Yesterday I received an email, among others, from Chipotle promoting free delivery during the corona crisis. This prompted the type of behavior they were probably hoping for — an order. But it also sparked a debate in my home about whether it was safe to order takeout/delivery from chains and local restaurants.
Is it safe to order from . . . To try and settle the dispute, I went online to learn more about any precautions being taken at Chipotle. Finding no information, I ran a version of the query, “Is it safe to order from __?” for a range of national restaurant chains. While there was a lot of discussion about how healthy it was to eat at, say Taco Bell, to my surprise none of these restaurants had COVID-19 pages that showed up on page one in Google results.
For restaurants doing takeout this is fundamental. What steps are being taken to ensure employee health and food safety? Most people are going to want to know.
Is it safe to order food from . . .
Alternatively, if these pages did exist, they weren’t being indexed. This is mystifying — or not. A deluge of corporate emails has sought to reassure the public over the past several days (“An important message from our CEO”) that companies care. They’ve also encouraged consumers to continue doing business with them where possible: e-commerce, food delivery and so on.
Don’t neglect search. Some restaurant-chain emails have indicated food safety issues are being addressed. But those emails are only being received by a fraction of their potential customers. It’s critical that precautions being taken are discoverable in search results.
It’s possible that the new coronaschema — virus schema if you prefer — might ultimately help restaurants convey this information to search engines. Indeed, this kind of content is perfect for a featured snippet (i.e., fast answer). Most people simply want safety assurances before submitting the order.
Separately, Google has instructed retailers and local merchants to change their hours and descriptions, as well as use Posts to communicate updates. But every consumer-facing business probably needs a COVID FAQs page that addresses common questions the public may be asking about their products or services.
Why we care. During this time of economic disruption and potential recession it’s critical for companies large and small to communicate effectively and clearly with their customers, to keep revenue coming in. Email is an important channel but it’s only one. Social media and especially search must not be neglected.
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