Each and every day the internet is changing the way we live our lives. A report was published this week called “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips”. Basically it points out that people are more likely to forget something that they know is readily accessible on the internet.
When I first heard this I started thinking about silly things that I have “Googled” which I probably should have just remembered. The first one that came to mind was making a perfect hard boiled egg. At one point in my life, I knew the timing, and art of boiling a hard boiled egg. However somewhere along the way, I forgot this simple recipe, and I must confess I have Googled how to make hard boiled eggs on at least three different occasions.
The fact is Google (and other search engines) have made finding information so easy that we have begun to use it like an external hard drive for our brains. As DMO’s and tourism operators, it is important to recognize this shift in the way people are finding and storing information and use it to position our destinations in the best possible way.
Recently I went on a hike to Bruce Peninsula National Park. Having never been there before, it was only natural for me to gravitate to the internet for information to help me plan my adventure. I knew there would be a Parks Canada website, and several local tourism organization websites available with useful information… But even typing their website addresses into my URL field seemed like too much effort for me at the time. My brain can type “Google” without even thinking about it, and then by typing in the name of the park, I had over 300,000 websites to choose from in less than 0.16 seconds.
How does your destination perform in a Google search like this?
Like it or not, Google is making the internet smaller and smaller as the amount of information increases ever day. If your website does not rank in the first page of a Google search, it basically does not exist to the average consumer.
Case and point, if you asked me today how to make the perfect hard boiled egg, I could not tell you right away. However, if you gave me 0.29 seconds to search Google’s 3,640,000 results, I could give you this link: http://www.goodegg.com/boiledegg.html …. And I did not leave the first page of results to find it!