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Google made SEO meaningless for travel agencies. That’s right – the largest search engine in the world, often associated with the emergence and proliferation of search engine optimization, turned its back on travel brands. How did this occur? The company continues to organize website content to make it universally accessible and useful, but it may also prioritize its own media above search results.

Google Flight SERPsAccording to eMarketer, Google launched its new metasearch engines Flight Search and Hotel Finder over the past 18 months, and the company also acquired Zagat and Frommer’s. These resources position the search engine as the go-to destination for all-things travel, which all but kicks travel brands in the stomach.

Google’s Hotel Finder and Flight Search assets show real-time search results above the fold on SERPs, so even when travel companies have thorough and complex SEO strategies, their websites show below Google’s own offerings. While at first glance this insight may convince a travel brand owner to pack up her bags and head for the exit, the evolution of search doesn’t mean the downfall of the travel industry online. Brands simply need to become more dynamic – outsmart Google in its own game.

“It’s critically important for all of us to have a brand and to have alternatives to get traffic from other places, to be not completely dependent on Google amid SEM or SEO shenanigans,” Jeffery Boyd, president and CEO of Priceline Group, said during the PhoCusWright Conference, as reported by eMarketer.

Brands can look toward content marketing for help. While website content includes various key phrases and SEO best practices, well-written copy can show up in search results beyond the traditional flight queries or hotel searches. This puts travel brands in front of a wider audience much earlier on in their travel research. Publishing blog content about top destinations and travel tips can grab consumers’ attention, and when it comes time to book a trip, leads will remember the educational resources and return to finally convert.