Search engines are investing a lot of effort into promoting their local search results. Google has recently take their local search to new levels, and this has implications for hostels with Web sites.
Google has been showing Local Results at the tops of certain location specific queries for a long time. Previously they have just shown a simple listing of a few local businesses in text format like this:
Google has recently expanded the local listings section to include a small map, and expanded listing with user reviews as shown in the image below:
The large blue headline links go directly to the Web sites of the individual hostels. This has implications for booking engines like Hostelworld.com and Hostels.com who generally dominate the search engine results for hostel-related queries because it pushes Google's organic results lower and encourages clicks on the actual hostels' links in the local listings. I've seen these expanded local listings dramatically increase traffic to a hostel's Web site.
Another implication for hostels is that reviews are listed in the local search results. These reviews are pulled from the following sites among others:
Notice in the search results above (for Miami) and below (for Boston) seem to be sorted by ratings that are taken from those reviews:
These reviews have implications for your Web site traffic. Good reviews may give you more traffic and negative reviews may drop your listings.
Booking Engines and Google Maps
Another interesting aspect of Google Maps and Google Local was seen in a listing for the Silverton Hostel in Colorado. Notice that on the large map page, the Hostelbookers.com listing is right below the listing for the hostel:
It would be beneficial to hostels if their own booking pages appeared there so that the booking companies would not be skimming off the commission on every sale.
How to Get Listed in Search Engines' Local Listings
To make sure that search engines list your property be sure to submit your hostel to them. Some of the links below are just for the USA. If you own a hostel in another country you should be able to at least submit to your international versions of Google Local, Yahoo Local and MSN Local. Leave a comment below if you have any questions.
- Add your hostel to Google Local
- Add your hostel to Yahoo Local
- Add your hostel to MSN Local at Localeze.com
- Add your hostel to Citisearch.com, which feeds data into MSN, Ask City, and other systems. (It's not free.)
Other resources that feed the major search engines' local listings:
Further reading on local listings can be found at the following pages:
It will be interesting to watch how the search engines increasingly integrate local results into their search engine results. Future articles will discuss Yahoo Local and MSN Local in more detail.
UPDATE: Please see the forum thread about Google Local Search and hostels.
- Yelp.com — Yelp.com has a review system that feeds the reviews in search engines' local listings. You can search to see if you business is already there. If not, use the Add Business button at the bottom of the page.
- InsiderPages.com — these listings cost between $5 and $25. Reviews from InsiderPages.com are fed into the review system on search engines' local listings.
- If you are located in the USA, submit your hostel to InfoUSA because it feeds data into several systems.
- wcities.com also feeds data into several local systems.
- Another US-based site that feeds local data is DiscoverOurTown.com.