Shares of Expedia took a hit last month after SearchEngineLand reported that the Bellevue online travel giant had lost about 25 percent of its search visibility on Google after it was allegedly penalized for paying for links to boost its search ranking.
In a conference call last week in which the company reported strong earnings, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that its search traffic continues to rise.
Yes, as far as Google goes, look, listen, we’re not going to comment on speculative articles about our Google trends. What I’ll tell you in general is that our traffic from Google, both on a paid and an organic basis, continues to increase on a year-on-year basis. We look at all of our practices in Google, our SEM practices. We make sure that the content on from our side is great, our SEO practices, et cetera, and we’re constantly auditing them and making sure that our practices are industry-leading. So really, that’s the only comment I’ll make. Google’s a big partner. We continue to grow with them. And from a long-term basis, we look to continue to grow with them going forward.
As WebProNews reports, the hit to Expedia’s search traffic would have taken place in the first quarter of 2014, so they would not have shown up in the company’s most recent financial report.
What’s at stake here? In a filing with the SEC last week, Expedia spelled out the growing importance of Google to its business, helping to drive traffic to its Web site.
We increasingly utilize internet search engines such as Google, principally through the purchase of travel-related keywords, to generate traffic to our websites. Search engines, including Google, frequently update and change the logic that determines the placement and display of results of a user’s search, such that the purchased or algorithmic placement of links to our websites can be negatively affected.
In addition, a significant amount of traffic is directed to our websites through our participation in pay-per-click and display advertising campaigns on search engines, including Google, travel metasearch engines, including Kayak, and internet media properties, including TripAdvisor. Pricing and operating dynamics for these traffic sources can experience rapid change, both technically and competitively. Moreover, a search or metasearch engine could, for competitive or other purposes, alter its search algorithms or results causing a website to place lower in search query results.
If a major search engine changes its algorithms or results in a manner that negatively affects the search engine ranking, paid or unpaid, of our websites or that of our third-party distribution partners, or if competitive dynamics impact the costs or effectiveness of search engine optimization, search engine marketing or other traffic-generating arrangements in a negative manner, our business and financial performance would be adversely affected, potentially to a material extent.
Expedia faces competition from Google, and it has worked in the past to counter its growing importance, including a lobbying attack over Google’s $700 million acquisition of travel data company ITA Software.