Sunday 29 June 2014

Search engine evolution - does it spell the deathknell for independent review sites?

We all know the old adage "If it does not appear in page 1 of search it might as well not appear at all."

Independent review sites, whatever their nature, depend for their influence on their position in any given Google search. If they don't feature on page 1 of a Google search, then their influence over our buying habits wanes fast.

Let's see what we mean in practice:

The search term "Hotel [in] Kensington" - in 2013 returned the following result:

Today* there is no return at all for TripAdvisor 'above the fold': 

With Google Hotelfinder and Google Places reviews prominent:

And the first return for TripAdvisor down here after the 'Magic 7'...

So what does this mean for our clients?

We are not suggesting that you completely refocus all your efforts away form TripAdvisor to Google today, TripAdvisor is still consulted by a massive proportion of travellers, and old habits die hard. But do remember Bebo - at it's height it was by far the largest social network (10.7 million users in the UK alone) but was killed off by the arrival of Facebook. Dominant today does not guarantee dominance tomorrow.

Web users are notoriously fickle, and when searching the overwhelming majority will pursue the first relevant result served to them by Google, whatever its origin.

Our advice

Clients with few Google reviews should speak to us. We will help you plan a strategy to get reviews to Google without diverting them away from TripAdvisor, for the timebeing.

*Remember that Google returns search results depending on your own individual search history, so search results will not be uniform for everyone.

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