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28 Jan 2014

Treat Expedia's SEO Tactics As A Warning

by Hannah Revill

Expedia Blog

Earlier this week, news broke of Expedia’s recent penalty from Google for their SEO tactics, causing them to lose 25% of their online search visibility between 12th and 19th January. This was big news. Not only was decrease in visibility significant, dropping from 773,776 to 551,548 (SearchMetrics), the news solidified the point that Google is always watching.

Expedia’s SEO Tactics Explained

So what did Expedia do? The information sourced from Link Research Tools, USA Today and SearchMetrics suggests that the penalty was placed upon Expedia for unnatural and suspicious link building techniques to some of their major URLs. It’s unclear whether this was a deliberate act, however, it has been considered a large scale infringement on Google’s Penguin 2.0 update; the algorithm that warned of penalties to be dished out for unnatural link building practices, favouring quality link networks, built from the sharing of great content across social and other digital platforms.

A closer look from SearchMetrics blog concludes that Expedia has lost rankings for high volume keywords, such as “flights” and “hotels”, and long tail keywords, indicating a possible keyword penalty on the linked pages already affected by the overall penalty. Speculation at this stage is that heavy use of unnatural anchor texts is the cause, but expect more information to emerge over the coming days and weeks.

What Can Be Learned From This?

There’s no denying that the SEO playing field is a highly competitive one. With online being one of the highest performing marketing channels across many industries, the desperation to outrank competitors in the SERP’s is understandable. But Expedia’s penalty is testament to the fact that Google’s algorithms are serious business and that those penalties, when they occur, are pretty unforgiving. 

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