Consumers looking for travel products on Google are now faced with fewer "organic blue links", with space given over to the search giant's own tools and services.
That's the conclusion of a major study by Searchmetrics into the results thrown back at users when looking for hundreds of different travel-related queries.
The company looked at U.S.-based queries as part of a wider, cross-vertical analysis into how universal search is changing as Google introduces more of its own real estate on search engine results pages (SERPS).
Subscribe to our newsletter below
On average, 8.8 blue links (impossible to reproduce, but a statistical example) were shown by Google to travel-related queries, down from the traditional ten.
The Google-created content that is shown in SERPS varies between desktop and mobile devices, yet an increasing number of different elements are now served against travel content, the study found.
Chief technology officer and founder, Marcus Tober, says: "Getting onto Google’s first page for important search terms is a necessary goal for all travel brands, and the universal search elements offer an additional way of appearing there.
"Travel marketers need to understand which universal search integrations commonly appear for the keywords and topics their target customers are searching for and optimize their web content to increase the likelihood that Google will feature it."
What's going on?
Searchmetrics found that elements such as news, maps and the knowledge graph (facts and details about a product or destination) were featured in most search results.
Likelihood of appearing on a desktop SERPS:
- Images - 18%
- Videos - 6%
- News - 20%
- Maps - 17%
- Adwords (top) - 15%
- Adwords (bottom) - 9%
- Knowledge graph - 65%
And the same for mobile SERPS:
- Images - 15%
- Videos - 6%
- News - 16%
- Maps - 23%
- Adwords (top) 32%
- Adwords (bottom) - 7%
- Knowledge graph - 22%
The knowledge graph is clearly the most crucial element to target, in terms of optimizing existing content within a brand's website, with Google pulling content from the likes of Wikipedia, MyBusiness listings and social media channels.
The study says:
"As a brand, you need to be sure to have an up to date, active presence on these sites with good quality, relevant information.
"Information that is well structured, with headings and bullets is more likely to be used. Encourage reviews and ratings as they are often included in a company’s knowledge graph listings."
* Full report, including benchmarks against other verticals, can be downloaded here.