NB: This is a guest post by Joe Hyman, president and CEO of Vizergy, a Florida-based brand marketing agency.
So Google Instant has set the worlds of digital marketing and search engine optimisation on edge - yet again - as real-time search finally arrives.
Here are the basics:
Google Instant is an industry first search feature that displays predicted search results as you type in the search box.
The search results, both organic and AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) ads, can change with every letter you type. Google also has the ability to tell where you’re located, so local search results are usually predicted first.
Google Instant is yet another recent development in the constantly evolving search marketing arena, along with new browsers and mobile websites.
Although these changes make it difficult for hotels to adapt and be consistent with their online marketing, it’s also an opportunity for properties to build revenue with the proper understanding and strategies.
Google recently reported that 64% of leisure travelers and 65% of business travelers use search engines to begin their travel planning, exemplifying just how key search marketing is.
Here’s an example of a search with Google Instant:
Notice that after typing in only “hote,” Google predicts that you’re searching for hotels in Jacksonville, FL (Vizergy’s location).
Going a step further and typing in “hotels in atl,” the search results automatically change. Note – it displays search results for the first predicted search term, in this case, “hotels in atlanta.”
Google Instant facts:
- It has already been rolled out in the United States and Europe, slowly expanding around the world in the coming months.
- It is not available on mobile devices yet, but will be in the near future.
- It can be turned off or back on directly on the search results page.
- According to Google, it has no effect on website search rankings or search engine optimization (SEO) performance. How results are ranked remains the exact same.
But how does Google Instant benefit travel shoppers?
It allows for 2-5 second faster searches. This may not sound significant, but busy travel shoppers may conduct dozens of searches before booking a single room.
It helps people that don’t know exactly what they’re looking for by displaying multiple options. For example, maybe someone wants a hotel in South Florida, but isn’t sure which type of property.
After typing in “hotels in south fl,” Google displays options for hotels with water slides, beachfront hotels and “best” hotels in South Florida. This gives the consumer immediate options and suggestions.
3. Ease of use
Results appear before you’re finished typing, which means less typos and search errors. The longer the search term, the more typos or misspellings that can occur. Google Instant reduces wasted searches by predicting your search results, so that you don’t have to keep typing.
So how does this affect your hotel, resort or bed and breakfast?
There are some definitive answers as to what will not change. Like aforementioned, it has no bearing on where your website ranks for certain keywords and phrases.
All the SEO techniques and strategies will still work. It also has little effect on PPC ad displays, as the ads are displayed based on your bids and searches, just like before.
No one is completely sure what will change, but some expert insight is a solid indicator (from Econsultancy article, Google Instant: the search experts’ view):
Malcolm Coles of Digital Sparkle:
“Some people are going to end up paying a lot more for PPC. If you start searching for Premier Inns, then when you get to premier you get lots of natural "premier" results (e.g. premier league) plus one PPC ad for Premier Inns. I guess lots of people will just click that rather than carry on typing. So some brands might want to be careful that they aren't bidding on terms that get triggered too soon in the process.”
Kelvin Newman of SiteVisibility:
“I don't think it's going to have a drastic impact on the strategies and tactics deployed by search marketers but it's going to make the choice and sequence of your keywords even more important than it already was, it'll be interesting to see if we suddenly get people focusing attention on rankings for partial words though.”
So what should your property do?
First and foremost, it’s vital that your property has strong SEO and PPC ads. If you’re not confident in your property’s online marketing or website design, it may be time to rethink the wider marketing strategy.
Make sure you ask your web marketing partner or the house team if they’re closely monitoring the effects of Google Instant.
Make sure they’re on top of any new strategies and measuring their effectiveness. You will only lose out if you’re competition is being proactive, while you’re being reactive.
NB: This is a guest post by Joe Hyman, president and CEO of Vizergy, a Florida-based brand marketing ag