[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.

Click Here

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.

How GCommerce's Programmatic Bidding Strategies Benefit Our Hotel Clients

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If there is one thing that is absolute in the hospitality internet marketing world, it’s that we must constantly be testing, analyzing, implementing changes (or not) based on test data, and testing some more.

GCommerce utilizes programmatic bid optimization for paid search marketing, which is now a must in a world of constant changes and bid management. Programmatic bidding allows bid adjustments throughout the day and uses data based on previous days data. For an individual to be able to delve into the performance and history of a specific keyword would take hours to be able to optimize an account of 100+ keywords, multiply this by 10 or more clients a day and there is now no time for other important client optimizations.

Programmatic bidding is not just a set-and-forget machine learning tool. If you use programmatic bid optimization you must make sure that you are making the most of it and getting the best results possible for clients. How do you do this? Test. Analyze. Implement (or not). Test Again.

Earlier this year, I ran a test on a sample of clients using a different bid strategy model to see if client performance could benefit from it. It wasn’t that the current automated bid strategy wasn’t working, it was based on the idea that we always want to improve our results, therefore we test different theories and strategies.

This particular test yielded some pretty significant results:

Due to the seasonality of our clients, the best data to gather is to compare year over year with a significant amount of time. Using a date range of 6 months of data, here is what we found:

  • Average CPC’s increased 1%
  • Reservations increased 89%
  • Revenue increased 100%

When comparing to GCommerce’s entire hospitality paid search marketing portfolio, here is what we found:

  • Average CPC’s increased at a much lower rate
  • Reservations increased at a much higher rate
  • Revenue also increased at a much higher rate
Programmatic bidding strategies performance

Rising CPC’s are a constant battle in the paid search marketing world. At GCommerce Solutions, our hospitality internet marketing teams are constantly optimizing paid search campaigns to help decrease this metric as best as we can. After reviewing performance across GCommerce’s entire portfolio, I found that, on average, GCommerce clients experienced an increase of 4% in average CPC’s during the same time period. This leads to a conclusion that our clients and the hotel industry continue to see ever-increasing rise in CPC’s across the board in order to compete in the SERP. But the fact that we have been able to slow it down while ramping up reservations and revenue is a huge win.

After pulling all of the data and seeing such clear results, it was obvious that it was in our clients’ best interest to switch gears on our overall strategy to best reach our KPI (key performance indicator) goals and maximize their spend. So we did.

What is Structured Data? A Guide for Hotels

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Definition of Structured Data

"refers to information with a high degree of organization, such that inclusion in a relational database is seamless and readily searchable by simple, straightforward search engine algorithms or other search operations."

But what exactly does that mean and how does it apply to hotels? In order to best describe Structured Data, it is probably easiest to start with examples.

Structured Data Examples

If we do a Google Search for "spinach and artichoke dip", the first thing on the result page is a list of ingredients and instructions on how to make it:

Recipe-Example-1024x770

That formatted list of ingredients and instructions is a pretty straightforward example, but what about more complex, personal details to your gmail account? If you do a Google Search for "my previous flights" - so long as you have flight info in an @gmail.com account and you are logged in, you should see every flight and details that are in your gmail account displayed in the search result page for Google:

We can also click into those details and see specific information about the flight that is listed:

My-Previous-Flights-Example-2

We can see the same information on hotels if we do a "my previous hotels" search in Google:

My-Previous-Hotel-Reservations-Example-1024x503

The question then becomes, how does Google take recipe information from a website or flight and hotel data from your gmail account and display those details in a clean table in the search results? The answer is that the data is organized in a way that inclusion in a relational database is seamless. In other words, it is Structured Data.

We can markup data on a hotel's website in a similar fashion so that necessary elements for a hotel are present so that inclusion in relational database is seamless. An example of how this is done can be seen on this page here.

On the right side of that page, we can see that there are different types of data marked up. Website, Hotel, Hotel Room, and Organization. We can click into each of those sections and Google will display all of the data that is marked up for us to view:

Schema-Example-1

However, this is how it looks within the code of your website:

Schema-Example-2

What is important to note here is that the Structured Data markup is not actually meant for the audience of your website, it is meant for bots and spiders that crawl the internet to aggregate information for users in other platforms (Google, Bing, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.)

How Does Structured Data Impact Organic Performance

While Google has said that Structured Data is not a ranking factor, they have stated that it helps the engine better understand the content on your pages and there is evidence that it helps provide additional information to the end user, which can increase CTR. CTR is correlated with higher rankings in search engines and a higher CTR can help move rankings up in Organic Results, which would lead to a higher CTR, higher rankings, and so on.

Our goal here is to create a positive feedback loop that starts by providing more information to the end user and contributes to higher rankings with higher CTRs.

Get Ahead of Competition

From the limited tests that we have run, we see that the vast majority of hotels are not currently utilizing Structured Data. As Google has confirmed benefits of having it on a website, this is a great opportunity to get in front of competitors.

Impact Positive Performance On Your Site

So far, clients that have implemented structured data have seen some positive improvements to organic search traffic and we encourage our clients to implement Structured Data for improved website performance.

Contact GCommerce today for more information on implementing structured data to your hotel’s website.

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