Local Adwords Ads Dominate the Hotel SERPS – The new normal? Or a Test?

This morning I spoke of the Google Hotel experiment that made search results into interactive local content. It is not clear if this is the new normal or a test but on this search for bed and breakfast St. Augustine and every hotel search, Adwords with Location Extensions and Adwords Express are now showing as interactive local content on hotel searches. No non local ads need apply.

By changing the dates of the visit, a hotel searcher remains on the search results page and sees a changing display of local hotels that one presumes are available during those dates. The local ads, dominating the page, either point to the Places page with the booking tool as opposed to the hotel website or provide an instant choice to book via Google’s Hotel booking ad via on the online travel agencies.

The highest blended result is now below the fold and with it, the first link to TripAdvisor or any 3rd party review site.

Whoah dude! Must be that Google doesn’t think organic results can be as useful to searchers as ads.

Here is a slide show of various searches with screen shots above the fold and full page. Or you can click the image below to view larger)

The results are similar with the 7-pack showing, although obviously more local results:

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Local Adwords Ads Dominate the Hotel SERPS - The new normal? Or a Test? by

6 thoughts on “Local Adwords Ads Dominate the Hotel SERPS – The new normal? Or a Test?”

  1. Mike –

    I’m seeing mostly local ads in your example, but Kayak’s Adwords for B&Bs displayed #1 both from work and home (and no, I’ve never purchased from Kayak.)

    If there’s a sea change for local ads vs national brands when local intent is clearly indicated by a user, that would be great news. In the florist space, we still see a large portion of ‘family owned and operated’ ads by faux-local-yet-distant call centers.

    Perhaps the quality scores are getting elevated for confirmed local businesses?

  2. Question regarding the hotel industry:

    I have noticed that there there are several Google Places Pages where there is no sign of “owner verified” listing.

    I am talking about the two blue links that appear on the right hand side above the map on the Place page. “Edit this place – Owner-verified listing”. They just don’t exist.

    Does this mean that the Place page cannot be claimed and does not have a LB control panel?

    I have seen this rapidly in the hotel industry.

    Are there posts on this blog that write about this issue?

  3. As someone relatively new to this field, yes, I have a lot to learn. I have been concerned how my places page (we are a Chevrolet dealership in the Richmond, Virginia, metro market) shows in search results. Since the mid-July revisions, we often appear as a red dot, while the other dealers in our market have the customary red pushpin and search results placement. Only when scrolling over my red dot and clicking on it, can I see my places page preview, and then only after zooming in will my places page show in the search results, often ranking low or the lowest among the dealerships displayed. Several days ago, I committed to a Adwords Express budget, but I have yet to see my blue pushpin show up. It appears that my Adwords Express settings limit displays to a 25 km radius. I am curious why a Buffalo, NY, search location has no problem finding the Adwords Express listings for a Hotel in St. Augustine, FL, (as it should, since that is the topic of the search). Is the 25 km radius specific to my product category? Why are my organic map results so poor? Could it be my business is being punished for not advertising or some other perceived algorithmic infraction?

  4. @Joshua
    The subtleties of ranking and penalities are far too many to have any meaningful discussion about your situation from afar…

    Things to think about when rankings change:
    – Are there new ranking factors?
    – Have your competitors improved thus pushing you down?
    – Is your website strong enough?
    – Is your Places listing strong enough?
    – Are there any violations in the Places record that would lead to a diminished standing?
    – Is there a temporary glitch in Google that has affected your record?

    There are probably more but enough that makes your question not a simple one to answer within the constraints of a response box.

    As to your Adwods Express ad, due to budget limitations, competition, relevance and other factors it will not show all that often. In the case of Express although not regular Adwords, an ad for which the bidding has changed during the month will not show at all towards the end of the month.

  5. @Cathy

    It does appear that this is a test. I had not thought about the implications of a local turn of emphasis on Adwords… that would have a big impact… although in this case I think Google was testing their booking tool specifically.

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