In TheBeginning, the Internet was new and different, and “computer people” used it. Steve Chase spammed it and built AOL by getting us “computer people” to tell everybody else to go get an AOL account (so we didn’t have to help them “get online”). Eventually, the Internet became everything to those of us who knew how it worked (and therefore knew it would disintermediate 80% or more of the business world, eventually). And most would agree that in our modern world, whatever consumes commerce eventually consumes culture. Enter social media, where culture is being redefined as we speak.
If you still need convincing that the Internet is taking over *everything*, take a look at the recent re-naming of airports. A few years ago Newark Airport shed it’s hard-earned reputation as the worst airport in the history of mankind by renaming itself Liberty International Airport. Post-911 names like Liberty and Patriot showed promise in marketing land. SEO types would have said “keep the Newark part” for sure, or “add NY”. For whatever reason it is now Newark/Liberty International Airport and in my opinion, the new worst airport in the US. Were they to re-name it today, it would almost certainly be named New York Metro Airport, because of the Internet.
Naming Newsletter reports that Ontario California (40 miles from LA) is renaming to LA/Ontario International Airport. Palmdale California (60 miles from LA) is renaming to LA/Palmdale Regional Airport. Buffalo New York is now Buffalo Niagara International Airport (close to Niagara Falls destinations) and Savannah Georgia renamed to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport because half of it’s passengers were heading to nearby (and much smaller) Hilton Head, with it’s much smaller regional airport. Stewart International Airport in Newburgh (a couple of hours north of New York City, but close to New York getaway destinations in the Hudson Valley) is becoming the New York Hudson Valley International Airport. Rockford (90 miles from Chicago) is now Chicago/Rockford International. Manchester (60 miles from Boston) is now Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (note the hyphen, not an underscore).
If you thought SEO could not get more extreme than it is in the travel industry, you probably didn’t recognize that SEO could extend outwards from the Internet and actually change culture to expand it’s market influence. Thought you were working a secretly profitable niche with those charming local place names on your travel affiliate site? BigSEO will change that, as it influences MySmallTown to rename to BigCityJunior for “marketing purposes”. There is no reason to artificially limit your SEO to the Internet. The Internet is becoming everything.
Some quotes from the report:
So now, if you search an Internet travel site for “Hilton Head” plus “airport”, the Savannah airport pops up as an option.
Before the switch, a telephone survey of people outside New England indicated the vast majority of flyers were unfamiliar with the Manchester name, particularly those who buy tickets online.
…the chairman of the local convention bureau told USA Today that changing the name of their airport has definitely helped to draw travelers.
Travel ticketing is now almost completely online, whether you do it yourself or pay an agent to do it. That means everything else associated with travel will eventually move online (where the buyers are), and so goes much of the cultural influence normally associated with travel.
I have been active in local search for years, and was recently interviewed by Michael Gray for his series on the future of local search. If the big search engines can’t get a handle on local search, what will happen? It’s a good question, but it might not remain a relevant question for very long as local morphs away from what it has been, market by market, in response to the absence of a local search utility. The impact on culture? It’s just beginning, but I bet it won’t be pretty.