PPC for Travel Industry: A Complete Guide to Adwords in 2023

PPC for the travel industry in 2020 is booming and it is all about using AdWords as a way to get on top of Google’s search results.

This comprehensive guide will teach you how to start capitalising on the number one PPC (pay-per-click) advertising platform for your travel business.

Did you know that many travel brands are spending more on PPC marketing than ever before? In fact, the total amount spent by advertisers on AdWords is over 100 Million dollars per day

In fact, travel and tourism is the third highest spending industry through Adwords so it is very competitive.

Why do business owners spend that much money?

It’s because PPC marketing is bringing in positive ROI for companies all over the world.

Before we talk about how you can use Adwords for your travel website, let’s stop for a moment and compare it with SEO as they both help your business show up on Google’s search results.

Adwords vs. SEO


When it comes to Search Engine Marketing (SEM), digital marketers rely mainly on Adwords and SEO when running digital marketing in tourism.

Adwords and SEO are 2 different valuable tools for digital marketing but they have some similarities as well.

There are instances that you have to use them together. Of course, this depends on the marketing goals of your business.

AdWords or SEO. Which one works best for your business?

Let’s find out.

What is AdWords?

AdWords or Google AdWords is an online advertising platform. This platform allows advertisers to place their ads on Google’s SERP or Search Engine Results Page.

Using AdWords is also a way for travel websites to show up on top of Google’s search results.

So why do travel websites need to show up on the search results?

More than 80% of travel website visitors come from Google and other search engines.

In addition, 98% searchers prefer to choose businesses that are on the first page of Google’s SERP.

There are 2 ways on how you want to pay when using Adwords and these are CPC and CPM.

CPC (Cost Per Click) is the actual cost you pay to Google Adwords when internet users click on your ads.

On the other hand, CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand Impressions. The letter M represents the roman numeral with the value of 1,000. The term impressions mean the number of times internet users see your ads.

Hence, CPM means the cost you pay when your ad is seen by internet users every 1000 times.

You can think of AdWords as Google’s online auctioning system where digital marketers or advertisers bid for available advertising space.

To get to the top of Google through AdWords is to outbid everybody else.

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process of trying to get your webpages to the top search results of Google and other search engines.

To earn your way to the top of Google’s search results you need to:

  • Do research for keywords with the most popular phrases. The keywords should best describe your products and services.
  • Create content and optimise it with your keywords. Content that is easy to understand, informative, engaging and anything that adds value to your visitors is always important.
  • Make sure your website provides a good user experience when people visit your site. Your webpages should load quickly, are mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate.
  • Have quality backlinks to build your credibility. Google views these links as votes for your site. The more votes you get the more credible Google thinks you are.

And the more credible Google thinks you are the more likely you will earn your way to the top search results.

AdWords vs. SEO

Which one of these digital marketing tools are better in getting your website to the top search results?

Let’s compare them and find out:

  • AdWords is only intended for Google search results while SEO can be applied on all search engines.
  • With AdWords, your ads appear on the top and/or bottom of the search results – guaranteed. While in SEO, there are so many things you need to do just to keep up with the competition.
  • AdWords can get you to the top of Google immediately. There’s no waiting period. If you bid and then outbid everybody else you’ll be on the top search results within days.
  • SEO is a long-term investment while AdWords is not. The minute you stop using AdWords you’ll immediately stop getting the ‘clicks’ because you are no longer on the top search results.
  • Calculating the ROI for your business is easy when you’re on AdWords.
  • AdWords allows advertisers to target as many keywords all at once. With SEO you’re limited to only setting up on a few focus keywords for best results.

How does Google AdWords work?

The first step you need to do on the AdWords program is keyword research. It is important to think about what words or phrases the searcher might use in relation to a certain product or service. This is because Adverts are created based on those keywords.

Ranking factors

Every business owner needs to understand that there are, of course, competitors that are bidding for the same keywords they are using.

It all comes down to how much you are willing to spend money just to outbid your competitors. When you spend more on the pay-per-click (PPC) setup the more likely your business will show on Google’s top search results.

However, there are other factors that Google uses to determine whose ad will appear on the top search results. One of those factors is the AdRank.

Ad Rank

Google uses Ad Rank as a tool in deciding which ads should appear on the SERP. Calculating your Ad Rank is based on several factors. The amount of your bid is one of them.

Below are other factors that affect your Ad Rank:

  • Your Quality Score will depend on the quality of your landing page and ads.
  • There are Ad Rank thresholds that your ads need to meet. This is crucial for your ads to be worthy of being shown in the top search results.
  • Search context, search queries, and the time of the search. Those that appear on the page such as search results and other ads. Different user signals such as device type and location.
  • Bits and pieces of information that you can include as ad extensions such as phone number and other internal links of your website.

The Bidding Process

There are 2 options that you can choose how you want to use AdWords. These are, of course, the CPC and CPM. You can only choose one of these methods.

With CPC, you can select a bid of up to the maximum amount.

However, there is also an automatic option where Google, in theory, will bring you the most clicks possible based on your budget.

Did you know that it takes about 0.26 seconds for Google AdWords to:

  • First, identify all the relevant advertisers bidding for the same keywords.
  • Second, start the auction or not.
  • Third, put the auction on hold.
  • Fourth, identify which ad offers a combination of the quality score plus the maximum bid.
  • Finally, display the ads on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).

Importance of your landing page

When somebody clicks on an advertisement, he is redirected to what’s called a landing page. It’s basically just a webpage where someone “lands” after clicking on an ad from the search results page.

Known also as a standalone page, a landing page has a special purpose that is distinct from the main page of a website. It is mainly designed to convert visitors into customers.

For an adwords for travel website campaign to be successful, a landing page must be well-designed and properly optimised for search engines and Adwords.

Here are some tips to remember to designing an effective landing page:

  • Individual landing pages that are focused on every offer. Try to have a landing page for every offer that you have. Why? This will make everything well-organised and to avoid confusing your visitors.
  • Mobile-friendly webpages. We can’t deny the fact that almost everybody has a mobile phone. The number of people accessing the internet through mobile devices is increasing faster every day.

Your landing pages, and not just your other webpages, must be mobile-friendly as well. More and more people looking for products and services online are using mobile devices out of convenience.

  • Highlighted call-to-action button. A call-to-action feature is the heart of every landing page. This is why your landing page must have a well-highlighted call-to-action button. Try to make it more visually appealing to visitors so they will most likely click on it.

Below is a quick guide on how to register for AdWords and start your first advertising campaign.

Guide on how to create an AdWords account

Before you can start with your ad campaign you need to set up your AdWords account first. For a smoother experience, it is better to use a Google or Gmail account when signing up on services or platforms from Google.

1. Head on to the AdWords homepage and click on that blue ‘Start now’ button.

Setting up your campaign for the first time can be a bit overwhelming as you’ll encounter set up factors like budget, locations, networks, keywords, and writing your text ad.

2. Set Your Budget.

When starting a campaign, setting up your budget is the first task that you’ll encounter.

Determining your budget will help control the way you spend on the ads. This way, you won’t be spending more than what you can afford, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

To determine your daily budget, try to figure out how many visitors can be converted into customers by your landing page.

So this is where CPA or Cost Per Acquisition comes in. With CPA, you’ll have full control over your ad expenditures.

If you are fully aware of your industry’s conversion rate, you can easily figure out how much you’re going to spend on the ads.

When you’re just starting out, you can begin with a small budget. You can increase the amount later on, of course. Start with something that’s enough to bring in a decent amount of traffic and conversions for your business.

WordStream made a study and found out that on average, there is a 2.35% conversion rate on all industries. Meaning, the average number of landing page visitors that clicked on the ads and then made a purchase is 2.35%.

When you’re done setting up your budget, click SAVE and proceed to the next step.

3. Locations.

With this feature, your ads can only be seen by the people who are on your selected geographical location and that they are using your keywords in the search queries.

There is another feature called “radius targeting”. Using your zip code as the centre, this feature allows you to target the people within that radius.

With “radius targeting” you can:

  • target cities or an entire country and
  • set various bid adjustments for targets in different radiuses.

For instance, you might want to bid lower than a 30-mile radius but higher than a 10-mile radius.

4. Networks.

In this feature, you have two options in choosing which network you want your ads to be displayed.

The Search Network feature displays your ads on Google’s search result. On the other hand, the Display Network puts your ads on any website. Provided that these websites are showing ads on their webpages. 

Other digital marketing experts would advise you to select both as you can make changes later on.

The Display Network will come in handy for remarketing as you go along with your campaign.

5. Keywords.

Choose a focus keyword (search term) that people will most likely type into the search bar. Again, it should be something that’s related to your services or products.

Travel keyword research and match types

For digital marketers, keyword research is, no doubt, the most important income-generating activity when running digital marketing campaigns.

Keyword Match Types

Adwords have 4 keyword ‘match types’. These ‘match types’ will help you decide on how you want your ad to appear on Google’s SERP.

But before we go on to keyword match types, let’s talk about Close Variants first.

Close Variants are keyword variations which will expand the search queries that your targeted keywords will match to other things such as singular or plural forms, misspellings, accents, abbreviations, and stemming.

Broad Match

The term ‘broad’ should already give you an idea of what this keyword ‘match type’ is all about. Broad match can extend your reach to an even wider audience.

However, Google will most likely show your ad to a lot of irrelevant search results since this is taken from one part of your keywords plus synonyms.

For example, if your target keywords are ‘travel destinations London’, with ‘broad match’, your ad could also appear when somebody searches for ‘travel sites in London’.

Broad Match Modifier

With the ‘broad match modifier’, you’ll have control over how your targeted keywords will appear in the search results. All you have to do is add the plus (+) sign before your targeted keywords.

Your ad will only appear on search terms containing the words and phrases you included after the plus sign.

For instance, your ad will never appear in the search results for “travel sites in London” because you locked it in with a plus sign, ‘+travel destinations London’.

Phrase Match 

Even better than the ‘broad match modifier’, ‘phrase match’ allows travel business owners, like you, more control over how your targeted keywords show in the search results.

Your ad will only appear in the SERP where the words and phrases in search terms are in the same order as the words or phrases in your targeted keywords.

By inserting your targeted keywords between quotations, i.e. “travel destinations London”, your ad will never appear in search results when someone searches for ‘London travel destination’.

Exact Match

The ‘exact match’ option is precisely what you think it is. Your ad will only appear in the search results when someone types in the search phrase that is exactly the same as your targeted keywords.

Simply insert your targeted keywords between brackets, i.e. [travel destinations London], if you don’t want your ad to appear in search results when someone searches for ‘best travel destinations London’.

The ‘exact match’ option is great if you are just starting out with Adwords. You can safely and slowly scale out with your digital marketing campaigns with it.

Negative keywords

There is a special feature in AdWords called negative keywords.

You see, there are instances where some of your products or services might share the exact search term from other websites that are not related to yours.

The negative keywords feature is designed to make sure your ads aren’t shown to irrelevant audiences.

Set your bid

Remember that AdWords is like a bidding platform for digital marketing. You are bidding for the best offer that can give your ads the maximum amount of clicks possible.

However, because this is a bidding system, the best offer could also be pretty expensive.

If this is your first time setting up your campaign, it is better for you to choose the ‘automatic bids’ option. You can always make changes when you’re already familiar with the AdWords platform.

Travel ad copywriting

Possibly the most critical part of your Google Adwords campaign is writing your ads. You need to think carefully and figure out how to write a copy that compels your visitors to take that desired action.

Here are some copywriting tips for the ads of your travel PPC campaign:

  • A short message that is clear and on-point always works.
  • The headline is the most important part of your copy. It is the part of the article that gets noticed first. The headline should catch your visitors’ attention and compels them to click on the ad.
  • Your call-to-action line should be clear and easy to understand. It should be something that clearly tells your visitors to take the next step that leads to conversion.

Ad setup for PPC for travel industry

When setting up your ad for the first time, you will be asked to provide your business and payment information.

Multiple campaigns

It is always good to run multiple campaigns.


Because you can run various ads with different objectives. This is a great way to find out which ads make the best conversions for your business.


Each of your campaigns should have their respective ad groups. Next, each ad group should have the same search term or keywords. And, all the landing pages should have the same theme.

Even so, you can put ad groups into a similar campaign where the budget, location, and device targeting settings are shared.


Google AdWords has numerous options for business owners to target only those who are potential customers. This is done by filtering their audience based on keywords, age, geographical location, etc.


Another form of precise targeting is ‘dayparting’ or ad scheduling. This is a cost-efficient and effective way to target your audience.


By setting up a schedule for a specific time of the day and the specific days of the week, your ad will be shown to your audience only when they are available to see it.

PPC conversion tracking

With all the hard work you put into your pay per click campaign – everything would be useless if you don’t track your conversions. Here’s why.

With conversion tracking you can:

  • Check which of your conversions are working and which ones are not.
  • Improve your performance by optimising your account.
  • Increase your Return On Investment (ROI) and save more money.

How to set-up AdWords tracking

  1. Click on the “Tools” tab. From the dropdown menu, choose “Conversions”.
  2. Look for the red “Conversions” button and select which conversion you want to track.
  3. Give your Conversion a name.
  4. Click on “Save and Continue”

Final thoughts on PPC for Travel Industry

In conclusion, AdWords for travel website is the way to go if you want your business to show up on Google’s SERP quickly. However, using PPC for travel industry such as AdWords is only good if you kept paying for the ad space.

In fact, once you stopped paying your business immediately disappears from the SERP.

Using Google AdWords for travel agency is only a short-term investment.  Meanwhile, SEO is more of a long-term solution. 

So why not use them both to achieve maximum results for your business?

Do you have any questions on how to setup or optimize your Google Adwords campaign for your travel website? Let me know in the comment section!

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David Kovacs

David Kovacs

Hello I am David, the guy behind Travel SEO. I help growing travel businesses profit from online marketing with #1 page rankings. If you want to know more about me, check out the about page.

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