OpenCart SEO For Wine Merchant – Case Study


OpenCart SEO For Wine Merchant – Case Study: Peak District SEO

In 2018 Peak District SEO was engaged by a small wine merchant to try to raise their visibility.  We were informed from the start that they had a limited budget and limited manpower resource in terms of in-house support for Social Media and blogs.

Investigation told us that whilst these limitations could threaten the long term sustainability of the project, there was some growth to be had. This proved to be the case.

In the end, we managed to take a small set of keywords onto page one as per the remit. We dominated the competition and could have done even better with more resources.

Here’s what the customer had to say.

“Excellent experience with Phil, he has helped my business grow tremendously. Always full of useful tips and tricks as well. Fully recommended!”

Average position

The site was built on OpenCart and was already live.  However, the business owner needed help to measure the effectiveness of the website.

How Did Peak District SEO Help?

Firstly we carried out a full audit of the website.  We ascertained that the site was a basic Opencart build, customised with CSS to improve the layout and design, but it needed haster web hosting, SSL certificate and a few custom fixes.

Once work was completed we’d significantly improved the site health scores.

wine Website - audit scores
The site had minimal plugins or extension modules.  It had not been built to SEO specs, just the customer design spec.  The web developer spoke with us and asked if we could partner up to assist the client.

After doing an initial website audit, we made a raft of recommendations which included:

  • Module installation
  • SSL certificate
  • Google tools Unification
  • Custom fields
  • Website hosting migration
  • Layout changes
  • Technical SEO
  • On page SEO
  • Google Ads
  • Social media marketing

OpenCart Modules added
We advised the developers to install a number of Opencart modules to add additional functionality.  This added a way to track ecommerce functionality in a quick, easy manner.  It’s amazing how many websites we see, even ecommerce websites that do not have Google Analytics or eCommerce tracking set up, and of course, it’s a vital tool in beginning to assess website performance.

Canonical URL created

As with many eCommerce sites, there were often products that had a wide range of small variations. To ensure against google indexing the wrong variation, we set up canonical tags which point Google to the correct or “main Product” as opposed to the differing and fluctuating variations.

SSL Certificate installed

We made sure that the website had an SSL certificate.  In it’s simplest terms, this means having a web address that reads https, this is also an often overlooked feature that we see all too often in websites.   If you are selling online, you need to have a secure website.  People need to feel sure that when they enter their personal, private information online that it is securely encrypted.

An eCommerce site without an SSL certificate can soon become a lame duck. Especially as Google Chrome now marks sites without one as ‘Not secure’.

chrome unsecure
Google Tools Unified

We set up analytics properly integrating it with Google Tag Manager for greater user behaviour tracking.  In addition, we ensured that the Search Console was set up and connected to Analytics. This sharing of data between Google apps can help you to improve your site and quickly respond to errors.

See our article on Google account unification to learn more.

Custom fields written
Sometimes the CMS you are using just doesn’t cut it.  It doesn’t have the necessary features to do what you need it to do.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re using WordPress, Magento, OpenCart, Shopify or another system, sometimes we need extra features.

In this instance, we needed extra text fields. The openCart installation didn’t provide a suitable opportunity to add longer product descriptions.  We had two options that would solve the issue.

1) Install an open cart module.
2) Write a bespoke code addition.

Instead of installing a module, which firstly costs money and secondly adds CSS and javascript to the template. We wrote our own code addition.  This extended the capabilities of the site using the existing framework.  No need for expense or code bloat.

Website Hosting Migration
The website hosting for this client was slow and causing problems.  In addition, it was preventing web crawling from a number of SEO crawlers, making it more difficult to regularly and accurately asses the site health.

In such cases. We always liaise with the customer asking them to speak to the host. Occasionally they ask us to step in with technical data.

In this instance we spoke to the host several times about the issue without a positive resolution, subsequently, we recommended that the client with hosting providers.  We hate dodgy web hosts, as you’ll see if you read our guest post for Green Frog Computing.

Layout changes
Whether you are the site owner, the designer of the copywriter, when you work closely on a site, you need other people to look at it and critique it too.
Why?  Because humans miss things that are staring them in the face.

In this instance, we noticed that the product filters weren’t functioning correctly. Whenever the key category links were clicked, the sidebar on that page was meant to show an open filter of the types of wine available.  That wasn’t happening, instead, the site was showing the same filter on all pages.

A quick recommendation to the developers and this was fixed, allowing greater access to products by users.

Technical SEO
We identified a wide range of technical SEO issues such as multiple versions of the site, lack of canonicals, no SSL certificate, non-mobile friendly elements and load speed issues.  Some issues could be fixed by ourselves and others were passed to the web developer to fix.

On page SEO
On-page SEO is our bread and butter. We fixed numerous issues such as thin content, lack of proper headings, image naming and labelling, internal and external linking and quality of the copy.

Google Ads
We advised the company to run some Google ads for specific products. The ads had mixed results in terms of actual direct sales, however, they did help to increase brand awareness.  When implemented correctly alongside Organic SEO you can see great growth for your business.

Social Media Marketing
The company were not really active on Social Media.  This was mostly due to staffing issues. We advised them to look at automating Social media posting and to increase their visibility on specific platforms.  Only some of the recommendations were implemented.

Overall Outcome

The project was mostly successful. Like so many it was hampered by factors beyond our control, issues such as manpower and web hosting reduced the potential impact of the project.

However, the site is still in a strong position in its local niche, and with continual applied best practice, should dominate completely within a year or so.

benchmark your websiteOrganic Growth


Do you sell Alcohol or Spirits online? Want to increase your website’s performance?

If you sell alcohol or wine online. Why not speak to Peak District SEO?  You can expect a Free website review, which includes a PDF summary of your site as well as a user testing video that looks at what works well and what’s not working so well.   Get in touch today!

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