Why does this matter? It means that your organic hotel listings on SERPs have more difficulty reaching potential consumers, making your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy all the more crucial to increase website visibility.
What are SEO and SEM?
Before diving in, what exactly is the difference between SEO and SEM? The objective of SEO is to increase your website visibility on organic search listings to drive more visitors to your site and inspire conversions.
SEM, on the other hand, uses paid advertising on search engines to increase website visibility with higher ad placement. In short, both increase website traffic, but one is paid search and the other organic.
How has SEO Changed?
The SEO frontier is constantly changing because search engines, like Google, modify their algorithms. A lot of this is an effort to stop people from focusing on technology and tricks to get higher listing placement and start focusing on people and the content they want. That’s why one day your hotel listing may be at the top of the page, and the next, it’s nowhere to be seen.
As a hotelier, you can roll with the changing tides of SEO by creating a website that has relevant and readable content, as well as shifting attention to your SEM strategy. However, even with an SEO optimized website, hoteliers can no longer depend fully on SEO efforts.
Why Can’t You Rely Solely on SEO?
One reason, as previously discussed, is due to search engine algorithm changes. This makes SEO unreliable. The placement of your hotel listing is mostly out of your control. You could work for months trying to create a great listing in accordance with SEO best practices and still never get the traction you want. And, if you do, Google may change its algorithms, again causing you to lose your high listing placement.
More important, however, is that SEO and SEM power dynamics are changing. In 2015, organic traffic accounted for 62% of all traffic to a hotel website. In 2017, it dropped to 42%, making paid search all the more important. This is especially significant for hoteliers who are competing with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). Below, we see an example comparing a hotel organic listing versus OTA paid and organic results.
The paid search advertisements have the advantage of higher placement and more real estate to convert viewers into consumers. Hoteliers can boost their SEM strategy to compete with OTAs on SERPs and drive more searchers to their site over others.
How Can SEM Help Hoteliers?
Shifting your efforts to your SEM strategy will help you reach your marketing goals. Paid search allows you to have more control over your ad campaign and ad placements because you choose which keywords you want, and what price you pay. Once these ad campaigns are up and running, you can also monitor your success and experiment with different keywords. No matter how good your SEO program may be, there are some keywords your site won’t rank for. To address that issue, you can adjust your SEM campaign to best fit your ad goals.
Depending on keywords and ads, you may not receive the highest ad placement. With SEM, receiving second or third place is just as beneficial. Search engine users consider clicking the second or third ads just as often as they do the first. To compete among the top three, you can tweak your ad to your advantage. Viewers will look for a great offer, an inspiring call-to-action (CTA), and well-written content. With paid search, you can make adjustments as you see fit, with much more flexibility than SEO. And, instead of waiting months to see your SEO placement improve, you can launch your SEM campaign and start seeing immediate results the same day. This way you can capture those viewers on search engines and convert them into customers.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your SEM strategy? Talk to one of our specialists now.