Holiday Madness: SEO Australia

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Are listings and directory sites making the browser experience too confused and convoluted

I have just recently returned from a holiday with my girlfriend to the Gold Coast in Australia. Needless to see the place was beautiful and we had a wonderful time. Probably the most stereotypical country I’ve ever been to, they do love beer and barbecues (every night), and they always say ‘ay’ at the end of each sentence and call you ‘mate’.

How has my holiday to the east coast of Australia connected with search engine marketing, search engine optimisation and all that jazz?

On the last day we needed to book some cheap accommodation near the airport for an early flight the next day. You would think this would be an easy task but in fact it became very confusing.

If you search for ‘hotel near gold coast airport’ hear is what you get.

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All of the search results are for websites that list hotels and not any actual websites for hotels themselves, which I find kind of weird. What’s even weirder is the first website for an actual hotel itself appears on the second page and is for a hotel in Chicago. The Gold Coast is a very popular holiday destination and does not suffer from search obscurity.

If anyone is short on SEO work then I suggest you give some of the multi million dollar hotels near Coolangatta, Gold Coast airport a call, because they need it.

These listing sites not only confuse me but actually gave false information. I found a hotel 5 minutes from the airport and at a cheap rate, it said available and that I could book through that particular listings website. I have no trust whatsoever for these cheap looking sites so I found the phone number for the hotel and gave them a ring. And what a surprise to find that it was fully booked, what would have happened if I had booked through the listings site?

This is a classic case of too much information delivered in an awkward fashion. I don’t know about the rest of you but I like to go directly to businesses to book or to use one free directory such as the yellow pages. It’s like going to a tourist attraction and you get a hundred guys touting for your business to show you around and all you want to do is go direct to the attraction and show yourself around.

It would be much better if the search results returned a list of websites from the actual hotels themselves and one complete directory such as the yellow pages. The yellow pages are not trying to make money from you it is simply a free source of information. If a hotel does not have a website it can be listed in the yellow pages or equivalent site.

I keep referring to the yellow pages because that in my mind represents the good old days when all the information you needed for businesses was in one place. The truth is that the yellow pages has not court up with the modern world, I’ve tried using the online version of the yellow pages and its no good, it seems to lack information.

In the example I gave above the main websites that desperately want my business are booking.com, wotif.com, asiaoz.com, hotels.com, campaboutoz.com.au and more. I would say these guys are SEO experts but the content is crap. The content conflicts between websites and you don’t know who to trust; admittedly some of these sites have nice graphics such as maps that show the location of all the hotels (and this is especially good if your looking for a hotel near something) but I just get the feeling the info is incomplete and in some cases just plain wrong (I called the number of one hotel using the Skype link and got some poor old lady at her private residence). Also these sites add their own charges and it is often cheaper to go direct to the business itself.

I suggest we need to get to a place where we have one complete and trusted directory site. If you want to go on holiday to say Sardinia then there should be ONE privately or publicly owned (there’s no reason to say that local governments could organise such a site) site that list all hotels, clubs, restaurants etc for that particular holiday destination. In fact such a site does exist for Sardinia its called http://hotel luxury destinations, the URL explains what it is and where it is for. In the future we need one leading website to service all our needs when finding info on exotic holiday destinations.

Maybe I’m being old fashioned by not liking this bombardment of choice, after all the freedom to choose is the doctrine of the modern day materialist world. In my mind this is definitely a case of too much information which is an overload for the brain. The businesses themselves don’t know who to advertise with and so will choose different sites based on differing reviews given to them by friends, business partners, colleagues etc. The world of online listing websites needs a top predator to eat all the rest and make it easy for us to find all the information. This can happen in two ways either the authorities control the system but this wouldn’t exactly be in keeping with the spirit of free market; or one lucky person creates a site that is so usable that all businesses advertise with them.

I doubt that either of these will happen soon so here’s to a future of more and more confusing web searches when looking for holiday information. And that’s fair dinkum mate you flaming drongo!