Both organic and paid search are always evolving and there have been a number of substantial changes in the SERPS (search engine results pages) over the past year which impact particularly on hotel brands:
1. Right-hand side text ads
In February of this year Google announced that paid search results on desktop would no longer appear on the right-hand side. Instead, they increased the number of paid ads at the top of the page from 3 to 4, pushing the organic results further down the page.
2. Hotel Price Ads
Hotel Price Ads (HPAs) are ads that provide real-time room prices to the user. They appear alongside a hotel’s Google Business listing on the right-hand side e.g.
At the moment this space is dominated by the OTA’s (Online Travel Agents) so it’s important to set up direct booking ads here (if you qualify) by working with an integration partner. The benefit being that conversion rates are reputedly stronger than standard paid ads.
Mobile search has overtaken desktop and is increasing all the time. Given that mobile searches are more likely to be done on the move, it’s important to target mobile search for local restaurant and ‘hotels near me’ searches in organic listings. In Paid Ads, there are various features for mobile search such as ‘call extensions’ and mobile-optimised ‘sitelink extensions’ to improve visibility and click-through-rates.
4. Online Travel Agents
The increased presence of Online Travel Agents on paid search listings, organic listings and Hotel Price Ads has left independent hotels requiring a slightly different approach to search marketing. Ideally a strategy that targets an organic presence in the local Maps results appearing below the paid ads, the general organic results, and also in the paid ads above the fold.
All my clients use the OTA’s to boost occupancy rates, however with commissions of up to 20%, their objective is to boost direct bookings where possible and this strategy, implemented successfully, will boost profitability and reduce the reliance on those sites.
To summarise, there have been multiple changes to the competitive landscape within search results over the last year that means hotels need to work smarter and use all the features within Google – Maps, Paid Ads, Hotel Ads – to boost direct bookings.