What’s Driving the Change in Search for Hotel Brands?

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Increasing traffic to your hotel’s website is likely to be a core part of your revenue strategy in the digital age. But what has worked in the past may not be as effective now. Changes in how consumers search for services and the way that results are ranked means it could be time to overhaul your current marketing plan to achieve the results you’re after.

Digital hotel marketing strategies need to constantly evolve, reflecting the rapidly changing landscape that the hospitality industry needs to contend with. As online marketing continues to advance, algorithms and search engines are becoming more sophisticated. Changes allow consumers to find information more effectively what they’re looking for in relation to their search terms. But organic traffic is in decline. Instead, paid search and social media traffic is on the rise.

The shift in how consumers arrive at a website signals a need for hotels to reassess their current marketing budgets and strategies. With the behavioural change being driven by multiple different areas, including devices used and best SEO practices, your hotel marketing team needs to understand how to take advantage of the changes to improve your conversion rates and brand awareness. The good news is that despite it becoming more difficult to secure organic traffic, consumers are more willing to engage and make hotel and experience bookings digitally.

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Why is organic traffic down?

The decline of organic search is directly linked to changes made for paid searches. In 2016, Google changed how you see ads on its site and as the largest search engine by a considerable margin, this has undoubtedly had an impact. Previously, ads were displayed on the right-hand side of the results, separating them to a greater degree from the organic results. Now, Google displays up to four text ads at the top of the results page, leading to more consumers clicking on PPC adverts rather than browsing down to the organic search results for your property.

It’s a change that’s having a bigger effect on browsing on mobile devices. In 2014 the number of consumers using mobile devices surpassed those using the traditional desktop. In the UK, over 60% of searches are made on smartphones or tablets. Users don’t want to have to scroll down when using mobile devices, leading to them clicking on the paid ads at the top of the results, further reducing organic traffic.

On top of that, social channels are becoming more popular. It’s the most effective digital hotel marketing approach for converting clicks into sales. Travellers aren’t just using social media platforms to share their own snaps, they’re using them to research destinations and gain travel inspiration too. So, while organic searches might be down as consumers seek different ways to gather hotel and holiday information, you’re presented with opportunities too.

Convenience is playing a role in the reduction in organic traffic as well. While many people are comfortable booking from mobile devices while they’re on the go, others are utilising other functions, including the call extensions button on Google results. The number of people choosing to call and speak to a business representative has increased by 5%, demonstrating that just because organic traffic is down, your hotel revenue doesn’t have to suffer as a direct result.

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