A few years back, Google changed the way search results appeared with the addition of Google My Business listings. These blocks on the right side of the page feature photos, contact information, address, reviews and other general information about the business. In the case of hotels, you can even see prices and book rooms through third party companies such as Booking.com and Expedia that comes from metasearch.
So, for businesses that means the page is broken down into four parts: Google AdWords (green), Organic Search Results (blue), Google My Business Listing (red) and Metasearch (purple).
Where are users clicking?
A recent study from Moz, a Seattle based inbound marketing company, reveals how the clicks are distributed. In total, 55% of users said they click on the first or second link, which would be paid advertising. Many of these people do not realize they are clicking on ads. About 28% said they would scroll down to the organic results, 10% use the metasearch tool and 7% would click on the Google My Business listing.
When people search for a business by name, it usually means they are at the end of the decision process and are ready to make a purchase. All of this shows the importance of being in the top spot for your company name.
Who is stealing your customers?
Now that we know where on the page people tend to click, let’s take a look at how you may be losing customers.
Any business in the travel/tourism industry is familiar with the effect that online travel agencies (OTAs) like Booking.com and Expedia can have. They are paid commissions of 15-25%, which can add up to a significant portion of your revenue. But there is something else that many businesses do not consider…
Let’s say someone searches for your business by name. We will use the hypothetical example “Pura Vida Hotel.” The first result that appears is from Booking.com, followed by Expedia and Hotels.com. Because of this paid advertising, the official website for Pura Vida Hotel is down in fourth position on the page. The user clicks on the first link (as many people do) and is taken to the Booking.com website. There they are shown the listing for Pura Vida Hotel, but at the same time they are being shown many enticing offers for other hotels. The user gets distracted by one of these offers and books with a different hotel. You just lost a customer that was yours to being with. This happens much more often than you think.
How to take back your customers
If you think that you don’t need to pay to promote your business, think again. You are actually already doing it by way of commissions to third party agencies. And when you run the numbers (commissions paid), that’s really expensive especially considering they were already your customer.
With a small ongoing Pay-Per-Click campaign (Google AdWords, Bing, Yahoo) for your business name, you can start to see results from increased direct business. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns are a great way to be in that first spot and claim the customer that is rightfully yours.
The travel industry is extremely competitive and we like to say “whoever builds the best mouse trap wins.” Travel and booking agencies have invested billions of dollars in marketing and research, and while you may not be able to outspend them, you can certainly be a player and meet your customer at the door with big welcome mat.