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Travel Related SERPS
Current quality of results
glitterball




msg:211514
 9:47 am on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have several Travel related sites (all for the same destination).

One of these sites is a guide to the destination and it's position in the SERPS was totally unaffected by Florida. - It would seem that this is an 'authority' site.

Another site is totally commercial and for the sake of argument lets call the destination 'blue' and the product that I am selling 'widgets'.
My site (the domain name) is bluewidgets.com.
When the -hgdfhge search was working, my site was number 1 for the 'blue widgets -hgdfhge' search but 500+ for 'blue widgets'.

The thing that gets me annoyed is the current #2 serp for 'blue widget' is a page on a review site that only links to me! I have at least 5 pages in the top 100 for this term - that are much less relevant to anyone searching for Blue Widgets than the bluewidgets.com website.

If Google have penalised commercial sites in the main SERPS in order to promote Froogle, where does this leave Travel-related sites who cannot list their products in Froogle?

Any opinions from others in the Travel market?

 

Brett_Tabke




msg:211515
 3:57 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

You mean there are actual pages and sites in the travel industry that 99% of the population would not consider spam?

glitterball




msg:211516
 4:18 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

The point that I'm trying to make is that since Florida, all the Spam is coming up ahead of the relevant sites (my site is not filled with affiliate links, it is actually selling products).

What I can't understand is why the spam (with relatively few backlinks and no content) is coming up ahead of us.

Trawler




msg:211517
 4:50 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Brett_Tabke >

You mean there are actual pages and sites in the travel industry that 99% of the population would not consider spam?

___

Hard to say for sure. But!

I can direct you to a few affiliate travel sites with a PR of 4 or less that were booking well over 1 million a month prior to Florida.

Having said that, here is the stinger. Not my sites by the way, but I know the owner of them well.

For sure GOOGLE would probably consider the sites Spam, (lacks thousands of inbound links and hardly could be considered an authority) ODP refuses to list the site in their "directory" as it is an affiliate site. The sites were even turned down in the past by Yahoo for directory listings.

Now I ask everyone here.

If Google, ODP and Yahoo are so damned smart and know-it all about just exactly what is relevant to the user and what the user really wants? Than answer this.

How is it that these sites, with no nation ad campaings, or major paid advertising, booked in the millions each month? Surely someone has it wrong here. Is it the Search Kings or the users?.

The users are voting with their wallets, they sure know what they want. You can't fool them with all this BS about Links and PR

The search kings, on the other hand, are voting with their fantasies, and the dream world that they live in, about how the web should be presented so the user obtains the best results As if they really had a clue!

They really need a reality check.

the users of the site love it, and vote with their wallets. but yet is is did the users of the site vote in the thousands

europeforvisitors




msg:211518
 5:34 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

How is it that these sites, with no nation ad campaings, or major paid advertising, booked in the millions each month? Surely someone has it wrong here. Is it the Search Kings or the users?.

If they're booking millions each month, what exactly is their complaint? :-)

Trawler




msg:211519
 7:06 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

>If they're booking millions each month, what exactly is their complaint? :-)

__

Florida wipe out. (for the money search terms only)

I know both of these sites very well. Strictly white hat, no phoney links to build PR, and FULL of content specifically targeting the area's they play in. (wish I could say that about my sites)

How is it that in early November, google was in love with them, and then two weeks later, banishes them to not even be found in the top 700?

The real point here is that both of these sites were exaclly on point with the users, otherwise, they never would have been able to produce what they did. The user got exactly what he asked for.

Now, after Florida, users are being denied these revelant, on target sites, and being spoon fed outdated directories, links pages, and the likes of that.

Hardly what the users asked for.

And to take this one step further for all those untouched. Take heart that you havent been hit, but if you think your immune because you made it through Florida, think again, it's probably that Google hasen't reached your area yet.

Each pasing day, google is filtering more and more travel related search terms. It is crystal clear that they are adding to the hit list daily.

Travel and a few other main areas) were first and got hit hard because that's where the real money on the net is. As soon as they are finished with our areas, you can bet that they will come knocking at others doors.

Content or no content, if it's a money search term, sooner of later, the bell will toll.

heini




msg:211520
 7:17 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

>actual pages and sites in the travel industry that 99% of the population would not consider spam?

You are confusing webmasters with search engine users. The "population" does not even have a concept of "spam". They either get what they want or they don't.

The sites profiting from florida are of exactly the same overall (low) quality as the sites they have replaced in 90% of all cases. With one considerable exception: The totally targeted sites, often the only sites with any original content and appeal worth speaking of, have mostly been wiped out. And that's a bad thing for the 'population'.
So lets not get into the blame the webmaster thing, that's the SEs game to play.

George




msg:211521
 7:46 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

heini,
>>>>>The totally targeted sites, often the only sites with any original content and appeal worth speaking of, have mostly been wiped out.

Bang on, I think this is googles problem. One of my site, I have gone from No2 to No15 for my money phrase, and have no drop in orders. Why?

Well, I believe it is because my customers are having to trawl harder to find me. There is little competition. I am in a Niche.

This is not just Travel related, this is web wide.

Kirby




msg:211522
 8:00 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

>One of my site, I have gone from No2 to No15 for my money phrase, and have no drop in orders. Why?

Well, I believe it is because my customers are having to trawl harder to find me. There is little competition. I am in a Niche. <

Spot on!

Same here. Serps around me s#ck, so the consumer has to look a little harder to find what they need. They do and as a result my relevant traffic is up 35%.

IMO, Its only spam if the customer doesnt like it. I have always thought that Google thinks the same, so part of the algo takes into consideration the path of the user. If they click back to the origianl search 10 seconds later, Google knows the user didnt find it relevant.

Time to redefine spam so it reflects the user opinion, not the site design or seo techniques applied. I think Google has already done this.

clarksc3




msg:211523
 8:18 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I operate 300 city guides that sell a small amout of hotel bookings. I have good content and have built a good following just for my tools and content. When I check and see who is coming up in the search eninges for "City" + "Hotels" (and the like)it is almost always these large crappy sites and no content that have created 10,000's of hotel pages. PR for these pages are almost alway 1 to 3. My city guides are all PR 4 to 6. I hope google takes some of these guys out. Of course this is self serving.

soapystar




msg:211524
 8:22 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

The totally targeted sites, often the only sites with any original content and appeal worth speaking of, have mostly been wiped out. And that's a bad thing for the 'population'.

so spot on its spooky!

mayor




msg:211525
 8:25 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Brett >> You mean there are actual pages and sites in the travel industry that 99% of the population would not consider spam?

Yes. Absolutely. I have some. But they rarely get a visitor.

Quality content would be a great idea if it would get a few visitors.

I guess there's just a lot more surfers looking for 'cheap Las Vegas hotels' than looking for the 'geography of Las Vegas'.

soapystar




msg:211526
 8:33 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

'geography of Las Vegas'

thats so weird..just today my grandma asked if she knew where i could find information on CHEAP GEOGRAPHY OF LAS VEGAS!

justageek




msg:211527
 8:37 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

My favorite travel example after the Florida update is searching for 'snipped'. Try it and look for the header 'No More' and have a look at the page. It's been in the top 10 since the update.

JAG

This post starts us down a "slippery slope" and subsequent posts become more and more specific. We just cannot go there.

[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 5:33 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2004]

More Traffic Please




msg:211528
 8:40 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

One could replace the word "travel" in the title of this thread with the words "real estate" and the tone of the thread would be identical.

Trawler




msg:211529
 9:02 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

RE "snipped"

That's too funny!

Just really goes to show you how screwed up the Google algo realy is.

I hope the Ivy League guys at google see that, maybe they will learn something.

I am testing a theory, should know within 3 or 4 days of how one can load thousands of simple snippits such as that one into the top ten results for just about any search term.

If it works, I will pass it on by stickey.
In a way, if it does work, google deserves to get bombarded with it.

[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 5:35 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2004]

marin




msg:211530
 9:10 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi glitterball

#2 in my area ( city hotels ) has 1 inbound link
from a page (pr8) entitled hotels. company name. the anchor text is city.
#1 and #4 are similar. The other 7 from top 10 are hard to analyze because they have hundreds of links.
The conclusion could be : your bluewidgets page could be authorytive if the anchor texts are blue, widgets and maybe blue widgets, and comes from pages about blue, about widgets and maybe about blue widgets.

europeforvisitors




msg:211531
 9:15 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Brett >> You mean there are actual pages and sites in the travel industry that 99% of the population would not consider spam?

Yes. Absolutely. I have some. But they rarely get a visitor.

I have some, and they get a lot of visitors (many of whom arrive from Google).

Some travel searches work pretty well, while others are a disaster. Searches on "(destination) hotels" tend to return boilerplate booking sites, but the real problem often comes when you search on the name of an individual hotel. Just the other day, I was searching for the Web site of a major hotel in a popular European tourist city, and it was buried on page 3 of the SERPs. Some people might argue that the hotel was to blame for not hiring an SEO consultant, but let's face it: Google's job is to return the most relevant search results, not just any relevant search results, in the top 10. And placing the hotel's own site on page 3 isn't what I'd call doing the job right.

Rugles




msg:211532
 9:50 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Whenever I need travel info on the web I use the Google Directory and drill down to find the actual websites of local hotels and such.

Using the search is a waste of time.

wanna_learn




msg:211533
 10:10 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Now I cant resist posting this search phrase (snipped)

This is a world know Hotel by Taj in India.
The results are JUST crazy.

I AM SURE, this is the biggest example of how Content is nuffin for Google, and that loads of spam masters can take a ride of google for nuts.

[edited by: wanna_learn at 10:17 pm (utc) on Jan. 9, 2004]

[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 5:36 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2004]

PatrickDeese




msg:211534
 10:15 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

> "snipped"

If I had a German travel guide, I'd request a link from him.

> Just really goes to show you how screwed up the Google algo realy is.

Why, offpage factors have always been important for Google.

He's got 236 inbounds to that page (shown by Google), the next result by contrast only shows 52 inbounds.

[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 5:38 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2004]

John_Caius




msg:211535
 10:38 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Shame is, the Germany page also turns up for snipped... Not so good SERPs...

[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 5:39 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2004]

europeforvisitors




msg:211536
 11:01 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Whenever I need travel info on the web I use the Google Directory and drill down to find the actual websites of local hotels and such.

There are two problems with that approach:

1) The Google Directory is based on the ODP, and the quality and quantity of the ODP's results depend a lot of the editor. Categories without editors tend to be short on listings--and even if there is an editor, sites that aren't submitted won't make it into the directory unless the editor runs across them while browsing or searching the Web.

2) Most of the time, the ODP and the Google Directory list only home pages, not subsections or articles within a site. So, unless you're looking for general information or the site has an extremely narrow topic, you probably won't find what you need. (Example: My own travel site has a 500-page "site within a site" about a popular Italian city, but you won't find it listed in the ODP or the Google Directory.)

When looking for hotels (in Europe, at least) sometimes the best results come from searching for general tourist information and clicking the accommodations link of the official tourist-office site. Many tourist offices in popular cities, towns, or resorts have comprehensive directories of local hotels, B&BS, vacation rentals, youth hostels, campgrounds, etc. that are more inclusive and easier to use than general-purpose directories and search engines.

Bobby




msg:211537
 11:55 pm on Jan 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I spent many hours researching and designing my web site to make it really interesting and informational to users.

After holding the number 2 spot for my main search phrase (3-word) for many months, the G has knocked me out of the top 800, and it is apparent to me there is a filter in place.

My last 6 weeks have been spent on trying to understand the dynamics of this filter and the new algo, time which could have been spent enriching the site even more.

So who are the real victims?
It's not just us webmasters whose sites have been wiped off the Gmap, but users who otherwise would have found useful information and an attractive web site.

The really interesting thing here is while the main search was my "money phrase" that was pulling in most of the requests for accommodation, the many other "phrases" seem to have taken up the slack and are pulling in traffic. The accommodation requests are much less, but for longer stays.

In a way the G has done me a favor (but not a big one) by delivering selective traffic by people who are really researching their vacations.

If you are wondering why I say "the G" it's because for the past few weeks I find myself having more and more difficulty not only pronouncing the thing but writing it too!

ronin




msg:211538
 12:27 am on Jan 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I suspect that on the sliding scale from

World Library of Free Information and Debate

to

World's Cheapest Bargain Bazaar - EVERYTHING FOR A DOLLAR!

Google would prefer the WWW to more closely resemble the former than the latter... to the point where it wouldn't be too concerned if all commercial SERPS were wiped out (or at least dropped a couple of hundred places).

Obviously, the web is both of these things and so much more but Google is in the unique position of being able to influence the general public's perception of what the web is all about... and the last time any company was able to do this was probably Yahoo! circa October 1994.

Florida threw up some quirks which are still being ironed out, but it looks as though Google wants the majority of results under the web tab to be information results... perhaps to encourage readers to think of the web as an information resource more than a commercial resource.

Brett> Miaow.

SlyOldDog




msg:211539
 12:44 am on Jan 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well I have to agree the hotel searches tend to bring up the sites who all use the GDS (travel agency) database.

Sites which provide something different (like one of ours which gets better deals direct at hotels) are the losers because they provide content only about their specialized location and aren't part of the BIG sites which Google likes now.

Here, the user definately loses. Those big sites all have the same prices!

madmatt69




msg:211540
 12:52 am on Jan 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

My travel site used to be in the top 3 for over a year..Now it's down to the 40's. It's terrible, there are actually geocities webpages now in the top ten with not even a paragraph of text that are ranking ahead of many quality sites.

Not good...

needinfo




msg:211541
 1:57 am on Jan 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've noticed quite a few pages ranking well post Florida update which have Google Adsense on them.

Anybody else noticing this?

europeforvisitors




msg:211542
 3:02 am on Jan 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

AdSense is already a very popular ad network, so it stands to reason that we're going to see more AdSense ads on top-ranked sites (and on lower-ranking ones as well).

Just as important, AdSense lends itself to use on content sites (which is why Google uses the terms "content ads" and "publishers"). If information sites are gravitating toward the top of the SERPS, as many people here seem to think, it wouldn't be surprising to find AdSense ads on high-ranked sites.

McMohan




msg:211543
 8:34 am on Jan 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Related to travel, I can't help but assume that Google is giving all results but relevant.

As already told by many friends here, results are often not what the users are really looking for. Even few sites which link to my site with the anchor text my site is optimized for, they rank much higher!

Take this case - Search for cairns accommodations, the site ranked at 10th (apparently that site is optimized for cairns accommodation) ranks 188th for cairns accommodation. Huh, gung ho on not giving what users looking for ;-)

P.S: I think there is a lot of difference between, using a plural form and singular form, with the user perspective.

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