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Cruising for a bruising: will Google mobile update sink these travel brands?

Cruising for a bruising: will Google mobile update sink these travel brands?

February ended with such big news that I half expected the drum beats from Eastenders to sound off around the office when we all found out.

If you don’t already know, Google has announced a major algorithm update set to land on 21 April 2015. This update is unique, in that Google has officially announced the change well in advance of its release. Why? Because mobile friendliness is becoming a ranking factor, and Google clearly wants everybody to play ball.

For webmasters who are yet to jump on the responsive wagon, this could feasibly obliterate their rankings. Among them are some very big names.

We recently did some ‘at a glance research’ to find out which of the big players in the cruise industry had embraced mobile optimisation and which were sailing dangerously close to the wind -- you might have already noticed but I’m going all out on nautical wordplay.

So who is set to sail through the April update; and who is more likely to sink?

We’ll start with P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean, since these two currently dominate search for generic cruise terms. Incredibly, neither has a mobile optimised site. In fact, on the P&O site we get little more than a cookie warning until we hit the “X”.

PO iPhone 5

We’ve spoken about Royal Caribbean SEO before. One thing we’ve never disputed is the beauty of the imagery on show and the strength of the calls to action. Here, however, both are given short shrift.

RC iPhone 5

Is anybody in the cruise game doing any better? Thomas Cook certainly is! Mobile visitors to the holiday companies cruise site find mobile optimised offers, responsive navigation and most importantly, a finger-friendly booking form that’s easy to use.

TC iPhone 5

Thomson, however, is guilty of the oversight as Royal Caribbean and PO. That’s what makes the update so interesting in this industry. Could a lack of mobile friendliness allow some of the game’s smaller players to usurp the big names in the SERPS?

T iPhone 5

We won’t know for certain until the end of April rolls around, but one thing is for sure: it won’t be Iglu Cruise or MSC. Ok, at least we can get at most of the search form on Iglu, even though we’re missing some of the top level navigation without a sideways scroll.

I iPhone 5

MSC Cruise is the bigger offender, presenting the visitor with nothing but the left side of a banner encouraging them to “Discover New York and other wond…”

MSC iPhone 5

If anybody is going to take advantage of the change, it’s a site like Cruise Deals which is perfectly set up for mobile use: big calls to action, simple nav and all designs within the parameters that mobile users expect.

CD iPhone 5

Virgin Holidays Cruises is another that could steal a march on its competitors in search. The design of the site is absolutely perfect for mobile. By the beginning of May, it could be perfect for Google too.

V iPhone 5

The question is: will the other big brands in cruise follow Virgin and Thomas Cook’s lead with mobile optimised sites?

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