Doug Hahn


Optimized the digital footprint of a large estate distiller


  • SEO
  • SEM
  • Facilitation
  • Research
  • Branding
  • Strategy
  • Analytics


An optimized digital footprint based on robust keyword research that yielded tangible results.

Digital footprint optimization for a national distillery

As part of a distillery’s longer-term plan to pivot into eCommerce, I was tasked with optimizing our product descriptions to facilitate discoverability via search. This project aligned with content strategy initiatives as well as social/web updates.

After an initial alignment meeting with marketing leaders, I outlined a recommended methodology and acquired buy-in.

My strategy for the client’s ultra-competitive space (distilling) was to focus on long tail keywords (more specific phrases that users are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point of purchase). Their niche, “estate distilling,” is a less-used spirits keyword, and is instead a unique identifier of the business mission.

Overview of the keyword strategy worksheet.

Keyword Methodology

I used the following strategy outline to educate stakeholders to justify our initial strategy of choice:

  1. Keywords are still important, but matching user intent is more important than stuffing keywords: Google ranks pages higher that serve quality, relevant content which matches the users’ search intent even when keywords don’t match. This is also an important part of backlinks and domain authority (authority = higher ranking).
  2. Investigate competitors to see what they are doing better in terms of matching intent and keywords (for example, [redacted competitor] ranks higher than BH on “Estate Distillery.”)
  3. Optimize page tags with relevant metadata and useful info.

My method was as follows:

  1. Brainstorm 10 keywords for the Brand and products (in many cases the client already had used keywords for Google Ads which are also part of our brand strategy).
  2. Generate a list of 1500+ keywords for each category.
  3. Generate a Google Keywords history report for each set that ranks keywords based on all 2020 data.
  4. Isolate keywords that are both relevant and within the client’s domain authority’s reach.
  5. Cull keywords to a shortlist that has a decent average search and lower competition indices.
  6. Pull out some interesting keyword lists for other areas to facilitate iteration and experimentation.

The next steps were to audit the site and create a checklist of areas for improvement. Among items on this list were:

  • Keyword is in the <title> tag
  • Keyword or synonym is close to the beginning of the <title> tag (ideally the first words)
  • The title tag contains less than the viewable limit of 65 characters
  • Keyword or synonym is in the first <h1> tag
  • Keyword or synonyms are in most of the heading tags
  • Any images on the page should be relevant to the keyword
  • Keyword or synonyms in the meta description
  • There are at least 300 words of text on every page
  • Keyword/Synonyms appear in the first paragraph of the copy and is used elsewhere
  • Keyword density is between .5% and 2.5%
  • Page doesn’t contain nofollow links to other pages
  • Page is original content not taken from another page and dissimilar from other pages on the site

Once we had this list these changes were simple to implement. They paid immediate dividends with increased organic search, lower bounce rates, and more pages per session.

Finally, we coordinated a longer-term strategy to build domain authority with companion sites controlled by the business as well collaboration with third-party sites and articles.