July 21, 2011

An SEO guide for Wineries Part 3

posted by mark in Winery SEO Guide

Last time, I spoke about the different types of web content. It’s time to talk about the search engine process, from building a site to getting users from an engine.

Understand the Engines

Let’s talk about each step in the search process and how it relates to you and your site.

1. You build a site.
It’s harder to be found these days if you don’t have a site up on the web. It’s an exciting and potentially daunting process, but there are many resources out there to help you in this process. You’re going to have to make some choices while doing this, some of which you won’t feel informed enough to make. Ask questions and be prepared to change your mind a few times before you decide what you should do. As I said this is an exciting process, and it’s also a fun one. From a search engine perspective, you should think about creating content on the site that speaks to your audience in a way the engines can understand. That means good, well written text, multimedia and video help. Avoid Flash where possible – the engines have a hard time with it!

2. Someone alerts the engines about your site (this can be you).
This is an easy one. After you launch your site, someone might link to you. I’ll talk more about links later – they’re important. Assuming the engines know about the site that linked to you they’ll follow that link and find your site. If you’d like to expedite this process, I suggest you sign up for Google’s Webmaster Tools, Bing’s Webmaster Tools, and submit your site to Yahoo. They’ll lead you through the process.

3. The engines send robots to read your site.
This part is pretty hands off for you. Sit back and let your site be read. Actually, while you wait you should write some great content to add to your site.

4. The engines decipher your message and decide what their answer is going to be if someone asks them about a topic (known as a keyword in the SEO biz).
How are the engines going to decipher your message? What is your message? Which topics are you approaching? A list of potential topics for your site: “My Winery Name”, “My Winery Name History”, “Contact My Winery Name”, “My Winery Name Hours and Location”, “My Winery Name Wines”. Each of those topics should have a page on your site that addresses that keyword specifically. Here’s a little tip – Google Autosuggest is your friend for discovering keywords. Let’s say I was to build a site for Robert Mondavi Winery. To get some keyword ideas I’d go to Google and start typing in the winery name. Google will use their search keyword history (a list of what people are searching for) to try to predict what you’re searching for.


google-autosuggest1.png

5. After a period of time, a person asks the engine about that keyword.
With few exceptions, you can’t control when this happens. The most control you have is over which topics you write about – write about topics that people will search for. Let’s say I have a winery site and I write about an obscure clone of the Riesling grape called X54J that 10 people have heard of. Let’s say I call the article “Growing the X54J Clone” My potential audience is 10 people. Let’s say I called that same article “Growing Riesling Clones”. That’s better – maybe there are 100 people who are interested in growing riesling clones, including the X54J people. Let’s say I decided I had more to say about riesling and called my article “Growing Riesling”. I’ve just broadened my reach to a potential 1,000 people, say.

6. The engine gives the person the answer.
If you’ve done a great job of being the authority on a topic, you have a fighting chance of ranking against your competitors.

When building your site you should anticipate the needs of your community. I always get a good laugh from Never Said About Restaurant Websites. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to know when a restaurant is open or if they accept reservations and only being able to download a PDF of their menu or listen to some house music. You have the power to combat this. Know your audience and address their needs with your site. The search engines will reward you with more exposure and your users will reward you with more praise.

Ready to move on? Proceed to Part 4: Express Your Authority

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