Some participants missed getting some lessons from the Web Wine Sellers course. A gremlin which I think is now fixed. Here are the lessons.

Lesson 3: Getting your head right.

Before we start getting more traffic to your website we need to make sure that your web pages are properly set up. doing this first will mean that the next steps will be more effective. In this lesson we will look at the content of your pages.

First a little background. A web page consists of two major parts, the Head and the Body. Most of what is stored in the head is not seen by your customers, but it can affect how search engines treat your site and whether they will deliver you some traffic.

The head often contains a lot of coding, or scripts, that control the way the page is displayed, but it should also contain some tags. The most interesting ones of these are the Title, Description and Keywords tag. These tags can help to get us traffic, if we use them wisely.

Depending on what software you or your webmaster used to generate your pages you will be able to edit what is stored in these tags.

Let's discuss these tags in turn. First the Title tag. The content of this tag is displayed at the very top of the screen when someone is looking at your page. You probably don't notice it very often, because we soon become accustomed to looking further down the screen, below the header graphic to see the real content of the page. So why do I say the header is important?

The Title of each of your pages is a major clue to the search engine in working what your page is about. They will send searchers looking for the content of your pages based in part by what you have designated as the title.

What should you put in the title? Each page of your site should have it's own title. So our friends at Drongo estate might have something like these

*Drongo Estate Winery | Dagsville Wine region

*Contact Drongo Estate Winery at Dagsville

*Wines available at Drongo Estate Winery

*Accommodation at Drongo Estate accommodation

*Nincompoop's Restaurant and Cafe at Drongo Estate

*Wine awards won by Drongo Estate Winery

Make title of each page descriptive of the content of that page. Don't be content with calling your home page "Welcome" ...unless you are selling welcome mats. Don't disappoint your visitors. Remember they are looking for information.

The title should be up to 80 characters, 60 is probably plenty.

Now let's look at your description tag. This doesn't actually appear on your page, but it plays an important role in getting visitors to your page.

Your description as an advertisement for your page. Engines use your page description to create the second half of what searchers see in a Search Engine's listings. The title forms the first half.

Make sure the description is attractive, without being misleading. A gentle, good-natured tease will do well. Provide a lead-in to some information that your potential visitor can't live without.

Something like

*Drongo Wines produces premium shiraz and baco nior in the unique terroir of the Purple Valley Wine Region.

Again keep it real. The description should match the content of the page, otherwise the visitor will go straight to the back button. Maximum characters for a description is about 150, after that the search engines will ignore the rest.

The keywords tag is the third one we will look at in this lesson. This should contain the words and phrases that will help the search engine send visitors to your page. Note many people search for phrases rather than single words. It is pointless putting in a large number of keywords if that is not what the page is about, or if the words don't appear in the content of the page. Put in the name of your winery, the region varieties and other identifying words. For most pages 3 to 6 keywords are sufficient.

Action Steps.

Plan a session where you can check, and if necessary overhaul your page tags. If you can't edit them yourself make a list of your pages and write out the best title, description and set of keywords for each page to give to your webmaster. I like to do this sort of stuff on paper, but use whatever method you are most comfortable with.

Go to each of the pages on your site in turn. The title tag is the one that is found outside the page right at the top of the screen. Does it accurately and succinctly sum up the content of that page? You can do better than having the same title for every page on your site. If you are not happy mark it for editing.

To find the description and keywords tags of your pages you need to view the source code of the page. In Internet Explorer you can see this via the Page Menu then View Source, or just right click on the page and select View Source.

Near the top of the page you should see something like this

{These tags come from a page that is consistently ranked among the top 5 pages of the 2,000,000 or so pages about tempranillo on the web}

Quite a few web pages don't have any description or keyword tags, but if you are going to make the most of the web you need to get these right.

Note down better title, description and keyword tags. Edit these on your site via your control panel or get your webmaster to do it for you.

Any Questions?Does this lesson make sense to you? Are there any ideas or terms you would like explained more fully? I'd love to hear from you so I can improve this course. Email me at darby.higgs@gmail.com Just tell me which lesson you are up to and what you need more info about.

***Have you checked out the 2007 Vintage Reports at http://2007vintage.wordpress.com/ You can see what people are saying about your region, or you can be the first to get a link back to your site.

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Lesson #4 Inbound links

In this lesson we look at why we need them, and start by getting a couple.

Now that you have got your head (tags) right we will start the process of getting inbounds links to your site. Later we will come back to working on your site to make sure we have an attractive body to carry the head around, then the long tail will make sure we get plenty of attention.

Remember the purpose of this guide is to get targeted traffic to your site. Targetted traffic consists of people who may or may not know that they are looking for information about your product.

Maybe they have heard of your brand and want to know more about your winery. Maybe they want to know when the next vintage will be released. Maybe they are planning a wine trip in your region and want to know what range of wines you have or the details of your cellar door opening times.

If they have never heard of your brand, don't worry, you still have a chance to help them. Perhaps they are looking for mornington peninsula durif, or barossa montepulciano, or mudgee vermentino. If you have well constructed paes and a good program of inbound links these people will find your website and learn about what they are missing.

Broadly speaking Google (and the other search engines) looks at on-site and off-site factors in determining if it will send searchers to your website. During this course we will often talk about getting traffic from Google, but there are other search engines. If you get things right for Google, they will generally be OK for the the other search engines as well.

On-site factors include such things as the head tags which we discussed earlier, the frequency of relevant keywords, navigation within the site, the structure of your pages. Google does not want to compromise its reputation by sending searchers to crappy sites. It has elaborate ways to detect spammy sites or ones which are just sales pitches. We will be paying more attention to on site factors as this course develops.

The major off-site factor that will attract traffic to your site is the number and quality of links into your site. You have only limited control over this but it is the most important factor in getting value out of your site.

The quality of links is important as well. You may have come across "link farms" on the web. These are pages with hundreds of links on them, often with very little information. Google will not give your site much credit for having links from these. It is not worth while submitting yoour site to these. However we will be getting lot's of quality links from rated quality sites.

Over the next few lessons we will pursue a dual prong strategy. We will be improving your site, to attract new visitors and make sure we are turning browsers into customers; at the same time our link building strategy will make sure that everyone who needs to know you exist can find you.

Action steps: two things to do now.

TASK 1. Get the Diva to Sing for You.

Wine diva www.winediva.com.au has a major index of wine related websites in Australia. Basic listings are free, you can enhance your listing for a small fee. I have no commercial relationship with Wine Diva, but I use their site from time to time. I recommend that you make sure that you have at least a basic listing. Users can then find you if they are searching for your winery, your region, or the varieties, or your products.

Go to http://www.winediva.com.au and see if your site is listed. If it is you should check to see if your site's information is accurate, and that your winery is listed when users search under the appropriate regions and varieties. Use the Free Listing menu option for details about how you can register. To update your listing send the details to info@winediva.com.au

TASK 2. Get people talking about your extraordinary vintage in 2007.

If you have had an average vintage in 2007 that will make the news too.

Have a look at http://2007vintage.wordpress.com to see what others are saying.

You can put together a few paragraphs sharing your experiences this year. Email your mini-report to me at darby@albzin.com (I will be mountaineering in the upper Languedoc and drinking odd varietal wines in SW France during May so there may be a small delay in publication)

Include your name, your winery name, web address and the wine region. Tell us about your varieties, what went right in 2007, what went wrong, how the yields and vintage date have varied from the past, what you think the quality might be like when the wines are released and anything else suitable for general publication. Don't make a long thesis of it, a bit of a human touch will help.

Your report will get Blogged, and RSSed and Squidooed around cyberspace. If you don't know what these things mean, don't worry...Google is watching and will get the message that your site has fresh, relevant information.

Please send feedback or questions if you have any.

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Lesson #5 Some tips for a better body

In an earlier lesson we saw how to maximise the value of the head elements of pages on your site. Today's lesson deals with a few ideas about what to put into the BODY of your site, and in particular what impact it might have on getting your site found by search engines and potential customers.

The content of the site is seen by all of your customers. It needs to fill a few obvious roles. It must reflect the branding image of your company, it must contain information about your location and how you can be contacted and it must contain information about your products. When you and your webmaster/designer built your site these were issues that you should have discussed. Every couple of years you will probably revisit these issues and edit or rebuild your site.

There is also the question of how search engines find and rate your site. Member they are the method that you get new traffic to your site. They work on text, not graphics. You need to have the right words.

Here is what web business guru Ken Evoy says about text...

"Your words have the greatest impact on your site... and your business... not fancy graphics, flashy animation or special effects. 'Content' is what builds traffic, the lifeblood of your business.

No traffic --> No customers --> No sales.

It's all about creating quality content first and quality sales copy second. Do this and you will succeed on the Net!"

Does Ken Evoy know what he is talking about? Well, using his methods I have built the Vinodiversity website, which is very ordinary looking, but it gets me to the very top of the pile with Google for the keywords I am targeting. No moving animations, no fancy design or graphics, just lots of words. Organised and optimised words, but just words.

So how do the search engines read the body of your site? Remember we talked about the head earlier, getting the head right is he first step in getting search engines to take us seriously.

Both humans and search engines read the words you have in the body of your page content.

Search engines work by analysing the content of the page using very highly developed algorithms or formulae. Google spends tens of millions of dollars each year refining these algorithms. Their aim is to give searchers quality results. If anyone tells you they know the way to outsmart Google with some secret trick then just tell them that they are wrong.

So why not work with Google rather than against it. Google wants to give its users quality information. Help Google by providing useful information and you will be rewarded with traffic. That's the secret! No tricks, just quality content. You've heard of win-win, well this one's win-win-win. Google, your potential clients and you are all winners.

Now before we say just what words you need to use, there are a couple of minor ways you can help Google find out just what each of your pages is about. You have already made sure you have a good title, and the head of the page contains good description and keywords tags, see Lesson #3 if you need to revise this.

Each of your pages should have a main theme that can be summed up in a keyword or keyphrase of just a few words, eg "Contact Drongo Wines" or "Nowhere Valley Shiraz" or "Drongo Valley cellar Door" In a later lesson we will be looking at ways of developing lists of keywords that it might be useful for your site to target.

In the body of the page make sure you have the keyword or phrase as text. You may have a graphic header saying "Drongo Wines" but you need to repeat it in the text. Google cannot read pictures.

So on a page about "new releases" you need to have a headline saying "New Releases at Drongo Wines"even if the header graphic says "Drongo Wines" if you want Google to read the page in the same way as a human does.

Use your keyword in a headline in a text. You can build these by including the phrase inside

Header tags

I said above that Google cannot read pictures. But it can read the file names and Alt tags on your site. So whenever you have an image make sure it has a meaningful file name and alternative text tag. For example, if you have an image of rows of vines on your site image03.jpeg is not a very useful filename, but shiraz-vines.jpeg would be better, unless they're merlot.

These techniques are minor aspects of your page, the most important thing is just what you say. Remember your visitor is looking for information. If you provide it you will get visitors, to your website, to your order page and to your cellar door.

Spend some time considering just what information your visitors really want. Don't overlook the mundane. The most common question asked at the reference desk in libraries is

"Where are the toilets"

So make sure you provide the basic details of who you are, (having your name prominently displayed actually helps bring trust) where you are, when your cellar door is open, what wines you have, how much they cost, how to order etc. I am surprised at how few wineries have information on their websites about which retailers/distributers stock their wines, and especially what restaurants serve them. Do they really want to help their potential clients find and buy their wine?

Once you have covered these bread-and-butter issues you need to provide further information about your wine. I am not a fan of prosaic tasting note but presumably someone reads them. Try to break out of the standardised formula and show why your wines are different.

If your winery depends on cellar door sales you have an ideal opportunity to provide touring information for your region. This topic will be developed further in a lesson about linking strategies.

The issue of copywriting is really out of the scope of this lesson, but you may like to check out the free Netwriting Masters Course by Ken Evoy at http://www.vinodiversity.com/netwriting This is an incredibly useful read if you are writing your own website copy, or you can send the file to your webmaster.

The Netwriting course is a pdf file that you can view on screen, save to your computer, or print out to read on paper. But don't print it out until you read the tip on the bottom of page 2.

Any Questions?Does this lesson make sense to you? Are there any ideas or terms you would like explained more fully? I'd love to hear from you so I can improve this course. Email me at darby.higgs@gmail.com Just tell me which lesson you are up to and what you need more info about.

Some Reminders.

Have you checked and updated your free entry on at www.winediva.com.au - Next lesson will include some more on linking strategies.

You can get a valuable inbound link from www.2007vintage.wordpress.com - All you need to do is to write a few paragraphs about your 2007 Vintage and email it to me at Darby@albzin.com.

Jazz up your cellar door while educating your clients (and yourself) with the incredible Wine Grape Varietal Table see http://www.albzin.com/varietytable

Are you keeping up an eye on your statistics? Review lesson #1 (email me if you have lost it!)

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If you would like to enrol in the full course see http://www.vinodiversity.com/marketing-wine.html

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