Another major company recently made headlines after Google manually penalized them for performing manipulative search engine optimization. Expedia, an internet-based travel company, saw a 25 percent drop in search ranking results for some of their most targeted keywords. In addition to that the company’s stock price fell 4 percent.
One of the most interesting facts about the incident is that Google wasn’t the first company to detect Expedia’s black hat SEO campaign. A small SEO blog, called Nenad SEO, decided to investigate the SEO effort of big companies like Expedia and expose their unfair advantage over smaller companies. By “unfair” we mean the ability to perform blatant, black hat SEO and get away with it. Google saw the report and decided to take action against Expedia.
One of the lessons to learn from this is that if you’re carrying out shady SEO practices and haven’t been caught by Google, it doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed by someone else. Your competition is consistently trying to find a way to knock you down and if that means reporting you to Google then so be it.
What exactly was Expedia doing to receive a manual penalty from Google? They were purposely building unnatural links with the most obvious, outdated link building tactics imaginable. They built links for specific keywords with exact match anchor texts, a big no no according to Google’s current standards. Some of the keywords they lost rankings for included hotels, airline tickets, car rentals, vacation, and more.
Why We Don’t Take Risks
Google’s algorithm update Penguin (first released in 2012 and updated again in 2013) specifically targeted such link building schemes and Expedia’s marketing team should have been well aware of it. Maybe they were and choose to ignore the facts. Either way it’s a great reminder for why we’re so careful with our SEO effort.
Temptations to manipulate rankings are presented to us on a daily basis, but if penalties to major companies and some of Google’s most recent algorithm updates have taught us anything it’s the importance of performing safe and quality SEO. Competitors may use shady tactics from time to time and have the advantage in rankings for the short-term, but eventually they get caught. Our approach is and always will be a long-term SEO strategy.