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A Glass of South African Red Anyone?

Doug Haines

I’d always thought about Ecommerce as brand-building and paid channels. Most of my purchases come from ads on Instagram or from seeing something on a trip.

Working with a few SMB online retailers has completely changed my mind. While SEO might not be the #1 marketing play for E-commerce, it is very effective.

So, now when I see a product I’m always thinking about SEO as a distribution channel.

This brings me to South African red wine. 🍷🍷🍷

On a trip to see the team in Cape Town, I visited some of the most beautiful wine farms the region has to offer.

Being a desperately sad SEO nerd my mind turned to red wine search volumes and online sales—I managed to push these thoughts away for a few hours and enjoy the wine.

But that night I was in Ahrefs asking myself, “Is there an opportunity to import red wine from South Africa?” Here’s what I found:

The Numbers

Apparently, the wine we sampled could retail for £30 to £70 in the UK. If that is true, I think with the landed cost you could make a reasonable profit selling direct-to-consumer.

If you went to some of the more remote wine farms I’m sure the margins would be there.

  • So let’s say we can make £20 profit per bottle.
  • The Ecommerce store costs £200 to run per month on tech (total guess)
  • Marketing is £3000 per month
  • So, break even is £3200/£20 = 160 bottles
  • If we sell 500 per month the profit is £6,800 (although I’m sure there are other costs at that scale)

500 feels like a minimum we’d need to sell per month to make this worth doing.

So, can SEO contribute to those sales?

Red Wine Search Terms

Let’s get a super broad feel for the high-level picture.

In the UK The term red wine has a fair bit of monthly traffic—let’s dig a bit deeper.

Now we’re starting to see some terms with decent buyer intent, I like:

  • Best red wine.
  • Types of red wine.

I feel encouraged to look a bit more, but also slightly worried about some of the searches I find. 😨

One thing I’ve noticed is that the big online retailers and supermarkets are dominating the most obvious buyer intent terms…here’s how page one looks for malbec wine. 

That’s a lot of big names. Penetrable? Yes, probably, but hard for a new site.

So, we’re going to need to look a bit harder to find some terms that I think a new site could rank for in six to 12 months. We didn’t need to go too deep.

These terms all have decent buyer intent and the competition is nice and low.

I’m starting to feel like there is a lot of potential for selling wine online using SEO.


The next step is to pull these terms into hubs, to start we’d maybe use three to six, and there are a lot of options. As a starting position I like

  • Types – fruity, smooth etc
  • Gifting – red wine gift
  • Location-specific – South African wine

The third hub is where it starts to get very exciting—the competition for South African wine is very low.

Sure, volumes are modest but these buyers are way down the funnel. They’re already searching for South African wine so if you can serve them a great site—the conversion will be high.

So, with a mix of general wine and South African-specific keywords, we can start to build traffic pretty quickly using SEO.

The question is, how do we make the content great to maximise conversions? Here are three things I’d do.

Profile the Wine Farms

Create great video, visual and written content about the farms that stock the wine. I’d visit the farms and interview the owners to find the story behind the farm.

Keep Users Engaged

You could:

🍷 Create an incentive to join a mailing list

🍷 Hit subscribers with information about wines

🍷 Tell stories about the wines and people behind them

Create Excellent Informational Content 

✅   Information on the wine

✅   Wine pairings

✅   Recipes

✅   Wine making process

I think you could fairly easily get between 5,000 – 10,000 visitors per month within 12 months.

At a 1% conversion that’s 50 – 100 sales per month. This is not where we want to be but in the right direction.

If the product is good and the newsletter/loyalty works, you should be able to add repeat purchases.

Of course, you can use all of this great SEO content for PPC landing pages.

Am I going to start a wine importing business? No.

If I had an online wine store would I be using SEO to drive long-term revenues? 100% yes!

Article by:

Doug Haines

Meet Doug, the mastermind behind Kalium’s success. Learn how Doug applies SEO strategies to turn this SA travel site into a million-dollar company.

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