Madness of search engine results in travel – The Bali Edition
Search engine results in travel, like the products themselves, are often far from perfect. But sometimes the results are just beyond any rational explanation.
Often it is difficult to understand whether it so-called gaming of SEO by websites or if the search engines themselves are just not practising what they preach.
One of the more bizarre examples (and there have been many over the years!) came this week by way of TravelFish CEO Stuart McDonald, who chanced across a rather peculiar set of SERPS when looking for “temple lodge agoda” on Google.
This is what he found [notes on the screengrab belong to McDonald]:
McDonald says despite the word “tripadvisor” not even featuring in his search query (and no Google Plus action coming through as he rarely uses TripAdvisor), the results saw the user review monster grab:
- Six of the top 10 results
- 15 of the top 20
- 25 of the top 30
- 35 of the top 40
- 43 of the top 50
Poor Temple Lodge and its official site doesn’t feature until the fifth page of results.
“As you may have gathered, Temple Lodge is not listed on Agoda — but I’m not sure why Google felt compelled to tell me that while it wasn’t listed on Agoda, here are 43 links to a site (which you could argue is an Agoda competitor) I didn’t even search for.”
So what is going on here? It is difficult to tell precisely, in some respects.
TripAdvisor results for that hotel are mostly coming from multiple domains – ie. it’s localised websites around the world, where the hotel will be listed with a different domain extension each time.
What is wrong with that?
Well, as anyone with a smattering of knowledge about SEO and the Big G will tell you: Google doesn’t particularly like duplicate content.
So perhaps TripAdvisor has worked out a smart way round it, or Google has yet to crack down on it?
Either way, as McDonald says later:
“The bigger question I guess is who on earth is this actually supposed to be useful for?”
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.