Google announced a new Hotel Booking Links program was formerly offered through the Hotels Ads system. Hotels and travel companies are encouraged to join. Current Google Hotel Ads advertisers don’t have to change anything as their listings will be shown automatically.
According to the announcement:
“Partners who already participate in the Hotel Prices API and Hotel Ads do not need to take any further action to appear in free booking links…”
Google Hotel Ads and Free Booking Links
Hotel Ads show room availability information and rates when a consumer is researching on Google Search, Google Maps and in Assistant.
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When users are actively searching, Hotel Ads will display relevant information like rates which allows hotels to gain more travel business.
The free booking links appear to show beneath the ads as shown in the screenshot below.
Screenshot of Google Hotel Ads and Free Booking Links
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The Hotel Ads program helped many companies earn more from searchers who were actively searching for rooms. The free booking links should presumably also become a quality source of converting customers.
In a 2015 Think with Google video Ted Schweitzer, SVP Marketing & E-Commerce for La Quinta Inns & Suites praised the Hotels Ads program as a winner.
“Hotel Ads are performing at a significantly stronger conversion rate, twice what we see on regular traffic on mobile. And that makes a big difference in terms of results.
Being able to deliver the right type of content at the right time enables us to improve that conversion rate and satisfy that guest request.”
If the ads do that well then the free hotel booking links should also perform well.
Free Hotel Booking Links
According to Google’s announcement, Google is making it free to appear in hotel booking links.
“Now, we’re improving this experience by making it free for hotels and travel companies around the world to appear in hotel booking links, beginning this week on google.com/travel.
…For all hotels and travel companies, this change brings a new, free way to reach potential customers.
For advertisers, free booking links can extend the reach of existing Hotel Ads campaigns. Our testing of this new feature shows that all partner types — from individual hotels to online travel agents — benefit from free booking links through increased booking traffic and user engagement.”
Google Under Anti-trust Investigation
Google’s stated goals for the free booking links is to provide more options to users. But… the move to provide free booking links might be related to anti-trust issues that Google is currently facing.
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In an SEC filing in 2019, Expedia noted that Google was their most significant challenge.
“We believe our most significant challenge remains Google pushing its own hotel products in search results and siphoning off quality traffic that would otherwise find TripAdvisor via free links and generate high margin revenue in our hotel click-based auction.”
Nevertheless, the free booking links should be welcome to a travel industry that is no doubt in search of any good news.
Read the official announcement:
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
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