How To Make Sense of Hotel Search Engine Marketing


Alex Corral

Apr 1, 2019


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When someone is looking to go on vacation, you need to be in front of them at that exact moment. Hotel search engine marketing is vital to understand so that you can drive more traffic to your website and increase the number of bookings throughout the year.

Below I will help you understand some of the online digital marketing strategies to drive more traffic to your hotel website.

Hotel Search Engine Marketing

Your number one goal is to get your hotel website to rank in the top spot of the search engine result pages (SERPs). Let’s first make sure you understand the terminology and differences between Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Local SEO, and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting your website ranked in the organic section of the SERPs to increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your site. The main parts to SEO include:

  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO
  • Technical SEO
  • Link-building
  • Website Structure Optimization

You can click on any one of the links above and know a whole lot more than most people do about SEO. 

Local SEO

The next on our list is Local SEO. Your main objective is to get listed in Google’s local 3-pack when someone types in your city.

Several Local SEO factors determine how Google will rank your website, but we won’t get into those today.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Finally, we come to paid search engine marketing (SEM), the primary strategy we will be focusing on today. Also known as Pay-per-click (PPC), Google Ads is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your hotel website. 

But you have to have a well mapped-out strategy to make sure your campaign is successful.

SEM Strategies For Hotels

  • Make sure to evaluate your internal goals for Your Project

It’s essential before you start that you understand what your goals are. For example, are you trying to increase bookings during your slow season? Are you trying to attract more clients during certain holidays?

Don’t just spend your budget blindly. Your budget can quickly get away from you when using search engine marketing.

  • Increase Click Through Rate (CTR) By Utilizing A/B Split Tests

One of the most important things you can do to improve CTR is to perform A/B split tests on your Google ads. This is vitally important so that you are maximizing your budget to get the most amount of traffic possible.

  • Do Competitive Research

Make sure to do research on other hotels in the area and find out what keywords they are using in their ad campaigns by using a competitive research tool like SEMRush.

  • Perform Keyword Research Before You Start

Performing keyword research before your hotel starts its campaign will make or break its success. SEMRush is the best keyword research tool on the market and can help you to identify low-hanging fruit

  • Don’t Put All Of Your SEM Eggs In One Basket

Don’t forget to use Yahoo and Bing for your SEM campaign. Yahoo and Bing have much lower cost-per-click (CPC) than Google, so it helps to drive down your average CPC overall.

  • Mobile Website Optimization

Double-check that your website is mobile optimized using Google’s Mobile-Friendly test tool. After all, over 52% of all traffic to sites in 2018 came from a mobile device. 

  • Focus On Using Long-Tailed Keywords For Your SEM Campaign

It can be challenging to get as much face-time on Google as the OTAs because of their massive budgets.

This is why you would focus on cheaper, long-tailed keywords instead of more expensive primary keywords that travelers are typing in Google.

  • Buy Google Hotel Price Ads (HPAs)

Google Hotel Ads is an excellent option for getting your hotel out in front of travelers. The platform wills how your hotel rates compared with the Online Travel Agency (OTA) rates. If you aren’t familiar with this HPAs, there is a great detailed article on Net Affinity titled, “Google Hotel Ads- Everything You Need To Know.”

  • Increase Your Brand Image Through YouTube

Travel content on YouTube has increased dramatically since a study was done by Think With Google in 2014. Therefore it would be smart to have YouTube as part of your SEM strategy, especially since YouTube gets over 30 million visitors each day.

  • Determine Which Channel Is Bringing In The Highest ROI

Finally, make sure that you find time to develop a spreadsheet and track the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). So you can determine which campaigns are bringing in the highest ROI.

Round Out Your Strategy With Social Media Marketing

Facebook Marketing has become an increasingly popular alternative to Google Ads due to the lower CPC rates and its powerful filtering capabilities. If you haven’t thought about it yet, here is a great reason to reconsider.


When it comes to digital marketing strategies for your hotel, there is a lot of opinions out there as to what works and doesn’t work. You should always be testing and tracking your campaigns and continually tweak them to increase performance.

In the end, I hope this article has helped make more sense of search engine marketing for your hotel.

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