Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 24 – Google Changes Your Hotel Needs to Know

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It’s all about Google this week. We discuss the latest changes to the Google Search Engine Results Page, the latest Penguin algorithm update and also check out the latest vacation planning mobile app, Google Trips.


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In The News:

Marriott / Starwood Merger Completehttp://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/roadwarriorvoices/2016/09/23/marriott-starwood-merger-complete-and-loyal-customers-get-reciprocal-benefits/90885318/

  • Almost one year after purchase date
  • $13 Billion
  • Now Marriott owns 30 brands / more than 5,700 hotels / 1.1 Million Rooms / 110 Countries
  • Big focus on loyalty program now – members of both programs can log in at Members.marriott.com to begin earning & redeeming points at all hotels; new, unified experience.


Expedia launches Rev+ revenue management tool

Expedia axes strategy of dimming hotels that apparently offer low value

Google Rolls Out Cross Device Retargeting


Show Notes:

SERP Changes (Meisha)

Google showing flights & hotel costs for vacation searches: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-flights-hotel-costs-vacations-22734.html

  • Showing for very broad searches (ex: Caribbean vacations)
  • New “popular destinations” box with hotel & flight price information
  • Clicking on any of the boxes will take you to a Destinations on Google page

Google showing booking widget in SERPs for hotel brand searches:


  • Google starting testing placing a hotel booking widget within the search results above Adwords ads
  • This typically would show up within the knowledge card on the right side of the results page but now it’s being displayed on top.
  • It’s currently only being displayed for specific hotel searches like “Marriott Marquis Atlanta”. It would not be displayed for any searches that would generate multiple hotel results such as “hotels in Atlanta”
  • We’ve heard that Hotel Ads could be offering a commission based model similar to an OTA where hotels would pay 10-15% for bookings made through Google.
  • I suspect Google is trying to take over the hotel space like they did with flight searches. Although this is a little different from flights since those are serving below Adwords txt ads.

Algorithm Changes:

Google Possum algorithm update


  • This update is focused on local search results
  • Businesses falling outside physical city limits saw a huge spike in ranking
    • if a business was just outside the city limits they would have trouble ranking for keywords containing the city name. Since this update those sites that are just outside city limits saw large ranking increases
  • The physical location of the searcher is more important than ever before
    • While we’ve known that people searching in different locations will see different results, Some businesses are claiming that this new update has shaken things up even more.
  • The 3 pack is seeing quite a bit of change for seemingly identical searches
    • We’ve seen small changes for the hotel 3 pack but others are reporting to see much more fluctuation for similar terms. “myrtle beach hotels” “hotels in myrtle beach” and “hotels in myrtle beach sc”


Also an update to Google’s Penguin Algorithm.

  • Penguin is Google’s algorithm update that identifies sites using spammy linking practices.
  • this would be Penguins 4th major release
  • We’ve heard that Google was trying to bake Penguin into the algorithm so it operates in real-time and now it seems that will be the case.
  • Before this update Google was dishing out site-wide penalties. Sites would have to make huge efforts to remove and disavow spammy links. Sites would remain penalized until the next time the Penguin filter ran and only then would there be chance to have the penalty lifted.
  • This update is supposed to run more granularly.
  • With this update Google crawls and indexes pages, and the Penguin filter will assess the pages in real time. Penalties will now be assessed on more of a page or site-section level than a site-wide level.
  • While some claim to have seen the effects already we will likely see more and more affected as this continues to roll out.

Mobile App:

Google Launches Google Trips App


Question of the week:

Lara Samaha on Twitter: “Hi @stuartbutler. I have a question. How can you track Tripconnect conversations on Google @googleanalytics ?”

Here’s the neat link builder tool that we discussed.

Here are instructions on setting up Google Analytics campaign Ids:


Download the Fuel Leisure Travel Study at www.fueltravel.com/study


Follow Us on Twitter:


Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @_travelboom. Download our leisure travel study at www.fueltravel.com/study/.

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