Google’s latest release codenamed “Hummingbird” drives specific implications for SEO, marketing, technology and content efforts. In the next print edition of Hospitality Upgrade, we will delve deeper.
In this post, you will find a summary of key concepts. Hummingbird is an extension of recommendations we’ve made to readers of Hospitality Upgrade for several years – the need for travel and hospitality businesses to focus on developing content that is local, mobile and socially-relevant with a emphasis on visual. The impact of Hummingbird is too soon to forecast. Google is still testing and improving the algorithms behind it.
There are three early insights readers can take advantage of:
  1. It appears to reshuffle traditional SEO signals to favor sites that host and distribute high quality pictures and videos, post and link to user reviews, and engage with users in multi-directional conversations
  2. There appears to be extra weight applied to sites that build these types of experiences and user interactions on or within Google’s own products (i.e.: Google+, Google Hotel Finder, Google Now, etc.), especially when users are in mobile and/or a socially-active context.
  3. It includes improvements for Natural Language Search to help mobile and social users quickly find desired information
To understand this third insight, think about how mobile users search using Siri on the iPhone and Google Now on Android devices:
“Google, where can I find an inexpensive hotel within 10 miles of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?”
“Google, which hotels have rooms available for the Super Bowl?”
What this may mean for you if you have SEO optimization programs is that if your or property site designs are not highly visual or do not address the concerns of mobile and social users, it is going to be more difficult to rank highly on Google.  Also, in order for Google to best leverage your content, it will be important to find incremental ways to source and distribute pictures, videos and to answer common questions about your properties and the local attractions that bring visitors to your front doors.
When Hummingbird is viewed in combination with Google’s investments in travel sector, such as its’ inclusion of Google Maps, Google Hotel Finder and the Beta Google Carousel on the first page of Search results, SEM and SEO strategies must be reexamined to insure alignment with Google’s new User Experience.  For instance, a consequence of the Carousel atop the SERPs is that it physically displaces traditional, organic Search results from the first page, which lowers the visibility and click-through of text-based SERPs. The Carousel’s high value Search page real estate gives Google a new tool to command travel suppliers invest in visually-compelling property and locally-relevant content, integrate user ratings and build on Google’s platforms in order to be featured in the Carousel.
In the upcoming print edition, we will expand on this post and invite your thoughts and input to grow understanding and the conversation.