Does Google’s “Zero Click Search” Mark the End of Hotel Paid Search Marketing?
— 9 experts shared their view
The Search Engine Journal just reported that 50.33% of searches on Google end up with no clickthroughs to websites because Google provides all the answers a user would need on the first results page itself. Google has become the "Librarian of the Universe" and has amassed more information than all libraries on planet Earth combined. Google has a singular objective: to provide answers - ultra-fast, relevant and straight to the point - to any question a human may have and, of course, make money in the process. With the advance of mobile and voice assistants, these answers happen more and more in the form of "Zero Click Searches" where the answer is provided right at the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and the user simply has no need to click and read further. With less than 5% of searches on Google resulting in clicks on paid search listings (Google Ads), does this mean the end of hotel paid search marketing?
I think zero-click search is having a more profound effect on natural search traffic than paid traffic but hoteliers should understand that an effective strategy in 2020 will need to include a different set of tactics for SEO and paid media from those that may have had good results in the past. Metasearch and Google Travel came of age in 2019 and Google would like you to research your destination, book a flight and hotel and even book a travel experience all within the Google landscape.
The good news is that a recent study found 87% of guests will visit a hotel's website before making a reservation. So although it may be becoming harder to get those visits via a direct click from an ad, they are still visiting hotel websites during the shopping journey. So I think it is crucial to focus on the website user experience and how you convert shoppers into bookers with great content, a mobile-friendly user interface and compelling merchandising that showcases the guest experience.
I'd also add that it is vital to use effective bid management and audience segmentation on paid media so that you are maximizing your media budget by targeting shoppers at the key stages of the funnel. Doing so can counteract any reduction in click-through rates you're likely to see this year.