Every business wants to look good on Google but sometimes Google can be a little too helpful, says Simon Moores.
Last week, I had a chance meeting with PJ McGoldrick, former chief executive of Ryan Air and now chief executive officer of EUJet, a new lost-cost airline which will soon be operating out of Manston - now Kent International Airport, a stone’s throw from Ramsgate and Margate on the North Kent coast.
From September, EUJet will operate a fleet of seven Fokker 100 aircraft offering trips to many of the most popular European destinations, such as Palma, Turin and Nice, where I’ve booked a flight to, for £147 return, all-inclusive for the whole family
The commercial heart of the EUJet operation is, its website, which is certainly one of the quickest and simplest I’ve found to date in the airline business.
"Idiot-proof" is an expression I hesitate to use, but in my case it generally applies and finding an uncluttered website that allows me to book my choice of flight quickly and graphically select a row of seats – with extra leg room – by an emergency exit, was an experience that is likely to bring me back again.
The sense that the relationship between many airline reservations systems and the web need a little extra work was reinforced by a conversation with a pilot friend who had just booked a flight to Majorca for the weekend.
Although he’s online, he preferred to use the telephone and had found a company called Air Berlin which has both a website and a customer call centre, whose operators answer the phone within two rings he tells me - a miracle in this day and age.
Back to EUJet then, and PJ McGoldrick tells me the new business has invested a great deal of effort in the usability and speed of its website as the focal point of customer experience.
A good five years into the internet age and this aspiration should, one would think, be shared by every business. But time after time, different research tells that both public and private sector websites consistently exhibit a callous disregard for best practice and, indeed, common sense in the way in which they design and manage their virtual relationship with their customers; a customer service telephone number on the front page of a website often being the first good idea.
If you’re not on the first page of a Google search result, then in the minds of many surfers you don’t exist, and owning a high Google ranking is the ambition of any successful business.
But there’s a twist in the EUJet story. The company has a travel proposition for the population of the south-east of England which avoids the nightmare M25 and M1 road-trip to Stansted or Luton and a website which makes booking a cheap flight to the sun or a European business centre a quick and painless experience.
Just one problem though. If you look-up EUJet on Google, above the www.eujet.com address the search engine returns, it obligingly asks the question, “Did you mean: EasyJet - www.easyjet.com/en - We fly 153 routes between 44 European airports. Book now!”
“We need to ask Google to look at this”, says PJ McGoldrick, and he’s right.
Can you imagine looking for Microsoft Windows and being asked “Did you mean Lindows?”. This rather supports my theory that with internet search engines are, increasingly, figuring as a critical factor in the development of a successfully branded online presence, there is no justice, only Google.
Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.
Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of e-government and
For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit www.zentelligence.com