Last week Google punished Interflora for using spammy link building tactics by penalising their own brand name and other top generic terms i.e. ‘flowers’, ‘florist’, ‘flower delivery’ etc, for which they were at the top of the search results.
Google imposed this penalty to Interflora for apparently using unnatural link building techniques centred around paying for links. It is very clear that Google does not like paid links as these types of links are usually manipulative and spammy and in their own words “make a mockery of search”. To stop these types of links from benefitting with Google, all advertorial content should use a ‘no follow’ attribute, this tells Google not to pass on any link juice from the link, something Interflora failed to do.
David Naylor (head of SEO marketing at Bronco) has stated that Interfloras penalty is most likely from an aggressive advertorial-heavy campaign of buying links in the run up to Valentine’s Day. This also ties in with the decrease in rankings and PageRank of many newspapers who ran these ads. Many of these publications rankings and PageRank has dropped as a result of selling these types of links.
Advertorials can work well for SEO but they have to be used extremely carefully, this was Interfloras mistake, they went too far and paid for as many advertorial links as they could, therefore suffering the consequences.
Dave Naylor also commented, “With the penalty that Interflora has come under this week, seeing them lose their top ranking position for their own brand name, as well as the main traffic terms in the flower sector, just shows no one, not even the biggest brands can escape Google’s penalties.”
Paid links is a massive problem for Google and 90% of all links on the internet are paid for. Google’s actions were to make an example of Interflora to shock and scare others who are using these same tactics.
As of yesterday Interfloras rankings have started to come back in the search results, the penalty hasn’t been completely lifted yet but their rankings have began to reappear. The penalty hit a week before Valentine’s Day and has began to be lifted just before Mother’s Day. There is no doubt that this strong punishment dished out by Google will have certainly had a big impact on Interflora as well as other companies using the same black hat techniques.
This story highlights just how important it is to choose an SEO company that do not use any black hat or spammy techniques and Interflora has proved that you can’t cheat Google, the only way to get good rankings is to work with them.