You’ve heard the age-old saying of the coffee business: “location, location, location“. I’d like to introduce you to the updated version for 2021 and beyond: “location, location, location—in the Google search results”.
Local SEO is pivotal to success as a retail coffee shop or roastery. Instagram reach is down, Facebook ads are prohibitively expensive. But on Google (search, maps, etc), it’s your customers who are doing the hard work to find you. Your job is simply to make it easy on them.
Google My Business (GMB) is the core profile that Google uses to deliver search results to people looking for local restaurants. Through it, you control how you show up in both text searches through Google.com, as well as map searches through Google Maps.
Let’s walk through how coffee shops and roasteries can use GMB to stand out in local search results so you can automate customer acquisition.
In this quick guide, I’ll show you:
- How to stand out in our highly competitive coffee industry
- A 10-minute Google My Businesssetup guide
- 3 features of GMB that most coffee shops don’t use (but should!)
Ready to outrank your local rivals?
The Trick: Local SEO for Coffee Shops Requires Connection
First principles: it doesn’t matter if you get in front of a potential customer if they don’t connect with your brand, mission, story, or values.
You may believe your coffee “speaks for itself”, or that it’s clearly the best in town, but random people on Google don’t. When they’re making a decision on which cafe to visit, it’s a hint of personality or values that’ll sway them one way or another.
I will bang this drum until the day I die.
The coffee industry is too saturated with brands that are too cliche, general, and uninspiring. It’s a bummer. I suggest reading The Coffee Marketing Pyramid if you haven’t already.
Make sure you have at least one of these “hooks” in front of you before you start creating your Google My Business Profile:
- Your brand story. Narratives are sticky. They make an impression, and build connection. Make sure you frame your story as, “here’s our story, and why it matters to you”.
- How you operate differently. Have an unusual roast style, coffee menu, or hiring process? You want to be able to call out these unique attributes of your business clearly and generously.
- The big values you brew by. What are the core motivators that drive how you work? The things that make you happy, the things that make you sad. What do you fight for?
Infuse these connection-building elements into your GMB profile (and all of your marketing!).
Create a Target SEO Keywords List
Google wants to give people the “best-fit” results for what they search for, so you can’t use tricks from 1999, like adding a bazillion irrelevant keywords hoping Google ranks you for everything. Don’t do that.
You want to use keywords in your GMB profile that accurately reflect your business. That way, when Google shows people your business, they’ll indicate they’re a good fit by looking at more details or visiting, Google will notice, and Google will further reward you with better rankings.
We can think about two different kinds of keywords:
- Location-Based Keywords — What keywords indicate where you are located? Examples: “Atlanta coffee shop”, “coffee downtown”, or “coffee on the promenade”.
- Experience-Based Keywords — What keywords indicate how people will experience your shop? Examples: “organic coffee beans”, “cafe outdoor patio”, or “pour over coffee near me”.
I suggest making a list of 10-15 keywords that reflect your business. Keep the list nearby so you can sprinkle them throughout your GMB profile.
How to Set Up Your Coffee Shop’s GMB Profile in Ten Minutes
Navigate over to Google My Business and log in.
Fill Out Every Detail You Can
The profile setup system will ask you a standard set of questions about your cafe. Name, location, category, stuff like that. Do not leave any field blank. The more information you give Google, the more ammo the algorithm has to rank you (and a complete profile just looks better to searchers).
Your coffee shop’s description is the first 1-2 sentences that show up on your search results card. Think of it like a micro pitch to would-be customers. What’s the most meaningful thing you could say to get somebody to become a customer?
I suggest including this information:
- A note about the atmosphere, experience, or values
- What kind of menu you have / coffee you serve
- Quick notes about pickup, delivery, etc
Here’s how Houndstooth in Austin, Texas does it:
When Google asks you about service options, attributes, and highlights, check the boxes that apply to you. These items (like outdoor seating, delivery, masks required, WiFi, or wheelchair accessible) help potential customers have clear expectations about what buying from you is like.
Answer Questions Before Customers Ask Them
Instead of waiting for customers to ask questions in the Q&A section, I suggest you add some common questions premptively. This means you can resolve hesitations or concerns before they arrise (and before you’ve lost a hundred customers because nobody has thought to ask yet!).
Common questions may include:
- Is your location dog friendly?
- What food options do you have?
- Which roaster’s coffee do you serve?
- Is there live music on the weekends?
- Is this a good place to study?
Show Off Your Space with Professional Photography
Many customers will instantly mark a shop off their list if the photography doesn’t give them a clear understanding of what your location feels or looks like. I recommend hiring a professional photographer for a half hour—you don’t want to lose potential customers because of so-so DIY photos.
I suggest these images:
- Environment, indoor and outdoor (2)
- Images of your physical menu (1-3)
- Featured drinks and foods (3-5)
This simple set of photos makes your menu accessible, paints your shop in a good light, and gets searchers amped about tempting drinks.
Calls to Action: Menus, Order, Etc
Google allows you to link online menus, delivery apps, and online ordering platforms that searchers can click for quick access to important actions you want them to take. Sometimes they show up as big blue buttons. Other times they’re just line items in your GMB card.
Especially you have a way for customers to order drinks online for pickup or delivery, this is where you want to add that link.
With a well-crafted Google My Business profile, you’ll be found by new customers in no time as the great Google algorithm realizes you’re trying to create good experiences for Google’s searchers, just like they are.