Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2008 Best Travel Search Engine Queries

From my travel site : A selection of oddball searches from the past year plus a few tips for finding what you want to know, fast.

Search engine queries are those words or phrases that are typed into browser search boxes to find sites with the information needed. Most searches are short and to the point; at least the ones that get most visitors to my travel site.

But some Googles make me giggle, so I started keeping a list. Keep in mind, I have no idea who asked these questions. I only get a list of the search terms they used, called keywords. But some searches make me wonder what the asker really wanted to know, and had me wishing I could help them out, one to one.

[What I don't want to dwell on is why google, yahoo, ask, dogpile or aol sent them to my site. And really I don't care if these keywords ever put my site on page one of the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages), but some of these wide-of-the-mark searches sure do brighten my day.]

Most searches are to the point:
  • what to pack for a two week trip (one week trip, etc.)
  • allowable airline carryons
  • mississauga pictures
  • (name of) restaurant
  • traditional chile foods

Other searches seem to be prompted by a school project or not directly travel related:
  • haitians wear what
  • history of selling in Ethiopia
  • How cold is the snow in Canada? (as cold as snow is anywhere)
  • why is it Canada have snow (I ask myself the same thing)

Some searches, though, are a little off the mark, and some are way off the mark, or unanswerable, but apparently some search engine thought that my site had the answer. I wish it did. Some searches set up wild mental images, or have me wondering if it's safe to let these people get on an international flight. At the very least, basic geography may help :-)

  • pictures of Haiti in Winter (Haiti is subtropical Caribbean)
  • punta cana visas (visas are issued by country; Punta Cana is a resort area in the Dominican Republic)
  • what should tourists take pictures of in the dominican republic?
  • How much is a condo in Malaysia?
  • How many shoes to pack for a one week trip
  • how do I pack a suitcase
  • pictures adis abah bah ( Addis Ababa, Capital of Ethiopia - I love this one!)
  • how long does it take postcards to arrive from Portugal?
  • What do things cost in China?
  • Buy peak from China
  • What do Chilean women like? (Who knows what woman anywhere like :-) for that matter)
  • Indian flavours Mississauga Ontario
  • fish dining Port Credit
  • papyrus painting sipping beer
  • condom houses borneo
But my favourite of the bunch came in just this week:

do seagulls stick to metal in the winter?


Screenshot of the SERP page Seagulls keyword

So how can you search more efficiently and save wading through dozens of SERPs?

Someone recently mentioned they were amazed at the number of people who still type in complete sentences to do searches. Boy, did that take me back to the old Ask Jeeves days! All that's needed these days are nouns and / or verbs, as specific as possible.

To see which of your search 'key words' Google actually uses to select the results, look at the top right corner of the Search Results page, where you will see them underlined and in blue. But if it helps clarify what you are trying to find out, by all means use full sentences.

If you want the search results to show a specific phrase, you can enclose it in quotation marks (inverted commas); Google your own name in this way to see if, and where, you are written about on the web, or who in the world has the same name: e.g. "jane doe". This brings back only Jane Doe not all the Janes and all the Does.

In the case of How much is a condo in Malaysia? narrow down the number of search results by city or state. Try kuala lumpur condos or kota kinabalu timeshares. For faster typing, Koala Lumpur is known as KL and Kota Kinablau is shortened to KK. These Malay cities are hundreds of miles apart, for Malaysia is a far flung federation.

As for what should tourists take pictures of in the dominican republic?, try the specific destination eg puerto plata attractions or sosua day trips

And though the searcher for papyrus painting sipping beer used specific keywords, I am stumped. But I do thank them for the mental image :-)

Now I really MUST go check that landing page on my site to see why Google thinks I know whether or not seagulls stick to metal in winter.

For more information on travel see Snapshotjourneys.com
Thanks to the gang at Statcounter for supplying the keyword data.

Happy 2009, Everyone!
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