Mobile Travel Search Redefined by Google: Will It Impact Your SEO Strategy?

Google loves to surprise the SEO professionals and web users by pushing new algorithm updates and making changes to its User Interface. Last month, a couple of weeks ago, Google completely redesigned its travel search interface for mobile/tablet users. After this redesign, if you search for a long tail destination keyword, Google will offer a “knowledge graph” result, instead of traditional web results. That means organic search results are pushed down further below on SERP and pose a bigger challenge for SEO experts to bring traffic to their clients’ websites.

If you open Google from your smartphone and search “where to go in India” or “destinations in India”, you will see a list of places along the images of those destinations. The interesting thing is Google shows these places according to their popularity among the tourists. For example, “where to go in India” shows “Goa” on top and the capital city is pushed down. On the contrary, if you search for “where to go in Argentina”, then Buenos Aires, the capital city, gets the top spot as it is the most popular tourist destination.

Google is offering great flexibility to its users as they have added a filter tool in the travel search result. For instance, “destinations in India” will bring lots of results and you can filter these by “architecture”, “art”, “beach”, “culture”, “nature”, “shopping” etc. Just touch the “all interests” section and it will show a drop down list of preference filter.

When you click on a particular tourist destination from the “knowledge graph”, for example, Mumbai, you get to see weather information, upcoming events, images of places to see in Mumbai, list of colleges and universities and lots more.

The travel search not only changed the way it shows search results, but it also influences the decision-making process of web users. For instance, if you search for “where to go in Thailand”, then not only you can see a list of popular tourist destinations, but approx flight ticket cost to Bangkok as well, based on the GPS of your phone.

The “plan a trip on Google” section allows users to book flights and hotels quickly and this is where you will realize how Google is trying to make money. The logic is simple. If you are paying Google and advertising your brand, then your airlines, hotel or restaurant gets a spot in the “plan a trip on Google” section.

The mobile travel search redesign redefined how people search for travel information and plan their trip. The short tail keywords will not play the crucial role they have played so far; instead, the long tail keywords will help you win the SEO war. Not every query is purchase oriented and if you own a travel site, not willing to pay Google for PPC, then you must use your long tail keywords wisely to avoid the knowledge graph based results and bring traffic to your site/blog. For example, “visit India single woman” is a popular query by foreigners. If you search for this keyword, you will not see any “knowledge graph” or “plan a trip on Google”. You will see normal, organic results of websites and blogs. Many travel sites are targeting such keywords to bring traffic to their blog section and then eventually they are converting those readers into customers.

Times have changed and thus, you need to change your travel booking website SEO strategy as well. Start a fresh  keyword research and insert the right keywords in website content to make sure that not only your site gets  a place among top 10 results, but also avoids the distraction caused by Google’s new travel search user interface.