Digital marketing specialist Equator has issued advice to hoteliers seeking to maintain their presence on Google following the scrapping of the right sidebar ads on desktop.
The changes to the search engine’s results pages came in last month and saw four paid search slots available at the top of pages, along with three further paid-for results at the bottom.
With the number of results above the fold, the changes are expected to have an impact on traffic volumes, and online conversions as competition increases for the top spots.
However Stuart MacLean PPC executive at Equator says the impact of the change can be offset with a strategy that embraces both PPC and search engine optimisation (SEO).
He said: “Taking an integrated approach is imperative now that there are fewer overall results above the fold.
“PPC and SEO work together to allow hotels dominance in search – the proof being our hotel clients seeing an increase in “assisted bookings” – where the user has interacted with the site through more than one online channel before ultimately making a booking.
“Far from impacting hotel paid search campaigns detrimentally, we see opportunities with Google’s changes. One major upside is the potential increase in traffic from hotel ads showing in the top three or four positions.
“Without the right hand side ads to distract the user, we anticipate an increase in the click-through-rates for our top of the page ads.”
Equator suggests hotel groups review their search strategy by analysing the success of PPC keyword campaigns to date and then use this data to inform SEO content on their websites.
Stacy Nelson, Equator SEO manager said: “Adopting SEO in isolation will leave hotels competing for organic ranking with online travel agents, with little chance of showing in the top search positions – whilst also losing out on significant booking volumes from PPC.
“Similarly, with SEO absolutely vital to on-page content, user experience and site quality, a PPC-only approach will result in directing users to a below-par site, meaning that bookings will suffer. A combined approach is absolutely vital.”