News | 23rd October 2019

Why does Google not give advice updates anymore?

A common issue that’s experienced across the hotel digital marketing industry is the relationship with Google and their reluctance to share advice about their own search engine. Throughout the years, as search engine optimisation and housekeeping has progressed, it’s become more vital than ever to adhere to search engine guidelines and best practice. With that in mind, digital marketing agencies all over the world are desperate for any tips, snippets of information, or general advice on how to keep on top of websites with regular health checks and audits.

There has been a decline in Google update advice, clarity, and certainty in recent months which poses the question, “Is Google 100% sure anymore?” With the growth of automation and algorithmic changes happening so frequently, it’s almost an impossible task to predict the future performance of a website and it’s difficult to know how we, as specialist digital marketers , can ensure our hotel websites appear consistently in search results (whether they be organic or paid listings).

As of October 2019, there is recorded to be over 1.5 billion live websites on the internet at any one time.

All of these websites are desperate to appear as high as possible for relevant searches and ultimately enable their prospective users the chance to view their content.

Take the hotel and hospitality industry. The industry, as we know, is one of the most popular verticals. With this being the case, every relevant website within it wants a piece of the action, including:

  • Hotel websites
  • Aggregators
  • Travel guides
  • OTAs
  • Personal blogs
  • Third party blogs
  • Online review sites
  • Local Tourism Boards
  • Online newspapers

The list goes on…

With competition as it is, everyone is looking to stay ahead of the curve with best practice initiatives and ideas on how to “trick the algorithm”. So what do we know so far? We know content is vital for search engines, we know imagery and video content is vital for UX and conversion, and we also know for certain that site speed is one of the biggest ranking factors from a Google perspective. The query for us all is how to combine all of those elements to ensure we have a website fit for purpose, enhances the customer experience, but is also rated highly by the leading search engines in terms of site speed.

Here at Journey, we have conducted detailed research on site speed, in particular, to try and spot patterns and themes with how sites are graded. In truth, the results are inconclusive due to the inconsistent nature of Google’s algorithm - one of the main reasons why Google is reluctant to give advice anymore. More importantly, can it ever be consistent? That number of 1.5 billion websites existing on the web today will only continue to grow as the online world is still really in its infancy.

So what do we do? We have to use data. Sure we can listen to the occasional rumour of Google updates, but the one thing that matters is measuring success and ensuring your website and business is unaffected. If going forward we only measure micro KPIs such as site speed, then we could be missing out on the overall picture of growing a business through traffic, conversion of users on a website, or ultimately their goal once on your website. If all of these things continue to improve, yet we get fixated on one single piece of advice from Google, this could lead us, as an industry, into chasing something that we can’t 100% believe is accurate.

Our advice is the following:

  • Review regularly
  • Compare year on year
  • Use data for everything - this provides you with a rich picture to inform your tactics and strategy
  • Don’t view elements in isolation
  • Trust your judgement - or the judgement of a well-respected hotel agency
  • Continue to listen to Google… (but with a pinch of salt)

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