When it comes to page rankings, Google favours those websites who use legitimate and fair techniques to earn a page one position on Google that so few can enjoy. And whilst some companies out there who specialise in SEO services do genuinely offer ways and means of getting you onto page one of Google no one can guarantee that can happen. Other companies use less credible SEO techniques to move you higher up and closer to the coveted number one spot and use practises which are either old school or frowned upon by Google, who in turn will punish websites who try to work the system by pushing them down the rankings. And this is what happened to Expedia who look to have been caught using paid for links to boost their Google rankings and in doing so, have been penalised in their search results.
Expedia shares fell more than 4% on Tuesday 28th January, 2014 amid concerns that the online travel company may have lost traffic to its website after being penalised for what Google calls "Unnatural Links". Unnatural links are links that are obtained for the sole purpose to increase ranking in the Google search engine. What did this mean for Expedia's website? Well, according to search analytics firm Searchmetrics, the Expedia website lost 25% of its visibility in Google search during a one week period from January 12th – January 19th, 2014. See the chart below for a visual idea of what that level of drop off looks like.
And if you compare the drop off in traffic to one of their closest competitors, Tripadvisor.com it's clear to see that the decline in visits to Expedia's website isn't due to any seasonal fluctuations in traffic:
Two weeks later and the penalty continues and Expedia is still on page three. The fact is that in the past few months hundreds of thousands of website owners have felt the effects of the Google Penguin, manual link warnings and the many other Google Algorithm updates. Many have stood by and watched their rankings plummet. Yet, Google were forced to make a change to the SEO landscape because people had figured out how to manipulate the rankings.
So, what's the moral of the story here? There will always be change, whether it comes from competition in your niche or from Google and its algorithms. Remember though, these are changes you do not have control over. Success is measured in how you respond to these changes. For Expedia, their success will be measured now by what they change and whether the collateral damage of having their link profile aired in public affects their stock price.
Top rankings can't always be guaranteed nor does it happen overnight. It takes time to develop SEO that will work for your business and to get results. If you would like to find out more or have any questions get in touch on 1300 966 266.