Is there such a thing as too much SEO?

Or is Google’s algorithm a little off?

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

Whilst checking into some background info for yesterday’s blog post about the Jury’s Inns hotel chain I did the obligatory Google search for Jury’s Inns. Not sure what you’re seeing, based on Google’s penchant for showing different search results based on your location or whether you’re logged in or not.

Click the image to see the results I got. Almost the entire first page on Google for that term is either the main site or a search-engine friendly subdomain for Jury’s Inn hotel(s) in a particular city.

If I’d have searched for jurysinns.com seeing this wouldn’t have surprised me at all (and this is exactly what does come up, similar to ibm.com or allcapitals.com). If I’d have searched for Jurys’s Inn Hotels London I wouldn’t be surprised to see the custom subdomain come up first or second either.

As subdomains, there’s likely far less incoming links to them, so how did they beat out the page 2 listings like TripAdvisor, Late Rooms and others? Jury’s Inns clearly have people working on SEO for them, otherwise they wouldn’t have subdomains like this. My question is whether there’s such as thing as too much SEO? Does a first page of Google SERPs consisting purely of main site and subdomains help the searcher? Would it not be better for both the searcher and the company for there to be more third party sites, that all link to you anyway? Third party sites confer more authority on the main site, simply because they flesh out the kind of information that is available: TripAdvisor’s user generated content, the property detail pages of third party booking sites and more.

The only ‘solution’, if indeed one is desired, to this is for Google’s algorithm to be altered with regard to subdomains, and the last time any changes were mentioned in that area is this blog post from almost two years ago by Matt Cutts and discussed on Search Engine Land. At the time it seemed that things would change so that subdomains would be treated in a similar way to subdirectories, or at least, seeing a whole page of results from a single domain would be “less likely”. I’m not sure if these results indicate a reversal of that, or comes under the exception Matt Cutts aludes to with “This change doesn’t apply across the board; if a particular domain is really relevant, we may still return several results from that domain.”

Until there’s a way to tell Google what terms you’d like a subdomain not to rank for, it’s unlikely this will get any clearer or produce SERPs which meet the needs of both the searcher and the brand unless the geniuses at Google somehow build telepathy into the algorithm.

Window writing, sometimes it’s right but the Jury’s out on this one

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Earlier this month the Jury’s Inns hotel group opened their first property in Prague. It’s in a busy spot, opposite a metro interchange station, just on the border of Prague 1, the centre of the city.

Apologies for the poor quality of the image, it was snapped with my iPhone from the other side of the street, but you should be able to make out on the right hand side of the image, some fluoro window writing. Window writing is pretty popular here, lower-end restaurants use it to announce their specials or entice customers with an offer. This window writing says ‘Dvouchodove Business Menu, 120Kc’, that first word is the Czech for ‘two-course’. The incongruity of this struck me on several levels:
1) Jury’s Inn is a mid-range hotel chain in the UK & Ireland, I’d have thought them above tacky window writing
2) The wording and price are off. Mixing Czech and English like this is nonsensical, putting “Business Menu” but not having “two-course” in English simply doesn’t make sense. If you’re trying to attract the ‘right kind of people’ to have lunch there (120Kc is a full 20% more than the average lunch menu price for the area) then you can be pretty sure that even if they’re Czech, they’re not going to have a problem deciphering “two-course”. If you’re targeting those kind of people, put the price up to 150Kc just to make sure. As soon as someone’s broken the 100Kc barrier another 30Kc (about £1/€1/$1.50) isn’t going to turn them away and is more likely to infer a greater value perception.
3) Right next to it is a sign that appears to have been produced locally. Couldn’t a sign advertising the business menu have also been produced? If covering up the window is a problem, then get it professionally produced, or printed on clear single sided adhesive film, it’s not ‘that’ expensive.
I’m not denying there’s a place for window writing as a medium, it’s just that it sets certain expectations and assumptions. It says “we’re rather informal, so much so that we don’t mind scrawling on our windows to tell you about what we offer”.
Perhaps I’m just being obsessive in my expectation that all a company’s messaging should be ‘on-brand’. Maybe this is perfectly fine. One of my spells of work experience was with Hilton International’s Corporate Communications department so I’ve experienced first hand the conflict that can arise between a head office marketing department and property level management over branding. Maybe the Jury’s Inn brand manager has no idea that this is in the window of their newest property, it’s impossible to have eyes everywhere.

Earlier this month the Jury’s Inns hotel group opened their first property in Prague. It’s in a busy spot, opposite a metro interchange station, just on the border of Prague 1, the centre of the city.

Apologies for the poor quality of the image, it was snapped with my iPhone from the other side of the street, but you should be able to make out on the right hand side of the image, some fluoro window writing. Window writing is pretty popular here, lower-end restaurants use it to announce their specials or entice customers with an offer. This window writing says ‘Dvouchodove Business Menu, 120Kc’, that first word is the Czech for ‘two-course’. The incongruity of this struck me on several levels:

1) Jury’s Inn is a mid-range hotel chain in the UK & Ireland, I’d have thought them above tacky window writing

2) The wording and price are off. Mixing Czech and English like this is nonsensical, putting “Business Menu” but not having “two-course” in English simply doesn’t make sense. If you’re trying to attract the ‘right kind of people’ to have lunch there (120Kc is a full 20% more than the average lunch menu price for the area) then you can be pretty sure that even if they’re Czech, they’re not going to have a problem deciphering “two-course”. If you’re targeting those kind of people, put the price up to 150Kc just to make sure. As soon as someone’s broken the 100Kc barrier another 30Kc (about £1/€1/$1.50) isn’t going to turn them away and is more likely to infer a greater value perception.

3) Right next to it is a sign that appears to have been produced locally. Couldn’t a sign advertising the business menu have also been produced? If covering up the window is a problem, then get it professionally produced, or printed on clear single sided adhesive film, it’s not ‘that’ expensive.

I’m not denying there’s a place for window writing as a medium, it’s just that it sets certain expectations and assumptions. It says “we’re rather informal, so much so that we don’t mind scrawling on our windows to tell you about what we offer”.

Perhaps I’m just being obsessive in my expectation that all a company’s messaging should be ‘on-brand’. Maybe this is perfectly fine. One of my spells of work experience was with Hilton International’s Corporate Communications department so I’ve experienced first hand the conflict that can arise between a head office marketing department and property level management over branding. Maybe the Jury’s Inn brand manager has no idea that this is in the window of their newest property, it’s impossible to have eyes everywhere.