Google AdWords is a great way to get more direct bookings. These three inside tactics can help your hotel get more clicks for less money while avoiding costly online travel agency fees.
Setting up AdWords isn't as simple as Google says and often the advice you get is focused on getting your campaigns up and running quickly. Speed isn't always a good thing, especially if you're not moving in the right direction.
There are ways to improve your AdWords experience and turn it into a money maker, not a money pit, for your hotel or property.
When I first started using AdWords management about 12 years ago, I was working with a real estate valuation company. We got a lot wrong but, thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of competition and our mistakes didn’t cost us too much. Today, you’re unlikely to be in that enviable position.
What we didn’t know is that optimising our own AdWords account for quality score and relevance should be the priority. Instead, we crammed as many “related” keywords as we could into ad groups that became bloated and less effective.
Search Engine Watch has a mantra that says “(Almost) every keyword should appear in the ad text.” That gets harder with more and more keywords in an ad group.
What follows is a highlight of often overlooked AdWords practices that you can start working on today. I don't expect you to take each of these recommendations and knock them out in one afternoon. It's not like that.
What you can expect is a set of small steps you can take over the next few days that will show you results quickly. Depending on the size of your campaigns and how many keywords you have, doing any of these things for your entire account may take a long time.
The key is to think about making the most of these tips and focus your energy on the keywords, ad groups and web pages that will give you the most return with improvement.
Cool? Let’s get into the details and learn how to fix your AdWords campaigns!
1: You’re not addressing the desired outcome in your ad
Writing headlines gets easier with practice, but it’s important to write the most relevant headlines possible. When someone searches for a last minute hotel room, your headline asking “Need a Last Minute Hotel Room?” isn’t solving their problem. You’re simply restating it for them.
You want to be the one ad that solves the problem right away.
Instead of asking an obvious question, go for the outcome your searcher is looking for. “Last Minute Rooms Available” tells them that you have what they’re looking for and will increase your click-through rate.
Standing out in the Google ad space is hard and you need to tell people that you have what they’re looking for and it’s important that you tell them the first chance you get.
Many ads are written to entice people to “learn more,” when the person searching just wants to know if you can help her. Solve her problem immediately and she’ll give you the click.
2: You’re not using Dynamic Text Replacement on your landing pages
This isn’t a direct AdWords tip, but it will still help to increase your quality scores and ad keyword relevancy (good things).
To demonstrate how dynamic text replacement (DTR) works, let’s consider that you’re offering a Melbourne Cup brunch.
You’ve created several ads to attract guests to your brunch. With dynamic text replacement you only have to create one landing page for all of these new ads. The landing page is coded so it recognises which term the site visitor searched for and includes that text in the appropriate places.
Each visitor to the landing page will see their particular search term and feel reassured that they will get the information or solution they are looking for.
Don’t feel like you have to redo your entire website with DTR. Start with one landing page for one campaign. Try it out and see how it performs. If you have success then plan for a bigger roll-out.
3: You’re Not Using Single Keyword Ad Groups
You can probably relate to my story of cramming keywords into ad groups because it felt like the right thing to do. And why not? Google recommends starting with 10-20 keywords in a single ad group based on what your ideal guest would search for (more on this later).
Having this many keywords in an ad group makes it harder to match search terms and get your targeted keywords highlighted in your ad copy.
In fact, having 10-20 keywords in an ad group ensures that you’ll rarely (if ever) get a message match between your ad and a keyword.
Click here for the Google AdWords Glossary
Let’s use an example to demonstrate why. An ad group for the search term Gold Coast Holiday Rentals could include the following:
- Holiday rentals Gold Coast
Holiday accommodation Gold Coast
Holiday rentals Gold Coast
Rentals Gold Coast
Gold Coast rentals
Gold Coast accommodation
Cheap holiday rentals Gold Coast
Luxury holiday rentals Gold Coast
Apartment rentals Gold Coast
Cheap accommodation Gold Coast
- It’s going to be hard to write a single ad that will match even just a part of several keywords. With a Single Keyword Ad Group (SKAG) you can target each of these terms and create an ad for each one.
4: What is a Single Keyword Ad Group?
A SKAG is an ad group with only one keyword. SKAGs let you match your keyword to your ad message every time, meaning Google will highlight your matching ad text and give you increased click-throughs.
Matching keyword to message increases relevancy and quality score. This gets you more clicks and will lower your Cost Per Click (CPC). It literally pays to be specific with your ad groups.
Setting up SKAGs for your entire keyword list may feel like a lot of work. That’s because it can be if you have a lot of keywords to manage.
You don’t have to turn all of your keywords into SKAGs. Start by analysing your top performing keywords. Take the top 5-10 keywords and create a SKAG for each. You’ll start to see higher click-through rates quickly.
5: Your ad groups are competing with each other
You’re not using ad group level negative keywords to let Google know which ads to run for long-tail keywords. Your shorter-tail keywords may be stealing traffic from your highly targeted SKAG keywords.
An example of this conflict:
Long tail keyword (and SKAG): luxury holiday rentals Gold Coast
Shorter tail keyword: holiday rentals Gold Coast
Google may select and show your short tail keyword “holiday rentals Gold Coast” ad instead of your more highly targeted “luxury holiday rentals Gold Coast” ad. This means your ad isn’t going to perform as well as it should.
You need to add negative keywords at the ad group level to keep your ads running when you want. The way to identify which negative keywords to use is to find differences between keyword and search term.
For example, you want to make sure you get an exact match for the term “luxury holiday rentals Gold Coast,” but your keyword “holiday rentals Gold Coast” may steal the ad space. This is not ideal.
Filter Out Competing Keywords Using Negatives
You want the best ad to be shown. To prevent the wrong ad from showing, add a negative keyword (“luxury”) to the ad group containing “holiday rentals Gold Coast”.
A lot of people use negative keywords at the campaign level, so be sure to make the updates at the ad group level to make this work.
Remember that as you do this your click-through rates will increase because you’re hitting the exact match. Google will also reward you with higher quality scores and ad positions. Small changes. Big wins!
BONUS TRICK: You’re not using your guest persona to find keywords.
A great place to find keywords is to get to know your best guests. Creating a guest persona (aka buyer persona) will allow you to get into her head and really understand what she’s looking for and what makes her choose you over anyone else.
Creating guest personas isn’t a five minute job. It’s a very worthwhile one that can help your business well beyond your AdWords campaigns and can change your hotel marketing as a whole.
That’s it for today. Some really powerful steps you can take to improve your AdWords performance and get more return on that investment. I’d love to know if you have success with these.
Do you feel like you have some good things to work with here? How do you think these fixes will improve your AdWords performance? Let us know in the comments!