How Google is changing the way we book hotel rooms & the impact this will have on website traffic

How Google is changing the way we book hotel rooms & the impact this will have on website traffic

Monday, July 24, 2017

There is no doubt that Google set its eyes on the travel industry some time ago. Many travel products like Google’s Trips app, Google flights and the continuing integration with flight data, hotel data, Uber and many others, make sure that Google essentially plans your entire trip.

But what about when we want to find a cheap hotel for that long awaited city break in your favourite destination?

Last month Google rolled out price labels on hotel search results so that you can easily see the price of the hotels on the map of the area you are looking for. Here is an example:


This new change, plus the fact that the first of Google’s pages is packed with Paid Ads and OTA results, leaves individual hotels sitting outside of page 1.

Taking Google’s latest change into consideration alongside a possible algorithmic change, we have seen a high degree of SERP volatility across reporting tools with a noticeable spike around the middle of June.

This seems to correspond with many of the ranking fluctuations present across a variety of hotel brands where organic traffic and keywords have seen similar falls.

More precisely, the singular keyword “cheap London Victoria hotels” shows this particular flux from middle of June and beyond, in action.

Why will Google’s changes affect your website’s traffic?

  1. It has sophisticated Google’s advertising modelThe biggest cause of upset in search traffic delivery during the last year has been Google’s major upgrade to their display of local listings for hotels combining the metasearch feature.This section is now diverting much attention away from the organic listings above as an alternative form of advertising.

  2. Different devices and channels are now used to research and book travelThe shift toward mobile devices has multiplied the complexity involved in optimising user experience, as designers and developers now need to consider all sorts of different screen types. For example, you might have seen a decrease in traffic but an increase in overall brand impressions.  This may mean that the hotel’s Google My Business listing has claimed some traffic.
  3. Poor review scoresThe poor review scores reflected in the map results may also be impacting click through rates. If users see scores of 2.1 whilst competitors are showing higher scores, then naturally, users may be disinclined to click a result that is perceived to be inferior. If you don’t have a high average rating from a large number of reviews it’s likely travellers won’t find you on Google products