Why SEO-Driven Curbside Pickup Will Be Holiday's Secret Sauce

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 29, 2020

Two primary headwinds will impact performance — localized community COVID-19 outbreaks and shipping delays — as marketers approach the holiday season.

Physical mail has never been as interesting as it has been the last few months. And as an ecommerce practitioner, both of these issues are out of your control and require reactive action.

In April’s Google Retail Insights report, Google reported an increase in searches of 23 times for curbside pickup since the beginning of March.

The trend extends beyond household staples as ~56% of consumers are likely to use curbside pick-up for non-grocery purchases within the next 30 days, with 21% reporting that they would use it frequently.

One-third of users said they would switch to a new brand because of their safety and curbside policies. While the search trends have subsided, curbside searches are still trending 185% higher than pre-pandemic rates.

Fear not — curbside pickup will be the secret sauce for holiday 2020.

The Value of Curbside Pickup

While still a messy ecosystem, local is a highly qualified, bottom-of-the-funnel query. Offering curbside pickup gives brands the agility to capture this traffic no matter what changes barrel down throughout the next few months.

Curbside turns your physical location into a flexible distribution hub, especially as shipping cutoffs draw closer. And with user preferences rapidly shifting, optimizing towardscurbside pickup unlocks a slew of potential new customers who can be converted into repeat customers. 

Google My Business (GMB) has rolled out a number of new features in the last six months to give users and businesses the ability to better communicate in-store safety precautions and policy shifts.

Fully completing all of the available fields are table-stakes, and something that should be done monthly at a minimum. Many local programs for brands and retailers that have nationwide locations have shifted to nearly daily updates as local regulations change and new GMB features are offered.

My grandpa always said “Don’t leave the user wondering what to expect!” I’m kidding. While he was unlikely to ever say that, GMB descriptions are one of the best opportunities to keep customers informed.

Answering some common questions can help earn the conversion. Impactful search marketing has never been a “set it and forget it” action, and the coronavirus pandemic has only heightened the importance of adhering to best practices.

Google continues to release new GMB featureswith the most recent allowing users to filter products that are locally available, compare hours, locations, and even inventory; making the decision process much easier for consumers.

Local Search Behavior Enables New Keyword Opportunities

Local search doesn’t stop at GMB, and location webpages should capture this increased demand as well.

As the pandemic took hold and shelter-in-place orders started, the industry watched as user search trends quickly shifted. Queries that never existed suddenly had millions of impressions.

A new world of keyword opportunities was created in the span of a month. Discovering these phrases doesn’t need to be overly complicated — doing a few brand or product name searches while adding "curbside" and "BOPIS" will yield a lot. Pay attention to the auto-suggest as well as all of the answers in the "People Also Ask" box that will inevitably appear.

Including these questions and complete responses on your landing page is an easy win, appreciated by users. Landing pages should be fully optimized using image optimization, Schema Markups, and any unique attributes with specific verticals. 

Best-in-Class Examples

My favorite curbside page comes from Dick’s Sporting Goods. It tells me that I can expect my purchase to be available in one hour. How it works is conveyed in both written and video form. It also shows me what is popular in my area, the featured categories of sport which have seen massive success during the pandemic, and FAQs. The page is linked to sitewide, which not only buoys its authority, it lets users know their options from any entry point.

My heart warms for the Texas staple, Whataburger. The fast-food chain’s location landing pages feature multiple calls to action to order pick-up, get directions, or delivery. They also include copy to prep users and an FAQ section to A those Qs. What I like most about Whataburger’s landing page is that it’s hosted separately from the main site. Location data providers such as Yext and Momentfeed offer the ability to host local landing pages while rendering them for a smooth user experience. If a brand has development resource issues or needs to quickly improve the location page experience, hosting offsite is the juke that gets you around those issues. 

While we’re not sure what to expect next, building agility into your business ensures minimal downtime.

It can also lead to new customers discovering your products to give brick-and-mortar a more level playing field while capturing the traffic generated from new keyword searches. At the end of the day, improving user experience is never a bad practice.

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