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?