TripAdvisor takes a hit in Google over reviews row?

The row between Google and TripAdvisor could flare up again, following a massive hit to the organic visibility of www.tripadvisor.co.uk within Google.co.uk. On 22nd July 2011, www.tripadvisor.co.uk dropped significantly in Google.co.uk for a number of page one keyword terms. The change impacted across the board, not just for a few keyword terms. Looking away from the UK, it appears that www.tripadvisor.com has also been impacted – with the organic visibility diminishing significantly.

Could Google be retaliating against the fact that they were under a U.S. antitrust investigation (of its business practices) and were forced to remove third party reviews from Google places listings? No other website dropped in the sector as dramatically as www.tripadvisor.co.uk, so what is going on?


For years Google has been accused of having a hidden agenda, either from disgruntled SEOs that are frustrated by a major drop or indeed from in house online marketeers who suspected the promotion of Google’s own services and products lead to ‘unfair competition’. Looking at this latest example, it is hard to try and find a legitimate reason for the decline based upon an algorithmic modification. www.tripadvisor.co.uk is one of the most respected and useful travelling websites out there, so why would searchers not want to see accurate and up to date reviews about a particular country or city? No doubt, it is the same reason Google wanted to use the reviews for their own products.

You will see two charts below for the UK and US – indicating that this is a change that has impacted the organisation across the board.

TripAdvisor UK drop

Tripadvisor UK drop
Chart highlight Tripadvisor drop in the UK
keywords that Tripadvisor UK dropped for

TripAdvisor US drop

Tripadvisor US drop in Google.com
Chart showing drop in Google.com for Tripadvisor.com
Keywords that Tripadvisor US has dropped for

So, has the removal of third party reviews from Google Places impacted the positions of TripAdvisor naturally OR is there something more cynical at hand? Perhaps a deal in the future between Google and TripAdvisor regarding the use of certain reviews may ‘aid’ the recovery of TripAdvisor within the SERPs? I suspect we have a way to go yet….

Update – 1st Setpember 2011: TripAdvisor have since recovered from the drop at the end of July 2011, which is highlighted in the chart below. Could this have been Google’s way of flexing their muscles to show how much TripAdvisor relies on organic traffic? This could also be a reason as to why TripAdvisor are now requesting a link back to their website in return for inclusion.

Tripadvisor rankings from 1st July to 31st August in Google.com
Chart showing drop in rankings and subsequent rise
Keywords measured against

Note: TripAdvisor is not a client of Intelligent Positioning. The purpose of this blog is to focus on industry events/news and provide insight for the search community.