It’s a well known fact that Google will punish websites that try to cheat the system in order to get better search rankings, but it’s never going to stop everyone from trying.

It appears as though online travel giant Expedia may be the newest addition in Google’s bad books. Links to the $9 billion company that normally appear near the top have been relegated to page three. What exactly is causing this push back is unclear, SEO website Search Engine Land says it appears that Expedia was “participating in paid linking schemes that eventually caught up with them.” And Google has, like always, declined to comment on the issue. Expedia have also withheld any and all comments.

It sounds like it could be dire. And, for a smaller company, it probably would be, but in this case Expedia won’t be affected too badly. this actually only represents a 1.5% drop off in year-over-year traffic and a revenue drop of 1.1%.

Hip-hop website Rap Genius however saw a massive dip in traffic after it angered Google and was kicked from the top rankings in December. After making amends Google ended their punishment, as they did with previous penalty-induced companies such as and J.C. Penney. Both of those companies were similarly accused of using ‘black-hat’ (unscrupulous) tactics in order to boost their Google search ranking.

Irwin Mitchell, a law firm based here in the UK was also penalised last week for employing similar tactics. You wouldn’t expect such a reputable company doing such things to achieve search engine optimisation, but there you go. We don’t know whether they were old links or new ones, but what is clear is that large companies aren’t saints. Well, we already knew that didn’t we?

Google continues to evolve and upgrade its algorithms in order to return the most relevant results to search engine users. They filter spam like there’s no tomorrow, and won’t hesitate to manually deflate a site’s rankings when it breaks the rules. Google definitely have a vision of a perfect, quality-driven search engine and will do all it can to ensure they make it happen as soon as possible. Some people wouldn’t even hesitate to say it already is perfect.