The online drinks industry has been shaken, not stirred

Google can be a fickle beast to tame and the latest algorithm updates has caused some major ups and downs in the online drinks industry in regards to visibility.

Since January, when we published our 2019 Insight Report on the drinks industry, there have been two major updates, both of which have focused on trust. These updates have given the drinks industry a good shake.

What Is Online Visibility And Why Does It Matter?

Visibility is a metric taken from Search Metrics, where it measures how visible you are across millions of keywords it tracks in its database. If we assume that a website and its competitors share the majority of the same keywords, then comparing visibility across peers can give an idea of market position.

So, why is this important for online drinks industry? Well, as visibility directly affects a brand’s ranking on search engine for keywords, it also affects how many potential customers see it online. It is rare for a searcher to scroll through pages of pages of search results, so the companies that rank higher in search pages (and therefore have a low rank score) are more likely to see organic traffic from search engines.

How Has The Drinks Industry Been Affected?

Online drinks retailers have had quite the shake up from recent updates, which has resulted in a lot of movement in visibility, and therefore rankings. Although the top three (Waitrose Cellar, The Whiskey Exchange and Majestic) have stayed in the top three positions with a clear lead, despite overall drops in visibility, there has been some serious shake ups for the rest – specifically between January and July.

BrewDog, for instance, was hit by the April update and its visibility dropped by 18%. Luckily the more recent update has been kind and seen it climb back up, with a 63% visibility increase since April.

It’s a different story for Calais Wines. which gained a massive 95% visibility increase in April, only to be slammed down again, with a 33% decrease from April. This means just a 30% overall increase from January.

Master of Malt seems to have had one of the biggest success stories. After an initial drop of 17% in the April update, it certainly bounced back. From April it has seen a 403% visibility increase.

Another positive story is VIP Bottles, which, since January, has seen its visibility climb by 612%.

Bargin Booze, on the other hand, has had quite a bad time. Despite a 25% increase from April to July, its visibility is down overall by 81%. From January to April it dropped by 85%.

How Can Online Drinks Retailers Turn This Around?

There’s no way to tell when the next update will be or how it will affect any website. Just having a good brand name isn’t enough to stop you losing visibility. However, we do have a few insights.

Google updates tend to be focused on the trustworthiness of websites. Being able to prove the Expertise, Authoritiveness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) of a brand will help with visibility and rankings.

Companies with poor visibility, or those that have been hit hard, need to focus on these three ranking factors. Each of the brands losing out within this industry have unique issues to them, however a good start would be focusing on the core tenets of what search engines, Google in particular, are looking for:

  • Fast, mobile-first sites with clear and logical architecture - A fast site that works on mobile is a given, but you’d be surprised at how many sites fall short. Slightly more complex is the architecture of the site, which should be well categorised and generally ‘make sense’ with how everything interlinks.
  • Content - Despite Google’s everlasting efforts to make images readable, search engines still - and arguably always will - have an easier time understanding the written word. Many of the sites losing out are light on content.
  • Authority & Trust - Online trust has rocketed to being one of the most important things online in the wake of fake news, election scandals & poor marketing practice over the past 10 years. Specifically applied to ecommerce visibility, this boils down to two things:

○      1. Links - If other noteworthy sites are talking about you, that’s a good indication that you’re a legitimate player and a good source of information;

○      2. Expertise - if you’re giving advice about your products, who are you to be giving that advice? Search engines want to see that content is produced by people who know what they’re talking about, who references other trusted sources.

A good online presence is important in any industry. But algorythm updates often move the goal posts, so it’s vital to keep an eye on rankings and visibility. Although no one can be sure what’ll happen next, ensuring your online presence has high trust will probably help now and in the future.

If you want to know how you are doing online, you can contact Salience to find out your visibility and rankings.

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