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COVID-19 pivot: Travel unicorn Klook sees jump in staycations

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Spring 2020 was gloomy for Klook. As countries closed their borders and went into complete or partial lockdown, the SoftBank-backed travel platform saw its revenue plummet by as much as 90% through March and April. The World Travel and Tourism Council said in April that the coronavirus could put up to 100 million jobs in the global travel and tourism at risk.

But in the dark times, opportunities were also bubbling up.

Six-year-old Klook enables travelers, primarily from Asia, to discover and book overseas experiences ranging from Napa Valley wine tastings to staying with a farming family in Cambodia — a bit like Airbnb Experiences. It then takes a cut from each transaction that happens between the customer and activity vendor.

Before COVID-19, the startup, which crossed the $1 billion valuation mark back in 2018, was seeing 30 million monthly user sessions a month; by April, the figure shrank to 5 million. The constraints on people’s movement across the world, which is the foundation of its business, forced Klook to quickly rethink product offerings.

“At the end of the day, we are in the business of fun things to do. There are things to do at home, as well as local things to do when people could travel,” co-founder and chief operating officer Eric Gnock Fah told TechCrunch over a phone interview. “Now [the pandemic] is giving us an opportunity to add a new aspect to it.”

Staycation

Cooped up at home, people around the world turned to cooking, handcraft and other domestic projects as an outlet for entertainment and creativity. Klook responded to the demand by offering do-it-yourself kits for making bubble tea, macarons, candles and more — and delivering the material to people’s doorsteps. For people who were still eager to see the world, Klook partnered with landmark sites worldwide on online virtual tours, amassing close to 660,000 views in its first two livestreamed experiences.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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