As 2016 winds down, we’re looking back at the major changes that impacted hotel marketing over the past year. For the most part, Google has influenced a lot of them, ramping up their focus on mobile and continuing their own expansion into the travel industry.
In this first article of our 2-part recap of 2016, we take a closer look at the major changes from Google over the last 12 months, and how they will impact hoteliers in 2017.
First the big one, and the most pressing for hotel marketers. Google has announced it will be splitting its desktop and mobile indexes, making mobile its primary index. This means that if your website it not optimized for mobile, your search rankings, and subsequently, your organic traffic, will start to be seriously affected.
Google’s changes are in response to the accelerated growth of mobile over the last 12 months. In October, StatCounter reported that mobile devices had overtaken desktop computers for web browsing. Global mobile and tablet browsing accounted for 51.3% vs. 48.7% on desktop.
Google has been pre-empting this shift for quite some time, steadily improving its mobile offering. In the past, Google would crawl desktop websites in order to determine the quality of its content relative to the search query. This created problems for people searching on mobile devices.
Google addressed this problem head-on in April, when it updated its search algorithm to boost mobile-friendly websites higher in mobile search engine results. Then in October, Google announced it would be switching to a mobile first index. Furthermore, starting in January 2017, Google will begin penalizing websites with inaccessible content. For example, sites that use intrusive pop-ups.
While it all sounds very complicated and overwhelming, there is one clear take away from all of this – you absolutely need a mobile optimized website. Not enough hoteliers are hearing the alarm bells.