Travel SEO services are increasing in diversity. Ways to digitally market the travel sector have evolved rapidly with organic search in the past couple years, notably since the launch of the Penguin algorithm in 2012. Building links for search ranking is now becoming a distant memory, and the content bubble is growing fast. The use of voice search and development of the Hummingbird algorithm chirps away in the background. On top of these changes, mobile rankings and mobile presence are becoming increasingly important for researchers on the move.

As travel companies strive to stay ahead of the digital curve, it is time for marketers and digital agencies to note the impact voice recognition tech could have on travel search and travel SEO campaigns for the foreseeable future.

Context of Search Through Hummingbird

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm was introduced in late 2013 to ‘add context’ to search results. For example, if a user searches for places to visit in Madrid, Hummingbird provides a selection of places to visit – not just a top ten lists with places within them.

This poses an interesting premise for a travel SEO agency since Hummingbird caters to voice activated search like never before. The launch of the algorithm has also resulted in content becoming more sophisticated, virtual tours of attractions increasing and direct bookings for flights or tickets made in minutes.

Essentially, it allows Google to answer questions directly using markups on websites and standard results pages. So where do marketing managers start when considering targeting voice activated search?

Voice Search: Siri vs. Ok Google

Hummingbird – although initially designed for context in search – has had a considerable impact on mobile search. The theory of Hummingbird has been built into Google’s mobile algorithm, where voice search plays a much bigger role than it would on desktop.

Besides Hummingbird and Google, another consideration at hand is the use of Siri and Ok Google, and how these apps gather results.

Local listings make up a huge part of this offering from both – Siri is said to use Yelp as a key source in the US for search results, but it seems results are also drawn from sources such as Trip Advisor. Travel companies optimising for particular landmarks (or hotels looking to rank for direct search traffic) need to consider profiling themselves outside of their own websites for ranking potential on these listings.

If a user searches ‘restaurants in Madrid’ or ‘hotels in Madrid’ on a desktop, Hummingbird could offer very different answers to ‘where’s the cheapest hotel in Madrid?’ or ‘Where can I eat authentic Spanish food in Madrid?’ – this is where adding context comes into play.

Voice search personalises results (Siri even has a conversation back), which means this may be a clever way to provide search results, but the use of Siri and Ok Google is a huge step forward in human SEO and marks a significant shift in the psychology of a searcher.

Utilising Different Types of Search Results

Marketers need to understand the different types of results to get the most out of voice-activated search. In the travel sector, focus must be placed on all aspects of the sector, from images of beaches (‘what does Playa Blanca beach look like?’) to airfares (‘How much is the average flight to Madrid?’).

The search systems work through a number of simple steps – a user speaks, then the message is decoded on the way to a nearby network tower and passed onto models designed to understand language and speech. The process then returns an answer to the question – with both vocal and written responses (for example, virtual tours of Playa Blanca beach, a list of ski holiday booking websites, or options for flights to Madrid).

The technical aspect to appearing successfully in search results from voice search becomes challenging when considering the considerable amount of local options, as well as online, and the different ways in which users actually speak out loud. For website owners and marketers, the biggest challenge here is app use, along with ASO.

If a user asks ‘Best flight deals to Madrid’ and has a number of apps on the device, the voice recognition tool may well search the device first for ‘local’ results, reducing the burden of the search portal within the device.


A Connected Future with Interchanging Search Techniques

Changes in travel search directly reflect the evolution of digital marketing on a global scale. Consumers are becoming increasingly connected and in time, interaction with objects and AI will become the norm. Understanding the principals of voice search and how this relates to context within results allows travel websites and travel apps to tailor SEO campaigns to evolving trends and mediums of interaction.


As a travel SEO agency in London Polaris specialises in creating successful organic search campaigns for holiday booking websites and luxury hotels.

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