Flywheel News: Your Top 7 Hotel Digital Marketing Updates From January 2020


Although it might have felt like it was going on forever, the first month of the new decade has finally come to a close. There was no shortage of changes and announcements throughout the digital marketing industry over the past month and GCommerce is here to ensure you don’t miss the biggest ones. Here is our top 7 list of digital marketing news updates from January 2020:

1. Google Shakes Up its Desktop Research with a New Design

Google started the year off by launching a new design for its desktop search. First released to its mobile search design back in May, Google transitioned desktop search design to feature a black “Ad” label to identify paid search ads and favicons to identify organic search results.

The industry, and it seems a lot of the general public, sees the change as a negative. GCommerce sees this as another move to confuse users and increase the opportunity they will click on a paid search ad to help Google with its bottom lines. More recent chatter on the subject is that Google might change it back due to backlash from the public as well as the search marketing industry. I’ve personally seen the change revert back to no favicon views in my organic SERP while the black ad label has remained. What are you seeing now?

2. Google Rolls Out January 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google rolled out it’s January 2020 core algorithm update which brought with it a lot of movement to the SERP. The biggest impact felt by sites that fall within the categories of Health, Family, Beauty, Finance, Internet, Vehicles and Law/Government as reported by Moz. That isn’t to say that travel wasn’t hit. Moz reported Orbitz as a top loser from the algorithm update. Across our clients, we’re also seeing some winners and losers. Please reach out to your Account Executive to inquire if your rankings or organic traffic have suffered since the update. If you’re finding a drop in rankings/traffic since the update, take time to assess the quality of the content on your pages, how can it be improved to better serve your audience?

3. Google Will No Longer Repeat Web Pages Showcased in Featured Snippets

Historically web pages that achieved the coveted “position zero” known as feature snippets in the SERP were rewarded with not only the snippet but a second organic listing on page one. Starting in January, Google will no longer feature the webpage a second time on the 1st page of results. The second listing can appear on a lower page but it’s not guaranteed. Although hotel focused searches don’t have as many opportunities for featured snippets, if your hotel captures this spot with FAQ and how-to or blog content your website’s organic traffic could be impacted.

4. Google Removes Ads and Sponsored Labels from Flight Search

In an interesting move, Google announced that it will “no longer be charging partners for referral links on Google Flights.” Because of this, the “ads” and “sponsored links” labels will also be removed. A Google spokesperson stated that these results will “continue to be ranked on the basis of price and convenience.” Will Google ever do the same for hotels? We won’t hold our breath as Hotel Ads and the travel industry help them capture a great amount of the $10 billion travel digital advertising pie.

5. Google Announces Changes to its Mobile-First Indexing Guide

In January Google updated its mobile-first indexing guide. The consistent theme across the updates was an emphasis on providing the same content experience across devices. Within the updates, Google is advising to use the same content across mobile and desktop, ensure that Googlebot can access and render that content and if you have two versions of your site that the structured data should be identical on both. GCommerce has long supported the best practice of providing a mobile-first experience and showcasing the same content on both mobile and desktop. If your hotel’s website still has two versions you should look into launching one, responsive version. Reach out to GCommerce if your hotel needs help with this.

6. Google Releases its 2020 Customer Journey Insights for Travel

Discover some great insight and stats from Google on the travel customer’s journey. In today’s world, the aspiration and planning process for travel is never-ending. This study reveals that needs-based marketing strategies and data-driven audience targeting can help drive bookings even more than price. GCommerce takes advantage of Google’s anonymous traveler audiences and machine learning to help match our clients with potential guests that are likely to match the hotel’s offerings. Learn more in Google’s customer journey study insights here.

7. New Instagram Stories Tool Allows Brands to Quickly Feature UGC Mentions

Okay, enough Google updates for the month. Here’s a cool new feature that was just released by Instagram.

It’s launched a new “mentions” tool that allows business accounts to easily sort through then stylize and feature UGC content found in the platform from @mentions. This will be a great tool to help all brands take advantage of and easily use UGC content in their stories posts.

Please reach out to GCommerce if you have questions on any of this news or announcements and how we can help steer your hotel to digital marketing success in 2020.

Your Top 7 Hotel Digital Marketing Updates For October 2019


October has been an exciting month. To start, GCommerce is proud to announce that we have been recognized as one of Outside Magazine's top places to work in 2019! We owe it all to our great team for continuing to evolve our culture to make GCommerce such a great place to work in such a beautiful setting, surrounded by the mountains in Park City, Utah. Your hotel digital marketing experts at GCommerce have also rounded up the latest industry news for October 2019 in this easy to follow guide that includes actionable insights. Without further ado, here’s your list of top 7 hotel digital marketing news updates for October 2019:

1. Google Launches BERT - Biggest Change to Search Since RankBrain

What is BERT? No, not THAT Bert. BERT is Google’s latest search algorithm aimed at helping the company’s search system better understand natural language. According to Search Engine Land, BERT will impact 1 in 10 of all search queries and is the biggest change since RankBrain. In some instances Google will be using BERT in addition to RankBrain to better understand queries and provide the best results. 

How Can Your Hotel Optimize For BERT? You can’t optimize specifically for BERT. Instead you should continue to focus on developing website content specifically for your target audiences and provide valuable, substantial information that answers the search query. 

2. Affinity and In Market Seasonal Event Segments Rolling Out For Search & YouTube

Affinity Audiences are interest audiences determined by browsing behavior. These include many different categories from banking & finance to food & dining and travel.  Within Travel your hotel might want to observe business travelers to see how the audience performs vs the overall campaign. You might even consider breaking out a campaign and only targeting business travelers affinity audience with specific messaging to help hit your midweek booking goals.

Another idea would be to target affinity audiences that match your hotel’s target personas. Is your target audience considered foodies? Test targeting the foodie affinity audience:

In Market Seasonal Event Segments are audiences built on Google’s buyer intent signals and browsing activity. These will include segments such as Black Friday and Christmas. If your hotel has promotional or booking strategies geared around seasonal events then these segments can help you reach consumers that have shown more interest that they are in the market to book or make a purchase during that time period.

Consult with your digital marketing team to take advantage of testing these new features.

3. Google testing new lead form extensions

Google Lead Extensions are now available as a beta in some accounts. These new paid search ad extensions allow you to capture name, email, phone number and zip code directly within the extension form submission. You can feature a compelling callout, description and upload a background image for the lead form. This will be a great feature to test out if your hotel is running wedding or event focused campaigns.

4. Facebook Announces Changes to Organic Page Impressions

If your hotel’s Facebook page metrics are starting to show a “reduction in perceived page and post reach” than it might be due to a recent change the company made in how they calculate organic Page impressions. Facebook states that this is to “make it easier to make comparisons across paid and organic channels”. See more details from industry commentator, Matt Navarra below:

5. Advanced Business Information in Bing Places

An unconfirmed update but something noticed within GCommerce’s Bing Places client accounts during October was the addition of Advanced Business Information. This section now features an expansive list of amenities that you can update for your hotel. We recommend logging into Bing Places immediately to make sure these are up to date and accurate. Our guess is that Bing will use these for hotel search/filters just like Google has within hotel search.

6. Microsoft Ads Allows Sharing Data Across Accounts

An update that should spark the interest of enterprise or brand hotel accounts, Microsoft Ads now allows all accounts the ability to share UET tags and remarketing lists across accounts. This opens the door to cross-marketing and upselling across different domains’ audiences.

7. TripAdvisor Connect Ads

TripAdvisor launched this new ad type which features co-branded content posts with TripAdvisor’s logo and company name. Advertisers can use Facebook’s targeting options in conjunction with TripAdvisor’s audience profiles and remarketing lists. This could be a great option for brands looking to reach a high-intent travel focused audience and drive more awareness and direct website traffic. Learn more from Marketing Land’s article here.