Blue Magnet Hotel Online Marketing Guide

Are Google Maps Descriptive Phrases Important To Your Hotel?

Have you started noticing descriptive phrases showing up next to your hotel’s name in Google Maps? On local search results pages, there is a new section called “People talk about” which highlights commonly used phrases found in your hotel’s reviews. As seen on the screenshot below, these phrases can show up in two spots on your hotel’s Google Maps listing:

  1. On the map under your hotel’s name
  2. In the “People talk about” section on the left results panel of desktop searches

When relevant and accurate, these phrases can act as a great sales feature by helping your hotel stand out among competitors in the area. When inaccurate or negative, these phrases can potentially confuse or discourage online shoppers and ultimately hurt your hotel’s bottom line.

Blue Magnet analyzed fifty Google Maps listings for hotels across the US and noticed a few noteworthy trends. In this blog, I will explain how these phrases appear on desktop vs. mobile, where these phrases come from, and what you can do to control the phrases on your hotel’s Google Maps listing. If you’d like to jump ahead to view our sample findings, click here.

How do the descriptive phrases appear in Google Maps search results?

Google Maps listings vary depending on how zoomed-in the user is, and the type of device they are using. Searches for hotels in a general area (e.g. “hotels in [city]”) typically result in several hotels in the area, all with descriptive phrases listed beneath each hotel’s name. The main difference between Desktop and Mobile results appears when someone searches for a specific hotel (e.g. “variation of hotel’s name”). On Mobile devices, Google typically does not display any descriptive phrases. Rather, the results include the hotel’s star rating, number of Google Plus reviews, hotel rates, and a button for directions to the hotel. When the same search is done on a desktop, the results typically include two descriptive phrases for that specific hotel. One explanation for why these results vary by device can be attributed to the intentions of the searcher. People searching on mobile devices may be looking for a quick but comprehensive snapshot about the hotel, whereas desktop searchers may be more willing to click around and perform additional searches after seeing the descriptive phrases.

Above: Google Maps results on mobile device for search queries “hotels in [city]” and “hotel name”

Above: Google Maps results on desktop for search query “hotels in [city]” 

Above: Google Maps results on desktop for search query “hotel name”

Where do these phrases come from?

Google pulls these phrases from a variety of online reviews, namely Google Plus reviews. Google’s algorithm searches through your hotel’s reviews looking for common phrases, and then includes a couple of those phrases that Google deems most “interesting, specific, and unique” directly on your hotel’s Google Maps listing.

How can this help my hotel?

Since online shoppers place so much importance on reviews, having positive and relevant phrases associated with your hotel’s Google listing can help influence purchase behavior. If reviewers rave about your “free wifi” or “delicious breakfast”, and your Google Maps listing pulls in those keywords, people searching for hotels in your area are more likely to click over to your website and book at your hotel.

How can this hurt my hotel?

Though the majority of the phrases that Google displays in the Maps listings are neutral in their sentiment, every now and then Google may highlight a negative phrase. If your hotel’s Google Plus reviews include several mentions of “noisy” or “uncomfortable”, and Google’s algorithm decides that those phrases are the ones it should display on your Maps listing… well, you can probably guess that online shoppers seeing those phrases likely won’t rush to stay at your hotel.

As part of our testing, Blue Magnet also came across one instance of a competitor’s name appearing in the “People talk about” section. In this particular case, the hotel had recently changed brands and old Google Plus reviews about their previous brand were still appearing on the hotel’s Google Plus page. Therefore, Google’s algorithm was still displaying these old phrases on the hotel’s current Maps listing. Though this instance seemed to be an exception, if it happened once, it can happen again!

Can I update or choose the phrases that are displayed?

While there is not currently a way for online marketers to directly choose or update the phrases that Google displays, it is possible to influence the results. As a general rule of thumb, the more Google Plus reviews your hotel has, the better the chances that Google will display relevant, helpful phrases on your Maps listing. This is just one of the many reasons why Blue Magnet recommends that hotels encourage satisfied guests to write Google Plus reviews about their positive experience.

How can my hotel get more Google reviews?

If you aren’t sure how to get more guest reviews on your Google Plus page, here are a few ideas:

  1. Leave an iPad at the front desk and asks guests to review your hotel while they are checking out. Keep in mind, guests will need to sign in to their own Google accounts in order to leave a Google Plus review, so have a note nearby reminding them to sign out when they are finished.
  2. Add a “Review Us on Google” button to your website’s “Contact” page that links directly to your hotel’s Google Plus page.
  3. Add a “Review Us on Google” button to the very first webpage that guests see when they sign into your hotel’s WiFi system.

How can my hotel deal with unfavorable phrases?

Sometimes hoteliers may not be crazy about the phrases that Google chooses to display. Don’t fret! While you are working on encouraging guests to leave Google Reviews, another simple fix is to update the map that displays on your website. Oftentimes, “Contact” or “Directions” pages on hotel websites will use the Google Maps plugin to include an interactive map showing where the hotel is located. At Blue Magnet, our account managers can work their magic to change your website from showing the Google Listings (and its associated phrases) to simply showing your hotel’s address, all without altering the functionality or usability for your website visitors. See below for an example:

So what’s the bottom line?

Though these phrases are not something that you can directly control, it is important to be aware of how your hotel appears in Google Maps search results. Blue Magnet recommends checking your hotel’s Google Maps listing at least once per month to make sure it is optimized with relevant and accurate information.

Google Maps Sample Test Findings

Blue Magnet surveyed fifty hotels from various markets throughout the continental US. We looked at each hotel’s Google Maps listing, noting the phrases we saw both on the map and on the left panel in the “People talk about” section (in desktop mode) and whether those phrases were the same or different in those two areas of the listing. We also recorded the total number of reviews each hotel had, each hotel’s overall star rating, and whether the descriptive phrases were positive, negative, or neutral in their sentiment. Below are the results.

Summary of hotels in sample:

50 hotels from 6 hotel groups (below) comprising of 15 total brands, and 1 independent hotel.

Total Google reviews per hotel:

Average: 22
Lowest: 4
Highest: 67

Hotel’s Google star rating:

Average: 3.6 / 5.0
Lowest: 2.5 / 5.0
Highest: 4.6 / 5.0

What were the top 5 most common phrases?

  1. High speed internet access
  2. Front desk staff
  3. Breakfast
  4. Happy hour
  5. [Specific local attraction]

How many total phrases displayed on map?

90% of listings featured two phrases on the map.

How many total phrases displayed in sidebar?

Two-thirds of the listings displayed two descriptive phrases in the sidebar.

Were phrases the same in map and sidebar?

Nearly all phrases were the same in both parts of the listing, though a few had varying phrases.

Was phrase sentiment positive or negative?

Most phrases were neutral in sentiment and based on amenities or the local area.