3 Tools to Help Withstand the Next Google Algorithm Update

Mobile-Friendly + Website = Awesome!

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

Mobile-friendly and responsive website design best practices have been in effect for several years now, many brands have upgraded their websites to conform to this user demanded function. But for those of you who are unsure, use these 3 tools to test out whether your website and mobile devices will play nice. I suggest testing in all 3 tools to get a truer result.

  1. Mobile-Friendly Test by Google

All you do is enter your URL and click analyze. It will send back information about your images, text, links and more. It will also give you a view of what your site looks like on a mobile device if rendering correctly in the mobile test.

  1. The W3C mobileOK Checker

The W3C, also known as the World Wide Web Consortum, has its own mobile friendly test. The test results of this tool include a number of key mobile elements, the most helpful being the severity rating. This rates each problem item of the page in order of importance. A little more in-depth of a tool and best understood by those familiar with technical website components.

  1. Hubspot Marketing Grader

This tool is Amazing! A super simple mobile-friendly website checker that checks nearly every aspect of your mobile readiness. This tool checks your SEO, social media, blog content and optimization for mobile all laid out in an easy to read online report.

Check your Website for Mobile-Friendliness

Hubspot Marketing Grader

This Google Algorithm Update started rolling out in November 2014 when Google realized how frustrating an experience it was for users when encountering a non mobile-friendly landing page. If you haven’t been hit by the update yet just know it is coming. Make sure your site stands up to the recent ranking signal update by staying in front of your mobile audience and supplying them with a friendly mobile experience.

Starting April 21, 2015 Google will include mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, which will affect all mobile searches world-wide, in all languages and have a huge effect on search results. You can read more about this ranking update on Google’s Webmaster Blog.

If after using these tools, you find your site just isn’t cutting it, call the Blizzard Internet Marketing Sales Team at 888.840.5893. We’ll assess your current site and let you know the options to make your site a mobile-friendly masterpiece!

iPad and Tablet devices and the online hotel and travel consumer

More news has been coming on the tablet device user having higher conversion rates and spending more money.  Here are some additional sources supporting this that are relevant to the hotel and travel industries.

Research from e-commerce software specialist Ability Commerce which shows conversions on tablets outnumber those on smartphones by almost three to one.

The study, released in September, on three companies conducting a significant volume of business online, shows iPad users made up more than 55% of mobile commerce revenue while only accounting for 13% of mobile customer visits  for one company.

A second company saw 21% of its web traffic come via the iPad but 51% of its sales while the third saw 50% of their web traffic via the tablet device and 97% of all mobile revenue.

Research on 800 retailers released last year by Shopatron shows the average iPad conversion rate is seven times higher than for a smartphone device.

 14% of all travel related queries are coming from a mobile phone, compared to 4% in 2010.

Research entitled the ‘Beginning of the End of the PC Era?’ from web design and digital specialist Nucleus reveals the growth in traffic from mobile devices in January 2012 compared with August 2011 and shows luxury sites have the highest mobile penetration. The studied carried out on 10 UK and international travel websites reveals some have witnessed a doubling in mobile web browsing over the six months with the top site generating 24.2% of its traffic from tablets and smartphones.

Wave Collapse asked consumers to identify the last purchase on their tablet devices during April 2012 – here are the top five items:

  1. Hotel reservation – 22%
  2. DVD – 22%
  3. Clothing – 20%
  4. Books – 18%
  5. Air tickets – 17%

Evidence of the results of all this is certainly starting to emerge – online travel agency Travelocity says 55% of all its mobile bookings are now coming via tablet devices, according to director of mobile Jason Fulmines, with so-called “mobile-exclusive deals” generating a “good percentage” of hotel bookings.

Read More at Tnooz: iPad and other tablets starting to challenge old web shopping behaviour and Google sees higher conversions from tablets – cars, sofas and houses among purchases and Research shows massive surge in iPad travel browsing

5 stages of travel according to Google – research, data and stats

Google reports in its 5 stages of travel:

More than 87% of travelers expect to take the same or more number of personal or business trips in 2011 versus years past. This outlook is positive, and with the rise of mobile, social and video behaviors, we are now seeing seeing travelers move through five key stages of travel. Here are some insights within each stage:

  • Dreaming: 68% of business travelers watch travel-related online videos. Among them, 68% are thinking about a trip.
  • Planning: The average traveler visits ~22 travel related sites during 9.5 research sessions prior to booking.  85% of leisure travelers consider the internet their main source of travel planning.
  • Booking: 37% of leisure travelers report that the internet prompted them to book, up from 28% two years ago.  53% of travelers plan to increase comparison shopping this year.
  • Experiencing: 70% of business travelers check into their flights/hotel with their mobile device. Almost 1 in 4 hotel queries come from a mobile phone.  Over 50% of travelers use mobile phone or device for travel-related information.
  • Sharing: About 1 in 3 business travelers have posted reviews online of places they’ve been.

Travel Stats from Google’s new thinkinsights

Google has a new portal for users to discover interesting stats: thinginsights

I discovered this there:

  • 62% of personal travelers use search engines as the number one source for travel information. Google/OTX, Traveler’s Road to Decision 2010, U.S, Sept 2010

  • 51% of business travelers use mobile devices to get travel information, more than double the rate of two years ago. Google/OTX, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011

  • 46% of personal travelers are watching travel-related videos, versus 36% two years ago. Google/OTX, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011

Adwords Stats (non-travel)

  • Over 89% of traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic search results when ads are paused. Google, Search Ads Pause Study, Global, Jul 2011

  • Two-line sitelinks increase click-through rates by more than 30%*. Google Internal Data 2011, *Compared to standard Adwords ads

Video ads can help your Brand Search:

  • Consumers exposed to a YouTube homepage ad are 437% more likely to engage in a key brand activity on the same day than those unexposed.

Mobile Click-Throughs Higher, Conversion Lower

Travolution reports that click-through rates for travel searches on mobile devices are 61% higher than from conventional internet connections.  the research came from Efficient Frontier.

  • On average for the travel industry, click-through rates from a mobile device are 5.82%, compared to 3.56% from a normal computer based search.
  • For the travel industry, mobile search remains small, with just 4.2% of total searches.
  • The Cost Per Click (CPC) of mobile traffic is also 65% less than a standard computer search.

However the picture is markedly different for conversion rates on mobile, which were found to be 49% lower than from fixed-line computers.

Booking Window Patterns From Mobile Users – Tonite and Tomorrow

Dennis Schaal at Tnooz shares a gem of booking data on the mobile booking window, based upon a GuestCentric study of mobile booking patterns at 300 hotels over a three month period:

  • 60% of mobile consumers are looking for hotel reservations tonight or tomorrow night;
  • 90% of mobile bookings take in some of the next six nights (i.e. tonight, tomorrow night or the following four nights);
  • 90% of mobile consumers book one to three nights; and
  • 95% of mobile consumers book one room.

Stats from Google on Travel and Online Travel Research

The following stats were shared by Haley Knowlton Gribben, an Adwords Account Manager from Google. She presented at the Vacation Rental Manager Association’s Annual Conference on October 10th in Orlando.

It was a fast-paced and informative presentation. Thanks Haley.  These are my hastily scribbled notes:

Vacation Rental Search Becomes More Popular:

  • 42% Year to Year growth for popular vacation rental queries at Google.com
  • 34% growth in overall travel terms

10.2 sources being used by travellers in 2011 for their travel decision making process

  • 27% read email from a travel company
  • 85% searched with a search engine
  • 49% searched online hotel reviews
  • 37% read online travel reviews
  • 25% read online comments

Travel Purchase Timeframe and Planning Window: Most travellers began thinking about the travel purchase at least one month before taking their trip.

  • 8% 4-6 months before
  • 24% 2-3 months before
  • 21% 1 month before
  • 10% 3 weeks before

Affluent Travelers:

  • 80% of affluent travelers actually comparison shop “always or frequently”
  • This is more than personal or business segment travelers
  • The amount spent on the travel positively correlates with amount of research
  • “Research intensity increases with travel spend” Read more

Snippets from OpenTravel Presentation

Robert Cole reports dozens of interesting datapoints in Snippets and Factoids from Henry Harteveldt’s OpenTravel Presentation.  Here are a few of my favorite:


  • 40% of travelers are seeking the lowest price
  • “We (Forrester) have never seen a profitable Groupon deal for a travel supplier”
  • 44% of travelers will consider upgrading to better products
  • 25% of travelers are willing to pay a premium to save time or improve convenience


  • “Travel is the largest global online eCommerce category except for porn”


  • Mobile devices have more computing power than Apollo 11
  • 35% of leisure travelers and 55% of business travelers use smartphones
  • 10% of travelers have downloaded a mobile travel app


  • 60% of travelers use a general search engine when planning travel
  • Travel sellers must craft “story-arcs” a combination of micro journeys within a single trip

Direct Connect

  • Survey of electronic distribution executives predicts share of GDS bookings will decline from 21.7 % in 2010 to 15.5% in 2016

Visit the blog post to see many more.

More Mobile Usage Trends for Travel

Kevin May from ITB Berlin reports on some research and trends:

  • Desktop and mobile show different peaks and booking patterns: highest on Fridays for mobile, highest on Mondays for desktops (mobile figures highest for “bedtime browsing”).
  • 10% of Google search for travel is now on a mobile – looking for maps (especially at weekends), Google Places, Streetview, Google Goggles.
  • 70% of mobile hotel bookings are for the same day, with the peak day on Friday.
  • Hotels.com tripled mobile booking during Q4 2010.
  • Almost 10% of TripAdvisor site traffic now on the mobile site.
  • Growth of mobile:
    • 40% will use mobile for destination information.
    • 39% outbound travelers own smart-phones
    • 30% will make changes to a booking during trip
    • 25% for electronic check-in
    • 30% for social networking during trip

Travelport polled over 600 corporate travel buyers, agents, hospitality and travel professionals around to world (although only 150 responded):

  • 80% would like to see mobile applications offering suggested restaurants and bars around the hotel location
  • 67% would like similar apps offering suggestions for recreational activities
  • 71% rank Wi-Fi as one of the most important technology solutions that should be included as standard in hotel rooms – 82% of travelers expecting this service to be in all rooms within five years

Rob Torres, Google’s managing director of advertising and marketing for the North American travel sector, reports on hospitality marketing that:

  • The number of searches in the travel category via a mobile device is up 1,200% this year
  • hotel searches on Google Maps have grown 3,000%
  • The number of mobile bookings in the travel space is accelerating: from $20 million in 2008 to $200 million this year, with over $80 million coming from the hotel category alone

Mobile Phone Usage for Lodging Websites

Looking at Google Analytics Mobile reporting and aggregating the data for 70 lodging properties, here is how the mobile phone usage broke down, by device for the month of January, 2011:

The surprising number here may be the iPad usage at 42%.  It defies the definition of mobile… it is kind of big and typically renders a website more like a laptop than a phone.

iPad usage certainly skews the results if we are strictly defining mobile.  Another surprise is the small “other” slice.  This may also be skewing the results, it is likely that some users are using “dumb” phones that don’t trigger the Google Analytics javascripts.

The number of visits for those 70 lodging websites averaged 1,581 visits per website in January 2010… up from 363 in January 2009.  In terms of percentages, that is a move from 1.48% to 5.76%… seasonally adjusted in one year.

Whatever the case, and whatever the experts say, a lot of people are interacting with your hotel’s website through a cell phone.  Make sure your website looks and works OK in an iPhone and iPad are probably the lowest hanging fruit… this typically entails NOT using Flash and making your website de-cluttered and easier to operate on a smaller screen.