A recent court ruling from my old home country of Spain, but before getting to the substance, something that made me smile.

…the court has banned Ryanair from publicly describing the website Atrapalo as “bastards”, although it may continue to refer to such websites as “parasites of the sector”, “dead wood” and “illegal sellers”.

I don’t really think this about screen scraping at all. Here is the clue to what this is really about.

Ryanair has successfully taken legal action against similar websites in Britain, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands. “Websites such as Atrapalo have for too long been getting away with unauthorised reselling of Ryanair’s flights, with the addition of charges which consumers don’t pay when they book directly with Ryanair,” said Stephen McNamara, a spokesman for Ryanair.

Looking at what Expedia and Hotels.com pay to Google, you can only assume the major airlines are not too far behind. So an airline wanting to reduce this cost of driving traffic to their website can spend more on SEO. But in Ryanair’s case, even that may not be enough to overcome all the negative search results that appear organically. So how about this for a very smart idea – take people to court, and then get loads of free publicity that gets your message out about the airline website being the place to search for the lowest fares. If it works, many people no longer come to your site via Google (paid or organic) and instead type the URL directly into their browser because they have read the quote above over and over again and they have been told that they need to go direct to Ryanair.com. It is difficult not to be impressed, as I am sure the legal fees are way below $5.95 million per month.

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