TTE: White label fears as Google update targets ‘duplicate’ content

An as yet unnamed Google algorithm update on January 28 will mean sites with duplicate content will find it even harder to rank highly in search results, search agency Greenlight warned.

Speaking at a Travolution seminar theatre session on the second day of the Travel Technology Europe trade show, Adam Bunn, director of SEO at Greenlight, said sites with generic white label content would be particularly disadvantaged.

He said the proliferation of this sort of content in travel meant it was a particular issue in the sector. “This has big ramifications for many sites but massive ramifications for travel,” he said.

The latest algorithm update comes after last year’s Caffeine and May Day changes which were designed to increase the speed with which Google is able to index pages.

Matt Cutts, who heads Google’s webspam team said in his blog that the change “primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content”.

He added: “This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.”

Caffeine saw the Google algorithm take account of how quickly pages upload while May Day penalised sites with poor. SEO. This saw a marked reduction in the importance of anchor link and dominion authority of sites for Google ranking.

Instead, on site SEO increased in importance as did user signals – how other people refer to a site on social media – while links diminished in importance although overall remained the predominant factor.

Bunn said this trend was set to continue. “Search engines have been using links as a proxy for how well liked your site is but this will replace links over time,” Bunn said.

The relegation of domain authority by Google means sites with many pages containing similar content to other sites linked from the home page will no longer rank so highly. Firms were urged to integrate user generated reviews into their product pages and include links on the pages to make them more attractive to the Google spiders.

Other predictions for paid and natural search that will have a particular impact on travel in 2011by Greenlight were the advent of app search, the rolling out of Google comparison ads to travel after a successful trial in the finance vertical, the rise of QR codes, and re- and pre- targeting.

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