New Hotel SERP Feature Alert: Google Property Promotion Ads Carousel is Live


At the end of 2022, Google announced that a new Property Promotion Ads carousel was coming to it’s mobile search results. Previously out in beta, the new Google Property Promotion Ads carousel is now live in the mobile and desktop search results. Are you seeing this in your hotel google searches yet? You can see the new feature in the below screenshot.

What are Property Promotion Ads?

Property Promoted Ads are a campaign type available within the Google Hotel Ads inventory space. It is a separate campaign type from standard Google Hotel Ads and does require a separate campaign type in order to run. These ads appear at the top of destination searches in the Google Travel Planner, Google Maps, and now directly at the top of the search results for hotel searches. 

Property Promotion Ads allow you to get in front of consumers when their shopping for hotels in a destination and tend to be higher up the funnel in their research process compared to standard Google Hotel Ads, which appear within a hotel’s knowledge panel or travel planner listing. Property Promotion Ads also tend to have higher CPCs since the inventory is in a premium position, which can also result in lower ROAS compared to standard Google Hotel Ads placements.

Where Did the Standard Text Based Paid Search Ads Go?

One important observation from the screenshot above is that there are no standard text ads shown above the hotel map pack. We’re only seeing the Property Promotion Ads carousel in this search for “Calistoga Hotels”. We did get standard text ads to trigger with other searches, including “San Diego Resorts”. The takeover of the top position on the Google SERP will have a huge impact on paid search advertising visibility and push hotels to shift their focus and media dollars to Google Hotel Ads and Property Promotion Ads, in particular, in order to maintain visibility for destination searches.

Google Now Showing Updated Search Filters for Hotel Searches

A secondary but essential update found with this new SERP for hotel searches is the new set of filters shown under the search bar. The search shown below for “Calistoga hotels” includes filter options such as “luxury”, “with hot springs”, “with spa”, “cheap”, and “with pools”.

It looks like Google is pulling in these new features directly from attributes available within Google Business Profile and proving once again how important Local SEO, especially your hotel’s Google Business Profile, is to visibility in the search engine results and to your Google Hotel Ads performance.

How can my hotel get started with Google Property Promotion Ads?

In order to run Google Property Promotion Ads, you first need to be live with Google Hotel Ads via a hotel metasearch advertising provider. It requires connectivity to your booking engine rates and inventory, along with campaign management and ongoing optimization.

Please reach out to our team of Google Hotel Ads experts at GCommerce for more information.

Digital Marketing 101 Series: What is SEO & Paid Search?


SEO and paid search can be complex and difficult to understand. In this article, we will cover the differences and similarities between the two.

Let's first get an understanding of what each of these terms means.

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is used to increase a website's page ranking (visibility) and conversion value within the organic listings in the search engine results page. Having your website rank high within the search engine results page doesn't come easy. However, as there are a wide variety of competitor websites that are also manipulating components that help to improve page rank. Moz explained how this is done in their "Mozlow's Hierarchy of SEO Needs." In it, they explain that:

1. Crawl accessibility is the most important because if your website can't be indexed, then it can't be seen by Google or searchers.

2. You must have relevant, accurate & high-quality content on your website.

3. You should optimize your content with high search volume keywords that are accurate to what your website is about.

4. The website should offer a great user experience, from page load speed to ease of use.

5. Your website should include content that people will share or use in their own posts, websites, etc. This helps to produce links to your website.

6. You should optimize your page titles, meta descriptions, h-tags & more with specific keywords that have a decent amount of search volume that are relevant to what is on the web page.

7. Last are structured snippets. These allow you to stand out in the search engine results page.

What is Paid Search Marketing?

Paid search marketing ads use keywords to target a specific search intent but are paid for by the companies that are posting the ads. These ads are composed of carefully crafted headlines, 90 character descriptions & ad extensions.

What are the differences between SEO & Paid Search?

Now let's discuss the differences between the two areas of digital marketing.

Where Do Organic Listings and Paid Search Ads Appear on the SERP?

The first major difference is where and how each of the listings shows up on the search engine results page. Organic listings appear below the ad section on the search engine results page. Where they show up after the ads are based on a variety of ranking signals that search engines use within their algorithms. An ideal organic listing looks like this:

Paid search ads will normally appear in the top 3-4 positions on the page, if there is sufficient competition to warrant that many positions, and the bottom 2-3 positions. The ads rank (position on the page) and number of times that it is shown are determined by Google through something called quality score, which you can learn more about here, and how much each advertiser is willing to bid on the keywords. An ideal ad looks like this:

How Long Does it Take To See Performance From SEO and Paid Search?

Another major difference is the amount of time it takes to see an impact on website performance.

It can take 4-6 months or more after implementing SEO changes to see an impact on performance, but even this can't be guaranteed. While no one knows exactly how Google's algorithm works, we know that Google has to discover your new page content and analyze numerous other ranking signals to understand your page's authority on the topic versus all over pages on the web. This process takes time, and even after all of that, it can still be hard to see results since there are so many outside factors to take into account, such as competition, property changes, consumer reviews, and more.

On the other hand, paid search ads can show results the moment that you create them, just as long as there is a budget in your account. This is because ads are instant. They can instantly appear at the top of the search engine results page, are instantly accessible, and accurately track impressions, clicks, etc., back to the keyword that triggered the ad.

What are the similarities between SEO & Paid Search?

On-Page SEO & Paid Search Ads Share Messaging Components

SEO elements and paid search ads share similarities as well as differences when it comes to the actual content. A similarity between the two is that they should highlight key competitive advantages that your property has over its competition. This could include anything from an award-winning spa experience to the hotel's location. Maintaining a consistent, unified message across all channels is an important marketing strategy.

SEO & Paid Search Can Share Keyword Focus

Each of these marketing methods uses the same keywords, which are aimed at directing searchers to your website. Keywords used in Google Ads are implemented through headlines and descriptions that give you results almost instantly. Keywords used in SEO are implemented through page titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, etc., and as far as we know can take up to 6 months to show an impact on performance. This is where keywords from Google Ads can be helpful to your SEO efforts. You can test keywords in your ads, see how they perform and then use the best-performing keywords in your SEO. By doing this, you will also begin to match your keyword focuses on your page to that of your ads which improve your landing page experience and ad relevance. This, in turn, improves your quality score and helps you achieve a lower CPC.


Paid Search and SEO are two search engine marketing methods used to produce visibility for a given company's website by catching its audience's attention. Still, they also show up in different locations on the page and are monitored differently in terms of performance. Using these marketing methods hand in hand is a powerful tool, though, and should be used in order to improve a website's performance.

Are SEO-Friendly Image Descriptions Worth Your Time?


As search marketers, we’re always trying to push the limits of optimization and squeeze our clients’ websites for every ounce of performance we can. GCommerce Solutions recently wrote SEO-friendly image descriptions for a client’s gallery pages, and we used the opportunity to learn more about on-page SEO by testing the descriptions’ effect on site performance.

The SEO Image Optimization Test

All performance data for this SEO image optimization test was collected from a single website domain, across three separate gallery pages on the site. Each image on these pages had an existing description, but we updated them with SEO keywords present in the corresponding page’s title and meta description. No other variables were changed.

This test lasted around a month, starting the day after optimized SEO image descriptions were implemented on each page. Impact on performance was measured period-over-period, using data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

SEO Image Optimization Test Results By Page

Percent change, period-over-period.

Page 1 performed the best, with increases across the board. 

Page 2 performed poorly, with a decrease in all metrics.

Page 3 was evenly split, with flat pageviews, increased entrances, and decreased SERP impressions.

Overall SEO Image Optimization Test Results

The test didn’t have a strong impact on total pageviews, but entrances did increase. However, total SERP impressions decreased during this test. 


The results of this test are fairly inconclusive. We’ll continue to experiment with SEO image descriptions, but we’ll need a larger data set over a longer period before we can draw a conclusion on their impact.

Though I wouldn’t say SEO-friendly image descriptions are a priority, they’re still worth a shot. There’s a lot of potential with the right page and smart optimization. If you’ve got a fairly optimized website but want to try something new, I definitely recommend testing SEO image descriptions.
To learn more about SEO or see what we’re currently testing, check out the rest of our digital marketing blog or contact us below.

Why You Should Be Using Google Business Posts


Introduced only in 2017, Google Business posts are fairly new to the search marketing scene. But don’t let that fool you. Google Business posts can be an incredibly valuable tool for local SEO, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.

Many businesses ignore or give up on Google Business posts due to their lackluster performance when it comes to direct views and click throughs. However, there’s a hidden benefit to sticking with it. While Posts may not be overwhelmingly successful on their own, posting somewhat regularly can improve your rank in Google’s algorithm, causing your Google Business Profile to be shown more often and generating awareness for your business. 

What Are Google Business Posts?

Google Business Posts can cover a variety of topics, with post types including “Events,” “Offers,” the open-ended “What’s New,” and more. These posts appear as part of your Google Business Profile listing, showing in both Maps and the standard Google results page.

Here’s an example of a “What’s New” and “Events” post on the general results page. 

Every post type is a little different, but each one offers a number of optional call-to-action buttons, such as “Learn more” and “Order online,” as well as the option to add an eye-catching image. 

All post types will disappear from your Google Business Profile eventually, which is why it’s so important to post regularly.

Putting Google Business Posts To The Test

Below, we’ve compiled data to help determine whether Google Business posts are worth the time and effort. 

This test was conducted across 5 boutique hotels, comparing user metrics between the 3 months before and after we started using Google Business Posts. While exact post frequency varied, each property posted at least once per month during this test, using a variety of “What’s New” and “Event” posts. 

“New Users” was pulled from Google Analytics, and only includes traffic from the Source/Medium combination of google / organic. Google Map Views was provided by Yext, a platform for managing Local SEO listings. 

While “Google Map Views” did not always increase (likely due to external factors such as seasonality and search volume), the change in performance for this metric was significantly better across all 5 properties than the change for “New Users.” These differences are not insignificant either, providing fairly convincing evidence that regular Google Business posts will increase your standings in the Google algorithm and lead to more awareness. 

Key Takeaways About Google Business Posts

If you aren’t using Google Business posts, you should start now. While they may not bring in a ton of traffic on their own, they’re an incredibly effective, and fairly easy, way to increase your business’ visibility on Google. 

GCommerce Solutions has already incorporated Google Business posts into our arsenal of standard Local SEO tactics, and we encourage you to do the same. If you’re interested in learning more about Google Business posts or other Local SEO tips, check out the rest of our digital marketing blog or contact us below.

An Overview of Google’s Helpful Content Update


Google's big push with it’s latest algorithm update, named the helpful content update, is taking aim at pages that are solely produced for search engines and not users.  A lot of this targets pages with content auto-generated by AI writing apps or not providing original content/value on whatever the page topic is about. GCommerce’s SEO and content recommendation focus has always been with an emphasis on creation for people but making sure to use SEO best practices as outlined by Google. I think this article by Google really outlines how any website should think about Google’s helpful content update in an easy-to-understand format. 

Our suggestions remain the same as they have been. That pages should have rich, original content, and then the content provided should also integrate SEO optimization best practices based on Google's guidelines to position the page in the best way to achieve success in the SERPs (and avoid crazy performance issues when algorithm changes occur). We never attempt "black hat" tactics or tactics geared solely at search engines without first considering the value to someone coming to the site looking for the type of product or search topic we are optimizing that page for. If you have used auto-generated/AI content or simply created pages with low-value content for the sake of search engine ranking and it doesn't provide value to someone researching that topic, then we would recommend updating it or removing it from your site.

Want to understand if your site is impacted by Google’s helpful content update as it rolls out over the next couple of weeks? Since it is an update that adds the signal as one of the many signals Google uses in the algorithm. The best place to monitor overall performance continues to be within Google Search Console performance reports. You can also add another layer of reporting by monitoring your positions through a platform such as SEMRush and keeping an eye on your Analytics organic traffic. 

This update by Google was maining focused on eCommerce product sites and entertainment-related sites as you can tell by some of the language used in it’s Google update/release article, but I think it's a great reminder for all businesses across any industry that it's important to optimize their site experience and content for users while also making sure to follow SEO best practices for optimization. We’ve always viewed the two (optimizing for people and great SEO best practices) to have a ton of overlap if done correctly. 

Have questions or think your site may have been impacted? Please reach out to our search experts with any questions.

Google Hotel Ads, The OTA Disrupter Your Hotel Needs Now


Back in July, we shed light on how direct bookings can be more profitable than OTA bookings for hotels, even when you factor in media costs. The development and execution of a superior direct booking strategy for our hotel clients has always been GCommerce’s mission. Why? Because we were born out of a hotel management company which means we’ve always tried to focus on what’s best for the hotel. It’s in our DNA.

Now, what if I told you that there was a risk free direct booking channel that can drive an average of 8% of total web bookings at an average 5% conversion rate? One that only incurs a cost when it produces a stay that actually occurs, and is less than a commission payment to an OTA. Would you be interested? Is there anything that would hold you back from giving it a try?

Through the pandemic, Metasearch has evolved to not only be a top producing revenue channel to drive direct bookings, it has shape-shifted to provide hotels with a risk free billing option during a period of uncertainty in the travel industry that saw record cancellation rates. It is a powerful addition to the arsenal in the fight against hotel booking contributions coming from OTAs. Why is that important?

  1. Because direct bookings are more profitable to the hotel
  2. It helps hotels prepare for a cookieless world future by owning the guest data through direct bookings for remarketing purposes, which helps long term profitability.

While some hotels have been slower to adopt this channel into their direct booking strategy, there really is no better time to try it. The OTA’s have been owning this ad space since its inception because they know it’s power and profitability. OTAs like Expedia have even been fighting Google with government lobbyists because they feared the impact this evolution of Google’s travel vertical would have on their business model. Google has changed their travel planner and hotel search over the years with the specific purpose of funneling users to the Google travel planner and hotel search tools.

They have pushed the visibility of Google Hotel Ads into the knowledge panel, into the SERP and as the ultimate call to action in Google hotel search. 

And they have handed hotels the keys to driving more direct bookings and relying less on the OTAs. How? Because Google has become the OTA. Consumers no longer have to navigate to Expedia or to comparison shop. They can do it directly within Google.

Now ask yourself again. What is stopping me from distributing my hotel’s inventory and rates to Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels? Here’s why your hotel should be advertising with direct inventory and rates on Google Hotel Ads and metasearch:

  1. You can advertise risk free with a pay-per-stay contract type, paying only when a stay is consumed
  2. Google has invested time and resources to increase visibility to this channel across its entire ecosystem. More visibility = more awareness, traffic and bookings
  3. The OTAs are already there, eating up your hotel’s bookings and sending you the robust commission bill
  4. Google Hotel Ads is owning the hotel comparison shopping game and giving hotels the chance to drive the bookings directly through their own website
  5. It can increase your hotel’s profitability by helping to drive more direct bookings - an average of 8% of total web bookings and an average conversion rate of 5%
  6. More direct bookings helps you own the guest data and better prepare your business for a world without 3rd party cookie tracking

Can you still think of a good reason not to advertise your hotel’s direct rates and inventory feed to Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels? Probably not. Now that you’re ready to focus on this channel, how can you make sure it’s successful?

  1. Make sure you map the best available rate found on your booking engine landing page to Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels including TripAdvisor, Bing Hotel Ads, Trivago and Kayak. Not only is the price accuracy of your feed to what’s on your landing page important for ranking, it ensures you are sending the lowest rate possible to help with parity.
  2. Ensure your rates are the lowest shown on metasearch channels (rate parity) - OTAs are constantly trying to undercut to ensure they are the lowest displayed. Why? Because the lowest rate wins the booking. Make sure you use a rate parity monitoring tool to assist you with your revenue management. We recommend The Hotel Network’s metasearch disparity tool for the most accurate insights.
  3. Test the inclusion of different marketing call-outs within Google Hotel Ads such as any direct booking incentives, competitive advantages and flexible cancellation policies
  4. Monitor and adjust bids towards the best performing segments including device type, days to arrival, check-in date and more. Google has also just announced the addition of bid adjustments by check-in date to help with exposure towards specific time periods. 
  5. Focus on Google Hotel Ads but also look at testing different metasearch channels. While Google Hotel Ads has the lion’s share of metasearch advertising’s click and booking volume, try testing other channels like TripAdvisor, Bing Hotel Ads, Kayak and Trivago for additional exposure and booking opportunities.

Now, how can you get started running metasearch ads, including Google Hotel Ads, for your hotel? First, you’ll need to connect your rates and inventory feed through a connectivity partner. GCommerce offers a full service hotel metasearch advertising solution that can facilitate this for you and handle all management of metasearch campaigns. Have more questions or are looking for additional information? Please reach out to one of the hotel marketing experts at GCommerce for more information.