As you will see they are reasonably simple – the obstacle isn’t understanding them so much as doing them.
Note that I’m skeptical about secret SEO software and processes – they may help at the margin so to speak, but not with getting most of the results (i.e. 80/20 rule).
Three types that I’ll split out below: SEO, PPC and Email Marketing. I’ll ignore social media for the purposes of this post (unproven but has great potential and deserves it’s own special post after I’ve done some more trialing and investigation).
Both SEO and PPC rely on search keywords (the words you type into the Google search box on google.com). There is a continuum of keywords from browsing words like wine through to purchasing phrases like “buy Felton Road Calvert Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005”.
Let’s look at that last phrase at bit closer: the words: ‘buy’ + brand + vineyard + region + varietal + vintage and various combinations. If you know how, look at your server logs and Google Analytics for the specific phrases and you will see lots of versions of this phrase.
The closer to the “long tail” phrase the more likely they are to purchase. This has ramifications for SEO and PPC. For SEO you want to include these keywords in the “landing pages” (the pages the browser lands on after they click your Google link). I’ll go through this in a sec.
For PPC it use to be that you could get an edge on your competition by working hard to ensure you were bidding on these “long tail” keywords. Less competition for the keyword meant a better click through rate (CTR) and bid price. In 2009 Google has limited the effectiveness of this strategy (with something called “low traffic” keywords – another topic).
On the other hand they have made their ads more accurate with basic advertising (“broad search”). I’ll outline what keywords I think you should bid for below.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The left hand side, or organic, search results of Google (Yahoo and Bing). Expect most of your traffic to come from Google (70-90%). Essentially the more relevant, unique and compelling content you have on your site the better Google will rank you. The best technical things you can do is to have your wine brand names in the
- URL (e.g. https:yourdomain.com/somebrandhere.html
- Title (the words in the top strip of your browser)
- (perhaps the first paragraph)
No point in trying to out-game Google, just write naturally but make sure you have the keywords in the places above.
Google will be also be rating your overall website for relevance to the keyword and any incoming links that are relevant to the keyword. I would ignore this area for a start and concentrate on things you control – your content.
If you want to do some basic directory listings then this is also helpful. The holy grail is having a high traffic related website link to your website with text including your most important keywords. If you have contacts in this area (perhaps wineries or wine writers) then diplomatically ask (beg) for a link.
There is a body of thought that retail ecommerce sites should concentrate on the products not general information – I kinda buy into that. So if you start writing about tasting techniques rather than specific wines you may be wasting your time. As Google doesn’t publish their rules it’s hard to be certain though.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
As alluded to above you can be very sophisticated in your approach. I’d leave that to an agency however. Using an 80:20 approach you should :
- bid on keywords about 1. varietals, 2. appellations and regions + ‘wine’, and 3. all your wine brand names + varietal and/or + ‘wine’
- tightly focus ad groups with closely related keywords (one keyword per group is a possibility)
- put your ad groups keyword into your ad copy if possible
- keywords should also feature on the landing page which should be unique if possible (lots of work this one!)
- do A/B split tests of ad copy – the strategy is to continually improve by beating your benchmark ad.
- track conversions not just CTR (requires lots of conversions to be useful however)
- make sure you separate the content network campaigns from the Search campaigns and, if know how, the Google and Partner network campaigns
This is such a large topic that I’ll put some links in my Blogroll for more information about the king of Adwords Perry Marshall. The most work is in: 3. all your wine brand names + varietal and/or + wine, so perhaps leave that for the moment.
You may already be sending out a newsletter with some success. The best way to upgrade this (if you haven’t already) is to use a professional email marketing service. This gives you some big advantages
- it automatically unsubscribes people from your list reducing your manual list administration
- increases opportunities to ask people to opt-in, care of a website form sometimes in the sidebar of your website
- improve the responsiveness of wine consumers through double opt-in (confirmation email asking them to confirm their email address by clicking on a link)
- improve the responsiveness of wine consumers through personalization (Hi Bruce, rather than Hi There, or Dear Friend)