Update: How Google Changes Affect Hospitality Industry
The carousel is gone. But now more than ever, ratings are even more important for hotel properties.
Realistically, how many people looking for a hotel will deliberately choose to select from all 2-STAR or 3-STAR rating properties? I can’t think of anyone who would opt from those properties especially if the higher rated properties fit into their budget.
All hotel owners, property managers, and marketing directors need to take notice of this new option for prospective guests. If they have less than a 4-STAR average rating and don’t already have a strategy in place to build their online reputation, they need to develop and implement one immediately. Customers are planning their vacations now!
September, 2014, post:
Several months ago, Google introduced a new visual layout for some local search results pages. This new look is called Google Carousel and is showing up on entertainment or hospitality related pages like restaurants, hotels, bakeries, art galleries, food delivery, etc.
I’ve noticed that the Carousel doesn’t always show up with shorter search terms like “restaurants” but is usually always visible in those searches that include a geographic location like “St. Louis restaurants.” So, how do you get your listing on the Carousel?
The Carousel displays up to 20 photos (usually only 12 show up without scrolling to the right to see more) that tie to the map visible below the Carousel. Each photo listing in the Carousel includes information such as:
- Name of Business
- Average Google Rating from Customer Reviews (1 – 5 Stars)
- # of Reviews
- Price Category
If you click on one of the Carousel listings you will be redirected to a search result page dedicated to your specific selection. If you want to view information about another business that’s listed on the Carousel, just click it at the top of the page.
How to improve your property’s visibility? GOOGLE CHANGED AGAIN!
As a result of Google’s “Pigeon” update in July, 2014, some local hotels fared better in their rankings and positioning, while others suffered. According to HospitalityNet.org, there are a few things that appear to contribute to which side of the Pigeon fence your hotel may fall.
1. Position in Google Carousel: It seems the large, corporate chain properties get first visibility in the Carousel, while smaller, independent properties got pushed back. After all, the corporate properties do have very strong web presence and have a lot of authority. Smaller properties need to make sure they have fully executed their Google strategy which means completing your Google+ listing fully! In addition, Google likes to see activity on these listings: responding to reviews (both negative and positive), uploading new pictures, etc.
- set up, verify, and complete your Google+ business profile
- execute a strong Google+ strategy including the quantity of +1’s on their Google+ Business Page and on your website URL’s
- get more reviews (especially on Google and travel sites)
- get more matching citations on different sites (your name, address, phone number)
2. Organic, non-paid listings (left side of the search results page): Again, it seems like the corporate properties have secured their spot. However, it also seems that other directories like TripAdvisor, Kayak, Yelp, etc. have been given prime real estate on page one of search results as well. If you’re trying to move up in the rankings, it’s very important to fully build out all of these listings for your business and GET MORE 5-STAR REVIEWS!
Remember, Google’s top priority is giving their customers what they want (those who use their search engine to look for information). This translates to giving priority to the BEST and most appropriate information that matches the search word or phrase.
Therefore, they will reward those companies that provide updated, relevant information in their listings. It’s our job to keep providing Google with updated information that serves their customers – and yours.