Published Works of
Thomas M. Ciesla
Essays   --   Think Pieces





texas websites
lone reeds on the internet

By: Thomas M. Ciesla

Finding The Websites

Figure 1:
Messina Hof Winery

Winery websites come in three flavors: business-card, brochure, and webstore.   The 'business-card site' is a single web page, perhaps the crudest form of an Internet presence and usually the least interesting.   The 'brochure site' offers product information, directions, maps, photo's, an events calendar, and links to other sites.   Most Texas winery websites fall into this category. The 'webstore site' includes all the information of the brochure site, plus the ability to purchase items via the Net. Red River Winery is the only Texas winery offering this feature.

At the present time, a large percentage of Texas winery websites are unsophisticated in both appearance and functionality, as well as performance on popular search engines.   There have been improvements, however, to a number of these sites recently, suggesting that many wineries opted to 'put something out there' initially and later revise the sites as knowledge and experience allow.   In examining the twenty-three winery sites, our consultants looked at: search engine performance, general appearance and graphics, navigation methods, pertinent information (phone number address, hours of operation, etc.), links, and advanced programming techniques.
Search Engine Performance
Three popular search engines were querried using the terms: "Texas wine" and "Texas wineries".

At Yahoo, "Texas wine" came back with a total of 1,540 hits for web page matches.   Eleven of the twenty-three wineries on the Net appeared in the first one hundred hits -- with only two wineries appearing in the first twenty-four.   Results improved a bit at (2,241 hits), which listed twelve wineries in the top one hundred hits and six in the first twenty-four hits. Interestingly, though offered the most total hits -- 2,620, it only listed eight wineries in the first hundred hits and only one winery in the first twenty-four.   For a search on the term "Texas wineries", the results were startling: all three search engines listed just one winery in the first one hundred hits!

Figure 2:
Yahoo Search Engine

An examination of the coding for each website revealed the reason for this poor showing: few Texas winery websites utilize even the most basic form of hidden text that Internet 'spiders' look for when routinely scanning the Web.   Of the eight websites that do use hidden text, all incorporate only the 'meta' tag -- which not all search engines key off from.   Also, no website took advantage of the 'Alt=' tags on images to assist spiders in listing the site.

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Last Update 11/5/2001

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Grapevine Scholars

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The authors strive to keep the Texas Wine Trails website as accurate as possible. However, in an industry as dynamic as the Texas wine industry, change comes fast and often. From time-to-time some information may be inadvertently outdated. Please check with the wineries before visiting and verify all event dates.