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While doing some project-based research last week I noticed that ebookers isn’t on the first page in Google for a search on its own brand name. Ouch.

The travel group is currently paying Google for an Adwords ad, to achieve the brand visibility it needs, but it is puzzling as to why an established dotcom with many thousands of inbound links is failing to capture the number one spot for its own brand.

So why is this happening? Well, there doesn’t appear to be a clear answer.

A search on Google.com shows the ebookers.com domain ranked on the 5th page, in 54th place. You may see different results, depending on which data centre is powering your results, but that’s what I’m seeing. In first place for a search on ‘ebookers’ is Wikipedia! In second place we see a defunct Tradedoubler link, which makes me wonder about whether affiliate activity has adversely affected ebookers’ search rankings.

On Google.co.uk the results are better, with ebookers appearing on the second page in 13th place. Currently, Carbookers resides at the top of the Google tree for a search on ebookers on Google.co.uk. And Carbookers isn’t an affiliate site either – a Whois search reveals that ebookers owns the Carbookers domain. It looks very similar to the ebookers website and contains the ebookers logo, rather than a ‘Carbookers’ logo. It is notable in that it links extensively to ebookers pages. Curious and curiouser.

Since Carbookers is an ebookers site then “technically speaking they are number one,” according to one SEO expert I asked. But in the eyes of a user, who is using Google to search specifically for ‘ebookers’, you have to question whether he/she would click through to the Carbookers site.

What else did the SEO experts think about this?

SEO expert #1 says: “I'm pretty sure they are both their own sites as the IP range is similar as well. It's probably a faulty 302 redirect although Google’s Big Daddy update a few months ago should have fixed this.”

SEO expert #2 says: “If you look at the Carbookers home page you can see that the Google cache of that page is different to the one you get taken to. Not the sort of thing you want to do with Google really.”

Thoughts?

Chris Lake

Published 7 August, 2006 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

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Edward Cowell

Edward Cowell, SEO Director at Guava UK

There seems to be a couple of things going on here:

1) The main ebookers car hire page doesn't work or is extremely slow
http://www.ebookers.com/car_hire/index.html

2) Ebookers.com owns carbookers.com which shows identical content to the
main ebookers car hire page on similar IP ranges.

3) Ebookers also uses both carbookers.com and ebookers.com links in its
website. You can see this quite clearly on the ebookers SiteMap page
which might be the page that caused the problem to start with:
http://www.ebookers.com/sitemap.html

The two car hire links are different, one works and one doesn't. The one
that does:
http://www.carbookers.com/holiday/?wl_version=ebuk&lang=en
is the URL that has replaced the main ebookers.com index page in the results.

Possibly as part of their duplicate detection Google thinks that the main
ebookers.com website is now faulty so Big Daddy which attempts to decide
the most appropriate page to show, has defaulted to carbookers.com
instead.

Edward Cowell (Teddie)
CTO Neutralize (*\*)

about 10 years ago

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Heather Hopkins, Director at Hitwise

Chris, This is really interesting - and you are right, it is incredible that such a strong brand would not be at the top of the SERP on Google for searches for thier own brand.

I checked Hitwise to see which sites are getting visits from searches for "ebookers". In the past four weeks, www.ebookers.com received 64% of UK visits from the term. The price comparison site travel.kelkoo.co.uk received 11% of visits from the term and www.carbookers.com received 5% of visits. We published a white paper on Search Engine Brand Management and found that on average less than 1 in 10 visits from searches for a companies brand goes to competitors. In Ebookers case, that percentage is much higher.

I looked back 8 weeks to the four weeks ending 3 June 2006, and at that time, eBookers receiving 84% of visits from searches for its brand. This indicates to me that it is likely a result of the recent changes that Google made to the algorithm.

Heather

about 10 years ago

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Stuart Meyler, Co-Founder at Beeby Clark + Meyler

A quick check of backlinks shows that the www.ebookers.com site has relatively few backlinks with the term "ebookers" in the anchor.

On Google.co.uk the sites listed in order of number of backlinks with ebookers in the anchor text are:

1. www.carbookers.com/search/?wl_version=ebuk&lang=en
2. www.carbookers.com/
3. www.wikipedia.com
4. tracker.tradedoubler.net
6. www.grumbletext.co.uk

And so on. The main ebookers site is at #25 in term of inbound anchor text, behind other ebookers sites (such as .ie) which are outranking it on other Google engines as a result (.com for instance).

The Tradedoubler issue (as mentioned) could be hurting it, but it would seem an analysis of how external links, as well as internal links, are being used. A quick hit would be to add some anchor links to every page of the site using the term.

They are also using a country selection page, which could be confusing bots. It isn't bypassed right now, from what I can tell.

about 10 years ago

Edward Cowell

Edward Cowell, SEO Director at Guava UK

They also have a 302 redirect on the ebookers.com homepage which is also making things worse. Definitely looks like a catalogue of enterprise SEO issues (broken pages, faulty redirects, duplicate domains) here.

Teddie

Neutralize (*\*)
Search Engine Marketing Services
T: +44 (0) 8700 630707
F: +44 (0) 8700 630708
U: http://www.neutralize.com

about 10 years ago

Edward Cowell

Edward Cowell, SEO Director at Guava UK

Stuart well spotted, so added into to the equation they've link bombed themselves by joining some spammy linking scheme:

http://tinyurl.com/kjrz9

Nearly all those 7000 websites are the same.

Teddie
Neutralize (*\*)
Search Engine Marketing Services
T: +44 (0) 8700 630707
F: +44 (0) 8700 630708
E: teddie@neutralize.com
U: http://www.neutralize.com

about 10 years ago

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We're Number1,

They are number 1 in my search on google

about 10 years ago

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Dr Peter Fish

Interesting find.

Depending on what they do in the next few weeks they might only be saved with the increased emphasis Google is placing on CTR.

Will keep an eye on this one.

about 8 years ago

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