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Relevant Travel Sites?

 2:28 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I had hoped that by now Google would be starting to return relevant results but in my area they seem to be getting worse. A search for a travel related site in a Southern African city with a two word name: "city city coach tours" returns a hotel group in an Asian country at # 1 and page about the Coelacanth (a prehistoric fish for those who have never heard of it) from the website of a university. Oh well, at the least the university is in the same country as the coach tour company.

My better half was looking for information on antique ceramics yesterday and found what she was after on All The Web immediately. She had never heard of ATW before I suggested that she give it a try but is now a convert.

Please Google, when will you be fixed?



 12:47 pm on Nov 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

For all you people who are still happy with Google - I wonder if you will all be so dismissive of my comments next time there is an "update" and you join the ranks of the honest-but-dropped brigade.

Well, if you're going to get personal...

I lost three of my four index pages over the weekend. They aren't "commercial," they don't use any SEO tricks, and at least one of them has been #1 fairly consistently for months (and was usually in the top 2 for months before that). So I'm not too happy about that.

On the other hand, my other 3,500 or so pages don't appear to have been affected, and my main index.html page is still #1 for its most important keyphrase, so I'm fairly happy and relieved about that. :-)

AND, when I checked my server logs last night, I saw that my traffic was higher than normal. Plus, my AdSense revenues were at a high for the month. So is my glass half empty or half full? And is selective whining allowed? :-)

As I've said elsewhere, I think editorial diversity is a good form of insurance against unexpected disasters like the "missing index pages" glitch. If users can find and enter your site through many, many, many inside pages, the loss or devaluation of a single page (or even a handful of pages) won't decimate your traffic.


 1:15 pm on Nov 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

EFV - although obviously that works better for sites like yours, rather than, say, a hotel in Widgettown.
The great thing we found when Google came along was that we didn't *have* to optimize the sites in anyway - if it was a Widgettown hotel it would be found (within the top 30) when someone searched for that phrase.


 1:16 pm on Nov 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't know if I just had a brain blip, but as I was reading through this thread, I did a search for 'costa rica lodgings' no quotes. My Costa Rica portal did not show, nor did any of my other hotel and accomodations clients whom had all previously ranked well. Then, 30 minutes later I did it again and I am in 4 positions for 3 sites on page 1!

Now this is strange enough that I'm inclined to think that my brain blipped, but just in case... is anybody else seeing rapidly changing returns? Or could it be that there was just another adjustment to the system right then? Or is it me?

Actually, I'm pretty sure that I am reporting this right since my previous search was saved in the Google bar and I just hit "Search Web" again.


 1:24 pm on Nov 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Searching Google for any kind of travel info has served up completely useless SERP's for a long time. I think that the travel spammers are probably seeing a diminishing return as the general public figures this out too.
Anyone care to confirm?


 2:49 pm on Nov 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

EFV - although obviously that works better for sites like yours, rather than, say, a hotel in Widgettown.

Seaboy, I'll concede that point. (I was searching for a hotel in Widgettown last weekend, and the results were mostly boilerplate pages for hotels in Widgettown and even in downtown Cubssoxcity, which was 30 miles away.)


 10:55 pm on Nov 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't necessarily think it is so much people being dissatisfied with search engine results, as with not using the search engines much at all for lodging in particular anymore.
Since lodging is a minor portion of our website which covers the entire vacation gamut for our locale, we recently did a survey of our readers. Approximately 9,000 responded over a 1-2 month period. What we have determined from the short survey is that most people are either
1. going directly to the major sites which they have seen advertised EVERYWHERE, and likely used before, and come to know and 'love'.
or 2. Searching online for comparative lodging info and then calling or going directly to the hotel website for the best prices and deals.
Either result ultimately spells doom and gloom for the millions of relatively new lodging-only broker and reseller sites out there without a unique niche.

Tropical Island

 12:54 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have to disagree with you MikeNoLastName.

We have 3 accommodations oriented sites dealing in smaller type B&B's, apartments and vacation houses.

All our clients and ourselves are getting thousands of refferals and lots of business all booked by e-mail and bank deposits without the use of cedit cards. The clientelle come for Europe, NA & SA.

What we have found is that the huge number of affiliates and doorway pages to to the same sites are affecting how people use the serps to find what they want. They look more for content sites like ours.


 3:31 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

are affecting how people use the serps to find what they want. They look more for content sites like ours.

What changes in search behaviour are you seeing? More keywords in their search terms, moving to deeper pages in the SERPs?


 7:14 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Searching Google for something that is even only partially related with the beloved travel industry usually returns dozens of useless affiliate sites with poor content. In most cases already the keyword-stuffed title announces their mediocrity. Better ask your friends for hotels in widgettown than a search engine. :)


 7:21 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Who's heard of the -googolooglo search method? I came across it on another forum and can't make it out, it sure does make a difference though.

It works like this - search for a competitive phrase - say african safaris (important for me), the results are pretty relevant but have been radically affected by Florida. Then search for the same phrase but add -googolooglo (or any junk phrase), like this: african safaris -googolooglo. The results are pretty much what they were before the update.

It has been said that Google has added a filter on competitive phrases, by adding the -googolooglo phrase you are seeing the unfiltered results.

Who knows, but it sure is interesting trying it out on various phrases.


 7:40 am on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Searching Google for something that is even only partially related with the beloved travel industry usually returns dozens of useless affiliate sites with poor content.

True, and I think that may be a reason why some editorial travel-planning sites are doing well with affiliate links and AdSense ads. The reader who's been frustrated by trying to find hotels in Springfield or Shelbyville or Widgettown is happy to find selected affiliate links or ads within the framework of a trusted content site.

The original concept of affiliate programs was that they'd work the way traditional advertising does: i.e., they'd piggyback on editorial content and expose the product or service to the content site's audience while benefiting from that site's credibility. Maybe we'll get back to that in time.

BTW, it will be interesting to see what long-term effects Google's AdSense network has on travel-related affiliate programs. On my own editorial site, I'm far less interested in affiliate programs than I might have been a year ago. I work with a handful of programs that generate significant revenues and/or are so useful to my readers that I can't afford to ignore them. But I'm no longer attracted to second-tier affiliate programs or those that are extremely "nichey." If a company tries to recruit my site as an affiliate for hotels in Elbonia, villas in Solaria, or travel widgets, my usual response is to tell them about Google's AdWords/AdSense ads. Unless the revenue potential is great, it makes little sense to waste screen real estate on affiliate links or to spend time integrating affiliate links into my pages. AdSense is easier to implement, and payment arrives more quickly and reliably.

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