If you are a hotelier, you are a business owner. And as a business owner, you are very sensitive to changes in the market. It’s no secret that the big Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s), such as Kayak and Booking.com, are very competitive in search engines and they have no intention of leaving soon either.
As a veteran of the hotel industry, you are aware that the OTAs generate extra revenue for your hotel. They can “fill in” those slower days and overall add to the number of rooms booked, but at a cost. Some of these OTAs can charge up to 30%, but missing out on the extra bookings is out of the question for most hotels in 2016. This would motivate any hotelier to try to find ways to cut in line in the search results pages, in front of the OTAs. We’d like to give you a hand in the “David vs. Goliath” story, but let’s set the stage first.
Changes in Google’s Search Engine Result Page
You may have noticed something about Google’s search engine results page this past February. The all too familiar right hand ads have been omitted.
This move is a result of a long-standing experiment by Google and aimed to create a similar experience between mobile and desktop users. We have discussed how your hotel can deliver the best mobile experience to your guests in the past and this move by Google again highlights the need for a seamless experience online, regardless of the device in the user’s hands. Experts have detected signals of this trial by Google for some time, however, to many the change is still a shock.
To summarize the change:
• In lieu of right sided ads, 4 text ads of Highly Commercial Queries will be displayed below the organic searches. Otherwise, if the query isn’t purchase-centric, only 3 ads will show.
• An additional 3 text ads will be at the bottom of the search engine results page.
You may be well aware of these changes already if you are managing your own AdWords account or you have an AdWords Management Company giving you a hand. But what does this mean to you as a hotelier who wants to capture the AdWords traffic that you’ve come to rely on, while still being able to compete with the high-search-engine-performing OTAs?
Highly Commercial Queries
What does that mean? Simply put, Google wants to make sure that all 4 of AdWords results are from companies interesting in making a purchasing exchange with the viewers. These sites are transactional in nature, not reference material. E-commerce and Hotels are excellent examples of what Google would categorize as Highly Commercial Queries.
We’ve noted that hotels are sites that qualify for the contested top 4 spot right below the search bar, but how can we make our AdWords campaign ring true as a Highly Commercial Query and beat the OTAs for the high contested 4 spot?
To let Google know you are a Highly Commercial Query, there’s a bit of rolling up your sleeves needed. You want to establish yourself as a part of the community that you are booking in and there’s no better way that conducting Local SEO.
Local Citations and Local SEO
There are dozens of sites that will help you bolster your local SEO presence. Well known examples are: Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare, Tripadvisor and Yellowpages. With consistent information across all of these citation sites, you not only created a new avenue for traffic to come to your site, but have tapped Google on the shoulder, letting it know who you are, where you are and what you do there.
You’ve laid the foundation to success with the creation of a dozen or so local SEO citation sites, but we aren’t done yet. We want to invite every happy guest to review our site on these citation sites. It’s not something to take lightly, because MOZ has found that review signals are equal to nearly 10% of Google ranking factors. This is best done with training for your employees who directly contact the customer with regular reminders. If you can create incentives for your employees who get customer reviews most regularly, then you, your employees and potential guests all benefit.
AdWords Campaign Optimization
Google AdWords is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. However, taking the time optimize your strategy can benefit your online marketing efforts immensely.
Google decides whether or not your ad is eligible to be displayed with AdRank. There are numerous factors that go into AdRank, but one of the most important is Quality Score. Google wants their viewers to see the best-crafted and relevant ads, and has created Quality Score to ensure this.
The benefits of having a good AdWords Quality Score are:
• Ad Position: A higher Quality Score will make your ad show up higher on the list of ads.
• Auction Eligibility: Simply put, a lower quality ad has less of an opportunity to be displayed at all.
• Actual Cost Per Click: Google wants the best ads to display and they are rewarding high quality ads with a lower cost-per-click.
How to get a good AdWords Quality Score:
• Quality of Landing Page- Is your content of the chosen landing page engaging to viewers?
• Ad/Search Keyword Relevance- Ensure that your Adwords advertisement matches very closely to the keyword you are targeting.
• Location Performance- If historically, your ads targeting “Hotels Sydney” have performed well in Sydney, Google acknowledges this and will increase your Quality Score.
But what if the OTAs dominate the general keywords in your local area? What if when you type the name of your hotel, Expedia or Travelocity or another OTA site appears?
With clever AdWords management, you can capture traffic that was originally meant for your site by bidding on your own brand name in AdWords. This may sound strange, but the cost per click for your own brand name is much less than the commission of the OTA sites. With the recent changes in Google’s ad display, you will be placed in that top 4 category above the search results, above those OTAs.
Despite changes to the search engine landscape, there are ways to exceed your own expectations. Making your site visible to Google as a Highly Commercial Query is not only a great first step, but a necessity. A well optimized AdWords campaign is well worth the extra effort and can be a continual reward for your company. Getting noticed online doesn’t have to be a slow grind, but if need the extra momentum you can contact hotelmarketingWorks today.