covid-19 local marketing changes hero image

In a matter of weeks, the whole world has had to adapt to a new lifestyle, one in which we are responsibly distancing ourselves from others. With the rise of social isolation and the need to spend the majority of our time indoors, the way businesses once operated has significantly changed. 

Now, “essential” businesses must take social distancing into consideration, and “non-essential” businesses have had to completely revise their local marketing strategies. Restaurants are now offering curbside pickup, grocery stores are now offering delivery, and healthcare businesses are seeing a rise in virtual doctor appointments.

In recent weeks, we’ve been closely monitoring popular search terms to better understand what consumers are searching for and what terms restaurant and grocery brands should be aware of. Based on our in-depth research, we’ve discovered the following trends:

Popular Restaurant & Grocery Search Terms During COVID-19

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the foodservice industry has shifted from in-person dining to offering take-out only. They’ve also heightened their local public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to operate safely. As consumers look for convenient food options and are still seeking to dine with their favorite local restaurants, it comes as no surprise that Google Trends has reported a significant recent spike for “take-out”, “drive-thru” and “delivery” related keyword phrases. In fact, Google has reported a 285% increase in the term “take-out” across the U.S. over a three-week period in March.

delivery trends If you are a local restaurant or grocery store that offers drive-thru or take-out services, we recommend utilizing the following tactics to showcase your unique services. To start, Google My Business (GMB) has quickly changed their guidelines to help local businesses effectively communicate temporary closures and alternative services (i.e. take-out, delivery services). Here is a quick list of changes in GMB you can take advantage of during COVID-19:

  • Google is now temporarily allowing minor GMB business name changes during the crisis.  Local businesses can now include keywords such as “take-out” or “drive-thru” with no penalty during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Google is now offering COVID-19 GMB posts so businesses can effectively communicate with their customers about updates. This includes making announcements about take-out, delivery and drive-thru only services.
  • Restaurants have GMB attributes where they can denote take-out, delivery and dine-in.  These can be configured via Google Food integration.  
  • It is also critical to utilize Yelp profiles to communicate changes. Here is a full resource on the best measures to actively manage your Yelp profile during this crisis.  
Walmart pickup delivery in name

Example of “Pick Up” and “Delivery” being used in GMB listings

So after your GMB listing has been thoroughly updated to accommodate for the pandemic, what’s next?  

Local SEO Updates to Make During COVID-19

This is an opportune time to update your location page SEO elements.  These include making adjustments to your location page title tags, meta description tags, and header H1 tags.  These updates will communicate to your customer that your brand location is still open and offering alternative services while simultaneously boosting SEO signals for search queries such as “restaurant take-out near me” or “drive-thru near me”.  

Here is an example of Walmart Grocery Delivery locations utilizing optimized title, meta description, and H1 header tags:   

Local SEO tips

Walmart header tags

Both GMB listing changes and SEO signal updates on local landing pages can give Walmart a substantial boost for search queries such as “grocery delivery near me”. From the Highlands Ranch location, the Walmart listings dominate the local pack. 

Walmart GMB listing

The search community at large understands the difficult situation many brands and small businesses alike are facing in the COVID-19 pandemic. Times are uncertain, but the silver lining is these disruptions are temporary, and now more than ever before, we are seeing brands provide valuable resources to power through this pandemic. At Rio SEO, we are continuously adding new resources to better help you reach your customers and communicate your unique services, so check back frequently for the latest updates.  Implementing updates to your local presence will not only improve the visibility of your services but will most importantly, help your customers.