Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Winemaking

Online Marketing and California Winemakers
One of the pleasantries of living in coastal California includes having access to some of the finest wineries and vineyards in the world.  The lush country and landscape has attracted some of the world’s best winemakers—the climate is perfect for growing different grape varietals and the beautiful landscape and greenery pairs perfectly with a relaxing day of wine-tasting.

A good friend of mine is a winemaker at a small vineyard in a town called Lompoc, just outside the city of Santa Barbara. He recently bottled a pinot noir that Wine Spectator awarded a 96 to—something only 12 other pinots have ever scored equal to or better.

As we were chatting about this delicious and magnanimous achievement, it occurred to me that online marketing—particularly web development and SEO—are a lot like making wine.

Notice I didn’t say a “fine wine;” this analogy can work both ways!  There are plenty of SEO “tricks” out there—and to a certain extent, even natural circumstances—that can spoil your harvest and ultimately ruin your page ranking and the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts.

But if done properly, with continued attention, a little patience, and the right amount of aging, you could create a web presence that Google—the Wine Spectator of the World Wide Web—will award with page-one displays to subsequently attract your company a plethora of new, satisfied customers who rave about the taste of your business.

Choosing the Right Varietal
In winemaking, the grape varietal is dictated to a certain extent by the climate.  Just like marketing firms or search engine optimization companies may look the same, so too do grapes. But while one varietal makes fantastic-tasting wine, another that looks exactly alike can sting your pallet and make you want to spit it out.  Some can even be poisonous!

So essentially, you need to choose a grape that converts in just the right way to achieve your goals. You’ll also want winemakers that know what their doing—not those who are good about covering up what they don’t know—you’ll taste the difference in the end!

The same is true for a marketing firm.  Choosing people that can customize campaigns for your particular business will be much more effective at showing you real results.

Knowing your Customer Base and How They Find You
Wine Spectator is sort of the be-all, end-all of a wine’s reputation…kind of like Google is for online marketing.  A wine that scores low in Wine Spectator isn’t going to get lots of attention.  Much like a website that Google doesn’t index isn’t going to get found by any customers searching for related products or services.

Knowing what the “experts” are looking for allows you to develop a product so it gets favorably presented in their ultimate directory.

Knowing the flavor characteristics that Winemakers attribute positively to different varietals helps you understand what to expect from Wine Spectator’s top results, and more people who don’t necessarily have that information are likely to purchase those bottles based on the expert’s word.  Knowing what Google looks for when indexing a web page and displaying it for particular keywords presents your site closer to page one, where the bulk of your customers are looking.

The Aging Process
Aging in oak barrels provides much of the flavor in great wines.  In marketing, even an aging domain name can improve your website’s page ranking.

But age doesn’t do it alone—many bottles of wine that are over-aged will open to a harsh vinegary flavor.  Just like a website that was built in the 90s might have a valuable label in its domain name, but it probably isn’t winning over many customers with an over-aged appearance and lack of attention to detail.

To make the finest wine takes some aging and time, but substance, quality and skilled professionals truly make it exceptional—and a little luck doesn’t hurt either.

The same can be said for a search engine optimization company—constant attention to quality and detail are ultimately going to yield you the best results.  It may take some time to do correctly, but once it’s done, you’re much more likely to be able to pop the top, pour it into a decanter and enjoy the fruits of your labor.