How Uber Could Grow Even Faster (The Second Half of an Idea)

An insightful answer on Quora by an anonymous user provides a convincing argument that Uber has a massive untapped opportunity to achieve “crazy organic search dominance” through executing SEO fundamentals. While searches including the term “Uber” are growing and driving leads, they are ranking poorly for high volume unbranded terms like “Taxi cab,” “Chauffeur,” and “Taxi San Francisco.” The anonymous Quora user explains a strategy for how Uber could start dominating those types of searches, driving huge influx of potential Uber customers. You may want to read the answer before reading the rest of my post.

By definition, an SEO strategy is only half of a customer acquisition idea. This post fills out the other half of the idea.

My intuition is that, even if Uber were to execute on this strategy and successfully drive buckets of new traffic to, they would see a very low conversion rate on this segment of users. Compared to traditional taxi services, the initial call-to-action for Uber is heavy-weight: installing an app and signing up. No matter how easy they make it, this is a lot of friction for someone searching on Google for a generic term like “taxi cab” — they are probably intending to quickly dial a phone # they find on a web site, or maybe tap to call without even leaving the search result page. If they weren’t already familiar with Uber, they likely don’t have time to comprehend the novel concept of ordering a car service through an app.

To convert the type of users who would arrive on from a term like “Taxi Cab,” Uber could innovate through inserting themselves into the stream of established user behavior. For search engine referrals that don’t include the term “uber”, they could make the first call-to-action dialing a phone number, just as someone would for any regular taxi service. After the customer calls the number and is in the car, they would be asked to pay for their ride through installing the Uber app. Perhaps Uber drivers could win a commission for signing up new customers. To prevent wasting resources on folks without iOS or Android phones (who would be unable to install the app), Uber could experiment with limiting the phone number signup mechanism to folks navigating to their site with these devices.

I believe this is a strong customer acquisition idea for a few reasons:

  1. It requires the smallest possible amount of behavioral change for potential customers.
  2. It makes initial act of committing to the service light-weight. Then the heavy-weight action of installing the app and signing up can happen while the user is in the car without taking extra time out of the user’s life. With WiFi in the cars this would be especially seamless.
  3. The driver’s assistance during the on-boarding process offers a welcoming, personal introduction to new customers who will, in theory, generate lots of revenue for Uber over their lifetime.

I’d be fascinated to know if Uber has considered this type of concept or if it’s a bad idea for reasons I haven’t imagined.

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