Google Ads 101: A Hotelier’s Guide to Advertising with Google (Part 1)

If you’ve done any marketing at all, you’ll have heard of Google Ads. The advertising service provided by Google is used by millions of businesses worldwide. Which makes sense. Google handles billions of search queries every day, so it’s a platform with the potential to reach any target market you desire. And as the tech giant owns multiple popular platforms, Google Ads gives you access to customers using YouTube, Gmail, and other sites in its network—of course advertisers want to be on it. But it’s not something you can just sign-up for and expect good results. While there’s potential to see huge ROI with the service, a mismanaged account can quickly drain your marketing budget. So, it needs to be used wisely. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to the powerful service:

How does it work? 

Google Ads is a pay-per-click advertising service. Businesses bid on the search terms that they want their ads to appear for, and then pay each time a user clicks on it. For example, a bed and breakfast in San Francisco might bid on the phrase “accommodation in San Francisco” so their ad will appear at the top of those search results. If a user clicks on the ad, the B&B pays their bid amount, but if the ad isn’t clicked on, the B&B pays nothing.

There are different types of ads a business can create with Google Ads. Search ads are listings that appear in Google search results. Those are the most popular type of ads, but businesses can also choose to use display ads (banner advertisements that appear on Gmail and other websites within Google’s network), video-based ads (which appear on YouTube), and App Ads (which appear within Google applications).

How are ads ranked?

There’s a lot of competition on Google, and you certainly won’t be the only business bidding on your chosen keywords. Where your ad shows up in relation to other businesses bidding on the same search query is determined by your advertising rank. And your advertising rank is determined by both your maximum bid and quality score.

Your quality score is a value that expresses how optimized and relevant your ad is to the searcher. The click-through rate of the ad, the conversion rate of your landing page, and how specific the ad is in relation to the search query all factor into an ad’s quality score.

It’s important to note that because advertising rank is a function of both your bid value and quality score, you can improve your rank without continuing to throw money at it. Always work on optimizing your ads first, so you don’t end up with an unprofitable cost-per-click.

Should I be using it?

Google Ads is a powerful service for businesses. But like any marketing endeavor, you should assess your budget, availability, and the platform suitability to decide if it’s right for you. First, research the average cost-per-click for your industry. And, using your conversion rates, determine a rough estimate for your cost-per-conversion. Is this an acceptable number? If yes, you should next consider the time you’ll need to invest in managing your account. For Google Ads campaigns to be successful, you need to be regularly evaluating and adapting your bid maximums, search terms, ad types, and so on. If you don’t have an employee that can dedicate at least a couple of hours a week to this account, you may want to consider working with a consultant.

Google Ads is a robust marketing tool. If you’ve decided the service is right for you, read our next blog for a step-by-step guide to getting started.

If You List It They Will Come: A Hotelier’s Guide to Google My Business

Most people planning a vacation start with a Google search. That’s why you work so hard to optimize your search results placement with SEO strategies. And you should. But it’s not all you can be doing to make the platform work for you. Managing your Google My Business listing is an important step for staying competitive on the powerful search engine.

What it is

Google My Business is a free, online tool that allows you to control how your business appears across Google. A listing for your property, curated by you, appears on Google Maps and in the Knowledge Graph (the info-box on the righthand side) of search results. It’s like an online storefront. Users can see your property, and relevant information about it, before clicking onto your websitemaking your business more visible and more accessible to potential guests.

Where to start

The first step is to search for any existing listings for your business. While you may not have created one yourself, an unclaimed listing may exist—in which case you’ll need to claim it. Otherwise, visit the Google My Business page and click ‘Start Now.’ From there you’ll need to create an account, verify your business, and then begin managing your listing.

Managing your listing

Categories >> You’ll need to choose a primary category that represents what type of business you are. This helps Google list your business appropriately and gives you access to category-specific features. Hotel listings, for example, can add class-ratings and amenities to their entries. In addition to one primary category, you can choose up to nine others if appropriate for your business.

Business information >> This is obvious, but you’ll want to ensure all your business information is accurate and up-to-date. That includes things like your contact info and website URL as well as a description of your business. If you choose to upload a description (you should), it must be less than 750 characters and adhere to Google’s description guidelines.

Photo and video content >> Listings with photos experience 35% more clicks through to their website. So, don’t skip this step. Upload as many professionally shot photos that you need to tell your property’s story and inspire prospective guests. Within the bunch, you can identify a profile photo and cover photo so Google knows which ones you’d like to display first. Click here for Google’s full photo and video guidelines.

Reviews >> Google is always encouraging customers to leave reviews after visiting a business. It has turned the online juggernaut into the #1 review site in the world, and those reviews are included in your Google My Business listing. That’s a good thing because user feedback is significantly more trusted than traditional marketing. So make sure you are responding to these reviews as part of your reputation management strategy.

Updates >> Make listing updates a regular part of your management strategy. In addition to ensuring the accuracy of all information, and responding to reviews, you can post special offers and promotions directly on your listing. Keeping your Google My Business page fresh will help it stand out to potential guests.

Optimization >> Google My Business includes an analytics feature (called Insights) that allows you to understand how people are interacting with your listing. You can use it, for example, to determine how people are finding your listing, how many times they view it, and how often people ask for directions to your property.

Google My Business is a powerful marketing tool. Make sure you’re claiming and managing your listing to maximize its potential. And consider downloading the platform’s app to make the job as easy as possible.

Micro-Moments: The Future of Digital Marketing

American consumers spend an average of five hours a day on their smartphone. These powerful devices provide us with constant connection and instant access to the entirety of human knowledge. So, it’s no surprise that the prominent role they now play has fundamentally changed the way we relate to the world around us. And that includes how we interact with brands. Gone are the days of traditional advertising and a linear customer journey. We’re playing in a new arena. So, what should you be doing to keep your marketing game strong? Google says: focus on micro-moments.

What are micro-moments?

With infinite information at our fingertips, consumers have become accustomed to finding answers and taking action the moment the need strikes. A quick internet search can find nearby restaurants, research a destination or book a hotel. These intent-rich moments are what Google refers to as micro-moments. Our lives are full of them. Moments when we want to know something, moments when we want to do something and moments when we want to buy something. They’re frequent, they’re specific, and we’ve grown accustomed to them yielding high-quality results in a short amount of time.

What does this mean for hoteliers?

The expectation for instant payoff—whether it’s the answer to a burning question or making a purchase—and the fact that people are inundated with information and advertisement all day long, means marketers need to make sure their content is both concise and valuable. You need to provide the right information at the right time, so the customer gets something out of engaging with your brand.

Capitalizing on micro-moments

Google identifies four types of micro-moments specific to the hospitality industry. To market your property effectively, you should think about how you’re catering to the following:

“I want to get away” moments >> These are the moments a browser begins to think about a vacation. At this point, they are unattached to accommodation or even destination. It’s the perfect time to make an impression and leave them dreaming about a stay at your property. To capitalize on these micro-moments, create content that inspires (think #travelinspo-worthy visual content) and informs. Photos and online videos are critical to travelers choosing where to go, and 67% of browsers are more likely to book with a property that’s provided useful information abut a destination.

“Time to make a plan” moments >> The destination has now been chosen, which means the next micro-moments for the browser are all about plan-making. Getting noticed at this stage in a buyer’s journey is about showing up on the appropriate internet searches. This means doing what you can to optimize placement for searches like “hotels in [destination],” “hotels with [amenity],” and so on. In these moments you should also be providing specific information about your property including pricing and amenities.

“Let’s book it” moments >> It’s finally the moment a browser decides to make a booking. At this stage, a customer has likely settled on a brand but a seamless and credible booking experience is necessary to ensure customers follow through. Your site should be set up to take mobile bookings with as few steps as possible and provide fast load times. People are quick to switch sites if the booking process is too complicated or too slow.

“Can’t wait to explore” moments >> Don’t ignore the customers that have already booked with you. You can still take advantage of their exploration micro-moments in order to nurture customer loyalty. At this stage, browsers are making decisions about what to do on their trip. Offer useful information about local attractions, activities, and weather leading up to (and during) their stay.

 

Smartphones have changed the way guests research, plan, and purchase. The buyer’s journey has been fragmented into distinct moments of specific intent. Start catering to these micro-moments by being available and useful at every stage.