SEM Fundamentals: A Hotelier’s Study Guide – By Dani Moragne

A group of people at a conference table
SEM Fundamentals: A Hotelier’s Study Guide

Do you want to create a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy for your hotel but don’t know where to start? Have you tried, but are bogged down by all the jargon? Don’t worry, you’re covered with our SEM fundamentals.

More importantly, we know studying can be dry. So, we are implementing a reward system. Every time you finish a solid chunk of this study guide, you’ll get an adorable animal photo. Study on and conquer your SEM strategy!

SEM Study Guide: Definitions

Often the most confusing part of building an SEM strategy is understanding the terminology. So, to start us off, here are some definitions for relevant SEM foundation blocks—acronyms and all.

SEM: Also referred to as Paid Search. It refers to the practice increasing website visibility or traffic through paid advertising on search engines.

For any SEM strategy, there will be a few different bidding strategies for your ad campaigns. What you choose depends on your campaign type and advertising goals. Because of this, it is important that you write down and prioritize your marketing goals. Once you’ve done so, you can find the best bidding strategy for you. Here, we list and define the bidding strategy vocabulary.

Pay-per-click (PPC): This is when an advertiser pays only when their ad is clicked. Sometimes, PPC refers to pay-per-call, which is when a mobile user makes a direct call from the delivered ad. It is also important to note that SEM is always PPC, but other types of advertising such as Facebook, Twitter, or others can also be classified as pay-per-click. This is similar to how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

  • Cost-per-click (CPC): This is the actual price you pay when someone clicks your ad in your PPC marketing campaigns.
  • Cost-per-mille (CPM): Also known as cost-per-thousand-impressions, is the cost you pay for one thousand impressions on one webpage.
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): This is the cost you pay for a specified action i.e. a sale, booking, or form submit. It is interchangeable with “cost-per-action.”
  • Click-through-rate (CTR): This is the percentage of people who clicked on your ad. It is calculated by dividing the number of clicks your ad gets by the the number of times your ad is shown.
  • Look at that! One chunk down and another adorable animal for you! Like this hippo, you’ll soon be completely immersed in the sea (or swamp!) of SEM.

As far as other words used in the world of online advertising, there can be too many to count. Below are some of the most common terms hanging around out there:

  • Impression: Anytime your ad is shown
  • Keywords: terms that can be a single word or a phrase that describe the content of your webpage. You bid on these terms to influence ad placement. Keywords help search engines match your site with the appropriate search query and help drive consumers to your site.
  • Call to action (CTA): What the advertiser wants the audience to do next. An example of a CTA would be “sign up here”, “click to find out more” or, “book now”
  • Conversion: when someone completes an action on your site that you have deemed valuable to your business (i.e. purchasing something or calling your business), that action is counted as a conversion.
  • Ad group: when multiple ads share the same list of keywords or theme. Ad groups help you manage your campaigns and determine prices.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): The ratio of your net profit to your costs. It is vital for you to know your ROI so you can learn just how much money you’ve made to help inform your budgeting decisions. The equation to calculate ROI is your net profit divided by your total investment, multiplied by 100.

Your second stint of definitions is done! Hopefully, you have more energy than these two cute kittens, because we have more coming your way.

SEM Study Guide: Need to Knows

Before you get jammin’ with your SEM strategy, we discuss a few useful concepts and resources.

Paid Search Platforms: Google AdWords is often the preferred paid search platform for search marketers. Developed by Google, it helps you advertise on the Google Search Network and its affiliate sites. You can bid on keywords so that your ad appears in Google’s top search results for visibility. Bing Ads follow Google AdWords closely as another paid search platform. Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Yahoo search ads all have their own starter guides to help you grow your business through their platforms.

Above and Below the Fold: having a search result or ad “above the fold” means that it appears on the upper half of a web page, making it visible without having to scroll down. “Below the fold” is therefore the opposite, where a search result or ad is on the lower half of a web page.

You are always striving to be above the fold. With it becoming increasingly difficult to achieve preferred ad placement organically, paid search is a great complementary strategy to get you above the fold.

Campaign logistics: depending on which paid platform or platforms you choose, you will want to know the logistics of your campaigns. There is usually a structure or hierarchy to your campaigns.

Your Paid Search Platform account is at the top, your campaigns are second, your ad groups are third, and your keyword lists are last. It is helpful to structure your campaigns according to the structure of your website and your ad groups according to your services or products.

For example, you may have two campaigns, one for your hotel’s rooms, and the other for your hotel’s amenities. An ad group under your room campaign might be dedicated to your family suite package. On the other hand, an ad group under your amenities campaign might have your couple’s spa options. In general, creating organized campaigns and ad groups will keep you on top of your marketing goals.

You have conquered so much knowledge. Your destination is in sight! To keep you motivated and moving, here is an adventurous pup.

Best Practices for Creating Effective Ads

When creating ads, there are a lot of factors to consider to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck. It may be helpful to write down this checklist and cross off each one as you implement best practice in your own campaigns.

  • Connect your ads and keywords
    • This will help search engines deliver your ad when it is most relevant.
  • Highlight what makes you different from your competitors
  • Include a CTA
  • Make sure your ad and landing page matches
    • If they don’t—create something that does! You not only want to attract visitors but inspire them to make a conversion.
  • Tailor your ads for mobile
    • More and more searches are through mobile
  • Include ad extensions
    • Examples of ad extensions can include sitelinks, callouts, call extensions, structured snippets and so on.
    • These help take up more real estate on the page and drive up your click-through-rate.
  • Experiment to see what works best
  • You made it! Congratulations, you have finished the SEM Fundamentals Study Guide. Treat yourself, like this napping beauty, you deserve it!

About Dani Moragne

Dani is Sojern’s Content Marketing Intern. She holds a BA in Earth Science, loves the outdoors and spends her weekends working in ceramics. Her travel bucket list is long, and growing every day!