• http://twitter.com/ChrisGedge Chris Gedge
  • http://twitter.com/bindashsandeep Sandeep Pattanaik

    wow, this is awesome.

  • SEO Consult

    They’ll come up smelling of roses in a few weeks…

  • http://twitter.com/liamhgfisher Liam Fisher

    Hardly helpful, is it? Clearly there’s been a penalty applied, so that means that the company and their SEO team were doing something Google don’t like. How best can Google stop SEOs from using those methods? By actually *telling* us, by being transparent about what will and what won’t get your site penalised.

    We’re sick of playing guessing games and feeling like it’s a lottery whether or not the powers that be are going to object certain methods. If Google’s criteria for what constitutes a ‘good’ link is genuinely consistent, then tell us so we can work to stay in line with those criteria.

  • Unbound Marketing

    They already tell you you can’t buy links or exchange goods for links. The things which get you penalised are in their webmaster guidelines.

  • Brandon Lobo

    Has their site been totally de-indexed? Well, I’m asking because no matter what I search for I can’t seem to find them. Even tried their site name (entire name including .co.uk) in quotes and it doesn’t seem to be around.

  • http://twitter.com/christomjones Chris Jones

    It appears that it might be Branded3 who are the SEO company for Interflora. Its no surprise as they blatantly email bloggers with “Blogger Exclusives ” opportunities offering hampers and all sorts in exchange for blogs with links. They were also apparently the SEO company for Wonga who have been penalized recently.

  • http://twitter.com/liamhgfisher Liam Fisher

    That’s true, but every SERP I look at I see sites with links that have clearly been paid for. They’re everywhere, and you only need a little experience to be able to spot them. So what’s so special about Interflora? What was the egregious sin that apparently justified a penalty that’ll no doubt take a huge chunk out of the company’s revenue?

    How do you distinguish a blogger linking to Interflora because they agreed to in return for goods from a blogger linking to Interflora because they got some flowers, thought they were awesome, and decided to link to the site in an editorial way? As Anthony Shapley’s article points out, that distinction can only be made if you have access to the communcations between the blogger and the company in question.

    What I’m getting at is this: why Interflora and not some of the atrocious spam I find literring SERPs all over the place? What are they guilty of that makes them worth singling out? If Google share that information with the SEO community, then anyone using that particular method is going to stop doing it.

  • http://twitter.com/christomjones Chris Jones

    And this is the “opportunity they are offering on behalf of Interflora

    Mothers’
    Day Gifts

    Since its Mothers’ Day next month, Interflora is offering you a the chance to review a range
    of products from its Mothers’ Day gift range:

    - Mum and Daughter Makeover

    - Afternoon Tea and Vineyard Tour with Wine Tasting for Two

    - Mother’s Day Personalised Pink Gift Bag

    - A beautiful bouquet for your mum (up to £40)

  • SEO Consult

    It’s still in the index, but not showing for many queries. If you search for site:interflora.co.uk you will see all 38k odd pages still indexed.

  • SEO Consult

    To be clear, it doesn’t seem like genuine blogger reviews are likely to be the problem here. They might be of course, but there’s plenty of unnatural-ness in the link profile too which is more likely to issue.

  • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Tara Tara Dee West

    It’s such bad practice to point fingers at agencies who may or may not have been behind Interflora’s SEO. Most SEOs have used tactics at one point or another which have come to be against Google’s guidelines later down the line. Stop pointing fingers and start working together to figure out what’s going on and what we can learn from this.

  • http://www.bronsonharrington.com/ Bronson

    I suspect the removal of links is a knee-jerk reaction to the penalty which according to many seems to be a manual one.

    This also happened with BMW many moons ago.

  • http://www.bronsonharrington.com/ Bronson

    Amen sister!

  • http://www.bronsonharrington.com/ Bronson

    Overly used anchor text for specific pages seems to be the culprit

  • http://www.bronsonharrington.com/ Bronson

    Dave does a great job of summarizing what possibly happened here

  • http://twitter.com/bogdanoltean Bogdan Oltean
  • http://www.gtp-icommerce.com Web Designer

    I find it pretty distasteful that google is able to penalise and effectively say NO, You cannot spend money with anyone else, except us in order to get traffic to your site. Google are effectively saying that if you spend money with anyone else other than us, we will take a big stick to you and economically destroy you. There is nothing in their algorithm apart from human intervention that would take a highly relevant site and destroy its rankings. I would be thinking that organisations should be able to sue in these instances as they are effectively being discriminated against. Google cannot say that not ranking interflora for the word flowers has anything to do with relevance.

  • http://www.linkbuildr.com/ Ryan @ Linkbuildr

    Well as I can see you picked an anchor text for your posting name…so lame. Google can do what it wants with its search engine and if you cannot find traffic by other means, you’re in the wrong business.

  • http://twitter.com/incrediblehelp Jaan Kanellis

    Another Google handjob…wait I thought they didnt give those?

  • Pat Grady

    Your Postscript above, seems right on target.

  • http://www.facebook.com/searchdarren Darren Hughes

    Interflora have owned the top spot for years and years for just about every high-traffic generic flower related keyword out there. If they broke the rules, then tough luck. Besides, if people are searching for ‘flowers’, there is a strong possibility that they are looking for an alternative option, otherwise, they would just type in, or go to interflora.

    Any suggestion that Interflora, or their SEO/s may not have known the rules is nonsense. They just thought that they were above the law, or too clever not to get caught.

  • Amanda

    Funny that Whale Shark Media (aka vouchercodes.co.uk) is a Google Ventures company

  • http://www.gtp-icommerce.com Web Designer

    Yes I understand, that now that google has changed the fact that they don’t want to encourage the use of keyword anchor text as a relevancy factor that you would say that. Disregarding the cheap shot on anchor text linking, What Googles actions are saying is that if you pay other people for links, directly and now indirectly through PR (sending sample product) as in the above case, ie, if you give your “marketing dollars” to someone else, then there is a penalty applied.

    To me that is like saying, if you pay Bing for adwords to promote your business, then we will drop your organic rankings like a stone, because it’s not fair that you are paying them and not us.

    As a paid link builder, based on this interflora example, google could quite easily turn around and say, well now as your clients are paying you to artificially build up links through whatever method, Good PR, sponsorship, educational articles, guest blogging, outreach etc, it doesn’t matter what method, that we will apply a penalty to any client that has used your link building services (or any SEOs). The fact that someone pays for link building is an attempt at artificial manipulation of the ranking results and therefore should be penalised.

    But the real point is that Google are happy for you to pay exclusively to them, your marketing dollar, and they will not put up with businesses spending their marketing dollar with other businesses or people.

    Dale Carter

    Managing Director

    GTP iCommerce Pty Ltd.

  • makeonlineshop

    So it means that offering proucts to reviewers for a link to my shop will be penalized ? Fuxx retarded Google ! I will never never ever pay adsense to advertise !

  • http://www.ninebyblue.com Vanessa Fox

    Why? Because Google isn’t perfect and doesn’t catch everything all of the time. But they keep working to catch more of it.

    Tara, I have to disagree with this: “Most SEOs have used tactics at one point or another which have come to be against Google’s guidelines later down the line.” Google has always been up front about their guidelines and they haven’t substantially changed (they’ve only been expanded to add clarity). It’s certainly not the case that SEOs who have used paid links to artificially inflate PageRank have done so with Google’s blessing and then suddenly Google changed the rules. They’ve done so knowing that it’s something Google works to catch and penalize and they think that it’s either worth it for the short term gain or that it won’t be caught.

  • Gagool

    I wonder if not ranking for your own name is not a basis for legal action.

    The SERP is Google’s way of saying: dear user, we found these to be the most relevant sites for you.

    In most cases that’s subjective, therefore almost any ranking of results is defensible. Penalizing a site for generic terms can be presented as an editorial decision that is ultimately not harming searchers.

    However, stripping a site of ranking for its own name is, for all intents and purposes, a deliberate lie: dear user, you can search for “this and this company” all you want but no, the site of This And This Company is not relevant for you.

    That part of a penalty is not defensible at any level, regardless of what “horrible crimes” the penalized site committed otherwise.

    It can be viewed as harming the user, and it’s a scumbag thing to do (though something one is not surprised to see from such a childishly vindictive company as Google).

  • http://twitter.com/igl00FTW igl00

    google just wants people to buy adrwords. even for few days.

  • Chris Buckley

    SEO is typically by nature attempting to beat Google at their own game, so its never the most cleanest of industries. The fact that this has happened to a big brand is relatively unique (yes there have been the odd brand affected in the past such as BMW and others), and makes this a greatly interesting topic. It will be exciting to see how Interflora pull this back, and whichever way they do will mean that others have a means of following their tactics (we can check their link profile, social reach etc).

    Personally I think they’ll see a great deal of uplift simply from the extra chatter going on right now. We’re all discussing Interflora here, so the SERPS will pick up on this, possibly boosting rankings.

    I run a large website about the boyband One Direction (http://www.onedirection.net), which currently receives over 1 million monthly visitors. The server is based in the UK, and we have huge social followings all over the world yet we don’t rank at all our main term “one direction” in Google.co.uk.

    Google.com is a different matter, as we’re slap bang on page 1 for the same term. Looking at the site with an unbiased view, we provide awesome content on a regular basis, and we used to be on page 1 in the UK, but something happened last August. Yes we’ve done a bit of SEO, but we’ve always played by the rules, but somehow we seem to be penalised in a specific territory.

    If there was something obviously wrong with our link profile then I’d expect to see an equal penalty across all Google’s country specific indexes, right?

    It’s very annoying as I’ve attempted to get help and feedback from a variety of sources, but being a much smaller website means we don’t get noticed.

    Interflora’s recovery will be much swifter in my opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/cemper Christoph C. Cemper

    I took a deep dive into their link profile, and it’s so much more bad going on in addition to those advertorials mentioned and “confirmed” by Google.

    See for yourself and let me know please

    http://www.linkresearchtools.com/case-studies/interflora-penalty/

    Christoph

  • Alec Sharratt

    My pointing finger is already out i’m afraid and it only points away! I would like to know how on Earth Google is supposed to determine whether someone received a gift in exchange for a review… And how you are supposed to get your products reviewed if you’re not performing legitimate outreach.

    I have advised clients to offer a voucher or a chance to win a competition in exchange for a review… But the review is still objective, we do not ask them to write a ‘positive review’, its a great way to encourage people to engage and because we are confident that the business provides a great service we do not mind asking for reviews.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LeninNair Lenin VJ Nair

    It’s sad the company got penalized. However, there is another aspect. Interflora is popular among people that use its services. And many of them I believe go to the website by doing a simple search on Google. And if google doesnt give the appropriate website as the first result, Google is also going to suffer.

  • http://twitter.com/garethowen1 Gareth Owen

    Given Interflora’s history with suing Google over people bidding on their brand via paid search, I’m guessing this won’t have gone down well at all…

  • http://twitter.com/jwdlatif Jawad Latif

    These types of steps by Google increase their Adwords revenue.

  • DaveKeys

    Perhaps it wasn’t paid links alone, but also manipulative anchors that helped bring down the wrath of the webspam team? I looked up their links with the anchor “flowers” in AHREFS and found examples like this: http://theprogrammingguide.com/web-design-programming/shopping-carts-ecommerce/how-to-buy-flowers-online

    The context of the site is obviously irrelevant to flowers and the links here and in other sites found in the AHREFS list were definitely attempting to push “flowers” and similar terms upward.

  • DaveKeys

    Then there’s the hidden link at http://www.gogoblin.co.uk/ (white on white)

  • http://www.facebook.com/abhishekanandseo Abhishek Anand

    Yes I totally aggree….. Google doesn’t has sufficient algorithm to identify the duplicacy of content as my site is http://www.cloudtelephony.co.in and some one has copied my content as it is and his website is also ranking in Google SERP

  • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Tara Tara Dee West

    I don’t think it’s incentivising links with gifts that got them penalised, but rather the fact they bought a lot of advertorials in the lead up to Valentines day which made their link profile very unnatural. Dave Naylor’s post gives a lot more detail on the advertorial issue (http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/interflora-what-really-happened.html)

  • http://twitter.com/SamuelSylvander Samuel Sylvander

    Have anyone seen an example of a link? There are several different types as far as I’ve seen. Links that look lika an adwords ad to name one.