What Is Google’s Performance Max?


You’ve heard of Paid Search, and you’ve heard of Display. But what about Performance Max? Performance Max was introduced to Google Ads somewhat recently and only rolled out worldwide in 2021. Google claims that Performance Max campaigns can “drive more conversions across all Google Ads inventory,” but what does that really mean? Are there any drawbacks of using this campaign type?

We dove into Google’s Performance Max to find the answers, so you don’t have to. Read on to see what we discovered.

Introducing Google’s Performance Max

Performance Max allows you to span marketing efforts across all of Google's marketing channels, making it an appealing choice for businesses who could benefit from a broad marketing bandwidth.

For Performance Max to work, you must provide some assets (headlines, descriptions, images, videos, etc.), then Google automatically creates ads based on the assets you provide. You can further refine Performance Max campaigns by providing input on audience targeting, based on information from your customer database. This fine-tuning process helps direct your campaigns towards a more optimal way to engage with your ideal guests.

After providing initial assets and audience data, your Performance Max campaigns are then eligible to run across all of Google’s inventory, which is a big differentiator from other Google campaign types. Google’s inventory & placements include Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery campaigns. The extensive placement significantly boosts your campaign's range, making it more effective in reaching prospective guests.

If you’re looking for a more hands off and more automated advertising approach, exploring Performance Max campaigns is a great option. It’s essential, however, to weigh the advantages and drawbacks to make an informed decision. Let's explore the key pros and cons of using Performance Max, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic advertising strategy.

Pros And Cons Of Google Performance Max Campaigns

Now that you know what Performance Max campaigns are and how they work, it’s time to decide if you should use them. There are a number of benefits to the campaign, but they can also cause some problems in certain cases. Here are some of the highlights.

Pro - Reach

Performance Max enables businesses to consistently reach customers across all of Google's ad channels, which is ideal for effectively reaching customers with complex booking journeys. Consumers have increasing expectations and studies have shown that 87% of consumers want more cross-channel experiences, so it is important to show up in times where these interactions matter most. 

Pro - Individualization

With the use of machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, Performance Max is able to create individualized marketing funnels based on the individual needs of each prospect. It does this by building deep data profiles on each user, to track and measure their interactions to most effectively reach and engage with prospects. 

Pro - Unique Approach

Google has opened up a door to new settings that are not available with other campaign types. Performance Max can optimize towards exclusively new customers, or new and existing customers, but bids higher on new ones. This enables businesses to approach their market in two distinct ways. 

The first is to capture an entirely new market, who has not yet engaged with your brand. This approach will not offer an immediate ROI, but can cultivate a larger market share reach for your brand and may ultimately lead to a higher return in the long run. 

The second option is to bid on both new and existing customers, but to bid higher on new. This allows you to identify new customers for your brand, while also engaging with your brand-aware market in a new way, which can be vital for keeping your hotel top of mind when it is time to book.

Pro - Machine Learning

Since Performance Max leverages machine learning, it can identify and capture unseen markets that are not as apparent through its deep data learning models. This means that Performance Max can enable businesses to reach new markets that resonate with their brand. 

Con - Budget

Because Performance Max campaigns serve ads across so many channels, the cost of this campaign type can get pretty high compared to others such as Search. You’ll need a fair amount of budget to cover all of the included channels, and this budget will need to be consistent for a few months until the campaign has time to ramp up and generate a healthy return.

Con - Reporting

Data for Performance Max campaigns is very limited compared to other campaign types you may be familiar with. Most metrics are available only at the campaign level, with no breakdown based on advertising channel, audience, or other common segments. Even data on ad copy is missing, with each asset only getting a rating of “Low” to “Best” when compared to other assets in the campaign.

Con - Control

Since Performance Max campaigns are designed to maximize conversions across Google Ads, there’s very little control over this campaign type. You can not choose which channels your ads will display on, audience signals only train the algorithm and don’t give you targeting options, and bid modifiers are limited. Performance Max is an all-or-nothing campaign, and you must have an overwhelming amount of trust in Google to serve your ads efficiently.

Con - Ad Overlap

Finally, Performance Max could have a negative impact on your existing Google Ads campaigns. Google prioritizes Performance Max in almost every case, the only exception being Search campaigns where exact match keywords rank higher than your Performance Max ads. This means that existing phrase match keywords, Display campaigns, Video campaigns, and Shopping campaigns may be eclipsed by Performance Max and see less traffic in the long run.

Should I Use Google’s Performance Max?

There’s really no right answer, since the effectiveness of Performance Max can vary depending on your marketing goals, existing Google Ads account data, and other factors. If you already have a strong brand, with high-performing ads in other campaign types, then Performance Max may end up hurting more than helping. However, if you’re seeing lackluster marketing performance, or want to generate more awareness for a brand with little recognition, Performance Max could be a great way to elevate your marketing efforts.

If you need help deciding if this campaign is for you, or just want more information on Performance Max campaigns, feel free to reach out using the information below.

New Hotel SERP Feature Alert: Google Property Promotion Ads Carousel is Live


At the end of 2022, Google announced that a new Property Promotion Ads carousel was coming to it’s mobile search results. Previously out in beta, the new Google Property Promotion Ads carousel is now live in the mobile and desktop search results. Are you seeing this in your hotel google searches yet? You can see the new feature in the below screenshot.

What are Property Promotion Ads?

Property Promoted Ads are a campaign type available within the Google Hotel Ads inventory space. It is a separate campaign type from standard Google Hotel Ads and does require a separate campaign type in order to run. These ads appear at the top of destination searches in the Google Travel Planner, Google Maps, and now directly at the top of the search results for hotel searches. 

Property Promotion Ads allow you to get in front of consumers when their shopping for hotels in a destination and tend to be higher up the funnel in their research process compared to standard Google Hotel Ads, which appear within a hotel’s knowledge panel or travel planner listing. Property Promotion Ads also tend to have higher CPCs since the inventory is in a premium position, which can also result in lower ROAS compared to standard Google Hotel Ads placements.

Where Did the Standard Text Based Paid Search Ads Go?

One important observation from the screenshot above is that there are no standard text ads shown above the hotel map pack. We’re only seeing the Property Promotion Ads carousel in this search for “Calistoga Hotels”. We did get standard text ads to trigger with other searches, including “San Diego Resorts”. The takeover of the top position on the Google SERP will have a huge impact on paid search advertising visibility and push hotels to shift their focus and media dollars to Google Hotel Ads and Property Promotion Ads, in particular, in order to maintain visibility for destination searches.

Google Now Showing Updated Search Filters for Hotel Searches

A secondary but essential update found with this new SERP for hotel searches is the new set of filters shown under the search bar. The search shown below for “Calistoga hotels” includes filter options such as “luxury”, “with hot springs”, “with spa”, “cheap”, and “with pools”.

It looks like Google is pulling in these new features directly from attributes available within Google Business Profile and proving once again how important Local SEO, especially your hotel’s Google Business Profile, is to visibility in the search engine results and to your Google Hotel Ads performance.

How can my hotel get started with Google Property Promotion Ads?

In order to run Google Property Promotion Ads, you first need to be live with Google Hotel Ads via a hotel metasearch advertising provider. It requires connectivity to your booking engine rates and inventory, along with campaign management and ongoing optimization.

Please reach out to our team of Google Hotel Ads experts at GCommerce for more information.

Digital Marketing 101 Series: What is SEO & Paid Search?


SEO and paid search can be complex and difficult to understand. In this article, we will cover the differences and similarities between the two.

Let's first get an understanding of what each of these terms means.

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is used to increase a website's page ranking (visibility) and conversion value within the organic listings in the search engine results page. Having your website rank high within the search engine results page doesn't come easy. However, as there are a wide variety of competitor websites that are also manipulating components that help to improve page rank. Moz explained how this is done in their "Mozlow's Hierarchy of SEO Needs." In it, they explain that:

1. Crawl accessibility is the most important because if your website can't be indexed, then it can't be seen by Google or searchers.

2. You must have relevant, accurate & high-quality content on your website.

3. You should optimize your content with high search volume keywords that are accurate to what your website is about.

4. The website should offer a great user experience, from page load speed to ease of use.

5. Your website should include content that people will share or use in their own posts, websites, etc. This helps to produce links to your website.

6. You should optimize your page titles, meta descriptions, h-tags & more with specific keywords that have a decent amount of search volume that are relevant to what is on the web page.

7. Last are structured snippets. These allow you to stand out in the search engine results page.

What is Paid Search Marketing?

Paid search marketing ads use keywords to target a specific search intent but are paid for by the companies that are posting the ads. These ads are composed of carefully crafted headlines, 90 character descriptions & ad extensions.

What are the differences between SEO & Paid Search?

Now let's discuss the differences between the two areas of digital marketing.

Where Do Organic Listings and Paid Search Ads Appear on the SERP?

The first major difference is where and how each of the listings shows up on the search engine results page. Organic listings appear below the ad section on the search engine results page. Where they show up after the ads are based on a variety of ranking signals that search engines use within their algorithms. An ideal organic listing looks like this:

Paid search ads will normally appear in the top 3-4 positions on the page, if there is sufficient competition to warrant that many positions, and the bottom 2-3 positions. The ads rank (position on the page) and number of times that it is shown are determined by Google through something called quality score, which you can learn more about here, and how much each advertiser is willing to bid on the keywords. An ideal ad looks like this:

How Long Does it Take To See Performance From SEO and Paid Search?

Another major difference is the amount of time it takes to see an impact on website performance.

It can take 4-6 months or more after implementing SEO changes to see an impact on performance, but even this can't be guaranteed. While no one knows exactly how Google's algorithm works, we know that Google has to discover your new page content and analyze numerous other ranking signals to understand your page's authority on the topic versus all over pages on the web. This process takes time, and even after all of that, it can still be hard to see results since there are so many outside factors to take into account, such as competition, property changes, consumer reviews, and more.

On the other hand, paid search ads can show results the moment that you create them, just as long as there is a budget in your account. This is because ads are instant. They can instantly appear at the top of the search engine results page, are instantly accessible, and accurately track impressions, clicks, etc., back to the keyword that triggered the ad.

What are the similarities between SEO & Paid Search?

On-Page SEO & Paid Search Ads Share Messaging Components

SEO elements and paid search ads share similarities as well as differences when it comes to the actual content. A similarity between the two is that they should highlight key competitive advantages that your property has over its competition. This could include anything from an award-winning spa experience to the hotel's location. Maintaining a consistent, unified message across all channels is an important marketing strategy.

SEO & Paid Search Can Share Keyword Focus

Each of these marketing methods uses the same keywords, which are aimed at directing searchers to your website. Keywords used in Google Ads are implemented through headlines and descriptions that give you results almost instantly. Keywords used in SEO are implemented through page titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, etc., and as far as we know can take up to 6 months to show an impact on performance. This is where keywords from Google Ads can be helpful to your SEO efforts. You can test keywords in your ads, see how they perform and then use the best-performing keywords in your SEO. By doing this, you will also begin to match your keyword focuses on your page to that of your ads which improve your landing page experience and ad relevance. This, in turn, improves your quality score and helps you achieve a lower CPC.


Paid Search and SEO are two search engine marketing methods used to produce visibility for a given company's website by catching its audience's attention. Still, they also show up in different locations on the page and are monitored differently in terms of performance. Using these marketing methods hand in hand is a powerful tool, though, and should be used in order to improve a website's performance.

Are SEO-Friendly Image Descriptions Worth Your Time?


As search marketers, we’re always trying to push the limits of optimization and squeeze our clients’ websites for every ounce of performance we can. GCommerce Solutions recently wrote SEO-friendly image descriptions for a client’s gallery pages, and we used the opportunity to learn more about on-page SEO by testing the descriptions’ effect on site performance.

The SEO Image Optimization Test

All performance data for this SEO image optimization test was collected from a single website domain, across three separate gallery pages on the site. Each image on these pages had an existing description, but we updated them with SEO keywords present in the corresponding page’s title and meta description. No other variables were changed.

This test lasted around a month, starting the day after optimized SEO image descriptions were implemented on each page. Impact on performance was measured period-over-period, using data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

SEO Image Optimization Test Results By Page

Percent change, period-over-period.

Page 1 performed the best, with increases across the board. 

Page 2 performed poorly, with a decrease in all metrics.

Page 3 was evenly split, with flat pageviews, increased entrances, and decreased SERP impressions.

Overall SEO Image Optimization Test Results

The test didn’t have a strong impact on total pageviews, but entrances did increase. However, total SERP impressions decreased during this test. 


The results of this test are fairly inconclusive. We’ll continue to experiment with SEO image descriptions, but we’ll need a larger data set over a longer period before we can draw a conclusion on their impact.

Though I wouldn’t say SEO-friendly image descriptions are a priority, they’re still worth a shot. There’s a lot of potential with the right page and smart optimization. If you’ve got a fairly optimized website but want to try something new, I definitely recommend testing SEO image descriptions.
To learn more about SEO or see what we’re currently testing, check out the rest of our digital marketing blog or contact us below.

Why You Should Be Using Google Business Posts


Introduced only in 2017, Google Business posts are fairly new to the search marketing scene. But don’t let that fool you. Google Business posts can be an incredibly valuable tool for local SEO, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.

Many businesses ignore or give up on Google Business posts due to their lackluster performance when it comes to direct views and click throughs. However, there’s a hidden benefit to sticking with it. While Posts may not be overwhelmingly successful on their own, posting somewhat regularly can improve your rank in Google’s algorithm, causing your Google Business Profile to be shown more often and generating awareness for your business. 

What Are Google Business Posts?

Google Business Posts can cover a variety of topics, with post types including “Events,” “Offers,” the open-ended “What’s New,” and more. These posts appear as part of your Google Business Profile listing, showing in both Maps and the standard Google results page.

Here’s an example of a “What’s New” and “Events” post on the general results page. 

Every post type is a little different, but each one offers a number of optional call-to-action buttons, such as “Learn more” and “Order online,” as well as the option to add an eye-catching image. 

All post types will disappear from your Google Business Profile eventually, which is why it’s so important to post regularly.

Putting Google Business Posts To The Test

Below, we’ve compiled data to help determine whether Google Business posts are worth the time and effort. 

This test was conducted across 5 boutique hotels, comparing user metrics between the 3 months before and after we started using Google Business Posts. While exact post frequency varied, each property posted at least once per month during this test, using a variety of “What’s New” and “Event” posts. 

“New Users” was pulled from Google Analytics, and only includes traffic from the Source/Medium combination of google / organic. Google Map Views was provided by Yext, a platform for managing Local SEO listings. 

While “Google Map Views” did not always increase (likely due to external factors such as seasonality and search volume), the change in performance for this metric was significantly better across all 5 properties than the change for “New Users.” These differences are not insignificant either, providing fairly convincing evidence that regular Google Business posts will increase your standings in the Google algorithm and lead to more awareness. 

Key Takeaways About Google Business Posts

If you aren’t using Google Business posts, you should start now. While they may not bring in a ton of traffic on their own, they’re an incredibly effective, and fairly easy, way to increase your business’ visibility on Google. 

GCommerce Solutions has already incorporated Google Business posts into our arsenal of standard Local SEO tactics, and we encourage you to do the same. If you’re interested in learning more about Google Business posts or other Local SEO tips, check out the rest of our digital marketing blog or contact us below.

An Overview of Google’s Helpful Content Update


Google's big push with it’s latest algorithm update, named the helpful content update, is taking aim at pages that are solely produced for search engines and not users.  A lot of this targets pages with content auto-generated by AI writing apps or not providing original content/value on whatever the page topic is about. GCommerce’s SEO and content recommendation focus has always been with an emphasis on creation for people but making sure to use SEO best practices as outlined by Google. I think this article by Google really outlines how any website should think about Google’s helpful content update in an easy-to-understand format. 

Our suggestions remain the same as they have been. That pages should have rich, original content, and then the content provided should also integrate SEO optimization best practices based on Google's guidelines to position the page in the best way to achieve success in the SERPs (and avoid crazy performance issues when algorithm changes occur). We never attempt "black hat" tactics or tactics geared solely at search engines without first considering the value to someone coming to the site looking for the type of product or search topic we are optimizing that page for. If you have used auto-generated/AI content or simply created pages with low-value content for the sake of search engine ranking and it doesn't provide value to someone researching that topic, then we would recommend updating it or removing it from your site.

Want to understand if your site is impacted by Google’s helpful content update as it rolls out over the next couple of weeks? Since it is an update that adds the signal as one of the many signals Google uses in the algorithm. The best place to monitor overall performance continues to be within Google Search Console performance reports. You can also add another layer of reporting by monitoring your positions through a platform such as SEMRush and keeping an eye on your Analytics organic traffic. 

This update by Google was maining focused on eCommerce product sites and entertainment-related sites as you can tell by some of the language used in it’s Google update/release article, but I think it's a great reminder for all businesses across any industry that it's important to optimize their site experience and content for users while also making sure to follow SEO best practices for optimization. We’ve always viewed the two (optimizing for people and great SEO best practices) to have a ton of overlap if done correctly. 

Have questions or think your site may have been impacted? Please reach out to our search experts with any questions.