The engine of any business is marketing and sales. Without it, you would make no money. In the competitive market of wine, your winery needs to lead with marketing. Not prioritizing marketing means other wine brands and other beverage brands will drown you out. A good marketing strategy makes your sales team’s job much easier, allowing them to sell more wine. One of the best marketing strategies for wineries is SEO.
What Is SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO), is the process of improving your website’s visibility in search engines like Google. By improving your website’s visibility, the aim is to gain more traffic so that you can get more tasting room visits/reservations, sell more wine, and get more wine club subscriptions.
Simply put, SEO is about meeting the user’s search needs by creating valuable, usual content and a high-quality user experience.
Practically, this is what SEO is:
- Technical optimization
- Keyword research
- Content optimization and creation
- Link building
In this guide, we will discuss each topic in-depth and how to apply it to your winery.
If you are wondering why you should care about SEO for your winery, you should probably read this first, Should Vineyards & Wineries do SEO?
The Starter Guide
At the core of any successful business is a guide for how they plan to be successful. Successful marketing is no different. Luckily, you’ve found The Winery SEO Starter Guide.
In this guide, we will walk through everything Vineyards & Wineries need to know regarding SEO.
By the end, you know how to apply SEO to your Vineyard & Winery website. If you need any help along the way or don’t have the time to take this on, you can schedule a free analysis to see how our team can help out.
Overview of what we’ll cover:
- Technical optimization for a winery website
- Optimizing your winery’s local presence
- Wine Content Creation and optimization
- Link building for the wine industry
Your website URL’s structures should be uniform and easy to read for a human because that is how google looks at it. If the URLs are all different, that’s not good. You want your URLs to follow a unified structure across your entire website. Like with many SEO principles, ask yourself, “is the experience good for a human?” Google is smart enough to tell if the UX is bad or URL wouldn’t make sense to a human.
Basic URL Structure Guidelines:
- All lowercase or all uppercase, it doesn’t matter which one. I prefer lowercase because it’s easier to read.
- Easy to read for humans
- As short as possible but still clear.
- Avoid subdomains whenever possible.
- Fewer folders is better
Sitemap & Robots.txt
A sitemap is a file that contains information about your website. With the sitemap, you are telling the search engine which pages are important on your website. The sitemap is a map of your website’s page structure. Usually, this is an XML or HTML file.
The robots.txt file is very similar, but you can think of it more as an instruction manual for the Google crawler bot. “Crawl this page.” “Don’t crawl this page.” The robots.txt file contains instructions for the bot that specify pages that you “allow” the bot to crawl and pages you “disallow” the bot to crawl. This process will either allow a page to be indexed in Google or not. For example, you probably don’t want your checkout page to be indexed in Google and appear in the search results. You would want your wine club page to be indexed and appear in the search results.
If you are using WordPress, WineDirect, or some other CMS, chances are your sitemap and robots.txt files are already in place. It would be a good idea to do a crawl of your website with a tool like Screaming Frog to make sure that all the pages you want to appear and not appear in the SERPs are marked accordingly.
If you are not already using 301 redirects, setting them up can have an almost immediate boost in traffic. A 301 redirect directs traffic from one URL to another, passing link equity to the new URL. It is a good practice to set up 301 redirects to outdated pages or pages that no longer exist (404) so that any authority that the old page had is transferred elsewhere on your website.
Broken links point to a page that no longer exists. Linking to a page on or off your website will negatively affect your ranking. When this happens, Google and the user will see it as a bad user experience. You can find these links by doing a crawl on your website. Once they are found, redirect the link to a new page that fits the intent of the link. If there isn’t another page to replace it with, it’s best to remove the link. If your winery has had a website for at least a few years, there is a good chance you have some broken links.
User experience is an all-encompassing set of best practices that is a web design discipline. For SEO, we will stick to the primary areas that impact SEO.
- Page Load Speed
- Menu structure
- Page layout
Page Load Speed
Page load speed is simple. The faster your content loads, the more likely the user will enjoy the experience. A good rule of thumb is to look at your competition and make sure your page speed is competitive with theirs. Decreasing load speed from 3 to 2 seconds won’t make a noticeable difference in your traffic if the average winery website is 5+ seconds. Remember to measure and improve mobile performance since the use of mobile devices is becoming increasingly common.
The menu is the primary way users will interact with your website, so it’s crucial to make sure that it’s easy to use. Only the most important top-level pages should be in the top-level navigation (TLN). Don’t clutter it up. TLN is also important because when Google crawls the website, it will recognize those pages in the TLN as the most important pages of your website. The pages that we have found to be best for wineries are:
- Locations / Visit page
- Wine / Shop page
- Wine Club page
- About / Contact page
Pages that properly use headers perform better. Headers break up the page so that skimmers, most readers, can quickly find what they are looking for. A well-structured page (H1, H2s, H3s, etc.) greatly improves the reading experience. Steer clear of blocks of text. Using plenty of Images and graphics helps break up pages, making them easier to read. When using images, be sure to leverage alt texts to describe what the image is. Alt text is not only required for digital accessibility but also gives Google context for what the image is.
Similarly to page layout, it is crucial to make sure that you design pages mobile-first rather than desktop. Google has indicated that mobile is the priority going forward. Check Google Analytics, more traffic is coming from mobile, and if not, it’s trending that way.
Technical SEO can be complicated and hard to grasp since many aspects can affect website performance. The best place to start is with a website quality audit. A website quality audit will give you a clear picture of the issues hurting performance and the opportunities for improvement.
For many wineries, your tasting rooms are one of the biggest sales drivers. Getting customers into the physical location means more tasting room sales, wine club members, and online sales.
A local visit is the first step to making lifetime wine lovers and, more importantly, lifetime lovers of your wine.
Google has a localized results section in the SERPs that typically appear in conjunction with a map. These localized results show up at the top of the page, the most valuable real estate, one reason why local SEO is so effective.
Search intent is another reason why local results are so valuable. This means if someone is searching “wineries near me” or “napa wineries,” there is a very high likelihood they are going to go to one in the near future.
Google My Business Profile
The first step to local SEO is setting up your Google My Business Profile (GMB), now called Google Business Profile (GBP).
Myself and others may use GMB and BBP interchangeably.
Your GMB is your local listing. It’s usually the easiest way for your customers to find basic information about your business, like address, hours, and phone number. My searchers also use it as a way to find your website.
If you haven’t set up your GMB yet, here is where you can set it up.
Google My Business (Google Business Profile) Fields:
- Business address
- Business hours
- Business phone number
It is very important to have all of the information thoroughly filled out. If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Find out first. Google will look at all of your local listings and verify that all your information is uniform. If it isn’t all the same, your listing will be penalized and therefore be ranked lower.
When filling out your business description, be thorough. This is a chance to use important keywords and phrases that tell Google what your business does so you can rank higher when someone searches “wineries near me.”
Filling out this information will also save your team a lot of time on the phone answering basic questions most people will get answered via your GMB profile.
Similarly, social media posts can be made on the GMB platform. Regularly posting on GMB show give Google another reason to rank your winery higher because it shows them you value keeping your customers and their users updated with valuable information. This is a small thing to do, but it goes a long way to make your winery locally relevant.
Getting reviews is a whole service in itself. Good reviews will have a massive impact on your business, especially from an SEO perspective. Since reviews are usually a direct indicator of how users view your business, it’s very important that you, as a winery, value them too.
Some good practices around review management are:
- Make sure your GMB is set up so you can get reviews
- Ask your customers to review on Google via email/text.
- Respond often to reviews, especially negative ones.
- Listen to the feedback.
Wine Content Optimization and Creation
On-page optimization is the process of making various changes to a website or web page to make it more appealing to search engines and improve its rankings. This includes things like optimizing titles, headings, meta descriptions, content, images, and internal linking.
This is important because it helps search engines better understand the content of your website and rank it for relevant search queries. By optimizing your web pages, you can make sure that your site is visible to more people, leading to increased traffic and improved visibility.
Here is your On-Page optimization checklist
- Title tags: exist, no duplicates, correct length, optimized
- Meta descriptions: exist, no duplicates, correct length, optimized
- Header tags (H1, H2, H3): well structured content
- Internal and external links: no broken links,
- Images: used whenever possible, alt-descriptions
- Anything on your website should be optimized and used within best practices.
To get a comprehensive Winery SEO Checklist, sign up here, and I’ll send it to you.
Winery Page Types
While every winery sells wine differently, here are 6 of the most common page types that wineries use and how you can optimize them for SEO.
Your homepage will be the primary landing page for most searches, so make sure it is the best page on your website. Fill it with engaging content about your wine and tasting rooms. Placing internal links to high-value pages like your most popular wines, wine club, and reservation pages will help increase the ranking of those pages.
Whether you are a single-location winery or a winery with over 50 locations, having a landing page for each location is very effective. When users search for wineries, they often search based on their location. Having a local page for all of your locations will ensure you capture as much of that traffic as possible.
Wine Club Page
Your wine club page should be more than just a place for your customers to get information about your wine club. It’s your best marketing asset for the wine club. A common mistake is filling the page with the bare minimum content. Your wine club is probably one of the top profit drivers, so make sure it’s optimized accordingly.
Product Category Page(s)
Most wineries use their category page as a menu page to direct users to red, white, or sparkling wine. This is a massive missed opportunity. This is an opportunity to provide your users with snippets of wine education and increase your rankings.
Your product pages shouldn’t be filled with confusing wine-tasting note jargon. People don’t search like that. Provide tasting notes that are clear and descriptive but not overly verbose. Use localized keywords to describe the wine and the region(s) the grapes were grown.
Blog content is the best way for wineries to connect with their customers and to add new pages and keywords continuously without bogging down the website. We’ll talk more about this later on.
Wineries that regularly update pages and create new pages get more wine sales than wineries that only update their website a few times a year.
If you have been on the internet in the past 10 years, you have probably seen the phrase “Content is King.” This could not be more true. In a day where it seems like everyone is creating content or starting a podcast, it might seem too late to catch up. Thankfully that’s not the case yet.
Warning, creating low-quality content will hurt you. The statement “Content is King” is not a license to pump useless content to “game” the system.
While you won’t be the first to do it, you will still be one of the early ones. Of every 10 wineries I see, less than 1 has a blog or regularly creates content. Through content creation, you will:
- Sell more e-commerce wine
- Get more brand visibility online, selling more wine through distributors
- Sell more wine to current customers by building loyalty and trust.
Winery Content Topics
These are some of the best topics any winery can use to create content using the pillar and cluster model.
- Best Wineries in Paso Robles
- Best restaurants in Fredericksburg
- Events in Willamette Vally
- What to wear
- Winery vs. Tasting Room vs. Vineyard
- Wine Tasting Experience
- Wine varietal comparisons
- Tasting terms
- Serving temperature
- How we got started
- Texas wine history
- Our Process
- Types of wine
- Grape growing process
- Wine glass shapes
- Red meat pairings
- Seafood pairings
- Desert pairings
Regular blogs help you rank for additional keywords and capture traffic by creating useful content based on what users are searching for. Secondly, Google will start to consider your website as an authority on wine topics, which will boost your ranking.
The currency of Google rankings is links. The more quality, industry-relevant domains that link to your website, the higher your pages will rank. Links can be built up organically over time by creating quality content other websites want to link to. Link can also be built manually by using outreach.
Over time the most effective and profitable way to build links is organically through content creation. Content creation is scalable, whereas manual outreach is less scalable. When getting started, you will need to build link-building momentum, so it’s best to do manual link-building in the beginning. Without it, you’re facing a catch-22. Your content won’t generate links until it ranks high, but it won’t rank high unless it has links.
A great place to start is to look for domains that link a broken page (404) on your website. You can find these links using a backlink tool, like hrefs. Using a 301 Redirect, point the broken page to a new page related to the topic of the referring page. This doesn’t require any outreach, which makes it a great place to start.
Next, look for websites that reference your wine brand but that don’t link to your website. Reach out to them and give them a link to your website that will add value to their content and help their readers.
Lastly, look at the links your competition has. You can find these links using a backlink tool. Chances are, their links are also relevant to your winery. Focus your outreach efforts on these domains because you have a higher chance of getting a link from their site since they already link to another winery.
How To Do SEO for a Winery
By now, you should have a good idea of all that goes into SEO for a winery, but the most important part is getting it done. Here is the recommended order to start SEO:
- Technical audit (1 – 2 months)
- Website quality audit
- Address all technical issues
- Analytics audit
- Local optimization (2 weeks)
- Set up GMB
- Optimize GMB
- Content optimization and creation(1 month – ongoing)
- Content audit/strategy
- Keyword research
- Topic ideation
- Content brief
- Link building (1 month – ongoing)
- Link strategy
- Link target analysis
- Link outreach
- Link tracking
SEO is highly effective in expanding your reach as a winery, but it is a complicated algorithm constantly changing. Learning effective SEO takes time, effort, and money. This is why we always recommend using an SEO expert so that you can focus on the rest of the business. Even if you have experience with SEO, having someone who is 100% focused on SEO is the most effective.
Want Some Help?
If you want to focus on making wine and running the winery and want a wine industry SEO expert to help you with your SEO, check out our process below:
Schedule a Discovery Call: A 30-minute call to dive into your winery’s current marketing strategy, competitors, and marketing goals. Get started here.
Receive a Free Analysis & Sales Projection: We’ll create a roadmap for your winery to sell more wine, acquire more wine club subscriptions, and get more reservations. We’ll also provide you with an accurate estimation of what your traffic and sales could look like after doing SEO.
Start Selling More Wine: We’ll begin our Winery Growth Framework, increasing online sales, wine club members, and in-person visits.