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Google Hotel Finder now taking over accommodation searches

   
10:17 am on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)



Is this new? I'm seeing Google Hotel Finder taking over accommodation searches like "cheap hotels <location>"

First 2 ads, then a GHF search form, then Places results, then those poor old useless organic search results.

And if you make it to the second page, guess what? GHF shows again.
5:23 pm on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Not just on the second page - GHF shows on every page from 1-10 and onwards...
6:28 pm on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This is not evidence that they are abusing their powers, of course. Searchers prefer to see Google moneymaking ads, sorry search results, in all the primary positions.
6:58 pm on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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what's funny, none of the result links work, keep getting 404
7:48 pm on Nov 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



Is this new?
It's the new Google

Yelp --> Google Places
Twitter --> Google Plus
Wikipedia --> Google knowledge
Hotels, Airlines, you get the idea.

The search team was renamed the "knowledge" team by Larry Page in the summer of 2011 and search is still a core product of Google but it's no longer THE core product, according to Google. Many have been advising on here for a long time not to rely solely on Google traffic for any business model, you're finding out why it looks like.
4:34 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



If my income depended on a space like travel, where Google products are being developed and featured, I would probably be up in arms. As it is, I mostly touch these spaces as an end user and I always had a dislike for organic results for generic travel searches. They just didn't provide the kind of dependability I was looking for, and I think my experience was pretty common.

I'm still not willing to use the Google Travel product - but I don't even use search for broad term travel queries. That's just not what works for me in this space. I have certain aggregate sites where I have had a good experience and I usually go there. Or else I learn about a new offering through offline advertising and check it out.

Brutal truth? My travel plans are too critical for me to trust them to sites that try to survive through SEO alone. Maybe I just know too much about the space. Travel is a space where I really want some kind of brand.
6:52 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)



Google may have some affiliate signup with those hotels in GHF.
and one day G will keep itself on top for all shopping phrases for Google Shopping [google.com ]

Suggestion: G may start SEO consultancy (will work better than other services) :)
7:56 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)



"Suggestion: G may start SEO consultancy (will work better than other services)"

They have, its called adwords
5:45 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Travel is a space where I really want some kind of brand.


I must admit I tend to visit one of 4 or 5 big well known sites for my travel needs. There came a point where just about every site in SERPS just sent you to one of those anyway so now I don't even search for hotels, flights etc.

I was unaware of GHF but just took a look and it looks OK... I can see why people might like it but the foray into credit cards and now this does remind you that Google's direction is controlled by shareholders now. I always think it's a little unfair to moan about how Google is trying to make money in that now they are PLC, they don't really have much freedom anymore.
5:56 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)



Does any one think that sites in this sector can survive/thrive on Google organic traffic if they are restricted to below the fold or page 2 ?


Problem in this area is that margins are very fine/small and adwords is not cheap !
6:00 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



If my income depended on a space like travel, where Google products are being developed and featured, I would probably be up in arms. As it is, I mostly touch these spaces as an end user and I always had a dislike for organic results for generic travel searches. They just didn't provide the kind of dependability I was looking for, and I think my experience was pretty common.


I couldn't agree more with that statement. I dislike that Google is moving in on travel sites(and content sites in general) since that's not what I want from Google but at the same time the top results in Google didn't satisfy me either. I now use a specific travel site to do my booking and I'm 100% loyal to it, I don't need or use a search engine to find it.

I'd be loyal to one airline carrier too, I do have my favorite, but the rates fluctuate so widely between airlines at times that it doesn't make sense.
6:57 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Problem in this area is that margins are very fine/small and adwords is not cheap !


Unless of course you own the search engine and do not need to pay for the advertising. I think the same applies to C/C and Car insurance. Markets Google has also moved into.

Personally I think it is an outrage that Governments are not looking into Google's business practises. Google have very concise metrics for every industry, and are completely abusing their position.
9:12 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My travel plans are too critical for me to trust them to sites that try to survive through SEO alone.


Travel is a niche where many of the biggest and the best funded sites (e.g Kayak) are nothing more than affiliates. Whether you book through them or through a spammy site that tries to survive through SEO, your booking ends up in the same place.
11:49 pm on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



They just didn't provide the kind of dependability I was looking for, and I think my experience was pretty common.

Overall customer satisfaction measured by conversion rates is very low in travel. The lowest conversions are in the SERP's [ even the strongest brands ] and the highest are in the booking paths of partners e.g. airlines , where trusted brands act as referrals.

Offline brand retention is suprisingly poor, with a couple of notable exceptions in some regions which perform differently.

Travel is always going to be a low conversion category due to the considerable variances required to satisfy the broad spectrum of need, except in commodity status bookings. Hotels do a good marketing job to fall outside of this.

But Google has the data to determin whether this works for them or not. So our sentiments may not count for much as they focus on the bottom line.

Putting my consumer hat on, the UI is a long way short of major players UI's especially meta search UI's. But I suppose this compete's with meta search and i don't expect meta search players to appear on Google hotel finder's results. Priceline must have got a plan up it's sleeve to purchase Kayak for $1.5bn knowing this was going to happen.

My guess is that Google will bumble along with this off - focus , effective experiment for many years, causing disruption to players in the meantime.

Intriguing times.
12:59 am on Nov 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Does any one think that sites in this sector can survive/thrive on Google organic traffic


Survive? ... maybe. Thrive.. no. If you are in this sector, then the harsh reality is that you stand between Google and the money and there will only ever be one outcome.

Google Hotels is a glaring example of how Google now only needs SERP's as an advertising platform. Look for more of this pattern as Google moves into the big money sectors that it decides to dominate.
9:13 am on Nov 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Add that on top of links to websites like booking whereby google shows reviews from those sites but links to them with their affiliate id. What ever way possible google is trying to lower quality sites; and drive traffic through their money making methods
11:17 am on Nov 25, 2012 (gmt 0)



For what it's worth, I've pretty much been surviving in this sector for a decade now off of a large chunk of organic traffic and quite well too. And for 10 years people have been rolling out the same tired warnings of relying too much on organic traffic. The warnings haven't stopped me and I have no regrets, because it's been a rather good run. Sure, I'd rather have a more diverse range of income. But if it's working well, you stick with it. You don't turn down a good thing to be more balanced. And I have enough development skills to get a 9-5 job if I really needed it. So it's not nearly as risky as people make it out to be either.

Back to the original topic.

This encroaching on results is not really the end of the world. I rather doubt it will have nearly as major an effect as Google would like it to have.

The big threat for sites relying on organic Google traffic is not Google inching in on results. It's Google losing relevance while those travel specific players gain more and more market share (ie Kayak, Tripadvisor). Already, as tedster's comment suggests, a very large percentage of people never will search through Google for this kind of thing because there are currently better alternatives. If Google loses too many travel searches to those sites, then that means all the sites appearing in organic results also lose. And If there does end up being only 1 or 2 definitive travel sites to do all the travel searches on, then there won't be a way for other sites to get a slice like we have been able to on Google.

Unfortunately GHF is not really all that fantastic. We'll have to wait and see how this all pans out I guess.