NOTE: This article was written in 2007 and may be out of date. For information about AdWords, please post questions in the Hostel Forum.
Many hostels in competitive locations use Google Adwords for their online marketing. Google Adwords are a pay-per-click (PPC) marketing program where Google will list your ads on their network and you only pay when someone clicks on your ads.
Here is an example of some Google Adwords being shown in the Sponsored Results section of the Google search engine results pages, circled in red:
In the example above, there are several companies paying for advertisements for the keywords hostels in london:
- Generator Hostels
- STA Travel
- and others...
Google Adwords can be useful to drive backpackers to your hostel Web site, though they can be expensive if not optimized correctly.
Google's Content Network
One thing that should probably be avoided when advertising individual hostels on Google Adwords is what Google calls the Content Network. The Content Network is an advertising system that allows any Webmaster to put Google Ads on their sites. It's best not to have your hostel Adwords show on other Web sites because they will lead to low-quality traffic.
If you enable your ads to show on the Content Network, you will find ads for your hostel showing on sites like YouTube.com, Digg.com, and many small low-quality Web sites that were created only to place Google Ads on. Have you ever seen those Web sites that are nothing but a page full of ads? Those ads are often Google Adwords. People who click on your ads in those environments are not the ones who are ready to make a booking at your hostel. Disabling your ads on the Content Network will prevent your ads from showing up on those sites.
Setting Up Your Hostel's Adwords
To make sure that your Adwords are not showing on the Content Network, use the following settings:
You do want your hostel's ads to show on Google Search and the Search Network. You don't want your hostel's ads to show on the Content Network.
Viewing Ad Placement on the Content Network
If you are already running your ads on the Content Network, you can see which sites your ads are being placed on. To view the sites, go to the Reports section and create a new report on Placement Performance as shown below:
That report will tell you which sites your ads have appeared on, how many impressions (views) the ads got, and how many times people clicked on them.
It is probably not a good idea to run ads for hostels on Google's Content Network. If you do run Adwords for an individual hostel, only run them on Google Search and the Search Network unless you know what you are doing.