO takes time, so relax and stick with the process.

Don’t want to DIY?

Whether you want help with your SEO efforts or are interested in getting a brand new website, please contact us! We’ll set up a time to discuss your specific situation and provide you with a free estimate customized for your needs. We offer three different types of SEO packages and a variety of responsive website design and development options.

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