Was Expedia Penalized By Google? SearchMetrics Says So.

Jan 21, 2014 • 8:45 am | comments (18) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

expedia logoYesterday morning Patrick Altoft tweeted to me that SearchMetrics is reporting Expedia lost about 25% of their Google traffic overnight.

SearchMetric is indeed reporting this and I confirmed it with Marcus Tober from SearchMetrics via email. I posted the story on the traffic drop at Search Engine Land and asked if it was related to the link buying allegations Expedia was surrounded with last month.

A Hacker News thread, that I've been following for the past couple weeks has more details about how Expedia may have been involved in link schemes and may have received an unnatural link penalty by Google. Google has not yet responded to my inquiries about the penalty. So I have no confirmation from Google or Expedia about it.

SEM Rush shows no drop off in traffic:

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Search Metrics shows a huge decline:

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To be fair, SearchMetrics is normally dead on.

Here are the keywords SearchMetrics cites as Expedia dropping on:

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In after hours trading, Expedia's stock dropped about 3% over the news:

Expedia Stock

It is amazing how Google can have such an impact on another large public company. But it is more amazing that companies that size need to participate in link schemes. Again, it seems they did participate in link schemes but it is not 100% clear if they were penalized by Google for it.

Forum discussion at Hacker News.

Update: Three months later, see what has changed or not changed over here.

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Alexander Hemedinger

01/21/2014 02:01 pm

It's honestly because big/small companies put so much effort into one search engine cause it makes sense since it takes up majority of the market. I honestly optimize our sites for both Google & Bing/Yahoo. It just makes sense if you think about it..... That 20 something percent is honestly enough from a lead perspective to validate. That said, I am glad Google is starting to look at the bigger companies and living up to their word on the correct SEO methods..... Will we see more perhaps to others soon?


01/21/2014 03:38 pm

It's frightening when companies like Google have gotten so enormous that they have the power and ability to actually effect the economy. This should never be.

Subhash Prajapati

01/21/2014 04:24 pm

Yes, now Google starting to review the bigger companies which is generating more business by organic ranks.

David Black, SEMrush

01/21/2014 04:25 pm

Both tools have different methods of collecting and reporting data. Although I can't speak for SearchMetrics, I'm sure they're correct in their own right. SEMrush is definitely reporting losses. Maybe not as significant. But, what's undeniable is expedia has definitely lost rankings for some pretty serious keywords which drive organic traffic. These data are currently available in our software. We have multiple reports and historical data for you to review.

Durant Imboden

01/21/2014 05:59 pm

Expedia itself has the power to affect the economy. (Think of how many small travel agents were put out of business by giant OTAs.) And what about large retailers, such as Safeway, Tesco, Walmart, or Target? Or Apple's iTunes, which controls access to iOS users? Or the theatre critic of The New York Times, who can kill a Broadway production with a devastating opening-night review? Or the restaurant reviewer of any metropolitan newspaper that dominates its local market?


01/21/2014 06:55 pm

Whats the betting that the penalty is lifted pretty damn sharpish. They won't be in the same world of hurt as small businesses punished. They will get special treatment. Matt himself will speak on the phone to their big boys and the deal will be done.

Natural Born Linker

01/21/2014 11:34 pm

guess those sape links are still working


01/21/2014 11:38 pm

Google To Take Over Airline Booking Industry, Buys ITA,,,, and expedia takes a bath...hmmmmmmmm


01/22/2014 01:52 am

I'm with Mark on this one. It's funny how all of a sudden some big players in the travel industry get targeted for "link schemes" shortly after Google announces it will go public with their own travel offerings in the near future.

Ashish Ahuja

01/22/2014 10:22 am

they did participate in link schemes and it was being talked about on this post http://nenadseo.com/new-seo/ some time back. It looks like google heard about it

Simon Sedorenko

01/22/2014 02:56 pm

About time. Expedia have been buying links for years.

Travis Jamison

01/22/2014 03:02 pm

Surprised that they lasted this long without a penalty. They got WAY too sloppy with something that is so vital to their company. Inb4 the penalty is removed in 3 weeks through Google backdoors though.


01/22/2014 04:31 pm

they not penalize amazon for footer anchors/keywords 50 links spam. i think expedia just not a member of internet coalition


01/22/2014 04:32 pm

in adult all top sites purchasing backlinks. But you can see - same sites here for years. It mean what google fighting with links buying only where money $$$.


01/22/2014 04:33 pm

yes, also not a member of internet coalition.


01/22/2014 04:33 pm

no, it just a money war.


01/22/2014 04:34 pm

so, both? google and expedia?


02/04/2014 08:37 am

It's even worse for small businesses, when a small or home business gets hit like that, they're out of business, they can't recover from it. Google has been destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs. I also agree with Smarty , that google doesn't not penalize some sites, like Amazon ( hey, share holders of google and amazon have common names or history, strange coincidence ??? ) , if you're not part of the evil coalition, your business is at risk... After our money site got hit by a NEGATIVE SEO ( yes this is the new trend ), my wife caught a serious disease from stress, i lost most of my hair, and eventually we ran out of money, and i had to adapt, so i decided to use my knowledge to help others like us, via my little business http://www.sitepenalise.fr i see french small businesses in distress every single day, and so many layoffs ( my biggest customer fired 50 employees, 25% of his work force ) , usually they are very tiny businesses of 2-3 employees and they have to fire everybody, sometimes i want to cry because it is so sad. When you think that one man is responsible for such an economic destruction it is very scary. I am not afraid to mention his name, people should know and remember it all over the world, his name is Matt Cutts and yes he is at the service of evil powers. ( where is the do not evil ? i do not know... or we don't have the same vision of evilness ).

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