Industry Update
Opinion Article 5 July 2019

Adding A Favicon To Your Hotel Website For Better Branding Within Google’s Search Results

By Matt Tutt, Digital Marketing Consultant

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Recently Google announced a new look for Google Search, with the main news for search marketers being that the Ad Label format has been tweaked further so ads blend more naturally into the search results, and that favicons are now visible next to the search results. Whilst the former change is probably to be expected and may continue to blend even more into the natural search results to encourage greater ad clicks, the favicon change probably took a few marketers by surprise.

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In the screenrecording below you can see the new Ad label and Search design in action.

What is a Favicon?

A favicon is simply an icon used by your internet browser to denote how a website would appear within your favourites - hence the name favicon. Usage has changed since it was first created, as it now also appears at the top of your browser to denote the tabs you have open.

Consisting of a square image, typically 48x48 or 96x96 pixels, this is an opportunity to give a more branded experience to your website visitors.

As you can see from the screenrecording earlier, the favicon is now very prominent within the search results for users on mobile devices.

Tools for creating a Favicon

Luckily there are a handful of online tools available that can speed up the process of creating a favicon. All you really need to do is upload an image of your hotel's logo, in square format, and the tool will resize as necessary - and output as the required format.

How to add a Favicon to your website

If you've got FTP access to a website's host you can just upload your favicon to your root folder, or wherever your website content exists. If you're using a CMS like Wordpress you can do all this from the Dashboard - just go to Appearance > Customise > Site Identity where you can then upload and select the icon of choice.

How to get your new Favicon showing up in Google

Once you've added the favicon to the website you may also need to include a reference to it from within the <head> element of your home page, such as:
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="https://www.yourhotel.com/favicon.ico">

Google's recommendation here is to wait for them to find your favicon when they're next crawling your site. If you're a bit impatient the next best option here is to Inspect and submit your hotel's homepage within Search Console.

After this it will still take a while to show up in Google's results - they've got to re-crawl and re-index your content. If you're site uses lots of JavaScript or is otherwise quite heavy for them to render (as part of the crawling and indexing process) it could take even longer. It's likely that you'll have a fresh new favicon showing up in the search results within 48 hours. Make sure you're checking the mobile search results (you won't find the favicon from your desktop/laptop device).

If you're still struggling to get the favicon to show you may want to ensure Google can access that favicon without problems - sometimes your robots.txt may be blocking crawling for some reason.

Try inspecting the URL of the favicon within Search Console, as well as accessing it from your browser.

Google won't show images that aren't a good representation of your brand; which is open to some interpretation here. It would be interesting to see how this works out for those hotels which are chains or another, or which have corporate/independent websites - and whether they should share logos or not.

What's the advantage to my hotel using a favicon?

Really the main point of using a favicon is to give branded search results to your customers. It looks nicer and more professional if the search results from your hotel website contain your logo - so it will likely encourage a higher click-through rate vs a search result that has no favicon shown.

For that reason it does fall under the umbrella of SEO; ultimately it's optimising your website's appearance within the search engines, albeit with more of a focus on your brand.

This leads to the other reason Google gave for this change: it helps users to associate content with a specific brand. Unfortunately, this has already given rise to some people "brandjacking" whereby they upload an image similar to that of a bigger site, in order to trick the user into clicking their site.

Ultimately this update by Google helps give a more branded search experience, allowing a touch more control within the SERP's - which has until now been limited for webmasters to just meta tags and structured data/rich snippets.

Will this impact my Hotel's Google Ads performance?

Although the ads to blend into the search results more since the new update (see screenshot below), they do still clearly show the fact that it's an advert so it's unlikely to make a huge impact to your advert CTR's. 

When you consider how the Google SERP landscape looked nearly 20 years ago, the differences are quite amazing - especially considering the direction Google's gone in the past few years within the hotel search landscape.

It would be interesting to see how these changes from Google will affect organic CTR's as well as those from paid search results.

If I had to guess I'd say you shouldn't see a big difference to your reporting figures here - but it's always good to remain on top of these changes within the search landscape, and to optimise for your customers search experience as much as possible.

Matt Tutt

Matt Tutt specialises in growing traffic and room bookings to hotel websites across the world. He's worked for 2 of the hospitality industry's leading booking engine providers, working as part of their digital marketing teams to help hotels win the direct bookings battle. Having over 15 years experience within the search marketing industry, he's worked with the likes of the National Geographic, Triumph Hospitality, Taj Hotels, Best Western, and many others.

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