[E-Book] 2022 Digital Marketing World Updates: Changes, What's To Come & Trends

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The digital world is always changing and evolving and, as digital marketers, we get to be the trail blazers on how to use new channels, technologies and techniques.

In our latest eBook, we've compiled the top digital changes of 2022 so you too can leverage the latest and greatest tools in our space.

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Why You Should Be Using Google Business Posts

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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

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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.

3 Underutilized Google Ads Optimization Tips For Hotels

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The number one rule of search marketing is to never stop testing. You never know where you’ll find the next golden goose, so it’s important to try new things and reach outside of your comfort zone. GCommerce Solutions knows this, and we’re not afraid to experiment with lesser-known optimization methods to make sure we’re achieving the best possible results. 

Below, we’ve compiled test data for 3 often underutilized Google Ads optimization techniques. These tests were conducted over 2-3 months each, using data from 9 boutique hotels spread across the United States. 

Implement A Paid Search Ad Schedule

Consumers don’t interact with your business the same way all the time, so it’s a good idea to tailor your hotel’s paid search ads to your audience’s schedule. 

While the data below measures account-level changes, paid search ad schedules work best when tailored to an individual campaign’s performance. This is how paid search ad schedules were implemented for these 3 hotels: 

Branded Terms:

+10% bid adjustment on days/times with high conversions

-50% bid adjustment on days/times with low clicks and low conversions

0% bid adjustment on all other times, so ads always have the potential to serve

Non-Branded Terms:

+10% bid adjustment on days/times with high clicks/impressions

-50% bid adjustment on days/times with high average CPCs but low clicks and low impressions

0% bid adjustment on all other times, so ads always have the potential to serve

Percent Change By Paid Search KPI:

Account-Level, Period Over Period

Overall Paid Search Ad Schedule Results:

All Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) saw an average increase in performance.

Conclusion:

Regardless of your hotel’s marketing goals, an ad schedule can be a helpful addition to your Google Ads campaigns. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to create and monitor an ad schedule based on individual campaign performance, this is a great way to give your KPIs a boost.

Keyword Optimize Your Paid Search Ad Paths

Ad paths are an often overlooked part of paid search marketing, but it’s worth taking the extra step to optimize them and make your ads more relevant. 

Paid search ad paths show up as part of the display URL of an ad. In this example, “hotel” is display path 1 and “digital-ads” is display path 2.

This test was performed using single keyword ad groups. Every single ad in the account received optimized ad paths based on the ad group’s associated keyword.

Percent Change By Paid Search KPI:

Account-Level, Period Over Period

Overall Keyword Optimized Paid Search Ad Paths Results:

All KPIs saw an average increase or no significant change in performance.

Conclusion:

This is another helpful optimization tip for various paid search account goals, and requires far less maintenance than an ad schedule. Editing ad paths can be tedious, but it’s worth using every single inch of space you’re given to optimize performance. Just be sure to keep up with paths, adjusting as needed when creating new ads or copying existing assets.

Don’t Neglect Negative Keyword Research

Positive keywords can help you reach new people, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be new customers. Negative keyword research is an effective safeguard to ensure you’re not putting paid search budget towards the wrong audience. 

This test included generalized keywords like “X Rated” and “Apartment,” as well as hotel-specific keywords such as competitor names and inaccurate locations. Every negative keyword was added with an “Exact” match type.

Percent Change By Paid Search KPI:

Account-Level, Period Over Period

Overall Negative Keyword Research Results:

Raw actions and revenue saw an average decrease in performance, but interaction rate and comparative revenue saw an average increase.

Conclusion:

Depending on your goals, well-thought-out negative keyword research can be incredibly effective for paid search campaigns. By design, negative keywords decrease the visibility of your ads, so they can lead to less overall traffic. However, this traffic is often very qualified, and will interact with your business at a higher rate to maximize your account budget. 

Key Takeaways

There are so many available paid search optimization tools, and it’s a shame to see them go to waste. If you’re willing to put in the work, the above Google Ads optimization tips are likely to work in your favor, despite their somewhat uncommon utilization. Results are never guaranteed, but tailoring these changes to specific campaign performance is a great opportunity to push your KPIs in the right direction.

If you’re interested in learning more about paid search for hotels, check out the rest of our digital marketing blog or contact us below.

Why Your Hotel Needs Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

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The continued climb in cost per acquisition means your hotel’s digital marketing budget needs to be working harder and more efficiently than ever before. Your digital marketing agency should be obsessed with finding the most cost effective methods to optimize their efforts (and your budget) across all media channels. One of the more exciting and fruitful targeting options to be released by Google this decade comes in the form of retargeting for search campaigns. Officially called remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA for short), creating a remarketing audience list for your hotel’s paid search campaigns is now essential for optimization because it allows you to reengage with previous visitors to your website, which has proven to improve conversion rates and overall return on ad spend for your budget.

First, let’s start with the basics:

How to Set up Custom Audiences for Your Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

We recommend building audience lists in Google Analytics instead of Google Adwords since it gives you a far greater selection of criteria to choose from when building your audience segments. Once you are logged in, just follow the steps below:

  • Go to the Admin tab and navigate to the property for whom you want to create the audience
  • Click Audience Definitions > Audiences > + New Audience
  • Define Your Audience
    • You can choose from a number of different audience definitions:
      • Smart List
      • All Users
      • New Users
      • Returning Users
      • Users Who have visited a specific section of my site/app
      • Users who completed a transaction
SEM remarketing list

You can create unique audience lists based on user behavior on your site and then use those lists for future remarketing campaigns. Before you get started, there are a few things you should know about remarketing audience lists:

    • Audience List Definition: a collection of people who have visited your site
    • Audience lists are used for remarketing
    • The membership of an audience list has a life span of up to 540 days
    • The List needs to have at least 1000 people to target in paid search campaigns

What Audience Segments Can You Create?

The type of audience list you should set up will depend on your client’s objectives.  The most common audience list is “all users” and if you’re new to retargeting or if you have low website visitors, this is where you should start. This is comprised of any visitor to your website.  The real magic and excitement in RLSA audiences comes when you can refine your audience down to more specific lists. Ideas include:

    • All website visitors that have converted in the past X number of days (exclude them from your campaigns – if they just booked a hotel room, you probably don’t want to spend money continuing to market to them)
    • Website visitors to a specific page on your site (such as a list of only visitors who have navigated to a page about weddings)
    • Visitors who have come to the site a specific number of sessions (pick the session number it usually takes to achieve a booking)
    • Website visitors that match a specific demographic – such as gender or age specific
    • Visitors that are on a specific device – mobile, desktop, tablet
    • Visitors that enter the site from a specific source – for example only visitors that came from Facebook or your latest email campaign

To really target your most qualified users, you can segment this list down even further into specific users over a period of time that has not converted.  Typically the more recently a user has visited your site, the more likely they are to convert.

    • All Users Past 7 Days
    • All Users Past 15 Days
    • Cart Visitors
    • Visitors of a certain page on your website

These lists will also allow you to set bid adjustments or remarket with a specific offer or ad set. For example, if a potential hotel guest made it all the way through the booking process but abandoned their shopping cart just before checking out, you could use your remarketing audience list to serve them a new add with an enticing offer in order to encourage them to book their reservation.

What’s the Best Way To Structure Your Campaigns & Assign Audiences?

How you choose to structure your campaign and assign your audience lists really comes down to your personal preference and how you want to manage your targeting settings.  Below are a couple examples of how to do this.

    • If you have a smaller budget to work with and can’t come up with extra funds for a dedicated campaign just for remarketing, you can attach audiences to campaigns as bid only. This will show your ads to members of your remarketing list in addition to the users who match whatever other targeting you currently have set up on the campaign
    • If budget isn’t a hindering factor and you get a good amount of traffic to your website, then you can create remarketing campaigns for all of your custom remarketing audiences you built in Google Analytics and set bid adjustments based on priority and performance

In the hotel marketing industry, we have seen great results when utilizing remarketing lists for search ads. After reviewing data from multiple clients, we have found that they helped decrease average CPC ‘s by 16% while increasing average CTR’s by 62% and ROAS and Conversion Rates by over 100%. To learn more about our internal findings of the benefits of audience lists read our blog post about it.

Need help getting started with remarketing lists for search ads? Reach out to GCommerce today.

How Much Should I Spend on Paid Search for my Hotel?

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We get this question all the time from prospective clients and new clients and it’s also something we revisit at least once (or more) every year for current clients. The truth is, there’s a lot more to it than picking a number based on the hotel’s location. It’s a complex answer that can only be determined by deep discovery and understanding of the hotel and its goals, the market the property is located within and historical data from the hotel. At GCommerce, every client’s budget recommendations are customized based on the hotel’s specific goals, historical performance and competitive landscape coupled with data from tools provided by Google, Bing and Doubleclick Ad Services.

7 Key Steps to Determining Paid Search Budget Recommendations for your Hotel

  1. Hotel Discovery & Determining Competitive Advantages - this guides our keyword research which helps us determine the estimated cost per click for qualified keywords. We seek answers to questions such as, What adjectives describe the hotel? What are the nearby attractions that drive visitors to the market? What are the top business drivers for the hotel? What are the hotel’s top competitors? What special amenities, services or events does the hotel support? Then we utilize keyword planner tools from Google and Bing to determine keyword CPC and traffic estimates.
  1. Establish business goals - we work closely with the client to determine their top priorities. Do they have a revenue goal they need to achieve? Does the client want to focus on driving more wedding or meeting business? Are they competing with OTAs to capture reservations? What are some of their biggest challenges and how might paid search help them overcome those hurdles?
  1. Complete Competitive Research - paid search pay per click costs are based on a bidding model. Competitive research factors in how many other advertisers are bidding on the same keywords, whether or not other advertisers are bidding on your brand name and also provides an understanding of highly valuable keywords we should be including in our campaigns.
  1. Analyze Historical Performance - the best way to estimate how specific budget recommendations will impact your bottom line or other business goals is to understand historical performance. GCommerce deep dives into website data, looking back multiple years, to gain insight into traffic, production, conversions, seasonality and other performance trends by month.
  2. Market Research - where is the hotel located? does the market experience any seasonality? We gather information from the client directly and utilize Google Trends to follow keyword popularity trends over time. It is important to allocate budgets as it correlates to business goals and seasonality in the market.
  1. Future Predictions - with a solid understanding of the hotel’s market and their previous performance, we can predict with a degree of confidence how much a specific budget might impact a hotel’s paid search marketing efforts. If they previously spent $Y and saw a return of $X, what kind of results would we expect if we increased or decreased their budget? Using this predictive modeling, we can find the optimal budget to ensure each has a healthy budget that reflects a positive Return On Ad Spend within their stated goals.
  2. Finalization of Target Keywords and Presentation to Client - last, we will prioritize these keywords based on relative competition, traffic, and the hotel’s goals. We will work closely with the client to ensure that all keywords are relevant to their business and end goals. Organizing these keywords into the most relevant Adgroups based on what is most likely to convert provides us with the best opportunity for success in starting with a new budget.


At GCommerce, we believe in a customized approach for every client. This is true for all aspects of the overall marketing strategy and is how we approach each client’s budget recommendations. We utilize the vast amount of historical data and experience we have from working with clients in markets all over the country and combine that with a custom analysis to provide the best hotel paid search budget recommendations possible.

If you’re interested in learning what you should spend on paid search for your hotel, please reach out to your Account Executive or Account Manager today. Not a GCommerce client? Not a problem. Contact us and we can help you get started with strategic paid search marketing solutions today!

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