A checklist with 5 Tips on how to succeed on Google
The search landscape within Google is constantly changing, especially when looking at Google’s ability to constantly modify, adapt and improve its services for its users.
On May 6, 2021, Revenue Forum Webinar was all about the new platform for organic search and what impact Google will have on hotels. A panel of experts in the subject discussed how players in the hospitality industry and hotels can ensure that their products and services are both visible and bookable within Google. Part of the focus was how to avoid that competing distribution channels capture potential customers already during the search phase, and nudge customers into booking the hotel operator’s services in their OTA-platform.
Over the years, Google has improved its search algorithms and at the same time launched a series of new products (eg Google Travel platform, Metasearch function Google Hotels, the Google My Business Directory, etc)
Since Google is a company that is not afraid to “kill your darlings” – these services have on several occasions changed name or have been integrated into other Google services. Google Trips as a dedicated travel portal, launched in 2019, has already been rebranded and the services are now included in the Google Travel brand. And so it shall remain, seeing that Google as a company is always looking for opportunities to improve its product range towards its users.
Through the years, Google has implemented several more or less radical changes in the way the service adapts its search results for the user. Google’s focus has always been on delivering the most accurate results for their users, based on the entry of search terms, matching with previous searches and the content of the website that responds to the user’s query. Google’s guiding light is consumers and their needs, thus finding new ways to be relevant to customers.
This entails constant changes and adjustments for product owners who want to be visible in the context of searches, and simultaneously be able to make money from Google’s marketing and booking features. Because Google’s influence in online searches is so gigantic (about 5 billion searches are performed daily – data from Dec 2020), it may be important to regularly review your marketing and distribution partnerships with the search giant. During Revenue Forum, valuable tips on how to get the most out of Google’s services and products were discussed, see the entire webinar here:
Below are the five 5 most important tips that are easy to implement quickly, with great effect:
Tip 1: Secure your Google My Business account:
Google my Business is part of Google’s location services, which are part of the Google Maps database. In addition to the geographical definition, you as a product owner can also add selected own images (instead of photos taken from other websites or Google’s Street view photographs), add opening hours, contact information, website details and get access to reviews customers have posted on Google Reviews.Many hospitality industry players have not taken a holistic approach to their own “Listing”, which is surprising because the service is free and also has a major impact on visibility.The well-known “black box” in a search result retrieves a lot of information from this Business-Listing and the geo-positioning allows map services to highlight your destination or product. Register your account here today
Tip 2: Join Google Free Booking Links:
Since a few weeks, you as a hotel can participate in Google’s Metasearch function free of charge. However, this does not apply to the first 4 places in the Google Hotel ranking (see more below). The Free Booking Links feature is provided by connecting your business’s booking engine to Google. Contact your CRS provider or the company that manages the booking engine on your website to take part in this program. You will find all the information in the Google Hotel Center (yes, you can google the link 😊).
Tip 3: Join the Google Hotel Ads meta search feature
Google’s Metasearch has over the years proved to be one of the best tools for redirecting a percentage of bookings from the OTA channels. Costs in the recommended CPA model (commission) are between 8 -12% of booking value (depending on which place in the ranking you desire). In combination with a clear pricing strategy, it is possible to take back some bookings that would otherwise have ended up with an OTA (although for a lower commission cost than a regular OTA booking). The paid ranking among the first 4 sites also acts as support for the new Free Booking Links and supports the conversion rate. Register your hotel here
Tip 4: SEO. Focus on different and specific search terms
The debate about the relevance search engine optimisation (SEO) has been going on for a few years and is likely to do so for quite a while.
A fact is however, that so-called broader search terms such as “hotel”, “Malmö (city)” appeal more to the customer during their first information retrieval during the digital customer journey. These more general keywords (and your brand) are being bid on by OTAs for their Google Ads, making it difficult to compete with, purely in terms of cost. An alternative is to use more specific keywords that describe more precisely the physical location or other notable characteristics of your business. This creates interest among customers who are looking for your specific type of hotel product in relation to the neighbourhood or attractions nearby. With a number of narrower search terms, you create several (albeit smaller in quantity) target group profiles that you can then target any ads towards.
Tip 5: SEO & My Business: Adaptation for voice searches: “near me” – searches in a local context
Today about 50% of all searches in Google take place via voice assistants. This large shift in user behaviour towards voice generated search queries has the consequence that contextual searches have become more relevant. Contextual search allows for the inclusion of search parameters like the geographical location (here’s why Google My Business is so important), the relationship to other points of interest (museums, bus stop, shops) and opening hours. These parameters may not even be part of the user’s search query, but through geotracing, Google will select and include relevant business to the primary query results.Many Google users are already “on their way” when voice search is used and with the help of a series of reference points, it is easier to “steer” the customer towards your business. Google’s algorithms work the same whether the search is done via the computer or via a voice assistant, however, the user is often in a different position during the digital customer journey when voice search is used, and here you can make the most of having taken height for good references.
These were 5 simple tricks to get started with an improved exposure on Google. Of course, there is always a lot more to do, and if you are interested, please contact the organiser: Taktikon ([email protected]) for help with distribution questions, digital marketing or information about the digital customer journey.