When it comes to directing high-value traffic to your website, a strategic, well-planned pay per click (more commonly known as PPC) campaign can do incredible things to help you achieve your goals. Many hotels turn to PPC as a quick and easy way to gain more traffic to their website. When tracked and set up properly, utilizing services like Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) can bring in visitors who are already highly interested in your hotel. If you are unprepared to run a PPC campaign, you will most likely not see the results you are looking for.
Today, we are going to cover what metrics you should be keeping an eye on when you run a paid search campaign, and how you can use those figures to your advantage to ensure future success.
Understanding The World Of PPC
Before you launch any sort of PPC campaign, you should know exactly what it is so you can have achievable expectations and goals. PPC is a service offered by Google and Bing to promote your website for specific, targeted keywords. In order to run a PPC campaign, you must consider a theme that your hotel is relevant for, this will help you stay targeted with your ads. Within each campaign you will have multiple ad groups, each ad group is comprised of keywords that are very similar to a variety of match types.
For example, your campaign may be themed “Chicago Hotels” and you will then feature multiple ad groups one for “hotel” keywords, another for “lodging” and another for “hotel rooms.” Each ad group can feature as many keywords as you can think of, but it is highly recommended that the terms you focus on are similar (“hotels in chicago” and “chicago hotels” could share an ad group whereas “chicago lodging” and “chicago hotel rooms” should be separate).
Within an ad group you will also create multiple ads, these ads should have copy reflecting the keywords targeted in the ad group (this is why they should all be similar – we will explain shortly why this is important).
On any given day, you can see how your ads are performing and make adjustments, by exploring how different ads and keywords are performing you can make adjustments to ensure you are receiving the best results for what you are spending. As you continue you will see a consistent return on the dollars you put into your ad campaigns. The important thing to remember as you continue with running ads is that it is an investment of funds to drive visits to your website, with the ultimate goal of driving more conversions. As you proceed with running PPC ads, keep in mind what you personally hope to gain so you have an idea of how to measure your own success. Once you understand what actions lead to your goals you can continue to build out campaigns that help you achieve your goals.What Metrics Do You Follow To Ensure Success
While running your campaign you will be following a variety of metrics that will shape your opinion on if your efforts are successful. Some of the data points we will cover today may seem more important than others, but all can be valuable to see what you can adjust to lead to more successful campaigns. Every hotel should consider what the overall costs of their campaigns will be, and plan their budgets accordingly.
Clicks, Impressions, And Conversions
Of every campaign metric I’m about to cover, these are going to be important to your success no matter what. The number of clicks, impressions, and conversions, and how close those figures are to one another are vital to your understanding of website performance. When a visitor sees one of your PPC Ads, this is registered as an “impression” if they also click on an ad then it is registered as a “click” as well.
Once a visitor is on your website, your next step is to lead them to generate a “conversion” this is an event that is tracked and identified by you or your digital marketing team. Your conversions are what actions visitors take that will generate revenue (or potentially generate revenue) for your hotel. Usually you will have multiple conversions tracked on your site like calling your property, submitting an RFP form, or, most importantly, visiting the booking engine and reserving a room. In order to monitor conversions, you must set up conversion tracking in your Google Ads dashboard and, ideally, be tracking them as goals in Google Analytics.
The raw number of clicks, impressions, and conversions are helpful in the success of your campaigns, but they are only scratching the surface when you want to draw a line between “successful” and “unsuccessful” campaigns. The way that clicks, impressions, and conversions all relate to one another along with the overall cost of your campaign will give you greater insight to what your campaign is doing.
For example, a high Click-Through-Rate (or CTR) is going to indicate that your ads are relevant to searchers and show their interest, as it shows the percentage of your impressions that led to clicks. If your campaigns are experiencing a low CTR it may be indicative that you are appearing for irrelevant keywords or that you need to refresh your ad copy to engage with searchers.
Likewise, if you are noticing that you have a high Cost-Per-Click (CPC) without sufficient return your ads may be appearing and earning clicks for terms that cost more money than they are worth, and should no longer be targeted (or in some cases flagged so that you no longer appear in auctions for those terms). For either you may simply need to explore how much you are willing to bid on some terms and raise or lower that amount to suit your needs.
It is also at this point that you should consider the value of your conversions and what your return on ad spend is. With this in mind, you can discover how much it is costing you to achieve your goals, and can consider how to receive the maximum return on a minimal investment.
Average Position And Impression Share
When you explore the performance of your ads you will see a figure between one and three that refers to the ads average position. In the majority of search results, there will be three ads on the top of the page and your average position is a general idea of where within those three spaces your ads are appearing. If you are often the first ad to appear you will be close to one, and in cases where your ad often appears last, you will be close to three. This figure can provide you with an idea of how well Google ranks your ads in relation to your competitors; however, it only tracks when your ads are being shown.
If you are interested in how relevant and popular your ad content is in relation to your competitors then you should also be keeping an eye on your search impression share. This figure shows the percentage of how often your ads were viewed, versus how often they could have been viewed. If your impression share is close to 90% then that means that out of 100 possible instances your ads were able to be shown, you were viewed 90 times. Likewise, if your impression share is closer to 10%, then you were only seen 10 times out of a potential 100 views.
When you want to improve your visibility in Google Ads and increase your impression share you should consider two other percentage figures: your impression share lost to budget and your impression share lost to rank. Each of these percentages reflects how often your ads did not appear for a particular reason (in cases when they were eligible).
If you lost impressions due to budget, you need to consider what your maximum cost per click is for particular keywords and consider increasing them, or you may need to increase the amount you are spending on a campaign.
If you are losing impressions due to rank, then this means your competitors’ ads and their websites are more relevant for the terms you are targeting. In this case you should audit what your ad copy says and the copy on your website and consider how it relates to the keywords these ads are targeting.
Overall your search impression share, and whether you lost impressions due to rank or budget are going to come into play when you look at the auction insights for your campaigns. Auction insights show your impression share for your campaigns; however, they also show the impression share of your competitors. With this information you can determine how vital it is for you to continue to optimize your campaigns to boost your impressions. Your impression share may seem low at first glance, but auction insights might show that you have the highest share out of any other website bidding on the same terms. Likewise, you may feel like you have a satisfactory impression share, but one or two competitors are dominating the market.
By looking into how your ads perform in relation to competitors you can have a much deeper insight as to where you need to improve your paid media strategy. You might be achieving your maximum potential for your current campaigns and need to look into new avenues to achieve your goals. You might find specific areas for your campaign that need improvement.
Another avenue you can explore to determine if your ads need to improve is your quality score. This figure will appear next to the various keywords your targeting and provide you with a 1-10 score of how relevant Google determines your ad and website copy is to the term. When a quality score is low, your ads are going to be served at a higher cost as Google determines which ads to display in a SERP. If you are seeing a low quality score for certain keywords, it is very likely that you could rewrite your ad copy and audit the page of your website the ads point to. In doing so, you could raise your quality score and lower your long-term costs.
If you want to be running effect paid search campaigns it is going to be vital to take a look at your keyword reports once every few months. This is a report over a given period of time that shows you what keywords you are targeting and what terms you are appearing for. You can pull a report for over the course of a day, a month, or even a year up through the entire life of your account.
One list you will see in this report is your search keywords, this list will show every term you are explicitly targeting and how much it has cost you over that period. You will be able to see how many clicks and impressions your keywords had, whether or not they converted, what your search impression share was, and what your quality score was. In short, you can break all the data we have covered today not only by campaign, ad group, or individual ads, but also by the specific keywords you are targeting and make adjustments to your strategy to fit.
Near your keyword report you can also look at a report of your overall search terms. While you are targeting specific terms with the goal of gaining traffic, Google can take what you have entered and consider your ads for similar terms depending on how you chose to target your keywords. While a “Search Keywords” report shows you the effects of your targeting, a “Search Terms” report shows your effectiveness on actual terms people are searching for.
When exploring this report, you may see terms you are ranking for that are simply misspellings of a keyword you are targeting, or with small adjectives added or removed. However, you might also see that your ad appeared while someone searched for a competitor, or included an amenity you do not have.
In cases where you actively would not want an ad to appear for a term, due to it not being relevant to your hotel or related to a topic that goes against your brand, you can select these terms and add them to a negative keyword list. This will ensure that your ad spend is not wasted on terms that are proving to be ineffective towards your goals. If you want to be very advanced with your campaign strategy, you can also create customized keyword lists for campaigns and ad groups so that terms that are relevant for one will not appear for others.
In the long term, reviewing what search terms your campaigns rank for every few months allows you to identify and eliminate areas where money is being wasted. This allows you to create stronger, more efficient campaigns.
Running A Lean, Mean, PPC Machine
We have barely scratched the surface on the amount of performance data you can dig through while running a paid search campaign. With these tools at your disposal, you can now enjoy a strong understanding of where to begin in order to achieve success. At the end of the day, a successful campaign boils down to being able to answer one question, “Is this helping you achieve your goals?” All of these metrics and all of this data are simply tools that you can use to your benefit to help you answer those questions and help you achieve your goals with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
You should always be monitoring how your campaigns perform and experimenting with new ways to help you achieve your goals. You will always see better results with PPC when you are involved and self-critical and always looking into new methods for success. It can be difficult, however, to always be on top of the latest trends; in these cases, you should reach out to our team and learn how we can help you manage a top tier paid media campaign.