It appears that Expertise.com suffered a significant loss of rankings and traffic around December 19, 2022 and again in 2023 when Google rolled out an algorithm change.
Today, while I was examining before and after screenshots of Google’s search engine results (SERPs) for my article which analyzes the latest Google Link Spam Algorithm Update and it’s impact on law firms, I noticed one site in particular missing from the top search results in city after city – Expertise.com.
I checked in with multiple tools to see if their traffic was lost in other verticals, and it was.
According to Sistrix estimates, their traffic fell around December 19 – 21, 2022. That’s the same date I saw impact on several other sites affected by the December 2022 Google Link Spam Update.
Here’s a screenshot from Sistrix showing their “visibility index”:
What is Expertise.com?
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the company. In fact, I only know one thing about this company: They build out a landing page which they try to rank on the front page of Google.
Here’s an example of one of their pages which used to rank near the top of page 1 of Google:
Basically, this page has a list of attorneys which met their “selection criteria” and you could pay to be on top. Paid advertisers show up as “featured” on the top of these pages. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s very similar to what Yelp does:
Why Did Expertise.com Get Crushed by Google?
Google updates their algorithm around 2,000 times each year. In December 2022, they rolled out 2 major updates, the Helpful Content Update and the Link Spam Update which now utilizes AI. In my opinion, this website was very likely impacted by the Link Spam Update.
One of Expertise.com’s backlink strategies has been to get people to link to them from the Expertise badge widget. I was shocked when a law firm that I work with brought this to my attention back in 2018. This has been against Google’s Guidelines for a long time.
- Google put out a YouTube video about linking from widgets and images as far back as 2013.
- They reiterated it in another video in 2014.
- Thumback.com suffered a Manual Action Penalty for this exact thing back in 2015.
- In 2016 Google wrote an article specifically about widget links.
This is what their badge / widget code looks like:
I have no idea how else Expertise has earned or built links. I do know that their widget should not link to their site, or it should include a rel=”nofollow” tag in it. I do not know if remedying this is even possible as there are thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of sites linking to them with these widgets / badges. I guess we’ll see what happens.
In their defense – almost nobody on the front page of Google in any competitive niche has not built links. You have to obtain links one way or another to rank. There is always some level of risk involved. Some tactics are safer than others. If you’re one person, with one site, targeting one city, you can often get away with bending some rules, but if you’re operating a large site and targeting lawyers, rehab centers, barber shops, tattoo shops, plumbers, etc all over the country, it’s a different ball game.