Online reviews play a huge part in the decision making process when travelers are looking to book a hotel. Most hoteliers are already actively monitoring their TripAdvisor pages which is great, however what about other review sites such as Google+? That’s right, Google+ is not just a social media channel but also a place where guests can leave reviews for the whole world to see. In fact, if a traveler starts their search on Google, the first reviews they may be exposed to ARE your Google+ reviews. Before learning how to encourage Google+ reviews, let’s discuss why Google+ reviews are important.
1. Google Carousel
When searching for a hotel, the first area users will notice on the search results page is the colorful Carousel conveniently located at the top of the screen. Not only is the Carousel eye-catching because of the pictures and black background, it also shows a star review rating for each property. These ratings are determined solely by the reviews that been left on a property’s Google+ page. This means that even if a hotel has stellar reviews on TripAdvisor, if the property has a low star rating on Google+ this is what will be shown on the Carousel. In addition, a higher number of positive Google+ reviews is believed to be a contributing factor to how a hotel ranks on the Google Carousel, or even if the hotel shows up on the Carousel at all.
2. Search Results
Whether or not you have created one, a Google+ local page exists for your hotel. This is where past guests are able to leave a review about your property. The Google+ local page can be accessed through both search results and through Google Maps, so there is no escaping the visibility of this page. If you perform a search of your hotel’s name on Google, one of the top results will be your hotel’s website. Directly below the URL and a one sentence description, you will notice the Google+ star rating, the number of Google reviews, the option to ‘write a review,’ and finally a link to your Google+ page if you have claimed your Google+ local listing. Over to the right of the search results page will be an even larger display of the star rating.
If you perform a keyword search, such as ‘hotels in Los Angeles,’ below the Carousel and the first two ads you will notice a box with a list of hotels, the price, and the star rating. This boxed area is part of Google’s Hotel Price Ads (HPA) and the feature also pulls the star rating from reviews that have been left on Google+. The map over on the right allows you to click on the various hotels that match the keyword search. When you click on one of the hotels on the map, you are shown that same Google+ star rating and some reviews that have been left on the site. Whether a user searches by hotel name or by keyword, they are exposed to a hotel’s Google+ star rating.
3. Mobile Search Results
Mobile search results vary slightly from the desktop version of search results, so they must also be taken into consideration. Let’s take a look at the Google search results when we search by hotel name and by keyword.
When searching by hotel name, users first see a paid advertisement followed by a boxed area that contains a map, the name of the hotel, the Google+ star rating and the address. If a user clicks on the drop-down arrow, they are able to read Google+ reviews and even see one of the hotel’s recent posts on Google+ if the hotel is active on the channel.
When performing the same keyword search of ‘hotels in Los Angeles,’ users will first see two ads, followed by the Google Hotel Price Ads seen below. Once again, the Google+ star rating is very prominent. When a user clicks on a hotel,they will be redirected to a search results page similar to the photo above and also given the option to book now and read reviews. As you can see, Google+ reviews show up on Google search results across all three screens.
Actively encouraging and monitoring reviews is a must for your hotel marketing efforts. Check back soon for part 2 of the article, where we will discuss how your hotel can gain more reviews on Google+.