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Originally published January 21, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Page modified January 21, 2014 at 5:30 PM

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Expedia shares fall with online search visibility

Shares of Expedia slid Tuesday after a blogger publicized a report that showed the company’s online visibility fell dramatically and cited actions taken by Google to punish companies that it believes are trying to game its search algorithms.


The Associated Press

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NEW YORK — Shares of Expedia slid 4.3 percent Tuesday after a blogger publicized a report that showed the company’s online visibility fell dramatically, and cited actions taken by Google to punish companies that it believes are trying to game its search algorithms.

Officials from Expedia did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

A spokesman said that Google wouldn’t comment on search ranking for specific companies.

The blog Search Engine Land reported Monday, when markets were closed for a holiday, that Expedia appears to have lost 25 percent of its visibility on Google. The blog cited Searchmetrics, a digital marketing company that shows Expedia’s online visibility plummeting about a week ago.

That came a month after the digital marketing company Nenad SEO showed how well-financed companies allegedly steer traffic their way, and it started by using Expedia as an example.

The incident drew comparisons to Google’s lowering of Rap Genius in search results last month after discovering that the music-lyrics website was manipulating search rankings. Google has a history of penalizing websites that it believes are unfairly gaming its algorithms to rank higher in search results.

Searchmetrics said that Expedia’s visibility in search engines declined 25 percent from Jan. 12 through Jan. 19. Expedia dropped in rankings for many of its keywords such as “hotels,” ‘’airline tickets” and “car rental,” according to Searchmetrics.

Search Engine Land said that the decline appeared to be due to a penalty by Google for “unnatural” links, which would violate the search engine’s webmaster guidelines.

Kevin Kopelman, an analyst with Cowen, said Google penalties are often temporary. If Expedia is being punished, Kopelman said, it could resolve the matter within a few weeks. If that is the case, the incident probably won’t have a material effect on the travel company’s financial performance, Kopelman believes.

Shares of Expedia closed down $3.02 at $67.67 Tuesday.



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