Expedia’s Google penalty case study – behind scenes

28 Jan 2014

I’ve just finished my biggest case ever and I still have a little bit of steam in me, so I’ve decided to create this post before I pass out. I might read it after I rest and delete it (I am talking nonsense when I don’t sleep enough), so read while its online.
Last 5 days I was completely focused only on Expedia’s Case Study, so I am a little bit behind my blogging schedule. Sorry for that!

Expedia.com: A deep-dive into Unnatural Travel Link Schemes

I managed to get it assigned to me by Christoph C. Cemper from Link Research Tools. I was interested in this case from the start and it was a huge, huge challenge to work on such a large site. After finishing with Expedia, I need to eat a big, fat, yellow banana or I will go completely nuts.

I wasn’t fully aware of what I am going into till I saw a 120.000.000 CSV link report on my Dropbox account.

First and very simple problem was, that I didn’t know how to open it (there was no software able to open it). What looked like 2 days work, turned out to be a 6 days marathon with almost no sleep :).Greatest SEO challenge and experience ever. Soon after I’ve started my work, my Facebook status started to change to more and more bizarre ones.

One of my Facebook statuses

90% of my “nightime” Facebook posts were deleted by me in the morning with a strange and mixed feelings of “why did I post such a f..d up stuff?”. It might be like that with this post as I am still sleep deprived.

Looking at Cemper’s team working with him and being a part of it for a second did show me, how hard this guys work everyday. Christoph was online 24/7 to answer my questions, even thought he was jet lagged and had loads of other stuff going on. Don’t tell him, but I think he never sleeps! 🙂 Cemper’s team has everything organized to the minute. When looking at their “behind scenes” I now see why their tools are so great and nicely polished.

Expedia’s case study in numbers:

85 hours of work to analyse and document the whole case study

50 reports in Link Research Tools

5 days from the start to deadline

50 coffees at roughly 10 coffees a day

191 files in my Expedia folder

Expedia Folder

 12 rewrites and edits before releasing3 proof readers to correct my awesome English grammar 🙂 (Special thanks to Charlie – my brother in law for editing it at 4 am)

435 grammar mistakes in my first draft (made me decide to work on my grammar a little bit more)

1200 comments under this post (I hope)

53 emails sent to “investigate” the case a little bit more

7 CSV opening programs, before I’ve found “the one”

84 times I bothered Christoph C. Cemper on Facebook chat with questions (man has a huge patience) 🙂

7 minutes I was counting the above 🙂

381 screenshots with Gyazo (I can’t imagine doing a case study without it)


OK enough with the numbers. What is uncountable is the experience I got after that and some more “self believe” points after I managed to finish such a huge case.

MUST HAVE tools while working on a case study:

Gyazo – it is really a “must have” software. I can’t imagine working without it.

  • Creates a screenshot within 2 – 3 seconds and gives you a link to it in a new browser tab.
  • Lets you add arrows, selections and text within seconds. Every screenshot in Expedia’s case study was done with this tool.

Notepad++ – working on a raw txt links (Windows Notepad is too slow)

Scrapebox – working on a links lists (Deduplicating domains or links), searching for large footprints and checking for links there.

Link Research Tools – of course a must have for me, no comment here.

8tracks.com – I don’t know about, you but I can’t focus when it’s quiet 🙂

Systrix – shows you recent traffic and position changes of most websites. Also great tool for optimizing websites etc.

SearchMetrics – great competition, traffic and keyword check

The Action Machine – if you want to be super productive, use it!

OK, that’s it, I am going to sleep now and might delete this post tomorrow 🙂

And for you, as there is nothing special here – go and read Expedia.com: A deep-dive into Unnatural Travel Link Schemes. I’ve heard it is a pretty awesome case study 🙂

If you already read that case study, there is nothing left for you, but to check out my SEO services offer.

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