Hotels have noticed a recent trend that on the surface can be both confusing and alarming: the amount of traffic they receive organically from Google is tanking. It turns out this trend is being felt across the web — not just in the travel space. In an article titled “Where Did All The Search Traffic Go,” BuzzFeed outlines how its network has seen up to a 30% drop in traffic over the past eight months! Why is Google Traffic dropping, and what should an aggressive hotel do to counteract the trend?
First, let’s tackle the question of why this is happening. Google gained prominence and, ultimately, dominance in the search space by providing the most reliable and efficient gateway to the web’s information. With its position entrenched as the dominant player in the space, Google has made consistent, ongoing strides to monetize the information a user sees. It has moved well beyond the classic display of paid search ads. The lengths Google has gone to monetize its results is best illustrated by an article posted on fastcodedesign.com demonstrating that for a particular search, only 13% of the page contains organic search listings. 13% percent!
For hotels, it could be worse. With the coming monetization of Google Carousel, travel organic search results could soon be pushed completely off the first page of results. Not convinced? Here is one more article discussing the Google trend.
As a hotelier, what should you make of this trend? Diversification is the key to winning market share. No longer can a hotelier rely on a strong optimization effort alone to drive incremental sales online. Google still represents more than 66% of total search traffic and cannot be ignored. Instead, focus on effectively managing all of the available advertising options to maximize your marketing dollars. The hotels winning market share today have a strategy that extends far beyond Google. Social media has now, in my mind, been proven to drive not just engagement, but revenue. Email marketing, display advertising, retargeting and meta-search advertising are all viable arrows in your marketing quiver. Above all, make sure you have a well-defined governing strategy that keeps every piece working in concert.
Do not despair if you see a drop in your organic traffic. You’re not alone. In the end, it’s about revenue, and there are a multitude of marketing options at your disposal to find new streams.