Please, Update Your Copyright Year!

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Something that is often overlooked, but very important, is the copyright year on the bottom of your web pages.

Update your copyright yearAlthough it’s probably acceptable to have the previous year appear for a few months, it is not OK to have a copyright year that is 2, 3 or 5 years out of date — they make your site look very out-of-date and leave the visitor wondering if you are still in business.

So, if you do only one thing in the next week, PLEASE update your copyright year!

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Importance of Holiday Photos For Your Winery

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Please, Please, PLEASE Take Pictures!

I KNOW how crazy the Holiday season is, and am sure taking photos is probably the last thing on your mind — but it is now, while your tasting room is decorated and full of happy people that you NEED to be taking photos for your online sites!  (The ‘online sites’ I’m referring to are your winery website, blog, FaceBook, etc..)

Will take pictures for wineBy taking photos of your guests having fun and uploading them to your sites, you are showing new site visitors how much fun you are (making them want to go and experience it for themselves) and encouraging past guests to visit your site looking for photos of themselves (which also reminds them what a good time they had, making them want to visit again).

If you don’t have time to take the photos yourself, you can ‘bribe’ a photographer (they don’t even have to be professional — just someone who can take good photos) with bottles of wine or free entry into an event (this has won me over quite a few times! :) )

Picture Taking Tips

Close-up of people laughingTaking photos of groups of people can be difficult, so here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Try not to take a lot of posed shots — look around for people who are laughing and having a good time and zoom in on them (people respond better to close-ups than full body shots).
  • When you find a likely subject, don’t stop with the first shot!  You want to take several photos in a row in case one of the subjects has their eyes closed at the moment you captured your first image or their mouth was in a strange position while they are eating, drinking or talking.
  • When you do take posed shots, check to see if there is anything that would distract the viewer from the image’s focus. For example, if a wine bottle will be in the photo, make sure the label is facing front.  Remove any wadded up napkins, empty plates and glasses or anything else that would detract from the photo.

Are There Legalities?

If you are worried about the legality of displaying photos of your guests online, there are several ways to handle this:

  1. Embarrasing picture of someone drinking and smoking wearing a santa hatDo nothing.  As long as it was taken in a public place, you are not selling the image, it does not infringe on the subject’s reasonable expectation of privacy (meaning, you didn’t take it of them while they were in the rest room), and it does not defame or embarrassment them, then you are within your legal rights to take photos of people in your tasting room and at your events and display them on your online sites.
  2. If you are uncomfortable taking photos without some kind of notice, then a simple way to take care of this is to post signs at the entrance and around the event/tasting room saying something like “We are taking photos today for our website and FaceBook.  By entering the premises you are giving us permission to use images of you for these purposes.”
  3. If even the above is not enough, then a more difficult, time consuming, invasive, but iron clad way of handling this is to have your guests fill out model release forms.  If interested in this option, feel free to download and use this simple form.

 

Create new photo galleries at FaceBook for your Holiday picturesNow What?

As soon as you’ve taken your photos, you’ll want to upload them to their own gallery on your website, blog, FaceBook page and/or Flickr.   (I’m mentioning the different options because I know many of you don’t have the resources to immediately add them to your website and so can take advantage of the usability of blogs, FaceBook and Flickr by uploading the images yourself.)

Once the images are uploaded, send out an email blast letting your guests know the photos are up and encourage them to check out the new photo gallery.  You can even make a game of it!  Maybe do something funky with one of the photos and the first person to notice it gets a free corkscrew.

Bottom Line

People LOVE to view photos of themselves, and by keeping your online sites updated with photos and encouraging your guests to view them, you are not only keeping your brand fresh in their minds, but while checking out the photos they may decide to buy more wine from your store or see about an upcoming event they would like to attend (after all, they can look at the photos to see how much fun they had at the last one :) ).

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Holiday Social Media Icons

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LinkedIN Christmas Icon

If you want to make your website look timely and show your Holiday spirit, think about swapping your regular LinkIN, FaceBook and Twitter icons with Holiday ones!

From here you can view the top 10 Holiday icon sets (put together by Specky Boy Design Magazine), follow the link to where you can download them and have your web designer swap out your current icons. You can even use them in your email signature!

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5 Tips For Better Vineyard Photography

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Taking great vineyard images can be challenging. Pictures can turn out blurry, have sunspots and lighting issues or just have nothing to distinguish them from a million other vineyard shots. These 5 tips can help correct the most common of these problems and provide you with some amazing and unique vineyard images.

  1. Go out when the lighting is even
  2. Detect & remove distractions
  3. Use a monopod to get rid of the shakes
  4. Look for clouds, colors & other effects to make your images stand out
  5. Have patience!

 

Go Out When the Lighting is Even

The best time to take pictures in the vineyard is when the light is soft and even — usually early in the morning right after sunrise and then again around sunset.  What you want to avoid  is the harsh light that is cast when the sun is high in the sky.

This photo was taken during a hot summer afternoon when the lighting was very harsh with deep shadows and almost white highlights. This image was taken during the early morning as the sun was just starting to rise making the lighting fairly even.
Harsh lighting on a cluster of pinot noir grapes
Sometimes this effect can be kind of cool, but most of the time the image is unusable.
Early morning light shining through a cluster of pinot noir grapes
An added bonus is how the light shines through the grapes making the colors even more amazing.

Believe it or not, overcast days (if light enough) can allow you to take pictures all day because the clouds diffuse the intense sunlight giving you that even lighting you need.

Detect & Remove Distractions

One bad grape in an otherwise perfect cluster, a huge brown leaf in the middle of a group of green leaves, or a post running through a series of vines are examples of distractions that can draw the viewer’s eyes away from the main focal point of your image. These distractions will dilute the impact of your picture.   If you identify these distractions beforehand and remove or find a way to minimize the problem the result will be a more perfect picture.

For example, if there is a brown leaf blocking your intended target, go ahead and remove it once you have determined that removing the first distraction will not expose a larger one — such as a gaping hole in the vines or dried out grapes.  If there is a weird vine twining around the cluster you want to photograph, try to re-route it to either side.

The two images below may look very similar, but the one on top has the light colored post running through it which tends to draw the eyes away from the clusters of ripe grapes and breaks up the continuity of the row.

The post in the middle of this row detracts from the rest of the image.

Once I saw the post, I moved down the row a little bit more so the post wouldn’t show and took this picture. As you can see, it looks a lot more cohesive and there is nothing to distract from the cluster of ripe Pinot Noir grapes.

A row of ripe pinot noir grapes

So, next time you see the perfect shot, take a careful look around to see if there are any potential distractions — and then do the best you can to take care of them before they get into your final image.

Use A Monopod To Get Rid Of The Shakes

MonopodIf you have a difficult time keeping your hands steady while taking pictures, then you probably have a lot of shots that are blurry and out of focus.  Although a tripod will help steady the camera, you loose much of your mobility and may have difficulty setting it up in all the places you’d like.  A wonderful compromise is the monopod.

A monopod is simply an adjustable pole with a camera attachment at the top.  With only one leg, it is very easy to carry around (you can even use it as a walking stick) and when you see the perfect shot, just plop the foot on the ground and use the pole to stabilize the camera, adjust the height (if necessary) and take the picture.  In seconds you have your shake-free shot and can quickly move on down the row.  Even better, they are relatively inexpensive. (Amazon sells them for under $25)

Look For Clouds, Colors & Other Effects To Make Your Images Stand Out

While wandering the vineyard, look for effects that will add interest to your image such as cloud formations, colors, water droplets (you can even bring a spray bottle and lightly spray a few clusters) and so forth. One trick I use to add a little color to my grape images is to crouch down and shoot up through the cluster so you can get a glimpse of sky through breaks in the vines.

In this example, I was able to find this beautiful cluster of Tempranillo grapes during veraison with the colorful leaves all around it.

Colorful Tempranillo grapes

Have Patience!

Take your time while walking the vineyard and really look around.  Perhaps there are colored streamers in the rows that fan out when the wind blows, then wait until they are all fanned out and then take your picture. Is there a beautiful cloud formation that will be right over the vineyard in a few minutes?  If so, wait until it’s in the perfect position and then take your shot.

That is what I did in the following example. I saw these gorgeous clouds approaching the winery and waited until the cloud opening was right over the top of it and then took the shot!

Clouds over King Estate

Conclusion . . .

The main point of these tips are to help you understand the importance of lighting, tools and paying attention to the life in the vineyard and how it can help you improve your images.

Once you understand and implement this, you should see quite an improvement in your images! Have Fun! :)

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Millennials and Winery Websites, Marketing and Wine Clubs

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Leah Hennessy, Millennial Wine MarketerInterview with Leah Hennessy — Millennial, Owner and author of the blog The Millennier: Wine + Millennials and all around AWESOME person! During our meeting we discussed what she likes and dislikes in a winery website, ways to attract Millennials to buy your wine and join your wine club and some basic marketing advice we should all be implementing. What I love most about Leah is her advice is down-to-earth, easy to follow and, most important, actionable!!!!!

What do you consider to be the Millennial age range?
You can go to a dozen different places and get a dozen different age ranges for Millennials.  For me, personally, I consider anyone born after 1978 to be a Millennial.  But more important then age, what truly makes a Millennial are the shared experiences of a generation that have shaped us all in a similar way.
Why are Millennials buying wine?
Many of us have graduated from college and identify drinking wine as a symbol of our new mature, independent status and lifestyle. We’re basically like everyone else – we are looking for wines to celebrate special occasions, to share with friends and to drink with dinner.
Why do you go to a winery website?
I think that most Millennials don’t associate wineries with websites. So if I’m drinking a wine and see a url, or see that a winery is following me on Twitter I may go check it out. But I have to be looking for it specifically — I generally don’t just randomly search for wineries or wines on the Internet.
What do you look for in a winery website design?
Good design and information that is easy to access. And DON’T use the same design you’ve had for the last 20 years!!!  Look at your web design kind of like a hair cut — you might be really comfortable with the same hair cut you’ve been getting for the last 20 years, but by now you are looking PRETTY dated with that ‘do’. Update it!  And just like a haircut, take a look at current magazines and pick out what you really like that is going on RIGHT NOW and incorporate those elements into your design. It will work wonders.
PS: We don’t mind scrolling down to read the whole page so don’t kill yourself trying to fit everything in one screen with no scrollbar.
Do you prefer Flash websites? (I’m asking this because many wineries feel to attract Millennials their site needs to be developed in Flash.)
You have to understand, I (and Millennials in general) are on the Internet ALL THE TIME. We just want to be able to access the information we’re looking for quickly and easily. So if the Flash is well done and I can still get to the information, then its fine. But if its over-stylized or unprofessional then I won’t be going back. So really, whether a site has Flash or not makes no difference to me — its all in how well put together it is and how much it excites me about the wine.
How do you feel about websites that open to music or someone talking to you?
Everyone I know HATES that — especially if I’m at work! Maybe because it reminds us too much of our old MySpace pages [that opened to music]. Whatever the reason, 9 out of 10 times it’s pretty annoying.
What irritates you the most about winery websites?
Sites that still have old, dated designs, pixelated images, spontaneous music – also when a site does not have enough information, and/or when the site is difficult to navigate.  These things drive me CRAZY, but I’m always amazed at how many are out there. These businesses are shooting themselves in the foot by having these old or unprofessional websites representing who they are to a consumer group that they want to impress. When I sat down with Morgan First [Marketing and Community Director for ‘The Second Glass’ wine magazine and website, and Millennial Extraordinaire], the state of many winery websites is one of the first things we ended up discussing. Morgan relies on these sites for information on an upcoming articles and/or tastings. She wants to get her information quickly and easily and does not want to be bogged down with poor navigation, out-dated text, and slow loading graphics.
Millennials don’t need all the bells and whistles, but we do need a site that is professional looking, well designed, updated regularly, loads quickly and the information is easy to access.
What information do you look for in a winery website?
Where you are!!!! If you’re based in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, I want to know it. After that, I want your branding to make me excited about your wine! For anyone who doesn’t understand what branding is, it is your identity and your point of view that you show the world – this is what makes you stand out.
For example, Red Cap Vineyard’s POV centers around the young family that owns and works the vines in their Howell Mountain vineyard. They back this ‘branding’ up with pictures showing the family actually working in the vineyards and in their text with such headings as “Is Daddy Out Kissing the Grapes Again?”
After the home page, I go right to the wines section and look at the prices. If you are charging a lot of money for your wines, then you better have an impressive website.
What makes you want to return to a winery website?
I would go back for more information, to buy wine (especially if there was a sale or the shipping was free) and maybe to check out their blog and see new pictures — but I would only do this if I knew the blog and gallery were updated regularly.
What type of internet connection do you have?
Very fast. This is true for most Millennials and if they don’t have a fast Internet connection at home, then they would definitely have one at work.
Do Search Engines figure into your search for good wines?
Not often. I never blindly search for wines on the Internet. I have to have heard of a specific region, wine or winery before I will go searching for them on the Internet.
Do many Millennials access winery websites using mobile devices?
I do look at websites using my mobile device, but if your site doesn’t look good on my mobile browser its not a deal breaker. However, if you do decide to create a mobile version of your website, be sure to FLAUNT IT. Maybe even incorporate your technical experience into your POV.
I read about how Millennials live and breath on Facebook and don’t really even check their email — is this true?? If so, would an eNewsletter campaign even work with them?
If you are going for Millennials, then you should know that eNewsletters = junk mail. If you truly want a Millennial following, create a FaceBook ‘fan page’ for your winery, then utilize it as another mailing list. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can read my article on FaceBook for Wineries and if you still need some help, then reach out to any Millennials you may know and have them show you the ropes. They can be your FaceBook expert and teach you its ins and outs as well as proper FaceBook etiquette.
Wineries are being told left and right to use Twitter. But how effective is using Twitter to attract Millennial attention? Would their time be better spent focusing on their FaceBook page instead of twittering?
Twitter is a very important tool in your social media kit, and its not just limited to Millennials.  There are no where near as many Millennials on Twitter as there are on Facebook, and many Millennials “don’t get” Twitter – however, you can reach more than just Gen Y-ers on Twitter.  Businesses are reaching out to Millennials right now to increase sales – remember that, and don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. There may not be a huge concentration of Millennials on Twitter (yet), but there are millions of other potential consumers there to connect with.
What other social networking sites do Millennials go to regularly in regards to wine?
Yelp is a review website and is incredibly valuable to anyone who goes out to a restaurant, a store and/or BUYS WINE. If you sell wine then I would see if you are listed on Yelp and if you have any reviews.
You suggest in your Millennial Wine Club Outreach article that wineries should offer a lighter version of their wine club to Millennials — wouldn’t doing something like this alienate their existing Wine Club members?
No. As long as your rules are clearly posted, then why should your existing members get upset? After all, I don’t get ticked off when my bank offers discounts to students! I understand where they’re at and why they need the discounts. The same goes for us Millennials. Most of us are paying off student loans or saving up to buy a house and may be more likely to join your wine club if you have a ‘lighter’ version that we can more easily afford. And we are very picky about what wine club we want to join. The club needs to offer good discounts, good shipping, good events and, most importantly, treat us with respect.

I can’t thank Leah enough for her insightful and informative answers to my questions! I feel she has given some specific, easy to follow ideas to help you reach out to Millennials and hopefully, make them loyal wine buyers!

As usual, your comments and suggestions are encouraged!!!

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Demystifying Search Engines for Winery Websites

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Explaining, in very simple terms, why Search Engines are important to you, what the rankings mean, how Search Engines work, choosing your keyword phrases and using them to improve your Search Engine rankings, and ways to check your progress.

Disclaimer

This article is by no means the end-all, be-all of Search Engine Information!!!! They are such complicated beasties it would be as difficult to try and totally explain them as it would be to explain the U.S. tax system!

Instead, what I’ve tried to do is focus the article on those of you who may not be very familiar with Search Engines and to give you an idea of how they work and what you can do to help your winery website’s rankings — without spending a fortune at a marketing company.

Pinot NoirImportance of Search Engines and Rankings

We all know Search Engines are important, but you may be asking yourself “How do they effect me and my winery?” Well, believe it or not, people are actually using the Search Engines to look for new, undiscovered wineries and wines.

For example, I just checked on Google to see how many people searched using the phrase ‘buy pinot noir’, and was FLOORED! An average of 1,600 people search using that term per month! PER MONTH!!!! How do you think it would effect your pinot noir sales if you showed up in the first few pages of these results? (And to be effective, you want to show up in the first 3 pages of the results for the keywords you’ve targeted.)

But how do you get on the first 3 pages? Well, first you have to know a little bit about how Search Engines work . . . .

Explaining the Search Engine Process

How Search Engines find web pages and content to rank for their search results is they send out little computer programs called ‘web crawlers’ or ‘spiders’ who browse through websites on the internet and, based on certain words and phrases in the web page’s coding and text, rank it for the keyword phrases it feels are most relevant.

For example, if the ‘spider’ reads through your ‘Vineyard’ page and encounters the phrase ‘sustainable farming’ a lot, then it will consider your page relevant for that keyword phrase and rank you for it accordingly. Of course, this is a gross simplification of the process, and does not take into consideration how much competition you may have for these same keyword phrases, but I hope it helps you understand a wee bit about how they work.

So, what do you do with this knowledge? Why, make sure every page on your site is rich with the keyword phrases you want to be ranked highly for! Sounds easy doesn’t it? NOT!!!!

Finding Good Keyword Phrases

You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need to FIND good keyword phrases? Can’t I just optimize my site for ‘buy pinot noir’ and get ranked high for that?” Unfortunately, no. The more popular a phrase is, the more competition there will be amongst websites for space in those coveted 3 results pages I mentioned above. For example, below you can see that over 4 million web pages showed up in the results when I searched using the term ‘buy pinot noir’ — that’s A LOT of competition!
Search Results for 'buy pinot noir'
Unless you are pretty dedicated to being ranked for this phrase (and when I say ‘dedicated’, I mean with both your time and your money) your chances of showing up in the top 3 pages is pretty slim. So now what do you do?

You are going to have to get creative with your keyword phrases and narrow your focus. You want to use keyword phrases that are popular enough by potential consumers to be worthwhile, yet not so popular with your competition that it is impossible to make it to the top 3 pages.

So, Instead of shooting for ‘buy pinot noir’, maybe you should focus on ‘willamette valley pinot noir’ or ‘award winning pinot noir’. And maybe there are keyword phrases out there people are using that you never thought of! (We are so involved with the wine industry it can be impossible to try and ‘think’ like a consumer and figure out what keywords they would use to look for wine.) So, to help you come up with keyword ideas is Google’s Adword Keyword Tool. (This is actually for their ‘Adwords’ customers but anyone can use it.)

When you click on the above link, you are taken to the page where you can enter in the keyword phrases you want to use as a starting point. In the below example, I used ‘willamette valley pinot noir’.
Google Keyword Tool

After you click on ‘Get keyword
ideas’ the following page comes up:
Keyword Results

What you are looking for on this page are keyword phrase ideas you can use and how popular they are (like I mentioned above, you want a phrase that is popular enough to be worthwhile in pursuing but not so popular you don’t stand a chance of ranking in the first 3 page results).

After looking at the keyword results Google gave me I found several phrases I hadn’t thought of! One of these is ‘willamette valley vineyards pinot noir’ and with it averaging 260 searches a month, this would be a great phrase to pursue for your website! You KNOW at least 260 people are using it to search with per month, and when I searched for it using Google it returned only around 50,300 results. This may SEEM like a lot, but with a little work optimizing your site you have a good chance of rising to the top.

Take your time and have fun using this AWESOME Google tool! You may be surprised at the keyword phrases that pop up and the more specific keyword phrases you find the better your chances of showing up in the top 3 pages of the search results.

Where To Put Your Keyword Phrases

Now that you have your list of keyword phrases, what do you do with them? I’m going to go over where you need to insert these words and phrases and once you understand how this works, either you or your web designer can put them into action.

Example of a keyword rich home page

Home Page

Search Engines consider your home page to be the most important page on your entire site! (This is the page that comes up when people type in www.yourwebsite.com.) Because of this, you need to make sure your home page is chock full of keyword rich text! So, if you have an intro page that only includes a graphic and/or Flash animation with a link to the rest of your site, you could be missing out on many Search Engine opportunities.

Spangler Vineyards is an example of a winery who knows what keyword phrases they are targeting and do a great job of making sure their home page is rich with them. ‘Distinctive Red Wines’, ‘Vibrant White Wines’ and ‘Wines in Southern Oregon’ are all keyword phrases used in their main header and are popular enough terms to be searched for in the Search Engines but not so popular they’re impossible to get ranked in. These phrases are also used in the text that follows which makes the Search Engine ‘spiders’ think this page is even more relevant for these keywords — thereby increasing their chances of being ranked high.

Keywords In The Code

View the page source from a web pageSomething you may not be aware of is that much like the wiring for your home is hidden in the walls, the coding for your web page is hidden behind the visible face it shows to the world. To the right is an example of the coding that makes up a web page.

Those of you using Mozilla FireFox, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer can view the coding by pulling up a web page, right clicking anywhere on the page (except on an image or flash animation) and selecting ‘View page source’ or ‘View Source’ from the window that pops up. This will open up another page that includes all the coding for that page.

Why do you need to know this? Because within this coding section are some very important areas to the Search Engines: your Meta Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords and Header Tags.

Meta Titles

Meta tags are snippets of code at the top of your page that can be used in a variety of ways. You want to use them to give your page a Meta Title, a Meta Description and Meta Keywords.

Below is an example of the meta tags on my home page focusing on my primary keyword phrase of ‘winery website’

<title>Winery Website Design and Vineyard Photography</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Focusing on small, boutique and micro wineries.” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”wine marketing, wine web design, wine web site, wine website, wine websites, winery creative services, winery ecommerce, winery ecommerce solution, winery shopping cart, winery web design, winery web site, winery web site design, winery web site maintenance, winery website, winery website design, winery website maintenance, winery websites, micro wineries, small wineries, boutique wineries” />

 

As you can see, ‘Winery Website’ is the first phrase in my title, and focus this even more by including in my meta description the type of wineries I prefer to work with. If you are wondering why I did not include my company name in the title or description, this is because the keyword phrase ‘winery website’ has a lot more competition for high rankings in the Search Engines then ‘4 the Grapes’. And ‘4 the Grapes’ is used often enough in the site that I rank high for my company name anyway — make sense?

VERY IMPORTANT: Be sure to reinforce the keyword phrases used in your meta tags on the rest of your page! If you were using the above meta tag examples for your page, you would back them up by having ‘Winery Website” in your page header and also use it in the regular text of the page. This way the Search Engine spiders who are browsing your page can see you really do have relevant content for these keywords and will factor this in during rankings

Header Tags

Header tags are the HTML tags used to code the headers on your page. The Search Engines consider <H1> to be the most important heading on your page and the higher the ‘H’ tag the lower is its importance.
Header Tags

As you can see in the above example, I reinforced my relevancy for the keyword phrase ‘winery website’ by including it in my <h1> tag.

An example of alt tagsALT Tags

Alt tags are part of the image coding describing what the image is about. They are mainly for folks who have their images turned off or for the seeing impaired, but the Search Engine spiders read these descriptions too and you can use them for your keyword phrases.

In the example to the left, the alt tag describes this picture as “Abacela, a southern oregon vineyard” which will help their ranking for ‘southern oregon vineyard’

Other Factors That Effect Your Search Engine Rankings

I know I’ve already given you a TON of information, but I promise, we’re almost done! The Search Engines consider 2 other factors when ranking your site.

#1 is how often you update your web pages (especially your home page). You see, they think if a website is updated often then the site owners are ‘obviously’ on the ball and should have their keyword phrases ranked higher then a website that’s been sitting, unchanged, for months. (I always recommend to my clients they update their home page regularly with the latest wine releases, new reviews and awards and listing any events they will be having.)

And #2 is how many outside websites are linking to yours. The Search Engines feel a site that has a lot of links leading to it from other sites MUST be important, so they will rank this site higher then a site that has no other sites linking to it. There are many ways to get other sites to link to yours but here are just a few to get you started:

  • You can ‘trade links’ with other websites. For example, set up a ‘Visit’ page on your website and ask the various businesses you want to include on this page if they would link to you if you link to them.
  • You can start playing with social media websites like Twitter and LinkedIN and post links to your site there.

 

How to check your progress

For my Grand Finali, I’m going to let you know a little secret on how to track your progress in the Search Engines — Web Position. This program will look through the Search Engines you specify for the keyword phrases you set to see if, and where you rank. It is a WONDERFUL tool and is considered the industry standard software for Search Engine marketers everywhere. You may think because of this it would be pretty expensive, but you can buy the ‘Standard Version‘ for about $150 and they do offer a free trial. Below is an example of one of their result summaries for my own site:
WebPosition results

I hope I haven’t completely overwhelmed you, but by breaking down all the different elements of the Search Engines I’m hoping you have a better understanding of how they work and some solid ideas you can implement on your site to improve your own Search Engine rankings.

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How to keep your site visitors coming back for more!

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In a nutshell, you need to give your visitors a REASON to come back to your site.  So think about it — what makes you return to a site time and time again?

The usual reasons are:

  1. They have something you want (whether its a product or information)
  2. The site is easy to navigate
  3. They update their site regularly (so you know if you return there is a good chance you will see something new)
  4. You receive regular eNewsletters from them about new products/information or a special offer

So how can you apply this to your own site?

Wine Bottle Shot

Give your site visitors what they want

Most visitors to your site are looking to buy wine and/or find information about you.  So make sure your site ‘gives them what they want’!

Offer a quick and easy way for them to buy wine online

  • Allow them to buy wine directly for your site (I’m planning a blog article discussing orderform/ecommerce solutions for wineries.  You can vote to have this be my next topic here)
  • If you don’t want to deal with an online form or ecommerce (believe me, I understand what a nightmare shipping can be), then at least list and link to where they can buy your wine. For example, at Capitello Wines they have a link next to each wine where it can be purchased from AvalonWines.com.

Provide detailed information on your wines

  • Include a label and/or bottle shot
  • Provide tasting notes and/or technical notes
  • List any awards and good reviews the wine has received.
  • Offer a printable version of the wine information (usually in pdf format)

Tell your Story
Tell your story

  • ALWAYS include an ‘About’ or ‘History’ page telling visitors how you got started and why you are now making wine.
  • If you use any special techniques, have a unique set-up, or anything else of interest about your winery and/or yourself, TALK ABOUT IT!!!! For example, Mark and Marie Jurasevich of Noble Estate Vineyard make all their own wine using top-of-the-line but tiny equipment! So small, in fact, that during harvest Mark loads his beautiful Italian press using 5 Gallon buckets! What makes this so unique to consumers is by processing his grapes in such small amounts, he is able to control EVERYTHING that goes into them (no stray leaves, insects or bad berries).
  • If you are using organic or sustainable methods, say so!  And maybe even explain what that is.

Make your site easy to navigate

Have you ever searched a site looking for a specific product or bit of information and it took at least 20 minutes to find?  If so, then you KNOW how FRUSTRATING this can be! So make sure you aren’t doing the same thing to your visitors.

  • Make your navigation clearly visible (don’t hide it in a bunch of design elements) and easy to understand (don’t use ‘clever’ wording)
  • Try to keep your main navigation under 10 links — otherwise you can overwhelm your visitor. If you have a LOT of pages, then organize them into categories and sub categories.
  • If you have a lot of pages on your site, add a search feature and/or a site map

To see how intuitive your current navigation is, have some non-industry friends and family (maybe even trusted customers) visit your site and go through the motions of purchasing wine or looking for information. Once finished, ask them about their experience — what was good, what was bad, and what could be improved on.

This is especially important because we are always so familiar with our own sites that things we just automatically know, site visitors could be fumbling with.

Update your website regularly — especially your home page!!!!!!!

Show your site visitors you have a dynamic website by frequently updating your home page. Don’t know what to put there? Here are some ideas:

  • List any wine awards and good reviews
  • List upcoming events
  • Add any new wine releases
  • If you’ve hired any new personnel, include their information
  • If you have a blog, list your latest blog title with a link to the blog itself

Besides your home page, make sure your wine list and event schedule stay current and get rid of past events — nothing makes you look more out of date then to still have an event listed from months ago!
If you’re concerned about the cost to have these changes done regularly, or if it takes your webmaster a long time to make changes, here are some ways to update your site yourself:

  • If your webmaster coded your site using Adobe Dreamweaver (this is the industry standard web design software), then you can download and use Adobe Contribute (which works in conjunction with Dreamweaver) to update your site as easily as a Word for Windows document. (You will need to get your site information from your webmaster in order to set this up.) What is so great about Contribute is you can try the software free for 30 days, and if you want to continue using it you can buy it for only $199.
  • Another option is to ask your webmaster about installing a content management system (CMS) onto your site. Once installed you will be able to login online and easily edit the text sections of your site.

Contact your visitors regularly

With so many places selling wine, you need to keep yourself in the front of your customer’s minds by contacting them regularly via eNewsletters.

With online eNewsletter companies like Vertical Response and Constant Contact, you can easily collect visitor emails and send out eblasts every time a new wine is released, to announce a new promotion, if you have a new event scheduled, received a new wine award, or any other reason you can think of!

By doing this, not only are you making sure your consumers don’t forget you, you’re also giving them a reason to visit your site and hopefully buy wine!

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