Google’s reviews platform has brought it in direct competition with TripAdvisor. Though the latter is still the most popular review site on the internet, Google Reviews are primed to take the top spot. So what is causing this? And, most importantly, how will it impact on your online marketing strategy?
Hospitality Net have a great article by Vikram Singh about why Google Reviews are set to overtake TripAdvisor in the near future. A mix of issues is contributing to this, including TripAdvisor’s habit of spending a lot of money on Google Ads. Google have also built an excellent platform that integrates local listings with business ads, as well as a seamless review platform for Android devices. In short – Google is just much more convenient!
Writing for Odysys, Ben Lloyd suggests it is now more important to ask guests to review your property on Google. The hospitality market are increasingly seeing Google as a better platform for gaining direct bookings. Google’s sophisticated reviewer vetting system is better for gaining authentic views compared to TripAdvisor’s location based vetting. They also prioritise reviews made on their own website. There’s no getting around it – Google is simply winning when it comes to building an integrated reviews platform.
Google My Business
Much of this success comes from Google My Business. As mentioned by SiteMinder, simply creating a free listing on Google My Business can boost your online marketing efforts. It is great for organising all of the most important information about your business in one place – which in turn boosts your SEO. Think of Google My Business as your virtual shop front.
Jeremy Razook has some great advice over on Fuel Travel about how you can optimise your My Business listing. The first step is of course to claim your listing to ensure you have full ownership of the information displayed. Once you have claimed it, make sure the information is up to date and you are regularly answering questions. Adding high quality visual contents – as with elsewhere on the web – will also help it to stand out. If you want to get ahead on Google Reviews, having a great My Business listing is important.
Moz have another fantastic article by Shirley Bonelli about optimising your Google My Business listing. The overarching advice from all these blogs is to make sure everything is kept up to date. You should fill out all of the information Google asks for. If any of it changes, your listing on Google Reviews should be one of the first things you update.
Matt Tutt emphasises the importance of selecting all of the amenities your hotel offers. In order to boost your SEO, you need to keep this accurate. If you offer bicycle rental, and someone searches for hotels with this service in your area, making sure this information is on your Google My Business listing will keep your hotel near the top of search results.
Matt has since reached out to me to let me know that if anyone else wants to know more, go to his website https://matttutt.me/
Keep your SEO in check
Speaking of SEO, the rise of Google Reviews now makes this more important than ever! Search engines have long been the most popular method for planning travel, as shown by the stats in Dan Taylor’s blog post for Search Engine Journal. With Google Reviews going from strength to strength, this is becoming one of the best tools for gaining direct bookings.
There are a few steps you can take to ensure your SEO pushes you ahead of the competition. In their blog, Main Street ROI have some advice on picking out the right keywords. You need to first think about what your potential guests are searching for, and then check similar terms in the Google Keyword Planner. This can be accessed by anyone with an AdWords account. Beyond this, make sure you have plenty of citations and links, keep an eye on stats so you can tweak your SEO content – and of course, get more people to leave reviews on Google Reviews.
So how do you encourage guests to leave a review? The most obvious option is to provide a great guest experience. ReviewPro hint that you need to go above and beyond to encourage reviews of your property. Don’t set too many expectations (though always be sure to manage negative perceptions) before they arrive. Small perks like welcome baskets and experiences can make a world of difference. Guests are more likely to review surprisingly good hotels than they are to review mediocre accommodations.
Nancy Huang also has a little bit in her post on Travel Tripper about making it easier for guests to leave reviews. Rather than leaving your guests to find the review site for themselves, leave a little link to it on your Google My Business Listing. You should also be including a Google Reviews link in any post-stay emails and newsletters. Not only will this encourage them to use Google Reviews – it will bring in reviews from guests who otherwise would have left nothing.
TripAdvisor are still the largest review platform on the internet – but hospitality businesses need to prepare for Google Reviews dominating the market. By taking a few small steps you can ensure your business is ahead of the curve. This will go a long way to help bring in those coveted direct bookings.
Need help getting more direct bookings? I have created a Free 5 Step email guide to market to help you! To get your copy go to www.boostly.co.uk/free