By Keith Hodges, account manager at POLARIS
In recent weeks Google has announced a number of tools to respond to user intent for mobile holiday research and booking.
This came alongside the not-so-surprising stats that mobile traffic to travel sites now accounts for 40 percent of users.
So what do the changes mean for the travel industry, and should travel companies be adapting SEO strategies any time soon?
Users will be able to filter hotels by price or rating, with longer searches catered for – for example ‘pet friendly hotels in London for less than £300 a night’.
Much like Google has been doing on desktop, the mobile travel results will also show deals – so if a hotel has dropped in price for the search result this will be highlighted.
The most powerful element of this change is the ability to track and receive alerts for airline price changes.
Using Google Now, users will be able to track ‘dramatic price increases and decreases’ in any chosen location and make a purchase based on the logic of price changes.
What is the benefit for travel companies?
In a nutshell it means travel companies can offer products, whether it be flights, hotels or even reviews, to users much quicker. A quicker research phase means a quicker purchase cycle, and increased revenue.
What’s more, users are increasingly turning to mobile, and micro moment searching, for answers.
Having the ability to take this research a step further, to see hotels or flights, creates a buy-in to the search, which travel companies can market to for long term sales.
So, what exactly is the benefit for Google?
Google should always be considered as the ‘littlefinger of the internet’ – everything it does has the ulterior motive of helping itself. Essentially, Google wants to users to use its platform for everything, as opposed to as a gateway for everything.
For them, this means the potential to sell advertising space or take commission. This revenue stream for Google might not be apparent yet, but successful products will often be open to ad platforms long term.
What does it mean for Travel SEO campaigns?
For travel SEO it means greater attention to detail needs to be paid to Google services, such as listings and business profiles. If users can get answers without visiting your website, then your offering needs to be present in every location possible.
Essentially, this update increases the level of exposure to a website needed across the board, not just in the standard search engine results pages.
Website owners should look closely at understanding micro moments in travel, search trends, the ‘dreaming’ to ‘purchase’ phases and where longtail searches fit into this.
For example, ‘four star hotel in Brighton with a sea view’ is very specific, but based on the new Google filters it could see a website ranking on page 4 have an instant book button at the top of search results.
Run your Google profiles effectively and achieving this could see a dramatic change in the way users interact with your website.
Passing certain elements of information through to search engines through schema tagging is an effective way to make the difference in search results and send essential information about bookings, dates and availability to search engines.
This works slightly different to Google filters, but effective tagging will be a huge benefit.
Google run services
Whatever the future holds, Google is aware of the huge potential within the travel market, and as the first port of call the company is looking to capitalise.
Web owners, should develop an understanding how each Google product impacts the travel industry and how they can use them to the advantage of their business.