It's not always clear how search engine optimization (SEO) can benefit brick and mortar stores: attributing an in-person sale to a website view is virtually impossible.
But with more than 224 million smart phone users in the US, you can't skip thinking about SEO just because there's a missing link in your conversion funnel.
The challenge of understanding SEO's impact
We're an online business, so understanding the value of SEO is abundantly clear to us. We can track someone through their full lifecycle on BeerMenus.
Of course, that's not your situation. You own or manage a brick and mortar store, so it's difficult—actually darn near impossible—to measure an SEO “conversion.”
You know how many people visit your website. Depending on how deep you dive, you might be able to see how those people got there. But how can you know whether a Google search actually converts into a customer?
The truth is that most of the time you can't see that attribution directly.
But just because there's a missing link in the funnel doesn't mean you get to tell SEO to go fly a kite—it's too gosh darn important to your business to do that.
Let's prove that with another strategy.
Into your customers' shoes
Join me in a thought experiment.
Imagine you're in a different or new neighborhood or town. You're hungry or thirsty. You might even have in mind what you want to eat or drink. But you don't know where to go. What are you going to do?
The answer is obvious. You Google it.
“best restuarants nearby”
“best burgers near me”
“IPAs near me”
“Bell's Two Hearted near me”
You punch in one (or several) of those searches and get your results.
See what the first result is? ;)
Let's pause here and think: how many times do you scroll past that first page? How many times do you scroll past the first few options? Not many.
Your customers don't either: according to Trellis, 90% of people don't get past the first page of results.
So your potential customer Googled something and saw the results. They clicked the first one. Let's revisit what that first result is:
That's right. It's the BeerMenus Bells Two Hearted page.
When they click, they'll see all the places nearby that carry Bell's Two Hearted:
If your business is anywhere on the list—especially if it's at the top, like Hank's Saloon—the customer who's searching is hooked. They say “let's go here" and are on their way.
Even if it's not buttoned up in a clear customer funnel, people find your business this way every day. You do it, I do it, and 224 million other US-based smartphone users do it too.
It's how people decide where to go.
Ranking well in Google search gets you in front of that gigantic audience. In order to rank well you need to take SEO seriously.
Do I have to do this on my own? Or are you helping, BeerMenus?
Extremely happy you asked! We're constantly working to improve our SEO from a couple angles, both of which are meant to help you get found for your beers.
Your page on BeerMenus is part of your online presence. The more pieces of your online presence that rank well, the better off you'll be.
A ton of beer drinkers who come to BeerMenus arrive because they're looking to buy a particular beer or a beer from a particular brewery. They Google “Bell's Two Hearted near me” or “Other Half near me.”
If someone's Googling that phrase or anything like it, we're going to show up near the top of the search results. Often times we'll outrank not only ratings sites and beer blogs—we'll also outrank the brewery itself! (Click here to try it yourself!)
We love ya, Other Half, but we had to show an example!
We're proud of this fact—we've worked hard to polish our SEO to make sure this is the case. Even more exciting: we're always cooking up new SEO experiments, meaning that as Google's algorithms change, we'll be changing along with them.
Anyway, as shown above, once someone clicks from the search results page to BeerMenus, they're shown a list of the places that sell the beer they're looking for, sorted by distance.
If you have the beer, you show up in the list. If you're closest, you're getting some serious attention from that prospective customer. They'll click in, see your full beer menu was recently updated, and BOOM: the hook is set. Now you're reeling them in.