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A year in review: How Google’s mobile algorithm updates have improved hotel SEO

  Posted in Marketing  Last updated 20/10/2016

For years now, search engine optimisation (SEO) has played an important role in the online marketing strategy of businesses in nearly every type of industry. The hotel industry is no exception.

Quick recap: SEO is the practice of using web development techniques and content marketing strategies to boost a hotel’s ranking on the search engine results page.

Given the fact that the Google algorithm is constantly changing, SEO experts and marketing professionals are forced to regularly re-evaluate their strategies.

What has changed?

This year, there have been a few major changes to the Google search algorithm, and they’ve benefited hotel SEO in several ways:

  • An algorithm update in January started the year off with a bang for hotel SEO experts. Rankings changed for many properties, but Google provided little information on it.
  • In February, a change in the AdWords displays altered the PPC campaigns for many hotels. Rather than having ads in the right-hand column, the AdWords ads were moved to the top block of the search engine results page (SERP). Competitive keywords became even more competitive.
  • Mobile continued to play a big role in the overall ranking system on Google. An additional mobile-friendly change to the algorithm took place in May, but it did not have a significant impact on the hotel industry. This is due to the fact that most hotels already know the importance of a mobile-friendly website.
  • Update: Google has switched to a ‘mobile first’ index. This means that Google is ranking your website based on its mobile version. If your website is not responsive and using 2 versions (a desktop and mobile version), then you’re in danger of losing your rank.

These changes have a tendency to put SEO professionals into a frenzy, particularly those who want to maintain their ranks.

What can hotel marketers do to adapt to Google’s changes?

For hotel marketers, there have been a few adjustments to make along the way:

Websites should be mobile-friendly

To survive the massive mobile-friendly update that took place about a year ago (and the more recent ‘mobile first index’), hotels have to invest in mobile optimisation for their websites. This means having a responsive website in place that adjusts automatically to the platform of the end user.

Websites should load quickly

In addition, hotels need to check their site speed and site loading times. If your site isn’t loading up quick enough, this is grounds for being docked in the rankings.

Keywords should be reviewed regularly

Frequent ranking changes requires hotels to evaluate the keywords that they use and where they implement those keywords. For example, keywords that incorporate your locations need to be moved to prominent places, such as the page titles and within the meta descriptions.

Keywords should be monitored regularly

Hotels that invest in AdWords campaigns benefit from the new displays that were created in 2016. However, this does increase the pressure to monitor trending keywords and the rankings results, as those coveted AdWords positions become more competitive than ever before.

Google’s ad platform should be seriously considered

As a general rule of thumb, signing up for Google Hotel Ads can greatly benefit your hotel, by giving you maximum visibility in search results and full control over what is displayed to guests. You can learn more about that in this blog post.

With undoubtedly more changes looming on the horizon, hotel SEO experts must be at the ready to make the changes necessary to maintain their top search engine results page rankings.

Since Google always has a new trick up its sleeve, the key to staying ahead of the curve when it comes to hotel SEO is staying vigilant in following and adapting to the latest updates.

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