Don’t put all your eggs in the one basket with Google AdWords

Number one

Your accommodation at number one on Google, but at what cost?

For those marketing accommodation on the internet, Google Adwords is the easy way to get your website to the top of the page when people search for somewhere to stay. But the cost can be significant, and could you achieve similar results for considerably less cost?

Firstly, most people searching on Google trust the unpaid (or “organic”) listings more than the paid listings, according to reports by Forrester Research.  After all, even the dodgiest business can get to No.1 on Google for a few dollars through paid ads, while a number one ranking on the organic listings is something that is based on hundreds of important factors, including your website’s content and the number of other websites providing links to it.

Secondly, the cost of Google Adwords is significant and it is constantly rising as people bid higher and higher amounts to appear the top of the paid listings.

Appearing at the top of the organic (unpaid) page rankings in Google for very generic accommodation terms is often beyond the power of a single accommodation provider’s website due to the very specific content they are presenting. So the next best option is to list that accommodation on the No.1 site that people click on. That provides access to an unlimited source of visitors, and they aren’t being charged for each one.

Here is a specific case example. Say someone is looking to stay at Orbost, which is located half-way between Melbourne and Canberra (or about a third of the way to Sydney) if you’re driving via Gippsland along Victoria’s east coast. Orbost is an ideal place to stop overnight to break up that long drive. So a traveller would typically search for “Orbost accommodation” in Google, and at this precise moment in time, the results of that search are shown below:

Searching for Orbost accommodation

Searching for Orbost accommodation on Google

Notice that “Orbost Motel” (at www.orbostmotel.com.au) is paying to have their accommodation at No.1 in the paid section. Using the Keyword Tool in Google AdWords, we estimate that to appear at No.1, and keep above the booking.com and wotif.com ads, they need to be prepared to pay up to $3 if someone clicks on them. Even if they only get one click per day, Google AdWords is costing them almost $1,100 per year. And there’s no guarantee that they’ll even get a single booking from that huge outlay.

Now, what if Orbost Motel simply listed their property on the No.1 unpaid (organic) ranked website for Orbost accommodation, that being us here at Travel Victoria?  As soon as someone clicks on “Orbost accommodation” link, they would see the motel listed.

The cost comparison is remarkable. Their AdWords campaign will cost a minimum of $1,100 annually – it could be even 2 or 3 times that amount depending on how many clicks they get. On the other hand, a fixed $69 annual listing with Travel Victoria gives them unlimited exposure/clicks gained from an audience that would more trust the page Travel Victoria has on Orbost accommodation than the paid listings at the top of the page.

One of the accommodation properties listed on Travel Victoria in Orbost, Longhorn Ranch Units, had over 2,000 people looking at their full page property listing during 2011. At $3 per click in AdWords, those results would have cost them over $6,000 last year – a huge difference from the $69 they actually paid to achieve those results by simply listing on the No.1 website in Google’s unpaid section for Orbost accommodation.

In summary, Google AdWords has its uses, but sometimes, depending on your circumstances, you can get a much better value from appearing on the website of a page that is ranked at No.1 in Google’s unpaid listings.