At the beginning of August, Google introduced a newly formatted Local Pack listing that is possibly the most disruptive change in Google Search in a long time. This 3-pack result focuses on Local listings and consistently appears in the number one spot on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) as shown in the screen shots below.
Because retail space on SERPs is quite limited and top results generate a greater click-through-rate, this shift in how Google displays results is huge for both small enterprises and large, web-based companies.
Large, web-based companies have had an advantage over smaller companies in terms of SEO in the past. These web-based companies typically have more resources and expertise in SEO resulting in higher rankings on SERPs than smaller, local businesses.
Google’s new Local Pack revolutionizes this and places businesses with large local presences or physical locations at the top of SERPs when users trigger local keywords. For hotels, this change will help your website rank higher than OTAs targeting the same keywords. You have the advantage of a physical local presence that web-based OTAs do not.
In fact, seoClarity estimates that Hotels.com stands to lose 20-30% of traffic due to this change. Hotels.com typically ranks high on SERPs, but with the new Local Pack, their results will be shifted down the page. Pages that previously held the number one spot for a particular keyword may now rank below the Local Pack listing and may never even be seen! A user could click “More hotels” and book one of the 20 hotels Google shows in the expanded Local Pack without even seeing OTAs’ listings. Clearly this is a huge benefit for hotels that have large local presences by nature of the industry.
But how does a hotel optimize their local listing to increase the likelihood of appearing in the top three results on Google’s Local Pack? Increase your local SEO! Target keywords related to your geographic location, pack your blog posts with rich, local content, and use geographic qualifiers for PPC and organic listings.
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