Google Panda and the Travel Industry … My thoughts

umi hotels, umi Marketing % Comments

Well Hello there.
I am not one to be controversial but I thought I would let you know my thought on some things that have been happening with good old Google recently.


There have been some major changes recently in the way Google ranks websites within its index and its fair to say there has been a definite loss of confidence in the travel market due to these changes, a sector which Google has made some inroads in recent years, indicating the travel market as being a key vertical for their sector.


Many people in the industry have been arguing recently that the new search system is inaccurate and unpredictable.
It’s not just the travel sector either; many in the search marketing community have been up in arms about the changes.


The Panda Update as it is known was designed to reduce the amount of spam and content built purely for the benefits of the search engines. The aim is to reward the highest quality websites and marking down those sites that are considered to be content farms.


When Google first launched the Panda update it completely wiped out about 12% of the rankings – which is massive and considering the interconnectedness of websites out there had a really big impact. Google then spent a month or so improving the Panda update, but it’s still not quite right.


What’s worse Google has also said that the Panda update isn’t like other parts of their algorithm in that it’s a separate entity that’s designed to tidy up the rankings and it’s run on an “every now and then basis” whereas it’s other algorithm factors run at the same time. If Google run the factors every month then you can safely assume that it could be weeks before you know the impact of some of the SEO work you’ve been doing. This approach just isn’t cutting edge enough – when the rest of the world is going real-time Google are taking a backward step!


The biggest problem is the effects of this update are unpredictable (because they happen on an adhoc basis) and they aren’t massively accurate. We have been publishing content on our sites for years – this is news and events from around the area, it’s there to provide more information for our customers, not to rank on the search engines. In our line of business it’s essential that you give visitors a good idea of what’s happening around the area.


I’ve been at quite a few travel events since the update and as soon as I start talking about Google this update comes up over and over again. People in the travel industry just aren’t happy about it – as much as anything they seem to feel targeted by Google, which is especially sad as Google has suggested this is one of their key markets for future development.


There has been a move towards social media since its inception around 6 / 7 years ago and this is something we’re likely to see more of in the coming weeks.


Experian’s Internet Research Division Hitwise recently estimated that around 10% of all internet visitors are arriving at websites from Facebook, roughly 14% of all traffic received from websites is from a social media site – and that’s an increasing trend and something that we in the travel industry ignore at our peril.


The way we consume media on the world wide web is changing and Google is starting to look antiquated both in terms of the mode of our consumption but also in the way it moves it model further from its founding values to greater commercialism.


As more and more people use social media channels it become more important, that’s never been more apparent in the area of travel and especially youth travel where individuals often use social media sites to plan their travels in conjunction with their contacts.


Google needs to be very careful about making these kinds of changes and alienating a significant chunk of the market, especially one that targets the audience of its biggest rival.


I hope this doesn’t come across as waffle but the whole team who work on web and SEO at umi Hotels have been scratching our heads in regards what was going on, and thought we would share our thoughts. If you have any ideas please let me know as the more we work together in the industry, the more we will be able to understand it all.


Hello from Bangalore

Foreign Travel Market, umi hotels % Comments

Hey guys. A quick hello from Bangalore India , where I attending the a travel show. Has all been a bit of a whirlwind few days where I have been to the IPL cricket, then a few bars and today spent the morning and early afternoon with some lovely people sightseeing followed by a chill by the pool in 35c heat. Had a snack in the bar and watched Liverpool which was rather disappointing.
So India / Bangalore is a wonderful place. Although there is poverty there is a buzz and optimism to the City. There is a hustle and bustle and have thoroughly enjoyed both the culture and the food (you know how important the food is)! I hope to keep you posted with some more exciting things over the next few day. Take care and as some people know me as. Stevie bhai!

Steve Lowy Blog designed by umi Digital