Later this year, I’m finally taking some time off with the family, a real vacation. That’ll include a week over in Maui, where I haven’t been back to for about 15 years. That also means finding a place to stay.
I left it to my wife to figure it out, and she went out and came up with a few places after searching. One seemed perfect — its own jacuzzi, on the beach, plenty of room for us all.
She called me in to take a look, and all my search spam radar detectors started firing up. What’s with this multi-hyphenated domain? What’s with this keyword stuffing? How come a search on the name of this place is bringing me up over 500 pages all on different domains?
It’s hard when you’re in search marketing not to see all that stuff. I’ve described it to some people like that scene in the Matrix, when Cypher is staring at those three monitors with streaming code that looks like nothing. He tells Nero:
I don’t even see the code anymore; all I see now is blonde, brunette, redhead
When I do a search, it’s hard to look at just the content I’m being shown. All I see is seo, seo, seo.
My wife used the “availability checker” for the house, only to discover that just sent an email off to someplace that never emailed back. Disgusted, she handed things over to me to continue.
I did a fresh search, then decided to follow up with one of the top sites listed that seemed fairly legit. I mentioned those 500 pages before. Clearly if you have a vacation home in Hawaii (and probably anywhere), you end up with multiple people trying to get you renters.
What I was after was a primary rental agency or property management firm. For example, I’m used to renting vacation houses in Newport Beach. Each house will have one primary rental agency that handles it (and if you’re looking for houses there, by the way, try Burr White, Cannery Rentals and Balboa Newport Reality as good starting places). I wanted the primary agency for this house, rather than some go between.
I ended up at Hawaiian Beach Rentals, here. I have no idea if they are the primary property management agency or not. But the site was informative, plus I actually liked that they had a local 808 number shown rather than a 800 number. The houses were well described, and the guest comments section had remarks that didn’t look faked. From an SEO perspective, I was pleased not to end up at a place with a billion hyphens in the domain name. Sure, I held my nose a bit at how every page listed every place you could think of in Hawaii as links. Goodness knows, I’d seen much worse — plus at least those links lead to actual listings. Don’t hurt them, Matt.
Even better, when I contacted them, I got an email back within about fifteen minutes about the house. Sadly, it was already booked. They recommended another one, but we didn’t really like it. So I started plowing through the listings for Maui, as you’ll see here.
Ugh. Eight pages of listings, 15 listings per page and no way to narrow down to what I wanted. Still, I carried on, finding a few things and firing off an email about them. While I waited for a reply, I went back to basics, more out of curiosity than anything else. What would Maui vacation rentals bring up on Google?
As it turned out, Hawaiian Beach Rentals was number three, which I took as a good sign. I popped open tabs to check out the other listings and was instantly impressed with Vamoose. Wow, exactly what I needed. You could drill down to anything.
Check it out. Here are (1) three bedroom (2) houses (3) with pools (4) on the beach (5) on Maui. Amazing, narrowed to five criteria.
Well, amazing not. The first three listings were all sponsored and none of them on the beach. Below that were other results, some of which were matches but plenty that weren’t.
Vamoose is definitely something I’ll keep in mind for the future, but it’s not the perfection I’d hoped for. Meanwhile, my search marketing reflexes kicked in, making me both annoyed by and admiring of how AdSense units had been worked into the listings, so that you might mistakenly click on them thinking they were real “listings.”
I know, there are probably better places for me to seek vacation rentals, specialty search engines that might do what I hoped Vamoose should do. Hey, feel free to note them below. But to cap off my post today, one last thing, this time on TripAdvisor.
I’ve known the site for ages. I like it as a way to see what others might think about a particular hotel. And I just went over to check out hotels for when I go out to Las Vegas in November (ended up at New York New York, by the way). But after searching for Las Vegas Hotels, does TripAdvisor really need to give me a domain like this:
Honestly, I had to laugh. What, two hyphens aren’t enough — you had to do subdomains as well? I suppose I can be thankful that the page for New York New York wasn’t: