Alright, you’ve got your coffee business officially up and running. You’ve covered every detail, from sourcing and roasting the best beans possible to creating the ultimate coffee shop experience for your customers. The only question is, where are those customers in the first place?
If you’re trusting to an “if you build it, they will come” mentality, chances are you’re going to have a bit of a rocky start to things. After all, coffee shops are a dime a dozen these days.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need to go above and beyond to market your business to the world around you. And that’s where SEO can make a difference.
The Power of SEO
It doesn’t matter if you’re targeting a niche local crowd of hipsters or trying to launch a global coffee subscription, SEO can help you reach your audience. Search Engine Optimization (e.g. SEO), simply put, is a catch-all term for any online practice or strategy that helps boost your search engine results.
In other words, having good SEO means you’ll appear further up in search engine result pages (SERPs), which is one of the best ways to hit pay dirt in the modern era.
The truth is, search engines like Google and Bing are driving forces in nearly every aspect of modern life. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing your Christmas shopping, looking up your favorite recipe, researching for a college paper ...or looking up a local coffee joint. SEO makes a difference.
How to Use SEO in the Coffee Biz
Anyone who has even a passing interest in coffee knows that bad beans are bad for business. In the same way, low quality, haphazard SEO can do more harm than good. You can’t simply put some half-hearted efforts into your website and then see if it works.
In fact, poorly done SEO can actually have a negative overall effect, and if you wander over the line into “black hat” SEO practices — that is, breaking search engine guidelines purely in the interest of getting more traffic — the effects can be devastating.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the best ways that a non-expert can utilize SEO in order to help develop and grow their coffee company in a healthy, honest way.
Create Your Online "Hub"
It all starts with your website. In effect, your site is your online “hub,” where all of your other online marketing efforts can point to. A website is a quintessential part of the business experience these days, no matter how small or locally focused you are. If a potential customer is mere feet away from your shop, there’s still a 91% chance they’re going to find you on Google (or another means of online searching) before they decide whether or not to pay you a visit.
When it comes to creating your site, there are many different factors you’re going to want to keep in mind. Obviously, there are the basics like a user-centric design that is intuitive and aesthetically pleasing. Beyond that, though, you’re going to want to think about your site’s SEO. Again, we’re talking about basics here, so you don’t have to start hacking into your site’s Shopify or Squarespace HTML code to make changes. You can approach things from a bird’s eye perspective.
For instance, make sure that every page on your site is clean and communicates clearly. If you use a site-builder like Shopify, there’s also a good chance that you’ll have an SEO section that you can fill in on the back end of each page. Don't leave these blank! Add concise descriptions with keywords that are relevant to the topic in order to help inform search engines about the purpose of the page and the site in general.
Also, make sure to fill out the alt tags on all the pictures that you post. Set up Google Analytics on your site, as well, as it can help track your traffic, see where people are coming from, and even set up goals to help measure the success of your efforts.
Blog it, Baby!
Another easy way to wield SEO to your advantage is through a company blog. Google has become increasingly more capable of discerning truly valuable content from the simplistic text that doesn’t cater to the human reader.
With that in mind, conduct your own research to look for keywords that customers are searching for so that you can integrate them into the text on your site. For instance, if you see that people are asking what “Direct Trade” coffee is, and you can’t find too many solid definitions of the cutting edge business practice, answer the question yourself.
When you do so, make sure to include the keyword and others related to it in your text to help the search engines find it, as well. In addition to using keyword generators like the one linked to above, you can use the “searches related to” feature at the bottom of Google searches as an alternative, unofficial method to find other terms and keyword phrases for your posts.
Along with those keywords, you’re going to want to look for ways to link throughout your text. Make sure that you back up claims with solid, reputable external resources and occasionally link to other spots within your own site. A modest number of internal and external links scattered throughout a post (and hyperlinked to optimized anchor text) is a huge boon to your site’s overall SEO quality.
Clean Up Your External Online Presence
Apart from your own site, you may also want to head on over to your Google My Business Listing, claim your business, and make sure the listing is completely filled out with accurate information. Then, check in on it regularly and respond to reviews, make Google Posts, and update your information when necessary. This is a great way to make sure that you’re being properly represented by Google when your site shows up in searches.
In addition, fire up those social media accounts. Pinterest and Instagram are hot commodities in the coffee business because of their visual focus. Facebook and Twitter can also be excellent ways to interact with customers. Whenever you post things, make sure to point them back to your website whenever possible.
Hire a Professional
If you can afford the extra cost, it can really be worth your time to consider hiring an SEO company or freelancer to help make sure you’re making the best of your SEO efforts. The results that a relationship like this can yield can often be well worth the investment.
Keeping Up With the Times
As a final encouragement, make sure to keep your research up over the long haul. The world of SEO is constantly changing as search engines evolve and become smarter. Look for an SEO expert that you like — there are a ton of them out there — and subscribe to their email list or check in on their website on a regular basis to see what’s new. Then, make changes to your own site wherever they’re needed.