When selling wine online, success will be enhanced through the use of current search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. These techniques attempt to improve the number and quality of visitors to your website by achieving a ranking near the top of search engine listings. It is important to realize that SEO is just one piece of the puzzle. Increased traffic does not guarantee increased sales. However, the value of high search engine rankings is undisputed.

The phrase, "search engine optimization", has only been used for about ten years. In the early days, webmasters provided their own information to the search engines. Abuse and manipulation soon became a problem, which forced the search engines to develop more complex ranking systems. Today, search engines may use hundreds of factors in their rankings. They utilize complex, confidential algorithms that they change regularly. Each search engine is unique in its formulas and rankings, which means that a particular web page could rank very high in one search engine and not in another.

All major search engines use special software robots called spiders or crawlers to retrieve information from web pages. Indexers then sort through the content and extract key information, giving a weight or rank to specific words, links, etc. Indexing usually does not require any extra effort since the search engines find pages through links on other websites. Once your site has been indexed, it will show up in search results when a consumer uses one of your keywords.

Recent trends point to several factors that have strategic advantages for SEO:

Keywords: Important factors include where keywords are placed, such as in titles, text, and links. Another consideration is placement of keywords in advantageous sequences with appropriate spacing and frequency.

Links: From page to page within the website, links should include relevant keywords. Major search engines give weight to links surrounded by text. Main menu links are not sufficient. Links to other websites are also essential.

Content: Continuous, refreshed content development that grabs attention is recommended. Titles and descriptions should be interesting and unique. Relevant content would include informative articles, event announcements, tasting notes, etc.

Domain Name/URL: Domain name and URL should be appropriate, user-friendly. They should reinforce the goals of the website while providing confidence and security to each visitor.

Search Engine Optimization efforts require careful planning and consideration. They should be utilized as only one factor in a broad marketing plan. Many now realize that SEO efforts are more effective when combined with other marketing programs such as advertising, market data analysis, and HTML E-mail programs. Website content should be created, first and foremost, to meet the needs of its users. SEO is a useful secondary goal.