27 October 2005

Distractions

Haven't blogged for a few days now largely because I've been distracted by 'Jagger' and my role at the British Guild of Travel Writers (I'm the webmaster) which suddenly becomes onerous in Oct/Nov as I oversee the annual update of our Travel Industry Database (TID).


The TID has press contact details for 2,600 travel companies, public relations companies and media companies. It is continuously being updated but once a year every single record is checked and updated before being used to compile the listings section of the Guild's yearbook. Thankfully many companies respond to our invitation to do it themselves online, but about half have to be phoned up by a team of data-checkers, and it's a massive job that I'm always glad to see the back of in December!

'Jagger' is something else I would very much like to see the back of. In fact I wish I hadn't seen the front of it!

If you are a webmaster or involved in the world of Search Engine Optimisation, you'll know all about 'Jagger' already because the SEO forums have been talking about little else for the past few weeks.

'Jagger' is a Google update. Periodically Google changes the way it looks at websites and the algorithms it uses to sort and present them to you when you search for something. When there is a big change, as with hurricanes, Search Engine Optimisers (SEOs) and Marketeers (SEMs) give it a name - 'Florida', 'Bourbon', that sort of thing.

Actually, these days Google tweeks tend to be smaller and more frequent so that many SEO experts thought the days of the big, named, update were over.... until the beginning of this month, when a major, 3-part update started sweeping across Google's worldwide network of data centres turning the world upside down for a huge number of web businesses who were swept off the top ranking postions and into oblivion.

Travel Lists has been one of them.

'Jagger' is not over yet and usually good sites
(search engines particularly like websites that have unique content, are frequently refreshed and have lots of other sites pointing to them) that drop out for no clear reason tend to work their way back to the top end of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) after a while. So, I'm hopeful for a recovery. But it is a blow because Google normally sends twice the number of searchers to Travel Lists than all the other search engines put together.

What really sticks in my throat though is that another directory, which is strong on destination info (visas, geography, voltages, etc. The stuff we don't do) but useless at listing travel companies, is still sitting at the top of the SERPs for many of our keywords. IE if you search on Google for "tour operators to countryname" this site will probably be there on the first SERP, offering a page with a list of zero to 2 tour operators... those two operators being its sponsors. Google is giving top positions to pages with no content. How frustrating!




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