2018 saw an incredible 3,234 changes to the Google search engine results page and ranking algorithm. 2019 has continued this rapid pace of development. By now, everyone knows Google prefers mobile-first websites, but here are five changes to travel searches you may not have heard of.
1) Hotel domain only shows up twice for any given search
In order to prioritize relevant results, Google is trialing a reduction in the number of times any domain can return for a search. Currently, they’re limiting this to two. For the hotel industry, this means OTAs will have less of a hold on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Instead of booking.com returning seven results for the phrase “Dublin Hotel”, multiple domains will be displayed. The only exception to this rule is for highly relevant searches – e.g. brand phrases.
2) The PPC ad label is less prominent on mobile
People browsing on mobile devices will no longer see the ad label with a coloured background or coloured lettering. The word ‘ad’ simply appears in bolded black, in an attempt to make it blend in with the organic search results. This makes it more likely that people will click through on adverts, increasing the importance of an adequate Google Ads budget.
3) Check-in & Check-out times added to Google my Business
In February, Google allowed hotels to add check-in and check-out times to Google my Business. This appears mainly on mobile, under the ‘About’ section. As this listing is one of the most interacted parts of the Google SERP, this update has drastically cut down on front office queries for hotels.
4) The pricing chart is a permanent part of the SERP
This graph, displaying different pricing per night for your hotel, is now an expected presence on the search results. The highly visual section pushes down the organic listings and makes paid searches even more prominent. Google pulls this information from Google Hotel Ads, which is a metasearch channel we recommend all hotels are live on.
5) Google are introducing Gallery Ads in late 2019
These are a swipeable carousel of images on mobile & desktop, that appear above the organic search results. These paid ads are highly visual and are likely to increase engagement with adverts while decreasing the number of people who scroll to organic results. When these launch, hotels will be able to avail of them as part of their Google Ads strategy.
If you’d like further information on any of the changes mentioned above or if you’d like help with your hotel’s digital strategy please contact a member of the team.