Thursday, May 20, 2004

Search Engine Dos and Donts

I do a lot of travelling, and tend to book the hotel and transport sepereately. No packages for me at all. Quite often sites such as Expedia or Travelocity give me all the info I need to make my purchasing decision. Last year I went to Merano in the Italian Alps. I found a nice looking hotel on Expedia, but I really wanted an objective review. I googled said hotel and was presented with many travel sites offering me reviews - the search listing even named the hotel, so I thought I had found the info I needed. Not so. I clicked on each URL only to be told that the info did not exist.
I was slightly annoyed at having my time-wasted like this. Initially I blamed Google for giving me bad referrals, only later realising that Google was duped into believing these sites contained the info I needed by adding hidden text, etc. including products(hotels) they did not actually offer. Naturally some sites offered me hotels that "might be of interest", except these were all in Rome or other Italian speaking parts of Italy (Merano is actually a German speaking town). As a result I made a conscious decision never to click on links to these travel sites in future holiday research.

They alienated me as a customer before I even had a chance to consider them.

WhenU were unceremoniously dumped from Google and Yahoo last week for using "unethical" SEO tactics. Perhaps these tactics where similar to those adopted by my friends in the travel industry. WhenU blamed the SEO consultant - who does the SEO consultant blame?


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