Search Engine Optimization or Traffic Hijacking

Search Engine Optimization or Traffic Hijacking – What really goes on Page 2, Page 3 and beyond…
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With online advertising getting more and more driven towards performance based metrics – the ways to channelize affiliate marketing for performance have taken some interesting turns – and no one is taking a notice of this. Online marketers seem to be so focussed on just numbers through its media partners and not really on how they are achieved.
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So putting ahead here a case with its example which I discovered today. Right or wrong – I will leave it for someone else to judge! – but this might be true for many brands in India.
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But for the fact – delivery of some performance based marketing is getting blurry. It looks more like attempts of good SEO techniques exploring more than what they should have since Online Marketers are have not yet noticed it. This might be controversial – but eCommerce services and mostly travel (OTAs and Airlines) companies may be paying up some performance marketers for just no reason.
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Example – Jet Airways
There are significant number of searches for “Jet Airways” and related searches everyday on Google and other search engines. The most valid websites that user would expect are – of course www.jetairways.com or www.jetlite.com – and then there are list of websites which are without any doubt not owned by Jet Airways – that appear on Page 2, Page3, and beyond.
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Here are few of them are listed below, each one of them uniquely optimized for related search terms consumers will use while they are searching for “Jet Airways” –
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The above listed web sites are just few of the many – I did not explore much. One look at most of them – and you will realize that are built to get free extra revenue through display advertising and affiliate marketing.
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So why should a brand like Jet Airways (or your brand) worry about –
  1. Loss of Traffic
    The above websites are SEO optimized for search queries related to Jet Airways. No doubt they are ranked well, hence receive significantly higher traffic – which originally should have been received by Jet Airways website by default (in event this websites were absent).

    These websites are so well optimized that they might be taking about around 20%-30% (or more) of traffic that was meant for Jet Airways itself.

  2. Loss of Revenue
    Loss of traffic also means loss of revenue! No further explanation here.
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  3. Paying from its Pocket!
    Many of these websites are running affiliate tracking codes (mostly for Jet Airways itself) – which means indirectly Jet Airways is paying affiliate commissions for this diverted traffic originally meant for them. Are such affiliate cookies kept live for a longer period (say 30 days)? Imagine the loss of revenue.
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  4. Loss of Brand Value
    Frequent internet users directly reach destination websites, unsure how a normal internet consumer will react to this or if loss of brand value can be attributed. I landed on one of such websites today – first reaction – “What happened to Jet Airways website today?”
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So whats the big deal…
Instances mentioned above can be termed as traffic-hijacking through SEO – originally meant for the brand; but routed through another destination and then asking the brand to pay for it!
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SEO is all about playing with Google rankings – Google’s job is done when they show first 1-2 results accurately, the next results are optimized to rank better. Building such optimized landing pages by product companies like – Ixigo, Cleartrip, MakeMyTrip, Yatra, ezeeGo1, goIbibo etc should be fine – as in any case these websites clearly have a business model and have a service to offer directly to consumers.
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Disclosure –
Jet Airways is not singled out here in this post. I am a frequent flyer with Jet Airways (part of JetPrivilege for about last 5 years) and personally very satisfied till date with its services. The above example stands true for many leading Airlines and OTAs as well.
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Takeaway…
Are you a consumer facing brand in India – Google search your brand name and view each and every search result of your first 100 rankings!
  • PP

    Well, you can’t bid on others’ trademarks. So no fuss till it’s your brand!

    • PP

      oops..that was for the SEM. yes you could still hijack SEO