ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Late last month, a major flower shop in the U.K. was penalized by Google for using SEO practices that violated the best practices guidelines. The penalty was so severe that the website didn’t even show up in top search results for its own name. Know more.
Search Engine Land analyzed Interflora’s link profile to find out what happened and reported that more than 70 percent of their links were toxic or suspicious according to Link Detox. In other words thousands of links in their link profile would probably fail during a manual review by the Google spam team.
The SEL article concluded that there appears to be a lot of bad SEO going on but these are a few of the most obvious tactics they used that likely drew the Google penalty. Cheap advertorials, tiered blog network links and paid blog posts all made the list. Read the article here.
There is plenty of evidence that Interflora had been using bad link building practices for years, but they were finally caught and penalized for it. They have a relatively happy ending to their story since the penalty happened after Valentine’s Day and their rankings were nearly back to normal 11 days later before the next major flower-sending holiday. However, other companies should not assume they will be so lucky if they try to use link schemes to get ahead.
SEO experts are surmising that the flower company giant had already started a big link cleanup campaign prior to the penalty that included using the Disavow Links tool and reaching out directly to websites Interflora paid to link back to them.
“No matter how tempted you might be, stay away from buying or selling links as part of your SEO campaigns, ” says our CEO, Ali Husayni. “They will inevitably get your website in trouble, and it will certainly take more than 11 days to recover since it looks like Interflora got some special assistance in this instance.”
The following are examples of what falls under the category of a link scheme and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank, meaning they don’t have a no-follow tag. This may take the form of paying or getting paid for a link, exchanging goods or services for links, or sending a blogger a sample of your product and asking them to write about it and include a link to it.
- Swapping links with other companies.
- Trying to manipulate PageRank by linking to web spammers or unrelated sites.
- Developing partner pages just for cross-linking purposes.
- Paying a link farm to use automated programs or services to create links to your site.
- Optimized links within a forum post or signature, such as “Loved the post. Very helpful. -Jane” with links like “SEO for content“, “top SEO firm” or “Boulder SEO experts” tacked on to the end.
These shady techniques, among others, are what the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates of recent years were intended to correct. However, they are still widely used techniques used by companies that want to get ahead quickly and make a fast profit.
“The drawbacks of link schemes definitely outweigh the short-term benefits though,” says Husayni. “The main cleanup tools are disavow links and direct contact with the link owner, and those can take weeks or months to work — if it does work — since Google has to recrawl the site.”
According to Google there is only one right way to properly acquire links:
- The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.
“The useful, relevant content Google talks about may attract inbound links if your site already has substantial popularity, but you can’t afford to sit back and wait for that to happen,” says Husayni. “Your competitors certainly aren’t. There are ways to get links without violating Google’s rules or getting your site penalized.”
Many of those techniques have been discussed by Husayni and his SEO team on this blog, but some business owners find they need more extensive help than articles and do it yourself advice. One of our SEO experts can help people understand what they need to do to help their businesses succeed.