Monday 10 October 2011

Is Search Depreciating Organic Search & Hurting Small Hotels?

There are big changes in the wind that are going to shake up travel shopping and eCommerce. This article is a must-read to understanding what is happening.

In a previous blog (Is search the new media), we talked about how Search is changing and become more like Media. We suggested that Search is the perfect example of the sort of platform and function we can expect in the new media of the future.

We saw that Google is upping the ante for organic search and featuring its own properties, as well as preferred suppliers and advertisers, in preference to organic search.

To illustrate the point, we have created a video here. You will notice Google advertisers are on top on the right and its own places now above organic results. Organic is way down the list on many result pages. Ads on the right, sponsors on the top, Places under that, leave organic off the screen and much depreciated.

Notice also that Google Search is now in the eCommerce business, offering rates by date and links to booking options. And Google is providing its own places' websites in several cases. It lists seven properties on top of the map; these are 7 they think are the most appropriate search results. The mechanics of choosing the top 7 is not clear at all.

The fact is that Google is becoming a full-service platform providing websites, hosting, technology and fulfillment. But it is not necessarily working with YOU! 

We note that Expedia is well represented in Google Places' results and we know that Expedia is a big advertiser. But we also notice that a small hotel who does not advertise (Dover Beach in Barbados) is on Places and when you click on the link, it takes you directly to Dover Beach Hotel's official website. This is encouraging, as we were instrumental in getting Dover Beach Placed. It shows that big advertisers do not necessarily dominate. They do things right, they are authority sites, and they get listed. But as a small hotel owner, You too can be listed and linked directly. And it is not always the big OTAs that are the preferred suppliers. In the case of Coconut Court Hotel a small OTA is listed, and that is likely a result of their work in listing the Place and marketing it.

When you examine the Map-Website that Google creates for properties, you will notice that it is getting its photos from Panorama. So Panorama is a good place to put your images. It's an authority site respected by Google. Be there and you increase your chances of the largest search engine in the world listing you.


Its clear that search is transforming into a much more encompassing media. It is becoming a full service solution, offering e-commerce and fulfillment. Its methods to evaluate ranking are favoring large companies who are the major advertisers and depreciating organic search results. It is already very difficult for small hotel and tourism operators to gain first page ranking for their target searches. Small companies do not have the collateral of the big companies, they don’t have the content, and are not woven into the web in the same way as the big companies. They don’t have the know how or the time and resources to compete.

The new changes appear to make it almost impossible for small travel companies to get into the first page of search results for generic terms other that their own name.

Coming Next

In our next Blog we will look at these issue in detail and suggest what  a small tourism company can do to market its brand and sustain its niche against these odds.

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1 comment:

irclay said...

Read FairSearch 44-page complaint “Google’s Transformation From Gateway to Gatekeeper: How Google’s Exclusionary and Anticompetitive Conduct Restricts Innovation and Deceives Consumers.