We are coming towards peak season for the hospitality sector. This article shows online trends for Google searches in the hospitality industry in Co. Wicklow. It also gives some suggestions on how to use that information for commercial advantage.
While information on searches made from other countries is available too, this research is based purely on searches by people in Ireland and specifically targets Co. Wicklow.
What do people search for online when looking for somewhere to stay in Wicklow?
Knowing what keywords your potential guests are using to search for your business is really important. If you target the wrong keywords you could miss out on a big chunk of traffic.
The graph is indexed rather than showing actual search volume, but the results are stark. We can see, beyond doubt, that the search volume is much higher for B+B’s than it is for hotels. Anybody who has been targeting “accommodation” as a search term has hopefully been using it as a secondary rather than primary search term, because it’s just not featuring!
Hey, I run a Guest House! what about me?
You are getting between 10 and 20 searches for “Guest House Wicklow” a Month. It’s not really notable traffic. Where this data is concerned – the most searched terms for accommodation – you don’t exist. On the plus side you are able to appear in Google’s Hotel Price Ads (more on that later). Also, being between Hotel and B+B, you are able to target both audiences. Lucky you! Where this information is concerned you should still find some thought provoking insights.
The first graph showed a fairly steady decline in searches since 2004 and indeed, looking at it more closely bears that out. It’s not a pleasant graph for anybody in the hotel business in Wicklow.
However, it does make sense. Money is still tight for many and they will look at B+B’s before hotels because the perception (and indeed the reality in most cases) is that they are less expensive. But let’s not give up hope. Let’s look at the actual search volumes for the last year…
There are a few things to note from this graph which also shows the share of searches that were on mobile devices:
- There were an average of 260 searches per month for that explicit search term. (“Hotel Wicklow” had a higher search volume than “hotels wicklow”, “hotels in wicklow”, “hotel in wicklow” etc. That’s why I’ve used it for this example.)
- For the first time ever, mobile searches outweighed desktop searches for this term in March 2015 at 50.99%. With Google’s latest “Mobile-friendly” algorithm change, which at the time of writing has not come into play here yet- but will, any hotel without a mobile ready site is facing serious potential loss.
- It’s probably a little early to say for sure, but it looks like this year may be a better year than last.
Where in Ireland are these people searching from?
What is interesting here, is that despite nearly half the country’s population living in Dublin, Dubliners are not top of the list of people searching for Hotels in Wicklow. In fact this is even more surprising given the horrible state of our location services which mean that a lot of mobile users for example default their location (by IP address) to Dublin.
Compare this list to the same list for B+B’s further down this page.
Again I should address why I’ve chosen “B+B” over “B&B” or any other derivative. As with hotels, it is because it has the highest search volume in Ireland. The second most popular is “Bed + Breakfast” by the way.
Here we see that B+B’s have had much less fluctuation (other than seasonal) in the numbers of people searching for them since 2004.
Unfortunately it is not possible to get accurate search volumes from the AdWords keyword planner because the plus sign is a special character used to ensure that the following word has to be present to trigger the overall keyword. However we can look at the lower volume for “Bed and Breakfast Wicklow” instead to give us some idea.
While this gives us a much lower volume than shows in the trends graph we can still extract some information from it. It looks like mobile search volume is a much lower percentage than for “hotels Wicklow”. This is not accurate data though. A mobile user is much less likely to type in the full phrase on a fiddly mobile device, so we can expect lower mobile volume. This is confirmed when we try the search phrase “b and b wicklow” where percentages are similar to the 30 – 50% mobile volume we see for Hotels.
We can also see a greater degree of seasonality. B+B’s don’t tend to have Christmas parties etc which would explain it somewhat. It could be possible that the type of clientele is much more seasonal. Do businesses book clients into a B+B or a Hotel in general? There has, I know, been some change there over the last few years but overall it is not surprising that we see B+B’s having to make the most of a few short months.
Where in Ireland are people searching for B+B’s in Wicklow?
Here we see some really useful trends emerging, particularly where Dubliners are concerned. They are clearly looking for B+B’s much more so than Hotels. Distribution around the rest of the country is reasonably even, although it looks like our friends up in Donegal like to visit the Garden of Ireland and stay in Wickow B+B’s much more than I would have guessed.
How are Hotels in Wicklow Currently marketing themselves on Google?
A quick search for “hotel wicklow” reveals quite a lot.
The first thing to notice is that there is not one organic search result appearing above the fold. While I am an absolute advocate of SEO and organic search, the number of organic results showing when you first load the screen has been in steady decline.
What we see are Google AdWords ads and Google Hotel Price Ads in a block of three underneath. What are the chances of an organic visit based on this search? I would say that on a desktop they are reasonable, but not great, but on a mobile they are going to be much poorer.
Why is an organic visit less likely on a mobile device?
The screenshot shows how the Google Hotel Price Ads show on my own iphone. You see that big blue button with “More Hotel” written below it. It’s very enticing. What’s more, if you click on it you come out of the search results and go into Google Hotel Finder which requires you to push the back button to get back to the search results from your original query. This could go some way towards explaining how the Hilton group increased conversion rates by 45% globally and return on investment go up 12% when they started using hotel price ads a few years ago.
What is interesting in Wicklow is the number of Hotels in Wicklow that have opted out of displaying their prices (double occupancy lowest price by the way). A search in Dublin is quite different where they nearly all have prices displayed.
A quick note on Google Hotel Price Ads and AdWords
Serpstone don’t do Hotel Price Ads. These are usually done through your booking engine suppliers. We do however do Google AdWords and are the only Google Partner in Wicklow at present. The advantage of using a separate supplier for your AdWords is that we do not work with directly competing companies. That means that we are never competing with our own campaigns, just with our your competitors.
How are B+B’s in Wicklow currently marketing themselves on Google?
Again, a quick search shows us nearly everything we need to know.
Without access to the hotel price ads we get to see some organic listings in our results. However, there is still not a single individual B+B showing above the fold, unless you count the French one using AdWords on the bottom right of the screenshot.
Why this difference between B+B’s and hotels? The answer is budget. Hotels have more rooms, other sources of income and marketing managers. It takes a spend and knowledge on SEO and or AdWords to compete with the compendiums like bandbireland.com or trivago. It would be nice to see some of them break out of this dependance. It’s very hard to get your unique selling points across on the price comparison sites in particular.
What to do with this information
If you are a Wicklow Hotelier concentrating on the Dublin market you may wish to divert more of your attention to the South. The good people of Wexford want to stay with you.
If your website is not mobile-friendly then you will need to address that sooner rather than later. Otherwise you risk losing quite a few potential visitors.
If you offer bed and breakfast then start making yourself more visible – that goes for both hotels and B+B’s really.
If you are using Hotel Price Ads then I would advise actually putting in the price. As with products, not having a price online feels deceptive to a user. They like to feel they have all the information and are able to make a decision themselves. “Hiding” information is annoying. Price is rarely the deciding factor, but you do need to differentiate yourself or it will be.
Consider Google AdWords. It used to be that about 80% of clicks went to organic listings while 20% went to AdWords. That is no longer the case. In fact, with “commercial intent”, or simply an interest in handing over credit card details for something, that can nearly completely reverse. Certainly 40-60% is a norm rather than unusual. Where there are no organic listings showing above the fold you could be looking at a lot higher percentages.
There is a lot more that can be done with this research but it is really just part of a much bigger picture.
About this Research
The research here is the very minimum you should be doing – or have somebody else doing for you. This research only shows searches made within the Republic of Ireland. It is also confined to searches made on Google rather than Bing, Yahoo or other sources of website visits like social media or advertising campaigns. It is also not specific to your particular business. Nor does it look at your competitors. In short, don’t make any major decisions based on this information alone!
This research is also rests on specific keywords. I did some further research before picking the ones I used in this article. More on keyword research below.
Research tools and their pros / cons
1. Google Analytics. A fabulous free tool that lets you see how people reach your site and what they do when they get there. It doesn’t show you search terms used to find your site in any worthwhile way anymore though. Also, it will show you visitors where you are doing a good job, it will not show you missed opportunities where you are targeting the wrong search terms for example.
2. Google AdWords / Keyword Planner. The keyword planner can help you find relevant keywords to target both in your paid ads and on your site for organic growth. You will also see how competitive those keywords are, but be aware that the competition only applies to paid search, not organic. If you have and AdWords campaign running it can give you really good data that is useful for your organic SEO planning too.
3. Ubersuggest (http://ubersuggest.org/). A great tool for coming up with relevant keywords you would never have thought of by yourself – and a lot of irrelevant ones too. Use it in conjunction with the Keyword Planner.
4. Google Trends. Indexed search volume information over time. Compare keywords. Which has higher search volume, “Hotel Wicklow” or “Hotels Wicklow”? Is it in decline or increasing in popularity. How many searches occur on mobile devices. Unfortunately it doesn’t give actual numbers, just an index. It also falls down on a lot of searches targeting Ireland because it needs a reasonable search volume per keyword to provide information (none for “yellow hotels wicklow” for example). If it can’t then the next best thing to do is take UK information and add a pinch of salt. I don’t advise that for the hospitality industry though.
There are other tools, many of them, but those 4 are a good start and probably all you’ll need for this type of research.
If you would like expanded information relevant to your particular business then give us a call or drop us a short email.