Ranking for mobile travel just got harder

Google has just released a new interface for travel-related searches that could be a game changer. While it is quite user friendly and actually looks very good, it makes ranking for mobile travel searches harder once users start interacting with the new Google-promoted  carousel results area.

Let’s take a look at my home town and search for “best places to see in Auckland”:

Google Mobile Search Results

When we look at the “above-the-fold” mobile search results only number 5 in the results shown above is an organic search result. Google’s Knowledge Graph takes the space in showing results from 1-4 with options for you to view. You can also swipe across and see more of Google’s suggested results of places to see in Auckland.

If you click on any of the new options it takes you to a new series of results specifically relating to that attraction or place. This includes some Knowledge Graph cards, maps results for locations and directions and, if relevant, upcoming events (as you can see below for Kelly Tarlton’s.

Mobile Google result for Kelly Tarltons


The new interface has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of user experience. The good thing is that if you do see something in the new Google results and click on it, Google conducts another search on your behalf for more details on that attraction. The downside is that you can effectively get lost in these results, pursuing tangential information related to the topic for which you originally searched. When that happens and you want to find the other natural search results, you can find that you either have to conduct the search again or hit the back button until you find them.

Why should you care?

Businesses such as car rental firms, accommodation and travel affiliate sites that are providing local travel information in order to attract more website visitors will certainly be impacted. They will find it harder to rank and gain visibility over Google’s showcased results.

In countries where Google also provides travel and accommodation bookings through its own booking channel, other providers — including TripAdvisor and online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia, Trivago and Hotels.com — may struggle, and will certainly have to adapt.

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About the Author Glenn Marvin

Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.

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