Every year since 2008, the Local Search Ranking Factors has been produced. It is the result of a survey sent to the top Local Search experts in the U.S. and Canada. Included in that panel of experts is Lisa Kolb, Acorn's President and Co-founder.
132 ranking factors are organized into seven groups:
Expert contributors are asked to rank each factor within each group for how much they think each factor matters to both Local Pack/Finder and Local Organic placement.
As this survey goes to experts in all specialties and general search, Lisa always makes sure to include the lodging industry in her comments and input. The lodging industry, especially independent lodging, is extremely specialized and is not allowed all of the benefits within Google Local as other industries (ex: *GBP posts, descriptions and some updates), and is affected greatly by OTA and paid placement. Thus, her rankings are sometimes different than other contributors.
Acorn Internet Services Comment Recap
What are some strategies/tactics that are working particularly well for you at the moment?
“We are finding that Google Hotel Ads (GHA), both in the Featured Options (PAID), and in the All Options (FREE), are working well for our clients at this time. We do not know how the FREE version of this product will change into the future, but we are seeing a high conversion rate for this Google product at this time.”
What are some strategies/tactics that used to work well, but don’t seem to work anymore?
“Before 2016, Google Local content and authority was the controlling factor for lodging properties to being seen in Google local. But when this all changed, and Google released Google/Travel, inventory being provided to Google rose to the top of the requirements to be competitive with other lodging properties in the direct vicinity. Though Local content and authority is still a foundational item, it doesn’t control local placement as it did in the past.”
What are some methods you’re using to try to influence behavioral factors, if any?
“We continue to track Google My Business (*GMB) local listings traffic / bookings vs. organic listings traffic / bookings with the use of UTM tracker code. We are finding upwards to 70% + of some clients discovering that their traffic / bookings are heavily coming from Google’s local options vs. Google’s organic options. This tracking allows our clients to better place their marketing dollars on the correct side of the fence. Whether it be on a quick to load, enhanced mobile display vs. a costly fancy desktop design, or by using Google Hotels Ads (GHA) instead of, or in addition to, Google Ads. Knowing exactly where traffic / bookings are coming from in the Google universe is a huge data decision factor.”
Any comments about where you think Google is headed in the future?
“We are very interested in Google’s Page Speed Experience updates and their ever changing requirements, and ultimately their impact on Mobile placement.”
Any comments about anything else you’d like the readers of this survey to know?
“We chose Google Hotel Finder (GHA) as our number one criteria for Local Finder as that in the lodging industry, if you do not provide inventory to Google your placement in the local pack will be lower than competitors who do provide inventory. As that there are few ways to pass inventory to Google other than through an OTA (Online Travel Agency), GHA is now being embraced in our lodging industry through many of our reservation systems. This is very different compared to other types of businesses such as doctors, plumbers and lawyers, as that the Google local 4 pack ends up displaying in Google/Travel where inventory is King!”
*Google has rebranded Google My Business to Google Business Profile. When the survey was distributed, it was still GMB, and when the ranking factors were published, it was called GBP. You may see both listed here, understanding that they mean the same thing.
Thanks, Lisa, for being at the forefront of the hospitality industry. After reading through the entire report. it was clear how important it is to stay up to date in order to remain viable!
Independent hospitality properties, especially, need to heed your advice if they want to be competitive.