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How a Cheese Store did better than a Wine Store in Google

You may remember I wrote a post about What the wine internet shopper sees in CA 90210 a few weeks ago.

In that post I kept seeing K&L Wines pop up. I was impressed and said I’d delve into why they’re doing so well. And I have – but not with the results that I expected.

Here are the results from my search for beverly hills wine store (with Google search set to US / 90210):

Google Search Results for WIne Stores in Beverly Hills

K&L Wines has disappeared from organic results. So my original intention of working out what K&L Wines is doing right has been replaced by what it is doing wrong in organic search.

Don’t get me wrong K&L Wines usually do a great job with local search (“local business results”), shopping (“shopping results”) and adwords (right hand side).

They are just struggling with organic search for searches with 90210 location related phrases in them (organic search is the normal listings on the left had side of a Google search results page).

But holy cow are they up against some competition.

Meet the Cheese Store that is beating the wine store!

The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills was ranked in the top two places in local search and organic search. Now perhaps they are famous in Beverly Hills but check out their site.

There’s nothing wrong with it… it’s just, well … a little old fashioned.

But that may have been their aim. The shopping cart system seems fine so I guess it’s my personal opinion about design.

And who cares what my design opinion is. You’re more interested in what they’re doing right. So let’s dig into them a little more.

=== Sidenote on Jargon ===

  • External links are links from websites with a different domain name than your own. So if you’re mywinestore.com, and abc.com/pageX.html links to one of your pages, then that’s an external link. But if mywinestore.com/pageY.html links to mywinestore.com/pageZ.html then that is regarded as an internal link. Still good but nowhere near as powerful as external links.
  • Unique websites are for example abc.com and def.com; not abc.com/xyz.html vs abc.com/ghi.html. Abc.com is known as the root domain.
  • Trusted sites are those sites that have many externals links to them from other trusted sites. The more links clicks away from trusted sites the less trusted your site will be.


This cheese store has 686 external links from 250 unique websites

This little cheese store for Pete’s sake!

Okay – they also sell wine, but not prominently on their website. Photos of the store suggest perhaps one third to one half wine and the rest in cheese?

Image of the Cheese Store's cheese and wine

It’s external links that are driving the store up the Google rankings.

The links are from well trusted sites like www.privatechefsinc.com/chefs.htm and www.thefoodpaper.com (they also have links from not so trusted websites but that needn’t matter). They also seem to be well covered by journalists as I see loads of reviews (mainly about cheese) in the external link listings.

They do well with suppliers linking to their store from supplier websites – a good thing to ask from your rep the next time they see you!

Let’s also check out one more company while we’re in Beverly Hills.

They have 103 external links from 54 unique websites

Less than cheesestorebh.com but the smaller number of links are of higher quality – it’s www.wine-valet.com.

At least it’s a dedicated wine store ;). It looks good, but once again it’s got a few issues (especially around their eCommerce system).

They are owned by the “Women and Wine” ladies who are especially adept at social media (and I truly mean expert, good on them!).

Their best rating external link is from a well regarded website called eventbrite.com. They did this by providing a prize for mashable’s summer tour which was very popular and gave all associated websites some serious search engine credibility.

So what has K&L Wines done wrong (when it has already done so much right)?

(a) only have 1 external link and
(b) are not clearly separating their stores.

In comparison Beverly Hills Wine Merchant has 15 external links and Vendome Wine & Spirits has 25. Both these stores have Beverly Hills in their web address – a great local business SEO practice.

If K&L want to do better they need to create a Beverly HIlls 90210 website presence.

Here’s what they should look at doing

Firstly let’s be clear – the internet marketing team behind kandlwines.com are very professional. They just have a gap in their armor and that’s organic SEO.

Secondly my SEO metrics suggest that this local wine internet market is not too competitive especially for wine related pages. So K&L Wines are still in the game!

Onto my local wine store SEO recommendations

1. Location.

Their overall website is excellent but they are not being associated with their locations – in particular the Beverly Hills location. This is because they have three stores whereas the others (appear as though they?) have one. And the three K&L store addresses appear on the same  K&L website page.

Their Beverly Hills competitors all have a physical store address on most of their web pages.

So what K&L Wines could do is create webpages that are dedicated to various stores. Here’s some options:

  • They might even go as far as using new websites with new domain names for (two of the) stores e.g. HollywoodKandLWines.com
  • Or different stores in different subdomains e.g. beverlyhills.kandlwines.com
  • Or different stores in different subfolders e.g. kandlwines.com/beverlyhills/
  • Or they may get away with very good web pages optimized for local searches e.g. kandlwines.com/wine-store-hollywood.html with a Google Map insert, and address text.

(They also need to be more consistent with their results in Google Maps. Sometimes they’re listed as K&L and sometimes as K&L Wine Merchants. On their website location page they say K&L Hollywood. Each listing of each store needs to be exactly the same everywhere from phone number to “spaces” in the retail address. Anyhow that’s more local search and I’m looking at organic in this post).

2. External Links.

They then need trusted websites from LA to link to their LA pages. Check out these high value links for some of their competitors:

*KCRW Radio Guest Interview about Cheese Store of Beverly Hills Comme Ça’s Fromager

*KCRW Radio Directory Listing for a Fringe Benefits card Wine Valet at Two Rodeo Drive:
www.kcrw.com/benefits/list?c=35 by food category

*Local Directory Listing for the cheese guys:

*A number of wine retailers listed in supplier La Fenetre’s website:

And lastly an external site that has all sorts of issues but some good links (I think). It’s from Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau:

*Wine and cheese tasting with the cheese guys:

*Then a listing of the cheese guys.

There are hundreds of other links but I choose these as they were rated highly in my SEO software (seomoz pro).

3. Anchor Text of these links.

The anchor text (usually blue and underlined) from the LA websites to K&L should promote Beverly Hills K & L Wines – not just K & L Wines. This anchor text is important for Google in deciding what keyword phrases to attach to the recipient website.

There’s lots more they could do such as having better URLs, do some more work on meta name descriptions. But external links are hard work so I’d concentrate on that.

So having looked at what’s working well for the local competition here are some ideas for K&L Wines

  • Approach food and wine journalists with story ideas. Ideally a wine journalists’s blog would write about K&L Wines Beverly Hills store with a link to their Beverly Hills optimized page. The Cheese Store has done brilliantly by using mostly cheeses to get lots of reviews and links!
  • Wine bloggers are good sources of links (note DrVino has a good page about Best Wine Stores in LA that K&L Wines is listed on – but to the general website of course not the LA one).
  • Do a search for Beverly Hills Business Directories and if they look reputable then list in these e.g. Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.
  • Your wine suppliers could be an easy one.
  • Ask your customers to write you reviews on google maps and yelp.com (put the decals they offer in your shop window)

What do you think they should do?

(If you have a site you’d like to be reviewed for this blog please contact me).

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