Google released a huge result page update in mid-November of 2014 that has major implications for hotel website rankings. As this change is just over a week old, this article will be discussing expected changes that we might be seeing in coming weeks and months in traffic numbers and consumer click diversification.
Earlier this month, Google announced that they would be getting rid of the Carousel and replacing it with a “3-pack” organic individual listing view.
This old view, shown on location + hotel searches,
has been replaced by this “3-pack” hotel view.
Old Carousel Benefits
Despite its somewhat awkward display, the Carousel gave us as hotel marketers a distinct advantage from the previous version of the search engine result page (SERP) by increasing the listing slots for individual sites to almost 20, up from 3-6. Before the 2013 release of the Carousel, we were at the mercy of the OTA’s (Orbitz, Booking.com, Travelocity, etc.), as well as the well-known directories (TripAdvisor, primarily) and the flags (Marriott.com, choicehotels.com). An individual hotel had to have an extremely good organic ranking to show up on the first page for a location search but that was made easier by the release of the Carousel, which made rankings more socially based and improvement a bit more likely.
- More listings = more chance to reach the first page
- Ranking was socially based
- Listings were split into (1) those representing individual properties and (2) those representing OTA’s and larger companies
- Rankings, reviews and photos were incorporated into the listing
New 3-Pack Features
The most obvious change that the 3-pack brings is few listing options. At first glance, this is a surprising move by Google since it leaves their customer, the searcher, with fewer options to choose from. That being said, there are two huge reasons why Google would set up their hotel SERPs this way:
- Fewer organic options for individuals means that more will resort to paid search via Google Adwords
- The 3-pack ties beautifully into Google’s Hotel Finder, which is another paid-listing that pulls rates and availability from the OTA’s and anyone else who has integrated with them
Many things have stayed exactly the same regarding the order of your own location searches (see this article regarding the most influential factors determining rank), so this boils down to education. It is important to know what the search engine landscape looks like before you determine a good strategy to improving the exposure of your website and your business.