So Expedia has been hit hard with a Penalty and lost 25% of its visibility. There’s even been talk about a Negative-SEO attack, really? Let’s cut the bullshit here, we all know that most large firms on the net use all sorts of tactics to rank higher, after all BIG BUCKS are at stake and that’s all that matters to these guys.
We had BMW a few years back, JC Penny last year with a host of others around the globe all screaming they didn’t know, I Call Bullshit to all these. You hear the same excuses, we didn’t know, it was the SEO Company who did it, yes the good old SEO Firm gets it in the ass again.
Okay let’s look at some facts for Expedia.com, the reasons why may be Google slapped them.
This started back in December 2014 when a single post of an angry SEO who had received a penalty wrote and pointed out that “big players” could buy low quality links and get away with it. The post gained a huge following in the SEO community which obviously brought it to the attention of Google. Exactly a month later Expedia’s visibility was declining and so was its stock price.
So with a little research it’s easy enough to find loads of link networks, sponsored low-quality articles, and WordPress Themes with a hidden link to Expedia.com, even black on black links for cheapest flights, very circa 2008. You can see travel blog themes created in 2011 with php code to expedia, so it begs the question about negative SEO, why would anyone do that for such a long time, 3-4 years.
With a little checking it was found that the owners of these sites was a company called Myers Media Group who own a company called Enterprise SEO who just happen to have a client called expedia who they have worked with since 2007, the plot thickens.
So unless this company is a huge scam, there was not any “negative SEO” attack. Creating WordPress Themes with a keyword rich footer is not new, like I said earlier very 2008, Definitely black hat and definitely outside of any Google Webmaster Guidelines – back than and even more than ever today.
A day after Expedia rankings started to drop, by coincidence or not, all the old themes started to get updated with the footer links missing, magic. The sponsored links word was also removed. May be the giveaway on these was the created by the Expedia cheapest flights team. So they did know?
Keyword rich links were dropping by the thousands from all these themes. Actually now, the word “expedia” is not present in this updated theme at all. So basically, on January 20, 2014, the theme was “wiped” clean from everything that could have brought Expedia into trouble.
So did they get punished for just these themes or was there more? Well we noticed that links from shady auto generated networks were also disappearing, in honesty they looked more like link farms they had setup for cheap hotels in Vegas etc., but it doesn’t stop there, in looking deeper expedia.com had other link networks that were shady. Looking at the backlinks it’s pretty easy to see which were clearly part of a network.
They clearly knew what they were doing, link networks, paid links or advertorials, paid guest blogging with low quality posts, real spammy, submissions in free or paid online directories, Sponsored articles or Press Releases with do-follow, keyword rich links, Yes They Knew.
So what now? Well as I write they are trying to clean house, on-page changes, and link removal even the agency working for the Expedia.ca site left many minor “bugs” that they are now fixing.
It takes two to tango and as you know I speak my mind, the companies make huge dollars listing at the top of Google for Big Hitting keywords, always have always will, but to get there is another matter, it takes dollars, lots of them and time, lots of that too along with know-how. There’s clearly some things that still work today that worked 10 years ago and are within the guidelines which make a huge difference, but if you ask me today can I list tops for the big hitters without going a little grey, in honesty no you can’t, Big Bucks will always rule, even if you get it for only a short time 2-3 years before your caught, because you can always throw the card, I didn’t know, it was the SEO.
Will Expedia be back?, Sure they will, they’ll clean house, spend another 10 million on Adwords this year, “Google likes that”, and start again, only this time they will be a darker shade of white.