A branded search campaign is crucial for the growth of your hotel’s direct booking channel. However, it has to be done well in order to maximize driving direct bookings to your hotel website. As described in a previous post, a branded search campaign is key for attracting attention to your value proposition . A potential guest who Googles your brand name has a high intent to book, therefore you must make sure you present your offers in the best possible way while maximizing clicks of each branded search.
In this article, you will learn the 3 best practices for creating and optimizing a branded search campaign on Google AdWords as it relates to hotel marketing. In addition, I will share some of the data that we found on Roomertravel.com while running our branded campaign.
Branded Search Campaign Best Practice #1: Use the Right Keywords
Google AdWords offers 4 keyword match types that define what search terms will trigger your ad. I’ll cover these in more detail, but here are the basics:
[Exact] – will trigger only when a user searches for the exact term you defined in the campaign, for example: your exact brand name “XYZ Hotel”
“Phrase” – will trigger when a user searches the term in a phrase, for example: “xyz hotel discount”
+Broad +modified – will trigger when a user searches for a modified term, for example: “hotel in New York named XYZ”
Broad – will trigger when a user searches for a similar term, for example: “XYY Hotel”
It may sound confusing at first, but the key here is knowing which type of ad you want to trigger and when. It all boils down to what you want a potential guest to see based on what they’re searching for.
There are several ways to direct traffic depending on the search terms people are using. For deal seekers (searching “XYZ Hotel Deals”) you’ll want to trigger an ad referring your special offers. When people search for reviews (“XYZ Hotel Reviews”) you might want to redirect the user to a landing page with a guest book/testimonials and maybe a TripAdvisor’s reviews widget. For those looking for your phone number (“XYZ Hotel Number”), that search can trigger a Google Calls ad with your front desk or customer service number. So your basic campaign should cover those types of searches, and here are the keywords you need to define.
So your basic campaign should cover all these types, and here are the keywords you need to define.
- Exact match of your brand name – [Hotel XYZ] It will trigger your ad only when someone is searching for your exact hotel name.
- Your Brand + terms Use the most common terms a potential guest may search for, in addition to your brand name. In the summarized table below, you can see the most common terms based on research I conducted at Roomertravel.com
- A blank Brand + This will allow you to learn what other modifying terms a prospective guest may use when searching for information about your hotel. Your keyword in this case will look like this: +XYZ +Hotel
- A Broad match keyword Google AdWords can trigger your ad on quite ridiculous search terms if a broad match is used. However, it still recommended to run such a campaign as a test for a few months, in order to collect as many alternative terms that a potential guest might use to search your brand name. It may include misspellings, synonyms, or even other languages. The trick is to recognize repeated search terms, and if they are relevant for your brand, then you can add them as an exact match keyword. This table shows a few examples of how you would structure these and some common search terms that could trigger your ad.
|Match Type||Keyword||Example of trigger search term|
|Exact||[Hotel XYZ]||hotel xyz|
|+Borad +modifier||+XYZ +Hotel +Deals||xyz hotel deals tonight|
|+Borad +modifier||+XYZ +Hotel + Discounts||discounts for hotel xyz|
|+Borad +modifier||+XYZ +Hotel +Offers||best offers at hotel xyz|
|+Borad +modifier||+XYZ +Hotel +Reviews||hotel xyz reviews|
|+Borad +modifier||+XYZ +Hotel +Phone||hotel xyz phone number|
|+Broad +modifier||XYX +Hotel +City||xyz hotel in new york|
|+Broad +modifier||XYZ +Hotel||is there a free parking at xyz hotel|
Branded Search Campaign Best Practice #2: Use Ad Extensions
When a potential guest triggers your ad, be sure it makes the right impression, especially when other OTAs and metasearch website ads are triggered as well. This can be tricky. The basic text ad format of Google AdWords contains only two headlines of 30 characters each, and a description line of 80 characters. For a branded campaign, it is way too short to be impressive and maximize branded clicks.
Ad extensions are additional text spaces that you can use to attach more relevant information to your ad, and thus provide a better experience to the potential guest while maximizing the amount of clicks you receive from your branded search. A reminder: those clicks are the most important to you, because it signals a prospective guest who has a stronger intent to book.
Ad extensions don’t cost you more. In fact, their use lowers the average cost per click as they improve the CTR (Click Through Rate). This will allow you to gain more real estate and control on the search results page, especially on mobile devices.
6 types of ad extensions
If Google has already approved your hotel’s location, it’s very simple to add it to your campaign. If you haven’t gotten the green light for your location on Google yet, you need to do this pronto. Don’t worry. It’s easy. Just use Google My Business Locations at this link. (FYI, having an approved location opens up the opportunity for your hotel to show up on Google Maps when a nearby location is searched).
Allows you to include links to different areas of your website with your ad. For example: Guest book/reviews page, photo gallery, special offers, unique rooms, etc.
For mobile campaigns, especially when the trigger keyword of your ad is “XYZ Hotel Phone”, you can add your phone number and pay per call the same price as you pay per clicks. You can also track their call-to-booking performance. If you find that it works well for you, then you canadd additional keywords to trigger that extension.
If you’ve had positive press coverage, or did a PR campaign online, you can use positive feedback your hotel received during the past 12 months to feature on a Review Extension.
Additional space to include details about your hotel. For example, near metro station, city center, book on mobile, website exclusive deals, 24/7 call support. Don’t use this space to list your amenities. I’ll show you where you can do that next.
Structured snipped extension:
Ta-da! This one allows you to highlight your amenities and room types. With all of these extensions, you’ll have a well-rounded ad that’s more likely to attract direct bookings.
Branded Search Campaign Best Practice #3: Connect your AdWords Account to Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool that tracks website performance, analysis and ROI of advertising campaigns. It gives you tons of valuable information about your visitors, from demographics to personal interests, types of devices, software and apps, and more. About 70% of the world’s top 10K websites use Google Analytics to analyze their site’s traffic.
No matter how good your ad campaign is, it’s worthless if you can’t track the results. In order to track them, you are usually required to add tracking parameters, called “UTM parameters”. If you tried to implement these parameters manually on every link you use for advertising campaigns, it’s a very frustrating process. But Google has completely automated the process with a feature called “Auto Tagging”. This feature automatically inserts the UTM parameters in all the links that refer to your website from a Google AdWords campaign. This allows effective tracking of all the traffic arriving to your website from your branded search campaign. That way, you will receive all the information you need to understand the behavioral patterns of your potential guests.
Having a branded search campaign is certainly better than not having one, but focus on one that maximizes direct booking traffic to your hotel website. By following these 3 best practices, you are taking a massive step toward mastering your digital direct booking strategy.
As usual we created a short slides presentation of this blog post just to give you one more way to share it with your colleagues who usually can’t read as much as you.
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