Dear Google, I am writing an open letter from the search wilderness

Dear members of the Google Search team, its VPs, board members, advisors, shareholders and anyone with a couple of minutes to spare.

I write this letter in the forlorn hope that somebody within the vast Google network may pick up on this plea and relay it to somebody who counts or cares.

NB: This is an opinion by Richard Vaughton, director at DiscoveryHolidayHomes.

Like many companies with shareholders that started out as much loved entrepreneurial driven enterprises a time comes when that deep well of good will and desire from the founders, to change things for the better, to make a difference, is overshadowed by the financiers, its shareholders and new management.

Now I am afraid that Google has lost its way and the personal businesses it helped to grow and nurture from small seeds are being harvested by the corporations that can afford to manipulate Google Search and leaving barren soil behind!

A few years ago the Google search engine and its plethora of tools was seen as wonderful opportunity for businesses and the general public to engage in a cost effective, secure and connected manner.

No end of new businesses arose off the back of Google and the web’s rapid development.

Jobs were created, cross market partnerships developed; individuals in third world countries could access foreign custom, disabled individuals had new horizons, hardware and software started blending across the international digital tunnels.

The world had new horizons and the conglomerates had to up their game! With Google the search engine of choice and with 70- 90%+ market share across key countries you are the only game in town!

With great power there must also come great responsibility!

Don’t get me wrong, there is still much to admire about Google and as a company we use no end of the premium tools to help run our business.

There is however one area of Google’s vast and growing empire that gives rise for serious concern and this is its foundation, “Google Search”, the most used and admired search engine on planet Earth and in fact, our solar system, unless Jupiter’s moons are hiding a quantum search tool.

What is wrong with search?

Quite simply it is not a tool that any longer allows enterprise to grow and flourish; it is not seen as a playing field leveler or even an opportunity for smaller companies or individuals to leverage, without very deep pockets!

It is now a directory of large public or soon to be public companies, who dominate every inch of our screens. I am sure we have all walked down many high streets with all the same chain stores and brands.

This is Google Search today across many of the world’s markets.

Gone is the opportunity to explore and unearth gems and engage with individuals on the world’s largest stage where a digital high street could have a thousand specialist shops with ease.

There are sophisticated ways and means to search and uncover the unusual, the new and the people who care and services that actually work. But directionally, “Search” heads to the money instantly!

It’s where you want them to go, not necessarily where they want to be!

Unfortunately, you clever chaps in Google search team have missed a rather important concept relating to the structuring of results and providing the best answer for real people whose daily lives are filled with endless and mindless companies who see humanity in digital form only.

In so doing the end result of nearly every search in mainstream industries is large brands that pay their way to the top via an industrial level of work and natural corporate financial net “back chatter”.

I’m not talking Google Adwords, they are out of many people’s reach nowadays. I’m pointing to organic listings. The ones under the very, very lightly coloured Advert boxes at the top of the page, to the left of the adverts on the right and above the related searches at the bottom.

As with most companies we are bombarded with emails and calls from search engine optimisation businesses, link building companies, guest blogger requests, and all promising great results.

Now I am not expert, but I try to follow sensible advice and understand most of the basic rules and the need for relevance and of course referrals in terms of link building from strong domain authority websites.

Lets face it though, with so few slots its a money page now, not a joy to visit any longer!

One business model the internet has been very good at developing and will illustrate the scale of the problem however, is aggregation of fragmented markets into single marketplaces. Take hotels and the industry we are involved in: “Vacation Rentals”. It works like this:

  • Spot a fragmented market
  • Invest a lot of money
  • Create a brand and pull in a vast number of advertisers from the entire disparate fragmented sector.
  • Acquire other businesses and bolt on and remove competitors.

There is nothing special in this and in the early days of the Internet they were called directories or listing sites and anybody who visited them could obtain details of the businesses advertising and call or email them directly.

Not so bad at this point, as we have long had telephone directories.

Obviously search positions were important and a great deal of money went into marketing and achieving top slots for directories on Google!

Evolution of search

As time moved on these directories became “marketplaces”, meaning they wished to represent the product and transact money, this proves an attractive proposition to shareholders as data is controlled, cash management opportunities arise and margins can be better.

Add in “directional on site selection” and pushing best margin product and the cauldron is now bubbling, shareholders are excited and the traditional directory can move the words around at will and watch you moving through it!

Now what is wrong with this? In its simplest form, it means the big bags of money control the opportunity not the product.

You can’t necessarily find the right product anymore, you find what they want you to find. Google just facilitated the demise of countless businesses by search prominence on the main avenue to commerce.

It sounds like supermarkets all over again, except it’s worse. I have to drive to a supermarket, but can see the other shops on the way, who interestingly are having a comeback for all these reasons.

laptop frustration kid

So how has this sad and frustrating situation occurred?

Firstly any invested companies get voluminous amounts of words written about them in the financial press.

Then there is secondary analysis, journalists repeat, rewrite and distribute and this naturally promotes the business in product press and the avalanche continues.

Google loves this, national newspapers linking, social media in a buzz, journalists and product writers being paid to create content and low and behold the company sits aloft and proud of all the others.

These companies then apply financial and technical control over the businesses they have harvested to come on board and suck their working margins into the digital vacuum and off into the founders and shareholders pockets.

The product suppliers suffer or the purchasers pay more. The cute looking fur ball that worked as an open directory has now turned into a full grown bad tempered grizzly!

Each market can often accommodate several or more such businesses and a product supplier may now need to be on all of them, becoming lost in a plethora of competitor’s products.

The online marketplace knows nothing of these products and cares little, provided they pay up or the products sell in volume to feed the grizzly machine.

The supplier has to be on the marketplace as they stand no chance of ever being found on a search engine anymore.

These companies use the aggregation income to pay for position (think, which takes 15% and pays for the top slot on thousands of hotels) or via funded organic positioning due to a company’s size and net noise.

Refining this argument somewhat and taking a single examples such as HomeAway, who list over one million holiday homes, will show the extent of the problem.

Their competitors such as TripAdvisor and network and Priceline’s range of marketplaces mean that 9 times out of 10 one of these marketplaces will be the choice for a guest seeking a holiday home, to reach first via “Search”.

The actual homeowner is now trapped and at the mercy of shareholder greed as they start to insist on anonymity between owner and guest, booking control and money management.

Their guest may actually may want to book a villa with an owner, have chat over the phone, ask if they can turn the pool temperature up a bit, see if the wheelchair is a problem or if the pillows are allergen free.

“Good Lord”, I hear the company board saying, “that’s data and control leakage, we can’t have that! What if the owner actually receives money, it’s our guest after all, not theirs. Unless there is a problem with the toilet of course.”

The process in each of these hospitality businesses is always the same:

  • Aggregate volume
  • Tier pricing
  • Remove direct contact
  • Become a transaction marketplace
  • Engage reviews
  • Raise prices to the most popular inventory providers
  • Dominate “Search”
  • Enforce best price policies to the guest. Focus on Brand and pretend you own the product!

Even the monopolies and government bodies who control dominant positions are now taking note.

We get very annoyed and disappointed at this attitude from growing marketplaces, but they are driven by shareholder expectation, they are not charities and in the rush to build huge market caps, they have lost sight of what they are representing.

In many cases individuals or small companies that have a tenuous hold on the very fabric these marketplaces represent.

So quite interestingly the guest who has relied on Google to sort his problems and assist in his own search has been guided by Google’s very own algorithm to a hotel or holiday home that is not necessarily the best for him, at the best price or with the best amenities who often stands no chance of communicating with the accommodation provider until he has booked!

Pay up and hope for the best as the business has no product knowledge, location familiarity, in depth business knowledge, controls or quality control in place!

I have absolutely no doubt that many people who read this will say, that this is life, the big boys will always squeeze the life out of the small guys. Well it’s true of course, and Google also does this by auctioning limited space.

In Google’s own words:

“Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Please see some other philosophy statements below as well.

Its has now come a long way from that!

There are hundreds of thousands of individual cries in the wilderness now as not only have their local enterprises been under greater financial pressure, the aggregators demand technical synchronicity or intensive administration; read more time and money, the slope gets slipperier and the products less variable and interesting.

Is there a solution?

The clever chaps in your company would have much more idea than me, but maybe these companies’ site authorities or strength can be challenged through relevance.

So what if the New York Times travel section quotes an aggregator site, you can bet they have never been to that villa in Antigua!

So what if Bloomberg has an article or 50 on a single company, why would this help the business position its properties in Google Search above other more meaningful ones.

It’s not relevant at all to me finding a holiday home. Its just shows how much money I will have to give up to book one to the giant middle grizzly.

It also always amazes me that if the company comes first on search for an industry, why does Google rank its thousands of products as well as this just dilutes opportunity and the equivalent of free speech in commercial terms.

Google could even have a “exclude public listed company” filter or simply list them once for their single chosen industry.

Okay, Google ranks individual page strength, but this is probably one of its core issues and therefore the problem will continue to escalate as these monster corporations stretch further into Google Search!

There is one final point that may make a difference to Google revenue! Google Adwords relies on conversions from clicks!

These reduce as a percentage as the large corporations I have been bleating about refine this top target as well. Plus prices per click go up!

Soon the only advertises will be these large corporations and the small guys will have to rely on them entirely rather than a good mix of marketing.

Google will now have issues as control of specific open marketplaces dwindles and the brands no longer need to pay so much or need Google Search.

Plus the consumer may just look elsewhere and try other search engines, as all he may see are the high street brands, the ones he was overjoyed to have dodged when the web was in its infancy and when Google Search revealed a whole myriad of exciting new places, people and products!

Anyway I now have that off my chest, I need to get back to writing some blogs, restructuring the site, asking my guests for reviews, increasing my G+ network, upgrading Facebook, sending some tweets, translating our content, meeting owners, fixing the light switch and paying the ever increasing bills to the front page owners of Google.

NB: This is an opinion by Richard Vaughton, director at DiscoveryHolidayHomes.

NB2: Google letter, laptop frustration image via Shutterstock.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.





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  1. Jim Soule

    Amen Nothing true and nothing worthwhile in search anymore. Page thru what they give you and its the same crap overandoverandoverandover

  2. Larry Smith

    Google, Yandex, Yahoo and others richly reward the use of tags; these tags make indexing explicit and meaningful, plus most of the big corporations are not using them yet. We’ve published some specific extensions for lodging:

  3. Jane Breay

    @ Red ‘but the searcher wants as much information as quickly as possible.’

    The searcher certainly does, but the aggregator sites do not offer that – they offer first and foremost a price for a property that is the one that gets them the largest amount in their coffers. Valuable information, like qualitative reviews and the sort of information that individual owners can offer when asked, is simply not available. Great individual properties with (genuine) super reviews come right at the bottom of the search (several pages in when you are talking about a popular area) and they are taking away the ability for guests and owners to have direct contact.

    Richard is right and the sad truth is that not only is this making it nearly impossible for small owners to capitalise on their (in some cases substantial) investments which are also part of their retirement planning, but just as bad, it is also not giving the guests the best quality experience either.

    The people who run the aggregators do not even have the advantage that a supermarket chain has when it takes over a rival – boots on the ground who understand the product and their market.

  4. Richard Vaughton

    All the comments are great, negative and positive. There is plenty of evidence out there about the content you see and how you are driven to it. Google, Yahoo, Facebook all do it and as corporations get bigger they filter and direct via machine code, maybe ethically, but shareholder value dictates to the money and machines don’t care!

    A lot of people seem to think I posted this because we aren’t on page 1. I do have a number of destination relay sites on Page 1 and have substantial traffic from these destinations. We also have to use aggregator sites but sadly watch as they implement more control over their product suppliers. Business is good however, just more frantic but can see the tunnel getting darker! Cost have at least doubled on ads in 3 years, so the guest will end up paying eventually.

    The cascade effect (Google shows a huge aggregator and aggregator is a mini search engine) is the issue.

    The people who love single site go-to aggregators, are using them for convenience. The thumbs up symbol on often means the hotel is paying over 25% commission on your booking. If you called the hotel up to see if you can get it at better price (25% discount) you can’t, its the agreement. Part of this goes back to the PPC account to rank No.1 on Google for that hotel. Hotels lost this battle long ago and are only just managing to fight back in their own groups. Remember you aren’t necessarily getting what you want, its what they want! Go to page 10 more often!

    We are in holiday rentals and on these shareholder driven sites a viewer gets shown the highest paying property. Its a simple rule. These properties also get ranked according to your search details, plus if the owner allows the site to manage the money (more commissions) and adds a Book Now button, your are likely to be pushed to this! Seem hotel like to you?

    As time progresses owners contact details are removed, enquiries are anonymous (guest is hidden) and all data is controlled in their platform.

    Now add “reviews”. Most rentals see 15-20 weeks booking per year, not like a hotel. You won’t get a lot of reviews per property generally and a lot can happen to a rental in 6 months. Many are no doubt fake. Hotels see much more traffic so reviews are more reliable.

    So what once was a much loved and well used model where people actually like to enquire and discuss, is long gone and there are literally thousands of owners and guests out there crying from the search wilderness and lack of human interaction as a rental holiday in a private villa is much more complex with much higher base overheads.

    I’m not sure about humanity anymore, but I know so many people still like to communicate and establish verbal trust. Google search pushes to sites that eliminate human interaction in this case. If in doubt phone HomeAway, HolidayLettings, TripAdvisor, travel brands as they call themselves (if you can find the number) and see if that lovely villa you have chosen on page 1, can have the pool switched on for your October break!

    I actually wrote this as it has a close business relationship to another industry I was in and the net effect was higher customer prices, less choice, poorer quality, death of small manufacturers and innovation.

    Are you choosing your place to stay or is it a machine connected to the P&L?

    Do I have an answer, no!

  5. Rick Witz

    BIG BROTHER is finally here and its Google – A monopolistic company that dictates the internet and is not accountable to the public it serves – at least with a Government one can vote them out. A company which is virtually everywhere and becoming more powerful everyday. Perhaps its time to unplug Google and take back control of the internet — a medium which must be free and not dictated by one company.

  6. Red

    I think you’re also missing what the consumer wants. It’s frustrating for small business yes, but the searcher wants as much information as quickly as possible. They don’t want to visit 18 different websites to search for the best deal, they want it delivered in their face as quickly as possible.The only way to so this is via aggregators or meta search sites. The consumers are driving this and search engines are following. Nobody necessarily likes it but the number of businesses now using the web as a mainstream business avenue necessitates this mode of operation.

  7. Bek

    So you’d prefer a world of 5 years ago when spammers reigned and anyone that shoved “travel holidays for family” into their copy 14 times ranked instead?

    Search should never be your whole strategy. This missive smacks of the same “whoa is me” hand wringing that happens every time Facebook makes a change to pages.

    I get that things are difficult for you because you need to produce fresh content, but would you rather an internet that was full of spam and dodgy back-links?

    Your message sounds more to me like you started with dodgy tactics, and now you’re nose is out of joint because the modern day Google expects you to think about your marketing and work at it. Well guess what? Your customers want you to think about your marketing, too.

  8. Red

    I don’t believe the above is 100% accurate. Google are attempting to deliver direct to supplier business however in most cases the suppliers simply aren’t interested in investing the money required to make this happen. Hotel Finder is a classic example of this. Hotels can now list direct on Hotel Finder through a variety of third party providers, which in turn provides the exact result the writer feels is missing, being the opportunity for the traveller to connect direct with the hotel. However the hotels expect this to happen for free and hence many aren’t taking up the opportunity to compete with the aggregators on a level playing field. Then they complain about the ever rising commissions they have to pay but choose not to change when the opportunity has been offered. Business is always a two way street!

  9. Joel xp

    As a customer in my 30s or 40s, I rather have one or two sites that give me a lot of standardized information, broad choice, enabling creation of a shortlist of interesting offerings, enables comparison, map locations against each other and generally facilitates analysis and decision. As a customer, I much prefer that to googling about in dozens of different sites, while trying to find enough information to fill in my Excel sheet or some other means of product comparison.
    Those sites provide value for the customer and that is why Google knows I want to use them.
    Instead of being afraid of the big bad wolf, embrace the syndicators. Better yet, organize associations that are big enough to be able to create their own syndication sites that provide good interfaces and a valuable service to your prospect customers.

    • jeff riley

      Joel – u r right sort of. However it is a bit like saying that the supermarket is quicker than walking down the high street and visiting a real butchers, veg shop etc – it is better food and better for the soul! Don’t forget that these booking Platforms are easy to use, but who do you think is paying the 15% commission? Also which Guest when they arrive at the hotel will be treated to the better room, the one that has booked direct and so is more profitable and has a better chance of a long term relationship being formed or the guy who has booked through a generic site? Ask yourself why all these big booking sites advertise rates at the same levels – because that’s a condition of entry – let’s hope the Competition Comm get to grips with this finally and soon as the balance is still not working in the Guests interests. Being easy to use – doesn’t make them better!!

    • Jane Breay

      Joel I am not sure where you get the idea that these sites represent value to the customer. They are taking money off both the owners and the guests (and they will take more as time goes by and their stranglehold on the market gets tighter) and eventually that will result in a major increase in the price of your holiday because the owners cannot go on swallowing the increased costs. The properties which will give you the absolute best value in terms of quality/price/service are the ones you will never find because they will be so far down the list because they can’t afford to buy their way to the top.

      Actually it hopefully won’t be too long before you wont find them on the big sites at all as other more genuinely customer-focused sites will spring up to fill the void left when the likes of Owners Direct got swallowed up – as suggested by your last sentence.

  10. Lynne

    Excellent Richard.

  11. Andy

    I keep saying to myself, “And the point is?”

    I have been banging on about this to owners/agencies and listing sites in the villa rental space for five years and now the horse has bolted people are starting to moan about. The time to do something was five years ago when it was obvious this was coming.

    The issue isn’t just Google it’s Homeaway and others who now control the entire industry. It’s they who now dominate the first pages of Google so much that it’s impossible to get visible for anyone without a budget containing millions.

    I bet your paying Google to advertise though aren’t you? So while you moan you’re lining their pockets and essentially supporting the overall strategic aim.

    The internet, while invented by a Brit, is well and truly controlled by the Americans. The result is a corporate brochure of websites designed to kill small businesses and cream the revenue off the unsuspecting visitor who doesn’t even realise there is attractive options beyond page 1.

    Like you say its worse than the high street because even on the high street you get spotted as they pass you to the corporate.

    We can only hope that the private owners and agencies who flocked in the mistaken belief they were marketing their properties realise some time soon that they’ve signed their own death warrants as they now scramble to get page one on the likes of Homeaway amidst the hundreds of thousands of other websites, to a higher price or commission. That space is just as valuable to Homeaway and they ‘ll spank the owner just as you’re being by the big G.

    I sincerely hope the greed of the corporates does not prevail but that is exactly that. A hope.

    I wrote about Homeaway’s dominance and monopolisation of the industry over twelve months ago and it is progressing even faster than I predicted.

    The answer is to learn how to market, build alliances to spread resource and use a network to gain marketing traction without passing the crown jewels to the big competitors. But I be your listing on those very sites that are going to squeeze you to death?

    Without collaboration you’re dust inside three years.


  12. Randy Rice

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for posting this. It reflects my thoughts and experience exactly. I do not lave a local business, therefore, local search does zilch for me. Funny thing is that now keywords seem to have little impact on organic search, that is what adwords are based upon. I know a former higher-up at Google and this is part of a grand strategy where they are trying to push the information they think they know you want. As if that could be done. As both a business owner and Google user, I am finding the search capability inaccurate and unhelpful. I’m using Bing more these days. The problem there is that MS is working on the same strategy as Google. Jeeez.



  13. Zoot

    You’re piece is spot on and I sincerely hope that someone at Google that matters gets to see this. This past year I’ve seen 12 long years of hard, honest work get crushed for no valid reason and the best Google has offered to assist in my figuring out why was a form letter. They’ve destroy thousands and thousands of honest small business owners livelihoods in a flip of a switch. Sadly it’s looking like Googles motto has changed from “Don’t be Evil” to “Give me the money”. Good luck getting through to Google … hopefully they will realize and care how much they’ve hurt small business by choosing $$ over responsible, moral and ethical management.

    • Martin Topper

      So Googles job is to provide listings in a way that ensures YOU make money? As a shareholder, I think they should provide listings in a way that ensures THEY (and by extension I) make money. If you dont think the listings are valuable to your company, stop using them.

    • Richard Vaughton

      Thanks Zoot, much the same way as hundreds of thousands of people feel. Essentially let down!

  14. Richard Vaughton

    Thanks for all the comments on my article! So in order:-

    @sean, whinging is akin to making a noise, no one wins battles by lying down! Changing strategy yes, its moving target and we address it daily. We are still allowed to have opinions though!
    @jeff: You are clearly in this industry!
    @richard: I agree, still hoping it goes lame though or comes back to feed! No harm in shouting at it though!
    @Ben: We market rentals in many destinations (not just local) and if anybody out there can get above the grizzlies on search for the millions of holiday homes they now list, start a value rental listing site, customers will come flocking.
    @elisabeth: spot on!
    @ben. As an agent we are in a few destinations, with one office. Owners however are in one location. There are millions of lines written on how they can improve their lot. Social, campaigns, property focus, deals, price structuring etc. If there are 66,801 listed on HomeAway in Florida (today), then clearly none of them see the benefits or are even trying to use Google’s local/page, or simply don’t have the weight, the knowledge or Google are ignoring them…..the visibility comes to the developing brands and the money of course! Why wouldn’t it!

    I’m glad its thought provoking, but Google search as I said is not as good as it used to be!

    More comments welcome, please add your industry and business size, its good to see the reflection of opinions on local businesses and those on an International stage!

  15. Anonymous


    While I’d rather remain anonymous, I’d hint a few things. Google ownership hasn’t changed. Google’s goal hasn’t changed as well. Its just the way you see things… You can’t keep everyone happy. If you are unhappy with Google’s services don’t use them.
    Stop complaining like your problem concerns everyone else. Different problems apply to different people. You can’t have a generic tone.

    Why should google go on and promote small companies? Just an argument against yours.

    As far as I’ve read you have no idea how the search algorithm works and as far as I know not even the dev team behind it knows exactly how it works… Its a based graph. That means not everyone is going to get the same results and while some people might get the big companies coming 1st on their result, other will get your company coming 1st on their result…

    A lot of people have been requesting things like “please make my site come 1st on google search…” It depends on your graph… what info is in there. You cant have the same for everyone.


  16. Doc Sheldon

    Richard, you say that search (and I suspect what you really mean here is “Google”) is “… not a tool that any longer allows enterprise to grow and flourish; it is not seen as a playing field leveler or even an opportunity for smaller companies or individuals to leverage, without very deep pockets!”

    In the first place, as Ben Smart rightly points out, that isn’t true… Local does, in fact, level that field a great deal – we simply have to use it properly.
    Second, it really isn’t Google’s, or any other search engine’s, responsibility to promote business growth or level the field between small and large businesses… their responsibility is to deliver SERPs that best serve the users’ search queries. Full stop.
    We can whine all we want about the issue, or we can take advantage of the tools at our disposal to promote our businesses. I prefer the latter.

    • Matthew Barker

      Well said Doc. Anyone whose biz model/marketing strategy is based exclusively on 1st page google rankings is doomed – a) that’s not news, and b) that’s not google’s fault. Furthermore it tends to be those brands who have relied on tricks and manipulations to achieve those rankings rather than actually thinking about their marketing strategy as Andy rightly pointed out before.

      People have been complaining about this for years now, meanwhile the innovative and creative ones out there are making hay!

  17. Jazz Poulin

    I feel for you Richard. It was bound to happen in our “vacation rentals” industry which for too long didn’t have much structure to it. Airbnb, HomeAway,, Flipkey are here to stay and I’m sure we’ll see some of these consolidate soon.

    The only way to win, or stand out, is to simply be better. Better photos, video, content, make it easy for guests to work with you vs others etc. It forces us smaller players to raise the marketing bar quicker, deeper and it all can be done if we focus on niche markets.

    You’re focussing on England, The Italian Lakes etc.. great….now do it better than anyone else. When I was at Luxury Retreats our focus was on luxury villas, that’s it.

    Perhaps the friendly people at Google could include an “up and coming” section within their organic search results that would highlight what they see as up and coming, websites that are fairly new and seem to have great page speed, incoming links, social signals but at much lower volumes of the more well established bigger brands. It would at the very least give us Entrepreneurs hope 🙂


  18. Sean Keener

    G’Day Richard,

    Do you feel better now having shared this?

    You know of course, that google could care less about you, and why should they? They, like any other company (public) needs to grow every quarter and year to please shareholders.

    Are you and companies like yours the key to their continued growth?

    Perhaps take the energy that you use on whinging, and change or adapt your business model that is aligned with the current and future marketplace realties.

    With Love and Respect,

  19. jeff riley

    YES- YES -YES – our hope is for a search engine that promotes small companies – like the farm shop against the supermarket.

    Also that the big booking platforms, start to realise that it is not a great business model to have the majority of their Customers looking to leave and reduce rather than increase their room numbers and types.

    We are, as smaller operators getting squeezed out of Google page 1 and so real consumer choice and value is also being lost within Googles black hole.

    Although we seem to be powerless -maybe we are not?? what if we removed all our availability from these big booking engines for one day – half a day?? Maybe they would suddenly realise just how much they needed us to allow their business models to succeed.

    Trip Advisor was a potential platform for change, but now is so far in bed with the big booking engines that it has become yet another money earner for them and we are long forgotten.

    So we need a new search engine and a new Booking Platform that works for the small guys – where most of the interest and imagination in our market happens. Let’s Go!

    • Matthew Barker

      What?! Google caters *enormously* for small/local search verticals, it’s a huge part of their search product. They’ll put a map to your front door, your phone number and opening hours at the very top of the SERP for heaven’s sake! Taking a quick look at your site I’m not sure if you’re even trying to optimise for local search placements – you should probably check that before complaining about “Google’s black hole”!

      • jeff riley

        Thank you for the kind advice Matthew – however A Com O Date is not my main business and we don’t have to worry too much about Google as we are fully booked for every night of 2014! Always dangerous I feel to make assumptions!!

        • Matthew Barker

          Congrats in order then, Jeff! Think my point still stands – local search is a level playing field and they’ve made it *very* easy to take advantage. Cheers 🙂

  20. Richard Thomas

    Great letter – bit think the horse has well and truly bolted – the wild wild west and the prairies are now under the control of google corp!

    • Ben Smart

      I was chatting to a camping shop in London. One man, on his own. £500 annual marketing budget. If you search camping shops london you should see him along with the big boys (Blacks, Kathmandu, etc). How did he do it? By managing his Google Local page. What you guys are asking for exists. And it’s a Google product. Google realised your issues a while back and has put in place a product to help you. It’s just you’re not using it!!!

      • alan

        Hi Ben,
        I’m afraid that you are wrong. You can’t put vacation rentals on Google local. It’s against Google guidelines along with properties for sale.

  21. Elisabeth

    Just correct :- )Soon the only “advertises” will be these large corporations and the small guys will have to rely on them entirely rather than a good mix of marketing. – See more at:

  22. Ben Smart

    You say Google search no longer let’s independent businesses grow and flourish. This is wrong. Not so long ago Google rolled out Local Search (the results that are labeled A, B, C, etc. in search results). It has allowed small independent businesses to compete against the big boys and get to the top of search listings without the need for SEO teams. How is this done you ask! By managing their Google+ Local page. It’s a facility 95% of businesses don’t do, but those who do can massively increase search impressions.
    For hotels etc it means they have a chance to use Googke as a metasearch engine, bypassing OTAs by driving bookings through their own site.


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