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Google is now mobile-first: Is your hotel’s website?

  Posted in Mobile

Trends come and go, reports are published, surveys are conducted, and usually all findings are to be taken with a grain of salt depending on the source. However, when Google decides to move on something, it’s time to take notice.

For hoteliers right now, it’s the issue of conducting business on a mobile-first basis.

The search giant recently announced user queries completed on mobiles have surpassed desktop as the majority Google search type – a trend that will only grow as smartphone usage and voice search continue to thrive.

This has prompted it to introduce a mobile-first indexing initiative, meaning Google will now begin to use the mobile page versions of a domain for indexing and caching in search results, and subsequently, for ranking. Prior to this, the desktop page was used to determine relevance to search queries.

For hoteliers who are yet to optimise their mobile website, or don’t have a mobile version at all, this development should cause alarm.

Let’s look at why Google has made this decision and how hoteliers can respond…

The statistics prove mobile domination is here to stay

As of this year 59% of web visitors and more than 51% of page views were generated from mobile devices – only confirming the insights from Google. This is a respective increase of 21% and 9% from just two years ago.

If the above statistic isn’t enough, it’s also quite clear travellers are using a mobile device to fuel the majority of time they spend online and the decisions they make. It’s projected in 2018 that online bookings will exceed $190 billion, of which 40% is expected to be purchased on mobile. When you think about how people generally make their final purchase online, this is significant.

Using its client portfolio, HEBS Digital revealed some compelling figures last year:

  • Nearly 27% of bookings, 24% of room nights, and 20% of revenue came from mobile devices
  • Including voice reservations originating from a hotel’s mobile website, over 35% of bookings and 25% of revenue originated from the mobile
  • The iPad outperformed all other tablet devices and was responsible for nearly 88% of tablet revenue

How can hotels maintain valuable search ranking slots?

The most obvious and beneficial move for hoteliers is to redesign their website to be optimised for mobile, or invest in a website builder that has this feature already.

A responsive website design is important for increasing conversion, bookings, return-on-investment, user experience, and full compatibility with mobile-first indexing and mobile search engine optimisation in general.

It’s key to remember to please Google with your mobile site, you have to please your users. Google will prioritise mobile websites that load quickly, are well designed, and include relevant content.

Ultimately, here are some aspects of your website that should be in place for a good mobile experience:

  • Users don’t have to pinch, scroll, or zoom to see information
  • Font is legible and content is concise
  • The use of Adobe Flash and pop-ups are limited
  • Click-to-call functionality is enabled
  • Google Maps is integrated so people can find their way to and from your hotel
  • Your logo is linked so it’s simple to return to the homepage
  • There’s an easily accessible search bar and date calendar
  • Forms are auto-filled for returning visitors
  • There is contrast between images and colours that make the site beautiful

What this adds up to is speed and ease of use, something Google values very highly. A handy hint to remember is that you shouldn’t create a separate mobile site designed just for smartphones. It’s better to have one dynamic website that adapts to all devices.

To help with this, consider investing in smart, intuitive, website building software. These tools will do all the hard work for your hotel. You’ll still be able to control how your website looks, but the process is much simpler and quicker, meaning you can place more attention on the physical traffic your website drives, rather than ironing out any kinks in your site’s design and functionality.

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