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By Clare Goggin Sivits On April 18, 2022

How To: SEO and Google Search Ranking for Distilleries

3-D rendering of a computer and charts that represent SEO performance and Google Search Ranking for craft distillery websites.

Are customers finding your distillery’s website when they search for your spirits on Google? If your website is not optimized for search, it may fall off the first — or even the second — page of a relevant Google search.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Search Ranking may seem like daunting challenges. That said, both processes are necessary to keep your website and brand top of mind — and search page. And with a few simple steps, some time, and some patience, you can raise the ranking of your website and help your customers find you more easily.

Discover Keywords & Search Terms

Before you can optimize your site for search, you’ll need to know what your customers are searching for. While some of these phrases may be obvious, such as your brand name, others may be harder to uncover. It’s important to thoroughly research the keywords and search terms you want your brand to rank for.

Start with a list of topics relevant to your distillery and products. This may include spirits your distillery crafts, such as “whiskey” or “gin,” as well as other spirits topics. To build out the list further and determine how often your keywords get searched, use an SEO tool. Several free options are available but it may be worth investing in something like Moz or SEMrush. Both offer brief trial periods if you need time to choose the best option.

These SEO tools allow you to research and narrow down the keywords and search terms you’d want to focus on. It will also help you narrow down your best opportunities for a high search ranking. For instance, while you may not get to the top of Google’s first page of results with “whiskey,” you could rank highly on a “northwest single malt whiskey” search.

Google Yourself

Now that you have an idea of which search terms make the most sense for your distillery, Google them. This will help you identify your competition in ranking for those searches. A few thorough searches will help you identify the websites ranking higher on Google. These sites may include competitors as well as retailers who’ve managed to optimize their online presence.

Once you’ve pinpointed the sites ranking higher, analyze them for tips. Evaluate how those websites incorporate keywords into their homepage, product listings, and blog posts. Look for ways to beat them at their game. Perhaps you can recognize ways that your products better fit a category or term and create content that communicates that on your website.

Keep in mind that when evaluating search competitors, you have a better chance of outranking competitors of similar size. It will be hard to beat a large business that has likely invested quite a bit into its SEO and search ranking. So focus on how you can replace your real-world competitors in those search results.

Update The Website

Incorporating keywords and search terms into your website is more than just adding those words over and over again to your homepage. Google has evolved and can recognize when you’re trying to game the system. So find organic ways to use those phrases.

If the keywords and search terms accurately represent your brand, it should be easy to include them in copy across the site. Drop them into product descriptions or work them into your About page. Definitely integrate the terms into the homepage as well since that will likely see the most traffic. But do so in a sophisticated way and try not to repeat the terms more than twice in one or two paragraphs.

Additionally, keep the website fresh and routinely update your homepage with new featured products and copy. A good way to continually add new content to your website is to keep a blog. Use those keywords and search terms to determine topics but make sure it’s something your brand can speak to with authority. Cocktail recipes or educational posts, like the whiskey distilling process, make for good subject matter. Aim for regular posts, such as once per week or month. But keep it reasonable so you can be sure to maintain the schedule.

As a bonus, make sure you add alternative text for all images on your website. For one thing, alternative text makes your website more accessible per ADA regulations but it also gives you an added opportunity to incorporate your keywords.

Use Google My Business

Google likes it when you use its products. That’s why having an updated Google My Business listing will help your results in a local Google search. Your customers located down the street or even one town over are more likely to find you. This is because if someone searches “whiskey distillery” and you’re the closest location fitting that category, Google is more likely to serve up your Google My Business listing.

The listing, which appears on the right side of the search results page, lists details about your business. If you do not fill in all of this information yourself, Google may source some of that info online. That can result in inaccurate hours and even incorrect location data.

If you haven’t already, search for your business on Google Maps and claim your listing. Then follow the steps to ensure your listing is complete. From there, keep it updated with the latest details and events for your brand.

Design for Mobile

Google cares about how your website responds to mobile devices — especially for users searching Google on their phones. Your website might look amazing on a desktop computer but issues like buttons positioned too closely can make it difficult to navigate from a phone. This type of issue may impact your ranking on a Google search result. In order to avoid that, ensure that your website is mobile responsive or at least has a mobile-responsive version. Test it often from your own phone as well. This will help give you an idea of how your customer is using your site from a mobile device.

Clare Goggin Sivits

As a marketer with a strong writing background, Clare Goggin Sivits has worked in the beer, spirits, and wine industries for nearly a decade. She oversaw digital marketing for a small wine startup as well as a craft brewery and distillery with a nationwide footprint. A Florida ex-pat, Clare now lives in Portland, Oregon, and continues to write about craft beverage marketing and the industry as a whole.

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