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Google Maps update explained - changes in hotels results

Kat is back for another instalment of AskEkaterina - the source of all the latest SEO insight. This month, Kat discusses the new updates to Google Maps and what it could mean for the hospitality industry

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Ekaterina Vasileva is our resident SEO expert, and Ask Ekaterina is the stamp of her boundless wisdom. Got a question about SEO, Google or search marketing? Why not #AskEkaterina? Follow Kat on Twitter - @AskEkaterina - and LinkedIn for all the latest and greatest developments in the search marketing world.

 Google Maps - what has changed?

Google has just recently announced an update in the way they display the hotel search. If you have recently made travel plans, you may have noticed that there is now enhanced listings with photos, new browsing categories and new capabilities for booking directly in the search results page. 

Say I wanted to go and book a nice hotel near my hometown

Google search for Hotels near Sozopol, Bulgaria

You can already see that prices appear together with nice photos of each hotel, as well as the opportunity to filter the results by price, dates and more. 

 

What are the new features?

  • Prices appearing in the map for each listing - this information is generated through paid results from third-party booking providers such as booking.com, Agoda, Kayak, Tripadvisor, etc. They sometimes include the official site of the hotel but only from paid ads. 

 Prices in Google search for hotels

  • New filters for users - Top Choices, Guest Favourites, Budget Options, Luxury Stays and For Tonight:

filtersfilters

Searching for accommodation in this way works for searches 'near me': hotels near me, producing similar results to the ones above.  

Booking directly in the search results

An interesting feature is the ability for users to book a room directly in the search results. When you expand the hotels' map, this is what you would see:

Hotels in Sozopol

Users are able to narrow down the listings by dates, price-range, amenities available and many other filters. 

This is a game-changer - hotels now must ensure their listing is shown in this panel and that the information is as complete and as accurate as possible. 

Selecting a third-party site and reserving a room happens directly here. It is important to note that ALL of this information comes entirely from paid ads by the booking sites, as can be seen by the above example from a hotel in Islington. 

I'm a hotel owner - what can I do to ensure that my listing is seen? Can I just pay for a placement?

Having researched these new features, it appears that, at least for now, 'Google partner sites' such as Booking.com, Agoda, HRS and more are shown in the prices results. 

Therefore, if it makes sense for your business, it is important to get listed with them to be shown in the above panel. Another option is to have an advertising budget for that and an appealing offer for direct bookings that at least matches or surpasses the third-party providers' offers. 

The good news is, however, that the rest of the information is pulled from a variety of locations, most importantly from your Google My Business listing. I cannot stress enough how important it is to claim, verify and optimise your listing in Google My Business - things like opening times, hotel amenities, payment methods accepted, location accuracy and high-quality photographs are super important for your hotel to show in these search results. 

Also, gather as many positive reviews as possible and make sure you use the posts in Google My Business to provide updates about your location. The reviews panel in your hotel's location page is especially comprehensive with aggregation from a number of websites:

 

Hotel reviews

We will continue to monitor these changes as it is very likely that these will expand across other types of services and Google driving a push for better user experience. 


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