Taco Bell Improves Search Visibility, Attracts Customers with Yext
- Food Service
- 7,000 locations
- Irvine, CA
Taco Bell was founded in 1962 by Glen Bell, who noted the long lines at the Mexican restaurant across the street from his hot dog stand and was inspired by his neighbor’s menu. One hundred Taco Bell locations opened in the first five years of the brand’s existence, and now 7,000 restaurants serve more than 2 billion customers each year.
“Half of America comes to Taco Bell at least once a year,” says Derrick Chan, Director of eCommerce.
When Chan joined Taco Bell, he and his team began looking at web traffic sources and channel performance. “We quickly realized a lot of our traffic was coming from organic search, but the majority of it was branded search,” explains Chan. “This was an area of opportunity. The mobile device has changed the game, and localization has been a rising factor in search results. For any business that has multiple physical locations, it’s super important to optimize at the local level. We’re seeing that localized search and food go hand in hand.”
Taco Bell needed to optimize franchise listings for non-branded search terms at the local level. “We want Taco Bell to show up when people are searching for fast food, for Mexican food, for any drive-thru. At the time, when I searched for ‘drive-thru’ on Yelp, Taco Bell wasn’t showing up at all, but our competitors were. Those are the kinds of insights that made us realize that there was a lot of incremental business that we could be gaining, and gaining share from our competition, if we could take control of how we appeared in search results.”
Taco Bell had long understood the importance of managing business information in search, and had worked with a partner in the past to upload location information across listings and directories. This digital knowledge could not be dynamically controlled, however, so Taco Bell still faced the challenge of making updates and adding new locations.
To find the best solution for digital knowledge management, Taco Bell ran a pilot in which Yext and another solution each managed 600 location listings for 90 days. “We wanted to pick the best solution, the one that’s going to improve the results for the business, or drive results for the business. We looked at multiple KPIs: overall traffic, impressions, clicks, conversion rate, in-store sales, and quality of account management. Yext won across the board.” Chan found that managing digital knowledge across the Yext Knowledge Network drove high-quality traffic with a measurable lift in conversion to Taco Bell digital listings and stores.
“Now, any of our restaurant owners and franchisees can be at their local restaurant, search for ‘Taco Bell’ or ‘tacos near me,’ or just ‘tacos’ — ‘near me’ is already implied — and see our restaurants showing up against the competitors. In a lot of areas, we’re showing up in the top three ranking positions. It was a game changer.”
Now Taco Bell appears in the channels where hungry customers are searching. “Yext is definitely saving us a lot of time. Instead of having to manually curate name, address, and other data through all the different channels, Google, Apple, Bing, you name it, I just type it into the Yext Knowledge Manager. The biggest impact has been our presence on the local map pack on Google. Most of our traffic is mobile, and knowing that mobile search results really emphasize those local A, B, and C listings on Google Maps, it was paramount for us to get there.”
John Kosoff, Vice President of eCommerce and Performance Marketing, came on board at Taco Bell after the brand had adopted the Yext platform and was eager to maximize its possibilities. “Yext Analytics have been really helpful in that regard. The metrics around individual listings especially have helped us gain insight into individual store performance and local search trends. Our next objective is to understand search intent and queries at the local level, because I see organic search as a long-term strategic investment, and Yext can help us dive into that data and understand it in detail.”
In Yext, Taco Bell has found a partner that can help them prepare for future search trends and technology. “The Yext account team has done a phenomenal job of not only being responsive to our needs, but also being proactive in trying to see additional areas where they can add value, or additional strategies that we can implement,” says Chan. “Of all the vendors that we’ve worked with, I would say that Yext is one of the best in regard to keeping that proactive conversation alive.”
Yext Pages allow Taco Bell to optimize landing pages and content at the local level for unbranded search terms (like ‘tacos’) as well as the Taco Bell brand name, which helps drive more search impressions, website clicks, and customer actions like “Get Directions.” The Yext Knowledge Manager gives Chan and his team control across the entire digital ecosystem of listings and pages for Taco Bell’s 7,000 locations. “In every market, people reference locations based on a description in relation to other landmarks. They might not be searching for ‘Taco Bell on Third Street’ but ‘Taco Bell in the Vaughn Shopping Center.’ We actively reach out to our restaurants to gather all that data, so that we can then feed that into Yext and see an even more impactful result.”
The Customer Journey
“I definitely think that the advice for any brand is you need to adapt to the new ways that search works, and you need to leverage the tools necessary to do that. You have to capture customers where they are searching, and now it’s at the local level,” says Chan. “The mobile device is still making a big impact. It brings so many other dimensions to search — geolocation, weather conditions, previous search history. Search is becoming more complex, but also more relevant to the user. We want to be where the customer is looking, and position ourselves so we’re discoverable for all their different search criteria.”