To get the most bookings from Google users a few years ago, all a hotel had to do was have a website at the top of the search engine result page (SERP). Of course, that wasn’t all that simple, but it was fairly straight forward. Now Google searchers have a number of options they see before the organic results listing hotel websites. This is good for consumers searching for a place to stay, but for hotels it means additional work, and without a proactive plan they will be left behind when it comes to online marketing via Google.
PPC ads are short text ads tied to specific keywords. Google runs it like an auction, generally giving the highest bidder the highest ad spot. Unlike regular (organic) search results, a business has to keep paying for their result to keep being listed.
Another eye catching feature included in the SERPs is their Google Maps with listings of hotels. Do a search for hotels and the map will show dots representing hotels. When a user hovers their mouse of a specific dot, they’ll get more information about the hotel. It’s a great tool for someone looking for a specific location or area of the city.
The exact way they choose hotels to include is kept secret. That being said, if you want your hotel to be chosen, a good way to start is by verifying your business and setting up a Google+ page.
Two years ago, Google created their Hotel Finder, a service to help people find hotels. Today, it's showing up in more and more search results. Hotel Finder shows a handful of selected hotels, along with their prices, rates and reviews. Clicking on one of these hotels brings the user to a Google page with more information about hotels in the area and links to specific pages. Clicking on these hotel-specific pages give more information about the hotel including amenities, Google reviews and even if the current rates are a good deal. There are also options to book a room with a bright red button for the option with the lowest rates.
Like with the Carousel and Map, hotels need to ensure they’re verified and have a Google+ page. The formula in which hotels are selected to show up highest in the Hotel Finder results is kept under cover, but marketing experts believe the greatest factor is Google reviews. Hotels need to ask their guest to leave reviews on Google. The more positive reviews the better.
With all of these new options, it would be safe to guess that hotel websites are receiving less traffic because the organic search results are buried further down the page. However, that's not entirely accurate. High organic search results are still seeing hundreds and thousands of visitors a day, so hotels still need websites, and they still need to do search engine optimization (creating quality, authority level sites with fresh content and strong social signals) to make sure their website is at the top of the organic listings.
None of this is set in stone and Google will continue to change. They are constantly updating their algorithm and never completely share how a hotel can garner the most visitors to their website or listings. The best bet is to have an active online marketing strategy that includes Google, online travel agencies (OTAs) and a website, which are all sources from which Google draws their information.
We’re here to help navigate these changes and ensure your hotel’s online marketing runs like a finely tuned engine. Contact us today to learn about how we can upgrade your website or how to take your marketing to the next level.