When discussing Pay Per Click (PPC) strategy with a client, our team is often asked, “Why are we bidding on our hotel’s name? We should be appearing at the top of search results organically.”
NB: This is an article by Blue Magnet
It is valid to wonder why it is worthwhile to put ad spend towards your hotel name; after all, when a potential visitor is searching for your name, they are obviously ready to book a room with you. However, this is also the point where you can easily lose a booking to a competitor or a third party.
Putting ad spend behind your brand name gives you more real estate in search results that could otherwise be taken by alternative booking sources that can steal a reservation or convince a traveler to reconsider.
When you put ad spend behind your hotel name, you are putting your paid search efforts in a place where it can easily generate success. There are several reasons why you should consider investing ad spend to your own brand/ name.
It’s Cheap Real Estate
When a visitor searches for your hotel, they are looking specifically for you. During this search, the search engine results page (SERP) will display something along these lines.
More often than not, the first three or four results in a search will be paid advertisements. If you are not buying ads for your hotel name, you are allowing the sites that are bidding on your name an opportunity to take potential guests away from booking direct. In most cases, the sites taking away these potential guests are an OTA or third party booking engine, which take a commission for the booking (or send that booking to a different hotel). While a visitor has the option to click on your Google My Business listing or scroll down to the first organic listing, there is significant real estate where the first thing a searcher sees is now out of your control.
An important factor to remember for any PPC campaign is that all paid ad auctions determine how much you should be charged per click based on how relevant your website is for the term you are targeting. If your website barely touches on a topic, you will likely have to pay more for terms related to it than one you talk about frequently. For example, if your hotel is close to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, but your website has no pages or references to it, you will end up paying more for terms like “hotels near the Magnificent Mile”. If however, you discuss your location frequently and have pages dedicated to the Magnificent Mile, you will automatically be able to have your ads appear at a lower cost. Since the most relevant topic of your hotel’s website is the name of your hotel, you will be paying less for your branded keywords than you would for other keywords.
This does not mean your hotel should bid on any keyword just because it is “cheap”, in the case of your brand it is important to consider what you are giving up when you don’t make that bid. The visitors searching for your hotel know exactly who they are looking for. Those who are ready to book a room will be looking for a quick, easy way to complete their reservation. The initial first search results appearing for your own brand are the ones with the most value for your property, and, by not capitalizing on that space, you are giving up opportunities to finish a sale.
Oftentimes, the path a traveler takes before they book a room is long and involves the consideration of many different factors. They may visit your website at different points of their decision making process and can return through different channels. By not bidding on your brand name, you are giving up an opportunity to ensure they complete the journey on your website.
Controlling Your Brand Message
When considering the value of a PPC campaign for your brand, it is important to remember the amount of control you are given towards how you are presented on Google. You can optimize your Google business listing, but search algorithms might still favor a specific image or verbiage that you can only influence so much. Even the meta title and description on your organic listings are subject to Google’s algorithms.
Thanks to PPC, you can bid on the top spot for your own name and you will have complete control over the message a potential guest sees. So long as your ad copy remains relevant and factual, you are able to identify what selling points to place in front of your searchers. Each element of the ad below can be edited to suit what you think suits your hotel best. The three sections of blue headline copy, to the URL, and the description copy are guaranteed to appear exactly how you entered it whenever your ad appears.
The speed at which you make updates to a PPC campaign allows you to make snap decisions on your best selling points and alter ad copy as needed. You are even able to run high level tests to see what ad copy sticks out best to potential guests and drives the most conversions. In the case of organic and Google My Business based verbiage on the SERP it could take weeks for changes to register when they are accepted.
Grabbing Engaged Visitors
Finally, a key reason to invest in your own brand is simply due to the engagement metrics already discovered by industry professionals.
In 2015 Bing conducted a study of retail and travel websites and how visitors engaged with them while running branded vs. non-branded PPC campaigns. The results of this study showed that for travel brands there were 27% more clicks to their site through a SERP while they were running paid ads on their own name. And in 2014 Fiat found a 127% increase in brand awareness through PPC.
When running a branded PPC campaign, you will consistently see an increase of engaged visitors who are more likely to check your rates and book a room.
Bidding On Your Own Brand, In A Nutshell
While PPC is a great tool for bringing new traffic to your website that you could have otherwise missed, it also provides incredible value by ensuring you are keeping visitors who already planned on booking. When you bid on your own branded name you are taking advantage of cheap, valuable real estate, taking more control on how your hotel is presented on Google, and are likely to take direct bookings back from third-party sites.
By not bidding on your own brand name you are effectively ignoring a channel where you can receive more direct bookings, leaving yourself open to losing easy reservations. Visitors who would otherwise click on your Google ad might instead be delivered to a third party booking provider which will take a commission, or send the visitor to a different hotel altogether.