Google travel sites hurt Airbnb in search results

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Airbnb claims that Google’s search activity has kept the house-sharing company from harvesting internet traffic, according to documents the company filed as it prepared to sell shares to the public.Airbnb allows users to book rentals and short-term experiences while traveling. As part of the “risk factors” in Airbnb’s S-1 case, the company said Google preferred its own products to the company, which reduced the number of online visitors to its website. Last year, the Alphabet Company added other similar search features to travel websites, including for vacation rentals.

“We believe our SEO results have been affected by the launch of Google Travel and Google Vacation Rental Ads, which reduce the importance of our platform in organic search results for travel related terms and locations on Google. », Indicates the prospectus.

Airbnb explains SEO, or search engine optimization, as the practice of tailoring content to appear more prominently in search results without paying for placement.

“We are focusing on unpaid channels such as SEO,” the prospectus says. “SEO is about developing our platform in a way that allows a search engine to rank our platform high for search queries to which the content on our platform may be relevant. Changes in search engine algorithms or similar actions are not under our control and may cause search engine rankings and traffic to our platform. ”

The company warns that persistent problems with search rankings could force it to spend more on marketing.

“As our brand and platform are listed less prominently or do not appear in search results for whatever reason, we would need to increase our paid marketing spend, which would increase our overall customer acquisition costs and would have a material negative impact on our business operations and financial position. ”

The Justice Department filed its long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet last month, alleging that the company illegally maintained a research monopoly by cutting rivals off major distribution channels. Alphabet refuted the argument, saying it has a lot of competition and its services help consumers.

Airbnb and Alphabet have a common board member, Ann Mather.

Airbnb’s statements follow other travel officials who criticized Google’s effect on the travel industry. TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer, a longtime Google critic, told CNBC last month that he welcomed DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit against research unit Alphabet, saying the company was using “its dominance in Internet access control to the detriment of other companies ”.

Expedia CEO Peter Kern also said recently: “We have no ax against Google except we don’t think the market is fair. ”

Google did not immediately return a request for comment.

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