The Google Penalty Has Been Given!Author: Jamie | Filed under: Link Building
If you’ve been reading any popular online marketing blogs in the last week, the chances are you’ll have come across the story of Interflora being penalised by Google.
In this article, I’ll give my own opinion on this as well as a few tips on how to avoid something similar happening to your own website.
What’s the story?
One day everything was fine with Interflora’s search engine rankings and then suddenly it all went wrong. They stopped appearing for key search terms such as “flowers online” and didn’t even show up in the natural search results for their own brand name.
Interflora was on the end of a Google penalty and there was nothing that could be done right away to change the referee’s mind. Initially, speculation was rife that this penalty was imposed because Interflora had been sending products to bloggers to review.
However, it later transpired on David Naylor’s Blog that the real reason was the large number of advertorial links the site had bought from newspaper websites. In other words, paying to have a featured article appear online with a keyword rich link back to the Interflora site.
Google doesn’t like paid links
It’s clear from this example that Google is taking the issue of paid for links very seriously. The page rank of many UK newspaper sites took a massive nosedive last week too as you’ll see in David Naylor’s article which I’ve linked to above. This is a clear sign that Google doesn’t want people to use this link building method in the future.
What happens next?
For Interflora it’s a case of having all the offending links removed, which I’m sure has already been done and waiting to be included in the search results again at Google’s discretion.
If you’ve ever bought any links for your own site or are selling links from your site to others, now is the time to stop it and have these links removed.
You don’t need to be high profile
The case of Interflora is clearly a high profile example. However, no website owner should get complacent. Thanks to tools such as Open Site Explorer, it’s easy for anyone to see the incoming links to your website and report you to Google if they think your links are in breach of the webmaster guidelines.
A final word of warning
Many small business website owners outsource link building without really knowing what’s being done on their behalf. Someone I know in Edinburgh recently had their website vanish from Google completely after outsourcing some link building to India. When I looked at the links that were coming into the site, it was obvious why he’d been penalised.
Remember, it’s not just paid links that will get you penalised by Google – lots of spammy links and those coming from link farms and dodgy sites may also see you getting punished.
Take control of your own link building or use a reputable SEO company to do it for you. Cheap linking building packages may have worked many years ago, but nowadays could lead to your website becoming invisible in the search engine results.
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