Paid advertisements and Google products are now top priorities for digital marketers. Google is the dominant search engine in the US and Europe on both desktops and mobile devices and its travel products are pushing organic results further down the page. As a result, ranking high organically is less and less important.
The “top dogs” in travel searches are Google, who can manipulate what appears on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and large companies that can afford to consistently pay for the top positions. Luckily, smaller companies can compete by creating their own Pay-Per-Click campaigns. Since ads appear at the very top of the page, focusing on PPC rather than SEO will benefit your property because your site will appear in a better location.
But does Google display too many ads, creating a poor user experience? A 2012 Google blog post explained that users disliked visiting websites that had a large number of ads above the fold. Yet, Google appears to be doing just that. Ads created using Google AdWords account for all but one result visible before scrolling down when searching for “hotels in boston.”
But is that last result actually an organic listing? Google offers flight, hotel, shopping, and Google+ products, such as the one shown in the screenshot, which push organic listings even further down the page.
Johannes Reck, CEO of GetYourGuide, believes SEO is dying but it will beneficial to users because the companies that can pay for the top spots provide excellent customer service and generate conversions. On the other hand, Travis Katz, Founder and CEO of Gogobot, questions whether users are seeing the best content that is out there or only what Google controls.
One thing is for sure, paid advertisements are currently where digital marketers are focusing their energies. As Priceline CEO Paul Hennessy said, “I believe it is a paid world.”
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