Thursday, June 22, 2006

Creating storage for search

Toby Kesterson from LeadGenerators writes:

Flying over to the ITT conference in Oman I was in contemplative mood, thinking on how companies can enlarge their online footprint with minimal extra work.

I came to the conclusion that the most cost- and time-effective way of doing this is to put online as much of the offline company information as possible. Obviously this shouldn't include sensitive information, but any details about your products may work surprisingly well.

I'll give you an example of what I mean. One of the companies that we work for - outside the travel sector, admittedly - make a living by pairing up courier and haulage drivers with goods and loads that need moving.

For each new load put up on the site, a new page is generated. When the load is taken or if it passes the deadline, the page loses its original function.

Important keywords here, just as in the travel industry, are often location-related. This means that potential customers might be typing 'haulage loads nottingham' or 'small courier van tavistock'.

However, if there was a courier load posted to Tavistock last month, but there didn't happen to be one live at the moment then we would miss out on that traffic.

Bearing all this in mind, we recently we persuaded them to put up all the past loads online so that these pages could be indexed by the search engines and would be likely to appear when someone typed a relevant search into Google.

The results were astonishing. Our website suddenly developed a huge bank of valuable, relevant pages that the search engines were now busy indexing and caching.

Now, for every location that has had a courier or haulage load due to either arrive or depart, we have a page of relevant content that we can redirect to pages of current offers. This is the hook that lures customers into the site.

The question is whether this can work for the travel industry in the same way. Does it provide additional value for travel companies and tour operators to put their old offers online, or does the limited number of destinations mean that there is little if any advantage gained?

Is there a way for travel companies to get on board in a similar way; perhaps for customers searching for specific dates, hotels and pax numbers?

I'd love to hear your comments on the matter.

Toby Kesterton, head of search engine optimisation, LeadGenerators

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