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Wine industry leaders share SEO strategies for success

Published:  02 May, 2024

In the rapidly changing world of wine marketing, digital visibility is crucial for brand success, with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) playing a pivotal role. Harpers has explored strategies shared by industry leaders for unlocking SEO success.

A wine brand may want to adapt its SEO strategy based on how mainstream or niche said brand is – this is according to Andy Barr, SEO expert and founder of digital marketing agency 10Yetis.

“You only have to look at the title tags of every single major wine company, ‘buy wine online’ is the holy grail,” he told Harpers.

Barr, who has worked with one of the UK’s biggest wine clubs, suggests a nuanced strategy, incorporating ‘long tail’ keywords to capture consumers at different stages of the buying cycle. 

“Going after popular keywords straight away is always hard, so some people go for what is known as ‘long tail’ keywords. These are longer phrases that can also show where a consumer is in the buying cycle. For example, trying to compete with the bigger brands for the short term ‘buy wine online’ is very hard. It would be easier to search for a more nuanced/niche, longer keyword phrase such as ‘buy south of France red wine online’,” said Barr.

One such big brand is Virgin Wines – as a major online wine retailer, Virgin is top of most wine-related search hits on Google. For large businesses, having a catalogue of high-demand queries and niche terms is vital to ensure comprehensive coverage and maximum visibility.

“We’ve found that the best-performing keywords in our category change frequently, so it’s a case of carrying out keyword research regularly to keep up-to-date and covering a broad spectrum of terms. We look at high-demand queries with plenty of volume, as well as lower volume niche queries,” said Lucy Hazleton, Virgin Wines SEO manager.

According to Ben Jayston, head of SEO at Vertical Leap, a client of Davy’s Wine Merchants, meticulous keyword analysis and implementation are paramount. 

“[For Davy’s] specific wines, wine types by region or style must be covered as well as semantic relationships between seasons and special occasions – summer BBQs, champagne for New Year and Bin End sales,” said Jayston.

Within the world of SEO, wine is a ‘simpler marketplace’ according to Jayston, with fewer choices for keywords. “For instance, there are very few different ways to say ‘red wine’, so the longer tail becomes more important, say: ‘Christmas red wine’ or ‘white wine for a BBQ’,” said Jayston.

SEO has been a part of Davy’s overall marketing strategy since 2019, with progress seen for specific wine types, events like wine tastings and targeting the Christmas wine gift market. The use of SEO has also helped bring customers together in the real world.

“Wine tasting events are a recent business offer for Davy’s Wine Merchants and so local SEO and on-page optimisation to support this has been a focus in the last two years,” Jayston added.

For businesses keen to embrace the traditional side of wine retail, including hand-sell and in-store recommendations, SEO can be a useful gateway to greater footfall.

For Nick Brewer, owner of Kent/Sussex vineyard Oastbrook Estate, SEO represents a vital avenue for enhancing brand visibility and driving sales both online and on-site. Reflecting on their journey, Brewer notes a 300% increase in organic searches over the past year, underlining the tangible benefits of SEO investment.

“We get key pages professionally reviewed for SEO and look for gaps in knowledge that are not covered but we try to write copy that is engaging and interesting. It’s not just about ticking off an SEO checklist to help Oastbrook rank,” said Brewer.

“We try to make sure we appear in online publications with good ranking – PR helps with this, too. Our consultant gets Oastbrook wines reviewed in listicles and roundups, while our vineyard accommodation kind of sells itself. We get great travel reviews and we have won travel awards as well as wine awards, all of which help with backlinks,” Brewer added.

By embracing innovation and remaining responsive to consumer trends, wine brands, regardless of their size, can unlock the full potential of SEO to enhance visibility, captivate audiences and spur sales growth. 

For a more detailed exploration of SEO wine trends check out the May issue of Harpers.