Google Hotel California: You Can Check In But You Can Never Leave

By Tinuiti Team

Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.”

Google Philosophy

Google search is designed to answer search questions with quick, relevant information. Google aims to answer you question, even when your don’t know how to ask or what you want to know. In the past, Google has acted as a conduit for information, leading people to other sites for information and services.

However, increasingly Google’s updates keep users on Google for all of the information they need. Whether that’s directions, information about a restaurant or even to watch a video. With the exception of paid advertising, the majority of Google search elements are designed to keep people on Google.

Why Better Search Means You Never Leave Google

Below are some of Google’s search features which are designed to provide more relevant search information, but also encourage users to stay on search or click a paid listing.

Google Knowledge Graph

“Search is a lot about discovery—the basic human need to learn and broaden your horizons. But searching still requires a lot of hard work by you, the user.”- Google Inside Search

Google’s knowledge graph is designed to interpret search intent by grouping related data on search across devices. Similar to how Hummingbird is designed to match queries that mimic verbal questions, the Knowledge Graph attempts to determine your search intent.

Google’s knowledge graph is interesting because it varies with intent. If I’m searching for a person or place, the knowledge graph often populates information to the right of search:

Google knowledge graph

Google’s knowledge graph condenses information that you’d generally have to click out to right on the main Google SERP, while still providing search results on the page.

Google’s knowledge graph condenses a lot of outside information from other sites on the main Google SERP. For instance if I search for a hotel, I can view a ton of relevant information such as phone number and address, that likely matches my intent right in the knowledge graph section:

Google knowledge graph search intent

The knowledge graph also incorporates reviews and integrates with Google maps. Google maps appear within the knowledge graph, and Google knowledge graph information appears within Google maps pages for search overview:

Google knowledge graph and Google maps

And individual listings:

Google knowledge graph and Google maps

Excluding the Super8 URL and AdWords ad at the bottom of the search, these links predominantly link out to Google pages.

Google’s knowledge graph also includes the Google carousel. Google’s carousel features local information search at the top of search pages:

Google carousel and search

Similar to the other elements of the knowledge graph, users can view hotel price, pictures and reviews, and star ratings all within the carousel without clicking out. Notably, you can also scroll and sort in the carousel:

Google search and Google carousel

Clicking on a carousel listing populates the knowledge graph section of search below the carousel specific to the selected option, keeping you right there on the same page.

While Google’s knowledge graph affects broader searches, Google’s carousel is specific to restaurants, food delivery, theaters, hotels, grocery stores, art galleries, and similar searches. Google’s

Get More Out of Google’s Carousel

Carousel is designed to help searchers find relevant information within Google, but you can still push those users towards your business with accurate and detailed information. For best Carousel results:

Check out these additional factors which play a role in determining carousel ranking.
Google’s knowledge graph and the carousel are free currently, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Google moves to monetize the carousel within the next couple years. Particularly since Google has been spotted testing Google Shopping results within the Google carousel.

Google Answer Box

Another search element which we’ve seen for select search results features sections of articles highlighted at the top of search:


Google’s answer box is designed to answer your question quickly without you needing to click-out to read an article. While I haven’t seen this feature for a ton of searches, it certainly aligns with Google’s knowledge graph and the carousel.

What does it mean for retailers?

So Google is moving more towards answering user questions on Google, whether that’s for general information or information specific to products and services.

For online retailers these updates underline how important paid ads on Google are to get users to your site. If you want visibility from Google, you are likely going to have to pay for it.



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