What is Google pay per click?

As a small hotel – where every dollar counts and every penny needs to be well spent – you may not have a huge marketing budget for search engine marketing (SEM).

In fact, pay-per-click (PPC) might scare you all together. How and where is the return on investment? How do you get started?

Google pay per click (PPC) ads are the results marked ‘Ad’ or ‘Sponsored’ that appear at the top of the Google results page during a search.

Google pay per click is an important marketing tool that shouldn’t feel overwhelming to an independent hotelier. To help you out with your own PPC efforts, here is a simple guide from our very own SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing) expert at Little Hotelier, who shares some tips on how you can optimise your Google AdWords pay-per-click advertising and increase your return on investment.

Why is Google pay per click important for hotels?

Why should an independent hotelier look at Google pay per click campaigns as part of their marketing efforts? There are a few compelling reasons.

Access to more customers

A large portion of potential guests will begin their accommodation search by typing ‘hotel [destination]’ into Google. By capitalising on PPC advertising, you can build awareness of your hotel by ensuring it’s one of the first results they see.

Instantly reach the top of Google 

Google Ads hotel campaigns are also some of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to increase website traffic and conversions. While working your way up the organic rankings can take months or years (with no guarantee of getting to the top), hotel pay per click marketing puts you there instantly.

Get in front of guests who are ready to book

Hotel pay per click marketing targets the most relevant customers: those who are ready to book a hotel in your location right now. And by segmenting your hotel PPC campaign further you can drill down on the exact audience you want to target.

Only pay for results

The beauty of Google pay per click marketing is that you are only ever charged when someone actually clicks on your ad. This makes it very different to the likes of social media and traditional advertising, which charge you for views, impressions, or even simply the real estate that your ad takes up.

How does Google PPC for hotels work?

The name ‘pay per click’ comes from the fact that you only pay for your ad if someone actually clicks on it. You bid on the price you’re willing to pay, and if your bid is accepted you’ll be displayed for relevant search terms.

The winning bid isn’t necessarily the highest bid because Google only gets paid if a user clicks on your ad. As such the search engine factors in the likelihood of a bidder attracting clicks when deciding the winning bidder.

There is quite a bit to know about hotel PPC management and running a pay per click campaign, which is why many small and independent accommodation providers choose to partner with an expert in Google Adwords for hotels.

That said, Google has made PPC marketing as accessible as possible, so hoteliers might consider setting up their own campaigns to save a bit of cash.

How to create Google pay per click hotel campaigns

Hotel campaigns in Google Ads can be quite simple to set up – perhaps surprisingly so. Sure, they can take some time to master, and the best results tend to come from when you work with a marketing professional, but there’s nothing to stop an independent hotelier from trying it out themselves.

Don’t have any experience in Google Adwords for hotels? Not a problem! Simply follow these seven steps to set up your very first campaign.

1. List your keywords

Think about your typical guest as a specific person. What do they do? Where do they live? How do they go about finding and booking their travel? This will give you a significant list to work from and will help you with a more targeted approach.

For example, you might be targeting French couples looking to travel to London for a romantic escape. In this instance, your keywords could be ‘romantic break London’ (most people these days search by phrases rather than individual words) and, in Google, you could then target the location specifically to France.

2. Set your cost per conversion (booking)

Put your best foot forward, but be practical. You should try to stay within a specific cost-per-conversion (i.e. cost per booking) and raise or lower your bids appropriately. For example, if you bid $1 on the keywords ‘romantic break London’ and then 1 in every 10 guests visits your site and books your small hotel as a result, your cost-per-conversion will be $10. By calculating this figure, you can then decide your approach.

So, using the above example, if you are only prepared to spend $10 per booking, you should continue to keep the bid as it is. If you are prepared to spend more, raise your bid to ensure you have the highest chance of getting booked.

3. Establish your bidding strategy

Having a strategic approach when to either raise or lower bids for ads is essential to successful hotel PPC marketing.

If you are prepared to spend more per booking, then you should consider raising your bid as you will get more impressions (eyes) on Google and therefore have a higher chance of being clicked on and getting booked.

If you are not converting off certain keywords or if they have a low quality score of less than 5, you should consider either removing or lowering the bid. This will mean fewer impressions on Google, but also a lower cost-per-conversion.

4. Adjust your keywords

Make sure you have a good balance of keywords that are exact phrase matches and broad phrase matches; as broad match terms are the least likely to convert to bookings however have higher search volume. For example, if you’re bidding on “bed and breakfast London” as a broader match term, your advert still has the potential to target guests searching “bed and breakfast Florida”. Of course, if your hotel is not in Florida, then this isn’t something you would want to bid on. By bidding on a blend of specific and broad matches, you increase your chance of finding guests where they are looking.

5. Write the most appealing ad

Increase your chance of getting booked by pay-per-click by writing an appealing advert to your audience. As mentioned, if your target guest is a French romantic, perhaps you could look into getting your text translated into French. Your advert could focus on how your Romantic guest house comes with a free romantic hamper on arrival, for example.

6. Get a great Google quality score

Google scores each of their customers, like you, with a quality score, which will position you higher on the results page as the score increases. A higher quality score means a higher position.

According to Google, your score is impacted by the following factors:

  • Your historical performance with Google PPC
  • Click-through rates
  • How you perform geographically
  • The relevance of your keywords to the searcher
  • Where your advert clicks through to (in most cases, this will be your website or pages within your website)
  • “Other” (a Google secret no one really knows).

Try to increase this score by focussing on being as relevant and as transparent to your guests as possible. You can do this by directing your pay-per-click adverts to the appropriate page, not just to your homepage. Adding your local Google+ details on your website will also help.

Additionally, ensure your website includes your contact details and a simple booking engine so your guests are able to convert on every page. Little Hotelier comes with a leading booking engine that customises to your website and can be added to any page on your website.

If you are currently unable to take real-time bookings on your website, get a free trial of Little Hotelier’s all-in-one accommodation management and booking software. It will manage your availability and rates across multiple booking channels, so you can generate greater revenue for your property while making sure that you are never overbooked.

7. Keep monitoring

If you take just one point away from reading this guide, this should be it: Keep monitoring your keywords and how they perform over time. The great thing about online marketing is that you can constantly evolve and better your efforts whilst increasing your return on investment. Set your daily budget with Google as a safety net to ensure you are never over spending and continue to analyse your cost-per-conversion from pay-per-click.

Turn lookers to bookers with Google Pay Per Click and Little Hotelier

Google PPC for hotels is only valuable if the clicks that you earn result in bookings for your rooms. The most eye-catching and clickable hotel ad on earth will be ineffective if it isn’t backed up by a quality hotel website and a smooth booking experience. Which is where Little Hotelier comes in.

Little Hotelier is your complete hotel property management system. It allows an independent hotelier to control every aspect of their operations – front desk, channel management, payment processing, website construction, direct bookings and more, through a single, simple portal. It ensures that the hard work expended on PPC for hotels converts into results – some users have seen up to 46% more bookings, and 43% more revenue!

  • Let your guests book direct: Leave sky-high OTA commissions in the dust to enjoy more profit and more control. Little Hotelier’s direct booking engine offers a simple way for your guests to book directly with you.
  • Build a high-end hotel website: The Little Hotelier website builder is designed for independent hoteliers from the ground up. Packed with hotel functionality, it allows you to drag and drop elements into place on stunning, hotel-specific templates.
  • Know what your competitors are doing: Little Hotelier’s Insight feature grants you a complete, real-time view of competitor rates. Armed with an understanding of what your competitors are up to, you can create PPC campaigns that play to your strengths.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).