How GCommerce's Programmatic Bidding Strategies Benefit Our Hotel Clients


If there is one thing that is absolute in the hospitality internet marketing world, it’s that we must constantly be testing, analyzing, implementing changes (or not) based on test data, and testing some more.

GCommerce utilizes programmatic bid optimization for paid search marketing, which is now a must in a world of constant changes and bid management. Programmatic bidding allows bid adjustments throughout the day and uses data based on previous days data. For an individual to be able to delve into the performance and history of a specific keyword would take hours to be able to optimize an account of 100+ keywords, multiply this by 10 or more clients a day and there is now no time for other important client optimizations.

Programmatic bidding is not just a set-and-forget machine learning tool. If you use programmatic bid optimization you must make sure that you are making the most of it and getting the best results possible for clients. How do you do this? Test. Analyze. Implement (or not). Test Again.

Earlier this year, I ran a test on a sample of clients using a different bid strategy model to see if client performance could benefit from it. It wasn’t that the current automated bid strategy wasn’t working, it was based on the idea that we always want to improve our results, therefore we test different theories and strategies.

This particular test yielded some pretty significant results:

Due to the seasonality of our clients, the best data to gather is to compare year over year with a significant amount of time. Using a date range of 6 months of data, here is what we found:

  • Average CPC’s increased 1%
  • Reservations increased 89%
  • Revenue increased 100%

When comparing to GCommerce’s entire hospitality paid search marketing portfolio, here is what we found:

  • Average CPC’s increased at a much lower rate
  • Reservations increased at a much higher rate
  • Revenue also increased at a much higher rate
Programmatic bidding strategies performance

Rising CPC’s are a constant battle in the paid search marketing world. At GCommerce Solutions, our hospitality internet marketing teams are constantly optimizing paid search campaigns to help decrease this metric as best as we can. After reviewing performance across GCommerce’s entire portfolio, I found that, on average, GCommerce clients experienced an increase of 4% in average CPC’s during the same time period. This leads to a conclusion that our clients and the hotel industry continue to see ever-increasing rise in CPC’s across the board in order to compete in the SERP. But the fact that we have been able to slow it down while ramping up reservations and revenue is a huge win.

After pulling all of the data and seeing such clear results, it was obvious that it was in our clients’ best interest to switch gears on our overall strategy to best reach our KPI (key performance indicator) goals and maximize their spend. So we did.

Google Page Speed Update: Will Your Hotel's Website Be Impacted?



Search Engine Land and our agency Google representative have confirmed that Google’s Page Speed Update is now being released to all users.  As of July 9th, 2018, Google “has begun incorporating the new Speed Update algorithm in the mobile search results as a search ranking factor”.

Google has confirmed that right now, the update “only impacts the slowest of sites on the internet”. But….what does Google consider slow or the slowest in terms of mobile site speed? Our Google agency representative stated that RANK COULD BE AFFECTED FOR PAGES THAT LOAD SLOWER THAN 3-4 SECONDS. In addition to page rank and organic performance, it’s also important to understand that pages with slow load times also impact your paid advertising performance. How much of the traffic from your hard earned paid advertising dollars are bouncing from your site because the page takes too long to download? This can add up to a lot of wasted advertising dollars.

How do you know if Google’s Page Speed Update could impact your website? In Google’s most recent blog post on the Page Speed Update, they state that, “Although there is no tool that directly indicates whether a page is affected by this new ranking factor, here are some resources that can be used to evaluate a page’s performance.” These include Google’s Test My Site Tool.

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Our Google representative encourages immediate action to improve page speed if your site is loading slower than 5 seconds. Back in May we dove into the importance of mobile page speed for organic search rankings. Now is the time to act, don’t wait until your site is negatively impacted. Chances are, it is already seeing the negative impact of advertising dollars wasted on site visitors that bounce.

Reach out to GCommerce today to inquire about how we can help improve your site’s page speed.

How to Win on Mobile: The Increasing Importance of Mobile Speed for Organic Search Rankings



Google recently came out with a new tool to help companies compare their mobile performance against their competitors and measure the impact that decreasing mobile page load times can have on revenue. It’s not surprising to anyone in the marketing world that the results are significant. Users are increasingly demanding of websites to load as fast as possible, with slower websites experiencing noticeable increases in bounce rate as well as drops in other engagement metrics like time on site, pages per session and event/goal completions.

This move by Google is the latest in a series of initiatives by the tech giant to emphasize the increasing importance of mobile experience in the modern internet landscape. Looking back to April 2015, Google updated their algorithm in a release dubbed by webmasters as “Mobilegeddon”, giving priority in their SERP rankings to mobile- and tablet-friendly websites when the query was made on a mobile device. In May of that same year, they released a statement saying that mobile searches exceeded those of desktop in 10 countries, including the US & Japan. In November 2016, they started experimenting with mobile-first indexing, wherein a site’s mobile version, if it had one, would be used as its primary version, with the desktop version being displayed only if a mobile version was not available. Those sites without a mobile version would most likely see a decline in their SERP rankings while sites with a mobile-friendly experience could receive a boost in rankings regardless of the device on which the search is being made. Fast-forward to January 2018, Google released a statement explicitly calling out the fact that page speed will now be a ranking factor on mobile searches like it has been on desktop starting in July of this year.

One question you may be having is why Google is taking such a strong stance on mobile. The answer is multi-faceted, but it all comes down to providing users with the best possible experience, which ultimately benefits both users and Google. By optimizing your site for a mobile user, using techniques such as responsive design, fast page load times, utilizing caching and providing high quality content, your site is more likely to be engaging to users and therefore rank higher on Google’s SERP. Google benefits by providing users with the highest-quality content in the top positions which builds trust and makes users more likely to use them in the future, while you benefit with increased website traffic, higher conversion rates, and more engagement with your site. It’s in Google’s best interest to keep this feedback loop continuing and to get webmasters to perpetually try to optimize their sites for an optimal user experience, which is why we’ve seen this progression from merely stating that mobile experience is important to announcing to the world that it is definitively a factor in their rankings and providing businesses withtools like the Impact Calculator that should encourage them to make strides in the short term to that effect.


Back to Google’s new mobile tools for a second. The top section of the page allows you to compare your site with those of your competitors to see how your mobile speed stacks up. This is a great tool for benchmarking and assessing if you’re currently ahead of, in line with, or way behind your competition. In the below example, we would recommend to our client that they make immediate changes to their website to get on level terms with their competition as they are lagging behind all but one of their competitors.


Revenue Directors and business owners will most likely be more intrigued by the Impact Calculator, though. It will ask you for data regarding average monthly website visitors, average order value, and website conversion rate. Based on this information, it will give an estimate of how much incremental revenue can be generated by lowering your site’s mobile page load time on a scale in increments of 0.1 seconds from your site’s current load time down to their minimum threshold of 0.6 seconds.

If you play around with the slider function, you’ll notice that the faster a web page loads, the more incremental revenue it is expected to produce. We noticed that the relationship did not appear to be linear, so we tested a couple of our clients on the tool and found the following:


Client 1 (Original Page Load Time of 5.0 Seconds)


Client 2 (Original Page Load Time of 2.8 Seconds)


As you can see from the graphs, incremental revenue starts to increase exponentially as page load times approach the minimum of 0.6 seconds. While that minimum isn’t currently attainable for many websites, it’s certainly something everyone should be striving for given the potential payoff.

The nice thing about decreasing page load times is that it positively affects other metrics that you may not have thought about. It’s obvious that bounce rate would decrease while time on site and pages per session would increase, but could this affect organic search results, too? While no one knows exactly what’s in Google’s search algorithm, we already know that they have come out and said that site speed is a ranking factor and that mobile page load speed will be a ranking factor starting in July. It’s also been shown through independent testing that the top positions in organic search results typically have lower than average bounce rates and higher than average time spent on that page. By increasing your mobile site speed, you’re helping your site’s pages rank better for organic results, thereby supplementing your other SEO efforts. As mentioned previously, higher organic rankings should produce higher website conversion rates and therefore more revenue, something every business owner can get behind.


You may be thinking that this all sounds great but it’s not currently a priority, and you’d rather focus budget and time on channels with predictable ROIs. The thing about that is, you’re wrong. Mobile traffic is increasing every year and has accounted for the majority of worldwide searches since 2015. Most of your users are most likely on mobile devices or will be in the near future. Also, in preparing for Google’s eventual worldwide switch to a mobile-first index, it’s even more important to have a mobile-friendly website and for mobile page load times to be lower, since a domain’s mobile site will be used as the primary site in Google’s search results. They are making it clear with their actions that this is the direction they want websites to move towards, with those who don’t comply being penalized and pushed further down the SERP, never to be seen again. It’s in your best interest to take the necessary steps to optimize your site for mobile now, and make a concerted effort to keep it that way moving forward. Mobile traffic and faster speeds are the future.


Get in touch with us today if you’d like more information on how GCommerce can help you gain incremental revenue from increased mobile site speed and optimize your site for a mobile experience.

Tropicana Inn & Suites' New Website Increases Conversion Rate and Revenue


Have you ever wondered just how important a website is to a business?

GCommerce launched a beautiful new website for Tropicana Inn & Suites in Anaheim, CA in October 2017. A deep focus on branding, user experience and design with a focus on conversion rate optimization had a dramatic impact on the hotel’s digital presence and bottom line.

Functionality plays a huge part in the overall user experience and performance for any website. The creative and design team at GCommerce Solutions understands this and makes sure to implement hospitality specific best practices to all of our website builds and designs.

In the case of Tropicana Inn & Suites, it was a Design Ready Architecture (DRA) build that was put together with their new branding and content initiatives. The Tropicana specific DRA that was used took into consideration keeping a user on the website and giving them all the information needed right at their fingertips.

The most important factors considered for Tropicana’s layout & design was:

  • Having a testimonial section right on the website.
    • This keeps a user on the page and provides transparency; keeping them from having to search for another website’s reviews helping to ultimately keep the user on the property’s website.
    • This shows success in the 6% increase in average session duration since the launch of the new website.
  • Highlighting the most visited pages right on the homepage to help keep the user engaged and easy navigation to find the information they require.
  • High quality and professional photography. Per Hospitality Net, after price, photography is the most important factor for travelers and prospects.


The following results were found after comparing data from the old website vs. the new website post launch.


Overall website Performance

Lets delve deeper and review how the new website helped the individual digital marketing efforts.


Paid Search


Facebook Advertisement

Well designed with user experience and conversion rate best practices in mind, a new website can make a dramatic difference in your hotel’s performance and bottom line. Your website is your online storefront, You want it to be welcoming and portray a true representation of the property’s experience. The user experience should be easy to navigate and help lead your user through the booking funnel. Such as the snap navigation and booking widget used for Tropicana Inn & Suites that affixes to the top of the browser and follows the user down the page. You want the user to be able to navigate your site from anywhere and allow them to book their room from any point of their journey.

GCommerce Solutions would be happy to help with your new website. You can submit a request for more information here or give us a call at 435-214-5301.

How to Optimize Hotel Website Images and Why You Should


Many search engine optimization industry experts have made the connection between optimizing images and improved Organic Search performance. Updating Title Tags, Alt Tags and Image Filenames are a few of the recommendations to best optimize images on a website for better search engine rankings and performance. But, with any SEO tactic, the question is – what kind of impact does it have on performance and what is the best way to measure performance? In this article, we will explore those two questions around optimizing images on a website.



We selected one of our partner websites that has an incredible venue for hosting weddings at their hotel. Considering that 6 of the 10 most popular dates to get engaged last year were in December, we decided that optimizing pages associated with their wedding venue would be a great test for the end of the year.


We updated the Image Filenames, Title Tags and Alt tags on all photos hosted on the Hotel Wedding pages on the client’s website.


Something to note: Depending on the format of your website and CMS, updating image filenames on your site could be difficult. It is always best to consult with your website developer or designer to ensure that modifying filenames are not going to create broken images or links on your website. Luckily, some of the incredibly savvy web developers at GCommerce created a custom Plugin for our WordPress websites to be able to accurately update Image Filenames in real time on the site. We utilized this plugin in order to seamlessly integrate our desired filenames.


Image elements on our partner website were updated on December 6th, 2017. Other authors have done an excellent job talking about the difficulties of measuring the impacts of tests on Organic Search. While focusing on Rankings can be difficult due to the differences by user in which search results are displayed, we can use Google Search Console, SEM Rush and Google Analytics to measure any changes in traffic and visibility on Wedding pages through Organic Search.


To measure impact, we analyzed overall Pageviews, Unique Pageviews and Entrances through the Organic Search Channel in Google Analytics. The results show increases in all KPIs in comparing to the previous period, prior to when image elements were updated. The changes resulted in more Impressions and Clicks while the Average Position in the SERPs remained flat as measured by Google Search Console.


*Time 1 = 12/7/17-1/8/18
*Time 2 = 11/4/17-12/6/17


The goal and measure for success is to drive more qualified traffic and wedding business for our client. By driving increased traffic to these pages, we are more likely to engage potential customers to contact our client hotel about hosting a wedding on the property.



Moving forward, we will continue to optimize this hotel’s website for search engines with the goal of driving increased qualified traffic to help our clients achieve success. Image optimization is a key element in helping to establish visibility for website content in the SERP in order to drive organic traffic and conversions.

Reach out to GCommerce today if you’d like any additional information about optimizing images or your website for increased performance online.

A Hotelier's Guide: How to Optimize for Voice Search


Voice search is the latest buzz in the digital marketing community. With companies like Gartner predicting that by 2020, 30% of searches will be voice, hotel marketers are eager to know if their businesses are optimized for this new channel.

While it may be the shiniest new marketing object to catch your attention – it’s important to first understand what this technology is, how it works and how it may disrupt the market in order to determine how it will (or won’t) change the way you need to approach your hotel’s digital marketing strategies.


When people use the term “voice search” they are usually speaking of one of two different areas –home assistants (think Google Home, Amazon Echo with Alexa) and voice search using your phone’s technology such as Siri to return results on a screen. The latter technically being defined as “dictated search”.  We’ll dive into both to make sure your best prepared for the latest disruption in search engine marketing for hotels.


Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home are currently leading the market for voice assistant devices. This area of voice search is, at its core, screen-less. That means one-answer responses, not a list of responses presented in search engine results format. It wasn’t until Amazon launched its Echo Show that home assistants started to incorporate screens into their devices. Now more home assistant devices, like Google Home, are incorporating or planning to incorporate screens into home assistant devices.


The other area included under the topic of “voice search” is search that uses voice command to pull up search engine results on a screen. This is more accurately defined as dictated search. This includes the use of Siri on your iPhone or Google Voice Search on your android or other devices. Does the use of voice dictated search change the way Google returns results?

Home assistant devices and dictated search through Siri (and other mobile devices) are two very different voice search experiences. One relies on providing a variety of results on a screen and one relies on voice responses to answer your questions. Next, let’s dive into how consumers are using voice search with each of these device types.


Voice assistant device voice search has been hard for marketers to break into considering there’s limited space available for exposure with only position O returned as a result and no space for advertising like the typical SERPs provide. The lack of screens have also made it difficult for consumers to perform travel research since they depend on imagery and visiting multiple sources for information before they are ready to book. For this reason, voice assistants haven’t made a huge impact on how people book hotels and travel. There is a possibility that this will change soon as both Amazon and Google are launching voice assistants with screens to provide more options and the opportunity for advertisements, just like the standard mobile SERP. This article from Lisa Lacy at Search Engine Journal does a phenomenal job at diving into how this changes the optimization game.

People are using voice assistant devices for everything from playing music, controlling home gadgets to ordering products online.  But, how are they using these devices to plan travel or book hotels? With one-answer response capabilities provided by voice home assistants, the experience isn’t great. Maybe you’d have success using the device to book accommodations if you knew exactly which hotel you wanted to book at or if you were just looking for the nearest, last minute hotel. But in our experience testing voice assistant devices to research hotels, interacting with these devices for travel research is extremely frustrating.


Let’s get down to the question that every hotelier wants to know, how exactly can hotels optimize for voice search?

The truth is, hotel marketers should be focused on a multi-device optimization strategy.  The success factors you were focused on for your overall strategy previously are the same ones that you’ll need to focus on for voice searches. Yes, the way people dictate search and the devices used changes the game slightly but you shouldn’t ignore other, more lucrative channels in favor of changing everything for voice search. A few ways to expand your multi-device strategy to incorporate more voice search specific optimization includes:

  1. Well built out and optimized FAQ pages and website content – being the content selected for Google’s answer boxes has long been touted as a solid strategy for being selected for that “position zero” spot. Hotels should focus on building out a FAQ page that answers questions about the hotel, the local area and any other common questions related to the hotel.
  2. Targeting question keywords and near search terms – a large portion of voice search is presented in the form of questions or consumers looking for local/nearby businesses. For hotels this means that they need to expand content on their site to answer questions (i.e. FAQ page) and to target “near” search terms such as “hotel near X” to qualify for these types of searches.
  3. Local Search optimization (local listings/GMB/reviews) – The capabilities voice assistants can offer for hotel related search seem to be limited to displaying hotel information in the form of local listing profiles such as Google My Business. These means your local search optimization game needs to be strong with a huge focus on encouraging guest reviews and up-to-date, accurate listing details.
  4. Using Meta Search – Currently Kayak offers the only voice command to book a hotel through Alexa, which actually books it’s inventory through or Seems like one of the only ways for hotels to be visible on voice home assistants currently is through participation on OTAs and Meta Search engines.
  5. More focus on tracking calls as conversions – other than Kayak offering ways to book hotels through voice assistants, the only other type of conversions presented for this type of search is to ask for directions or to call the hotel. As more and more traffic shifts to mobile and voice-activated search, hotels can no longer ignore that accurate call tracking solutions must be used to ensure you can optimize your campaigns and strategy effectively.
  6. Make sure your site is secure – upgrade your hotel website to HTTPS now if you haven’t already
  7. Implement Structured Data Mark-up on your site
  8. Ensure your hotel website is mobile friendly


Depends on what type of voice search you’re referring to – dictated search or voice assistants. Currently there are no options for paid search ads on voice assistants search. One way to pay and be visible in this space is through metasearch (i.e. Kayak – Alexa). Since using dictated search (i.e. on Siri) pulls the same displayed SERP results as when you type your search queries this allows for the same advertising capabilities and paid text ads will be shown.


Hotel marketers should keep in mind that “voice search” is just a new interface and that the same elements that were vital to success before will continue to be vital for success in voice search. Focus on mark-up, focus on making your site secure and mobile friendly and make sure local SEO is a cornerstone of your strategy and you’ll be well positioned for success with voice search.

Next, keep an eye on this evolving technology. Consumers depend on visual elements to properly research and book travel and hotels. As more voice activated home assistants incorporate screens into the mix it will offer more opportunities for hotels to participate.

Finally, the consumer demand for using AI and voice commands are going to expand to interaction with your hotel directly.  Technology such as chat bots and ways to ensure customer service expectations are being met or exceeded through any method they want to interact with will become more important

Have more questions about how voice search works and how to prepare your hotel for success? Reach out to the team at GCommerce today.