Introduction to Paid Search Advertising

Hotel owners, consider this: More than half of all hotel bookings start on Google or another search engine. Are you doing everything you can to catch that business and make sure users are finding your property first? If you are not utilizing paid search and PPC advertising maybe it is time to do so.

Paid search, or search advertising, is a great option for hotel owners looks to boost bookings and traffic to their site. Search advertising means you bid to have your ads appear when a user searches for a particular keyword.

Your ads, typically text-based promotions, then appear above or to the right of the organic, non-sponsored search results in the user’s browser. If you’re engaging in search advertising on keywords such as “hotels in Florida,” for example, your ads will appear alongside general search results when a users enters that phrase.


paid search advertising

The paid search advertisements are featured at the top and bottom of Google search results.

Here are three ways search advertising can benefit your business:

1. You can target consumers by interest and geography. 

Using search ads, you can target consumers who are searching for a specific set of keywords or even those located in a specific geographical area. When you make an ad specifically for consumers searching “hotel vacation” or “getaway,” the user who views your ad is already looking for what you offer. Through a strategy known as geo-targeting, you can target consumers in New England in January with offers for a tropical, warm-weather getaway.

2. You can move quickly to promote specials or seasonal offers.

Because search ads are made up of only a few lines of text, they’re easy to modify and update. Unlike print ads that require a lot of design or creative investment, search ads can be easily changed. As a hotel owner, you can easily create a new ad to promote an off-season pricing special or holiday promotion with minimal time or advance notice. Because ads are easy to update, you can also test different wording and pivot on campaigns that aren’t delivering results.

3. You can choose the pricing model that works for you. 

Search advertising, and online advertising in general, is typically purchased using one of the following models.

  • Cost per impression (CPM). In advertising terms, impressions are the number of times your ad is seen by consumers. This is old-school! Back in the day, you paid for newspaper and print ads based on how many folks were likely to see the ad. You can do better online by paying per click or per action.
  • Cost per click (CPC):  In a CPC or pay-per-click (PPC) structure, you as the advertiser pay a fee for every time a user clicks on your ad. Most search advertising using text ads are billed using the PPC model. This is a big improvement over CPM for you because you only pay when consumers click through to your website.
  • Cost per action (CPA): With a CPA arrangement, you pay when the user completes some action on your website after clicking on your ad. What do we mean by action? For a hotel, the most desired action is a booking. Right? Google doesn’t offer CPA search ads. However, many other tech platforms and some service providers will bill on a CPA basis.

Paid search offers independent hotel owners a high level of control over their advertising, from targeting to budget. Benefiting from this ad strategy is all a matter of getting familiar with Google, tailoring your campaigns to the right users and keywords, and paying attention to the results so you can continue to tweak, change and improve.

For more information regarding other areas in online advertising, take a look at our other Hotel Owner’s Guide or