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The Critical Factor of Wine SEO: Links

Links are hugely important for SEO, but not just any links. Bruce describes what websites, wine industry and other industries, you want links from, and how best to get and implement them.


Wine SEO comes down to great links


Hi WineMarketingPros, I’m Bruce McGechan and this is another Whiteboard Winesday. Today we’re going to talk about SEO again, but in particular we’re going to talk about links, and the fact that ‘Links are it.’ They’re almost everything when it comes to doing better in the Google algorithm.

You remember a couple of videos ago, we talked about the algorithm. We described the algorithm in terms of a pie chart and how Trust, Link Popularity, and Anchor Text made a majority of that pie chart. You remember Trust, was about how far away your website was from the trusted domain seed-set of websites. That Link Popularity, was about how many good websites were linking to your web site, or web page actually. And Anchor Text, the text that is on the hyperlink itself.

Now you can see, it’s all about links. Although I expect that ‘Social Signals’ will become a bigger part of the algorithm when MOZ does its research at the end of 2013. I think links are always going to be a big part of doing well in the Google algorithm.

There are two strategies really when it comes to building links. The first strategy is “Inbound”, inbound marketing some people call it. The second is the more traditional way called “By Request”. We’ll look at each way of getting links in this video.

Inbound. Now, ‘inbound’ refers to building such great content, that it’s link-worthy. What many companies do in the wine industry, is do that through blogging.

It might be a video blog, hello Jordan; Lisa at Jordan does a great video blog. It might be Podcasts, in which case if you do video podcasts make sure you transcribe it when you put that podcast or video on a webpage, so Google can crawl the words. Or it might just be a good old blog post, including photos, maps, infographics, all sorts of things to make that blog post not just words.

You might not do a blog post, you might do web pages, which are just simple articles, web pages on your website. That’s fine as well. Just blogging is an easy thing to do is all.

When we think about what sort of blog posts we do, let’s go back to I think it was that last video in this Whiteboard Winesday series, and it was about the Keyword Phrase Long Tail Graph.

Remember we talked about how there were some keywords in the Long Tail that were really important for conversion, but there wasn’t much traffic. And the Fat Head, where there was lots of traffic but it was super competitive. In between, in the Chunky Middle, was the sweet-spot where there was quite a bit of traffic, but it wasn’t too competitive. Those are the keyword phrases we are going after. They tend to be region and varietal, or subregion combinations, some of the less popular varietals as well.

When I think about subregion and varietal, I think about terroir. If you’re a premium wine brand, or you want to sell a lot of high margin wines and you’re a wine retailer, then I think terroir is a good first step when you start writing these sorts of blog posts.

The soil, the varietal clones, the micro-climate of the appellation of course, the climate of the sub-region, the appellation, the region, the state, how close you are to the ocean, the valleys that go through… All those sorts of things, using maps. You can get a graphic designer to do a special map just for you. You could do infographics. So talk about terroir, and sub-regions.

When you talk about varietals; make it really interesting as well. Perhaps show photos of the different varietals in the vines. Look at Jances Robinson’s grape varietals books, making sure you reference to her book of course, about why your varietal is so good.

Vintage History, go through all the vintage history and describe why one vintage was better than the others. So that’s terroir-based, region-based, varietal-based blog posts you can do that can be so interesting… because you spent a fair amount of time on them, and made them interesting… that other companies will link, other websites will link to them.

Another good idea is to think about the interesting trade, the interesting restaurants and wine bars, interesting wine retailers. If you’re a wine retailer, the interesting wineries out there. And write great blog posts about them, with the idea being that you then go and contact them and say, “Look, I wrote this great blog post about you, would you write a great blog post about me?” That’s getting a bit ‘by request’ strategy but it’s great stuff to show how your wine might work in really well with particular food matchings in the case of a restaurant.

Visual tasting notes. Look, if you haven’t seen the Wine Folly yet, check them out. They are some great graphic designers, they make great infographics, including great wine tasting notes. So that’s a great way to visually describe your wines, in a way that you’ll be linked to from external websites.

Events. Whenever you are going to an interesting event write about that, and let the event organizer know, so they might write about you. So that is kind of inbound stuff. There are all sorts of great inbound marketing ideas, and how to come up with great content. Just search the web on different ways to do that.

The more traditional way to get links is to request them. We all remember those requests where we get an email from a stranger saying “Dear Sir, Could you please link to my website. Regards, such-and-such.” It’s not the way to do it. We hate it. Let’s not do it to other people, it doesn’t look good for us, it doesn’t feel comfortable for us, it’s not a good strategy.

What is a good strategy is to request links from you Regional Marketing Organizations. Both the wine and the tourism RMOs, but especially the wine RMOs. The subregion, the region, the state, the national RMOs; make sure they link to your website in their directories, and possibly even to the relevant appellation blog post or webpage that you’ve written.

Local governmental or quasi-governmental organizations, like Chamber of Commerce, they’ve got good directories about local businesses as well, which Google rates. Google doesn’t rate lots of non-relevant directories but the relevant directories are still good. So make sure you’ve requested that you are linked in those.

Suppliers and Trade Customers; you can ask them possibly to write about you. And go back to that reciprocal idea. This isn’t the reciprocal-link idea: my interesting-website or interesting-links page links to their interesting-website or interesting-links page. Those days are gone, Google sees through that. No, you’ve really got to have reciprocal blog posts, perhaps where you write about them and link to them, and they write about you and link to you, if that makes sense.

Wine bloggers, of course, wine bloggers. But, especially wine bloggers that you already have a relationship with, and local ones.

Competitors, the idea here is that you find out what external third-party web sites are linking to your competitors. MOZ has a really good tool called OpenExplorer.com, check them out. You type in your competitors, and there are all sorts of competitors of course in the wine industry, their website address, and you click on links. You’ll work it out, and you’ll see all the websites that are linking to your competitors. And I tell you what, most of them are usually the top rated ones; usually newspapers, wine magazines, general magazines, wine bloggers… but then you see little gems come out that you hadn’t thought of, and you go, “Yeah! I can make a request to them!” And you go ahead and do it.

Next one, PR Media. As I just mentioned, when I look at winery and wine retail external links, and the best ones are usually from wine magazines, wine bloggers, newspapers’ websites, that sort of thing. So whenever you do PR Media, politely request the journalist to link to you. If they can’t, you know, because they’re not the editor of the online website, then later on when that goes up, make that request again to the journalist and he or she might make sure that that can be done.

Now… In the old days what people used to do is they’d have paid links. They’d pay people to link to their website, and sometimes you could spend five bucks… 50 bucks… and get 1000 links. In the old days you used to be able to go into the big linking networks, also called link-farms, this is a barn… this is a cow … or horse maybe, anyhow Link-Farms that’s supposed to be. Those Link-Farms are not a good idea either. Because, that’s a penguin, ‘Penguin’ came along, which is a Google update which started penalizing websites which had these bad links, that went against Google’s policies, or Google just downright didn’t like them. Nowadays you shouldn’t do that, and there are a bunch of other things that you shouldn’t do, which if you do do it will hurt your rankings.

You’ll need to work this out but, if you’ve found that at the time the Google Penguin update was released, you suddenly saw a drop off in traffic, you need to talk to an SEO expert, find out what went wrong, and how you can correct it … and there is a way to correct that with Google. Could take a while though.

So that is SEO and links. This is really important.

If you’ve got any questions please go to the WineMarketingPros forums.

And that’s it. Kia Ora.

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