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Google’s traveling sites hurt Airbnb in search results

Brian Cesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb Inc., spoke during a lunch at the New York Economic Club at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, USA, on Monday, March 13, 2017.

Michael Nagle Bloomberg | Getty images

Airbnb says Google’s search business has prevented the home-sharing company from reaping Internet traffic, according to documents the company filed while preparing to sell shares to the public.

Airbnb allows users to book short-term rentals and travel experiences. According to “Risk Factors”

; in the submission of S-1 to Airbnb, the company said that Google has benefited its own products over the company, which has led to fewer online visitors to its website. Over the past year, Alphabet has added more search features similar to travel websites, including vacation rentals.

“We believe that our SEO results have been adversely affected by the launch of Google Travel and Google Vacation Rental Ads, which reduce the popularity of our platform in organic search results for terms related to travel and placement on Google,” the prospectus said. .

Airbnb explains SEO or search engine optimization, with the practice of customizing content appearing more prominently in search results without paying for placement.

“We focus on unpaid channels such as SEO,” the prospectus said. “SEO involves developing our platform in a way that allows the search engine to rank the platform prominently on search queries for which the content of our platform may be relevant. Changes to search engine algorithms or similar actions are not under our control and may adversely affect search engine rankings and traffic to our platform. “

The company warns that ongoing search ranking issues could force it to spend more on marketing.

“As long as our brand and platform are listed less prominently or do not appear in search results for any reason, we will need to increase our marketing costs, which would increase our total customer acquisition costs and have a significant adverse effect. of our business, results of operations and financial condition. “

The Justice Department filed a long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet last month, arguing that the company had illegally maintained a monopoly on demand by cutting off its competitors from key distribution channels. Alphabet denied the argument, saying it has many competitors and that its services help consumers.

Airbnb and Alphabet have one board member in common, Ann Mather.

Airbnb’s statements follow other travel executives who criticize 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 Alphabet’s search engine, saying the company was using “its dominance in Internet porting at the expense of other businesses.”

Expedia CEO Peter Kern also recently said: “We don’t have an ax to grind against Google, except that we don’t think the market is fair.”

Google did not immediately return a request for comment.

Watch now: Airbnb files for IPO

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