Ah, yes. Looks like another one receives a manual penalty for unnatural links. This post called them out first then someone carried it over to Hacker News, and started this thread. Both explain Expedia – or SEO companies representing them – are involved in a paid linking scheme.
It boils down like this. They are asking bloggers to plant links within their blogs to pass PageRank for incentives like cash. This could definitely explain what happened, right? Possibly, but what if this was just a sneaky tactic by one of Expedia’s competitors to negatively impact their rankings. I’m sure you’ve heard of this new industry called Negative SEO (page explaining this puppy coming soon).
Just How Bad Is It?
If it was a Google penalty, it would prove some people wrong. These are the people that suggest big brands are untouchable because of their ad spend within Adwords. However, it could also prove how deadly Negative SEO has become. Either way, SearchMetrics undoubtedly shows Expedia has indeed been hit by something:
It would even seem they’ve increased their PPC campaigns to make up for their lost ranks in the organic SERPs:
Good news for them as it looks as if the worst is over. Notice how their stocks are slowly climbing back:
Google’s manual action towards Expedia is most likely not going to put them out of business. The lesson to be learned here is the impact something like this could have on your business. The best way to protect yourself from this is to monitor your linking profile.
Monitor Your Website’s Linking Profile
It’s simple actually. You or your webmaster should have created a Google Webmaster Tools account. They can provide you with access to the account if you cannot already. Sign up for one here if you do not have one at all.
Once you can administer the account, look on your left under where it says Google for Site Dashboard>Search Traffic>Links to Your Site:
This will show you…what? Exactly. The “Links to Your Site”, and will be a fantastic starting point. You’ll then have to measure which sites are low quality, which sites will get you penalized, which sites you want “dofollow” links, and which sites you want to request “nofollow” links. You even have reporting metrics such as Who links the most, Your most linked content and How your data is linked:
Oh yea, it’s going to take a strategy. You may want to keep the link if it’s bringing in quality traffic, and all it takes is a “nofollow” so you are not caught in Google’s cross-hairs.
Contact Us for a Free Link Evaluation
If this seems too complicated or you’d simply like another opinion, give us a call at 727.820.1988. We are always happy to help entrepreneurs, business owners and fellow agencies.