Google’s Search Algorithm Has Changed. Why Mobile Optimization Has Never Been More Important
Google updates its algorithms 500-600 times a year but rarely gives the public notice on what’s changing. But this time they did, which means you need to take notice. As of April 2016, mobile-friendly websites will be boosted higher in search engine results than ever before.
Here’s a short excerpt from Google’s official announcement that explains it in more detail:
“Getting good, relevant answers when you search shouldn’t depend on what device you’re using. You should get the best answer possible, whether you’re on a phone, desktop or tablet. Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches. Today we’re announcing… an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”
Put simply, hotels with mobile-friendly websites will continue to move up higher on Google’s search results than hotels that don’t.
How Does This Impact My Hotel Website?
Google is saying loud and clear that a mobile-friendly website is essential to organic search. It makes complete sense considering that 98% of consumers now move “sequentially” between different screens (desktop, mobile and tablet) each day. And with today’s travel shopper visiting on average 38 sites before booking a vacation online, you can almost be certain that some of these sites will be accessed on mobile.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are also under pressure to become more mobile-friendly. In 2015, third-party sites like tripadvisor.com and expedia.ca received half of their total US traffic from mobile devices, according to Business Insider. And it doesn’t look like mobile-bookings will slow down anytime soon. By 2019, it’s estimated that almost 70% of all online travel bookings will be made on mobile devices.
Add to this Google’s most recent algorithm change and it’s clear that a mobile-optimized website is no longer a “nice to have,” but a must-have. Quick changes are key here to ensure all your previous SEO work doesn’t come undone.
We’ve rounded up six top resources to help you create a more mobile-friendly website.
Mobile Optimization Tips and Tricks
1. TOOL: Know Where to Start
In an effort to help consumers know which sites are mobile-friendly, Google has added a new text label under the URL in search results which reads “Mobile-friendly” (see below):
How do you qualify to show this label for your website? Google looks at the following criteria:
• Whether your website avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, such as Flash
• Uses text that is readable without zooming
• Sizes content to the screen users are on, so they don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
• Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can easily be tapped
You can test your current website with Google’s new Mobile-Friendly Test tool. It shows how your website currently looks on mobile devices, along with some recommendations on how to improve.
Google also provides some guides for using third-party tools (e.g. WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal etc.) on how to make them more mobile-friendly.
2. ARTICLE: Get Friendly With Mobile: Optimize the Website Experience for Your Customer
This blog post that we published in February provides some good areas for consideration when building a mobile-friendly hotel website. It will help you determine which mobile version of your property’s website (responsive vs. mobile adaptive website) delivers the right experience for your ideal guests.
3. SCORECARD: Are You Maximizing Your Mobile Presence?
Our handy scorecard explains what your website needs to give travel shoppers a convenient and engaging mobile shopping experience. It includes things like how to create the ultimate visual experience, how to make the most of special offers on mobile, how to optimize the browsing experience on different screens, and how to enable your booking engine on different mobile devices.
4. SLIDESHARE: Dos and Don’ts of Telling Your Hotel Story on Mobile
Creating a mobile-optimized website doesn’t mean transferring all of your content from desktop to mobile. You need to cater to a different user experience with mobile. This quick and simple list of Do’s and Don’ts will ensure you’re up to speed on what works on mobile (and what doesn’t).
5. INFOGRAPHIC: The Rise of Mobile
Our Infographic provides some interesting stats to help inform your mobile strategy. For example, did you know that searching for a hotel increases by 86% on mobile devices during the summer months? Or that 42% of business travelers books via mobile websites? This will help you prioritize what should be a front and center on your mobile site.
6. ARTICLE: The 3 Mobile Trends Hospitality Professionals Need To Leverage in 2016
We outline 3 mobile trends for the hospitality industry to stay ahead of. See what quality hotel websites, optimized for mobile, should include, along with real-world examples of hotels winning with mobile.
Speaking of winning with mobile, let’s take a closer look at one of our own Vizlly customers, J-House Greenwich, who has cracked the code with mobile and is reaping the rewards.
A Mobile Website Success Story
The J-House Greenwich is an independent property of 85 rooms located in Riverside, CT. They have done a great job of presenting information cleanly and simply on their mobile site, without the need to pinch, zoom, or squint in order to read important information. Instead of copying their desktop website over to mobile, they prioritized what to include. They chose to focus on what travel shoppers care most about – their rooms, unique features and special offers.
And it paid off. They saw occupancy increase by 19% in just 45 days after going live with Vizlly. In 2015, about 40% of their bookings came from transient guests booking on mobile devices.
“It’s staggering how many reservations are coded as mobile in our booking system since launching our mobile site,” said Bernard Augustin, Assistant General Manager at J House Greenwich. “We’re also seeing higher ADRs from mobile bookings and we’ve even had guests in the parking lot making a booking on their mobile device,” he said.
Now is the Time to Focus on Mobile
Google’s latest algorithm change is a huge wake up call for websites not already optimized for mobile. There has never been a better (or more important) time to focus on mobility. Check out the resources we outlined above and speak to your web developer about these changes.
If you are a Vizlly customer, the good news is that your website is already optimized for mobile. The resources above will simply help you fine tune your mobile strategy to help drive more results.
This will certainly not be the last of Google’s algorithm changes for mobile. Take the guess work out of it by trying Vizlly – the simple, Google-certified way to create a stunning, mobile-friendly hotel website that ranks well and (most importantly) converts.