This article may be a rude awakening for some. The ugly truth is that Alphabet (Google) has done away with their “Do No Evil” mantra and is now a publicly traded, Wall Street corporation required to maximize profits for their shareholders.
Over the years Google has worked hard to be a good citizen. While those days may not exactly be over, clearly profit has taken center stage and the small business is now at a very real disadvantage.
There are several areas in tourism marketing where we no longer recommend that the small business even bother to try to rank a website. It is a poor investment of scarce marketing resources.
Let’s start by searching for any hotels in Miami Beach. We know exactly the kind of place we want so just give us a link and we will be ready to book.
Instead of showing us what we are looking for, Google shows us links to hotel booking and review sites. Not one single hotel shows up on our search for hotels until we get almost to the bottom of the page (eighth position). They know what we want but they have no intention of showing it.
Perhaps if we were more specific…
This search didn’t give us one, single hotel, large or small on the first search page (SERP). But we really want to find one of these cool hotels so we will tell Google we want to see the websites, not Expedia.
Again, not one single hotel website in the organic results on the first page. Let us be clear, Google knows exactly what we are searching for and they will not show us those results.
But first, even before we get to the fail, we will see lots of ads. Look carefully at the screen-shot below. Notice that there is not one organic (non-paid) return to be seen.
The top portion of that listing for The Palms along the bottom is for the Three Pack, not an organic return. A careful look will also show that Google wants you to book your stay there right from this search page - not The Palms website.
There is even speculation that the search engines would like to show you a real video ad before showing you search results. While that may seem far-fetched, it was not long ago that buying ads on a search results page seemed far-fetched.
Back to the story at hand: we have underlined in red the websites for our romantic hotel search. Notice there is not a single hotel in this result.
The explanation you will get from Google goes something like: these websites have more content, better backlinks, and more visitors. These are strong SEO signals and they are simply allowing the algorithm to do bring the results the people want.
Of course, if that were really the case there would be no such thing as local search. Type in “Car Dealership in (Your Town)”, then search “Restaurant in (Your Town)” and see the difference once you pass the ads.
There are several other categories within the Tourism industry that will get the same outcome. In every case you are well advised not to spend much money on an SEO campaign.
It is not that we don’t want you to create a quality website, you need to so that visitors may do due-diligence before making a purchase. This is about placing your effort where you will reap the biggest rewards. We are a tourism marketing company, not an Internet marketing company. A single marketing plan will not work everywhere. If you want to learn more, contact us.