Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does building for cusomers = building for search: Google responds

I did a post yesterday at WebInTravel on my belief that online travel companies end up designing their products around search result and that this is not necessary compatible with designing the produce with the consumer in mind. Claire Hatton - Google's Head of Travel in the Asia Region posted a response. Thank you Claire for joining in the conversation. Here is her comment in full
Hi Tim,

I usually don't comment on posts but I feel the need to give you the Google perspective on this one. Of course there are technical requirements such as clear structures and hierarchies that websites should include, so that any search engine can find and index your content.

To rank well in Google, site owners and businesses need to make their pages for users. We use hundreds of different signals to rank webpages. The reference to links and structures really just scratches the surface. Google has changed a lot and improved its ranking tools since PageRank was invented in the 1990s. Focusing only on links and other traditional SEO techniques is not the way to improve your site's rankings - in fact, building pages for search engines and not users is, in my experience, a surefire way to deliver a website that consumers don't like and that will not rank well.

What will drive good search rankings - and I have seen this from my experience working with travel companies - is making pages that consumers come back to, talk about, link to or reference, send to friends and generally enjoy using. In this sense the comment about url's is important - a consumer needs to be sure they are going to a relevant, trustworthy site.

We make all of this clear in our Webmaster Guidelines within Google Webmaster Tools, which are valuable resources for people building websites. Anyone who is interested can find them here:


Neil MacLean said...

That's really useful. And well done Claire for chipping in. It would be good to hear more about her specific experiences with travel companies. So if she also reads your comments...

Steve Sherlock said...

To me the questions is: are you more likely to compromise on design to accommodate SEO or compromise SEO to accommodate design?

I don’t believe the two are ever "perfectly" in balance.

I’d say for travel booking site (generally of commodity type products) the temptation is to compromise on design to accommodate SEO.

However, for those companies who make design the core of their site, I believe this will build stronger brands, and like Claire said, users are more likely return again and again and talk about the brand experience.

Though I can understand when SEO takes priority, because design costs money and you can't track the ROI so easily.

Anonymous said...

what is a google ?

Anonymous said...

google is a bigger threat to the internet as microsoft ever was to the desktop/software development.

unfortunately most people simply do not look past the PR show google puts up.

already fair advertising on the internet is severely hampered by google's so called 'secret' algorithm.

same advertisers pay different PPC amounts, based on their 'site quality'. This only confirms that google can set ad rates by advertisers. All a while this practice is covered by their 'black box', blind bidding facade.

yet while most advertisers pay top dollar, all those SEO customized sites get top rank at no extra cost.

I personally figure the google model is inherently corrupt, and as such not sustainable.

time will tell.