Why Some Online Travel Guides Just Don’t Make Sense

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Have you experienced an instance when you went over a blog post about a travel destination, to help you familiarize with the place, only to realize that you are being misled? Worse, you learn how the information you used as reference were all incorrect.

This usually happens when you read low quality travel blogs or online guides. It’s a frustrating experience that may give you the lingering anxiety in believing anything posted on the Internet. This problem is not limited to blogs, though. It extends to travel destination and hotel reviews, comments, and even travel discussion boards. You can find a multitude of fake TravelAdvisor reviews, for example.

Let’s examine the most common reasons why this problem exists. Why are some online travel guides or blogs not making sense?

  • They are solely intended for search engine optimization purposes. There’s nothing wrong with search engine optimization but overdoing it definitely impacts the quality of content produced. Overstuffing articles with keywords and focusing on the positioning of keyword phrases instead of giving emphasis on the information presented are two of the major reasons why many online travel content are unreliable, some even unreadable.

  • They are produced by online marketers — or the articles were purchased from a run-of-the-mill content farm. Similar to the overemphasis on search engine optimization, some articles are written mainly for the pageviews and search engine rankings. These are usually outsourced, with below average quality, and are written without thinking of any possible benefit for readers. Worse, they are heavy on biases and even attack businesses that compete with the companies paying them.

  • They are written by inexperienced and passionless writers. This is not saying that newbie travel writers are unreliable. It’s just unfortunate that there are those who are new to blogging and are only writing online content for the ad revenues. Revenue-centered writing tends to yield articles that leave much to be desired.

Thankfully, there have been well-publicized efforts to weed out fake reviews on the Internet recently. The prevalence of useless content online should be slowly curbed down and hopefully eliminated.

Three Typical Characteristics of Unreliable Travel Guides

The following are telltale signs that warn you to avoid a particular travel guide or blog. These are the blog counterpart to Reader’s Digest’s guide to spotting a fake travel review.

1. Lack of Photos or the Use of Generic or Stolen Photos

Travel sites or articles are usually filled with photos to entice and engage readers. Even those who write travel blogs just for the sake of documenting their trips post photos. The lack of original images is an indication that the site is not really given that much attention, that the texts posted are only meant for search engine crawlers and not for human readers.

When a blog post is about a particular place, the presence of a photo (preferably taken by the writer) lends a good deal of credibility to the words written. The photos reinforce the veracity of what has been written and support expressed opinions, especially if these opinions are unfavorable.

Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn /

Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn /

2. Excessive Advertising

Encountering a lot of text ads, banner ads, popup ads, and other types of ads on a travel guide is definitely annoying. No decent travel guide will make reading difficult for you. A good site or blog knows how to moderate ads and other not so desirable elements on a page, aside from making sure that the content being offered has sense or value.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

3. Lack of Interaction

This is characterized by the lack of comments or the absence of comment posting features. Generally, if a blog or article doesn’t have comments but is providing the ability to post comments, it could be an indication of the lack of visitors.

If comment posting is not allowed, it could be a sign that the blog or site owner is refusing to accept criticisms or complaints on the articles posted. Comments or links to social media accounts (Twitter or Facebook) are very useful for blogs not only to engage readers but also to allow other readers to have an idea of how reliable a blog is based on the comments posted by other visitors.

There are several other attributes of travel guides that can be considered unworthy. The aforementioned three are just the most conspicuous ones that you can easily notice to decide whether or not to continue reading.

Now, if you are wondering why some online travel guides are wandering (aimless, lacking clarity), you have to understand that they’re not really aimed at human readers like you. They are simply feeding search engines and trying to attract traffic for the ad revenues. Some are intended for human readers for the wrong reasons — mainly to besmirch the reputation of competitors.

Be a discerning and cautious traveler. If you plan to use blogs or online reviews as guides when planning your trips, make sure that they are indeed credible or dependable. Also, don’t forget to take our passenger test to safe and enjoyable travel.

Image courtesy of Mark Jaroski and other users of Wikitravel /