In any industry, creating a split between organic and paid search is a challenge for marketers – but especially in the hotel and travel industry, where OTAs dominate and it can be hard to cut through the noise whichever method you choose.
When comparing the benefits of organic marketing and paid advertising, the statistics can be confusing. Organic results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than the paid search results that appear at the top of the page. But conversely, paid search results are 1.5 times more likely to convert than organic click throughs. So users now understand the difference between a paid ad and an organic search engine result, but when they do click on an ad, they’re more likely to convert because of the highly optimised content they find when they click through.
The split between organic and paid advertising will also be different for every property – no two hotels have the same SEO and SEM needs. To figure out what the split between paid and organic efforts should be in your own hotel digital marketing, you need to consider your own set of circumstances. Here are some examples.
• You’re a brand-new hotel with no name or brand recognition. Your sparkling new website is up and running, but good organic SEO can take months to bed in, and as a new business, you don’t have that kind of time. You need the instant results that paid advertising can provide, and your budget should be skewed in that direction until your organic marketing efforts pick up.
• You’re an established hotel with pretty consistent traffic, both paid and organic. You have it easy – you’ve been using Google Adwords for long enough that it’s started to recommend how much you need to spend to see results. The rest of your search engine budget should be invested into your organic search efforts.
• You’re a well-known hotel with brand recognition – a franchise or chain, for example. The brand has already reached the first page of organic search results, so you can leverage your budget to focus on longer-tail keywords and associated brand terms – especially important if you have some stiff competition locally, as you can bet they’ll be bidding on these terms too!
So as you can see, the answer is different for each and every property. Here are some things you should also be aware of when finding the right balance between paid search and organic marketing:
• Mobile is outperforming desktop for the first time in history, and the trend is in mobile’s favour. This means you need to factor in the cost of mobile-specific ads, as well as your regular desktop offering.
• Meta search marketing is now playing an important role in organic rankings. This means Google takes into account factors like hotel location, average reviews, real-time room availability and pricing when ranking hotels. It’s vital to factor this in when you work out your SEO and PPC budgets.
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