Google’s mobile travel search: bump in the road or strategic shift?

Google recently changed its travel search user experience on mobile, leading some to say it is now harder to view search results. Here we outline the change and the implications for Google travel in the long term.

Googles mobile travel search

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What has Google changed?

In summary, Google has made it more difficult to get to the organic web results from the ‘more destinations’ button when you have carried out a travel-related search. If you search for ‘America’, for example, you are shown a few destinations alongside a blue arrow, which you click on if you want to see more. If you click on this arrow, you can see more locations; however, once there, you cannot return to the search results without recompleting your search or clicking back. What you can see are flight and hotel prices in the search area, filterable by dates, price and interest. If you click on a destination, you can view a knowledge graph card all about that destination. If you scroll through the destination content, you can see ads for flights powered by Google flight search, hotels from Google hotel search and restaurants powered by Google local results.

What are the implications?

In effect, Google is keeping users within a closed content area for a longer period of time and providing users with more in-depth content. This is a clean user experience from one perspective and gives you lots of useful information in one place; however, it is frustrating if you realise you want to be somewhere else. Given that Google has stated its long-term aim is to make Google a one-stop shop for travel transactions, and having spent the last four years acquiring and integrating third-party businesses and focusing on its own travel product development, this might be viewed as just the start of some upcoming changes.

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Renowned industry commentator Search Engine World has stated that it believes this is a temporary ‘experimental feature’. We are not so sure. Given the long-term ambitions outlined by Google, it may be more of a roadmap step towards its long-term aims. The jury is out.

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