Google announced that it is now offering a free version of its hotel listings. This is now in addition to the paid option. This is very similar to the way Google made Google Shopping free last year. Google wrote, "We're improving that experience by making it free for hotels and tour operators around the world to appear in hotel booking links on google.com/travel starting this week."
What is the difference between free and paid Google Hotel offers? Google said that "free booking links may look like hotel ads, but are not ads and are rated against a variety of signals to determine which links are best for users." Google again made it clear that "no one can buy better placement for free booking links," but stated that "advertisers can bid to rank higher in hotel ads". Google also said they are clearly marking "ads" with the "Ads" badge in search results for hotel bookings.
Here's a GIF of what it looks like:
Google ranks these free listings by "a variety of signals" to "determine which links are best to display to users". Signals include “consumer preference, value offered to the user, landing page experience, and historical accuracy of prices provided to Google under the Price Accuracy Policy”. Google then clearly states that a paid relationship does not affect the free offerings. Google wrote: "Google's business relationship with the provider of free booking links has no impact on the ranking and cannot be paid for a higher ranking. Participation or non-participation in hotel advertisements also has no influence on the ranking of the free booking links."
The price accuracy rating is how Google calculates a rating for each partner based on the number of times prices match our guidelines. This price accuracy rating is intended both to inform partners whether their prices are considered correct and as a basis for possible penalties that Google may impose on partners. Your predicted and overall price accuracy score can range from "Failed" to "Excellent".
So that hotels or tour operators can register for these free offers, you can do so here.
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