If you actually want people to see your website, you need to make sure it’s optimised so it appears high in the search results. However, you also need to make sure the strategies your SEO company use are ethical and reliable. Interflora has become the latest big name company to get hit with a penalty from Google for breaking its rules. The timing couldn’t be worse for the online florist, with Mother’s Day right around the corner.
Google’s Do’s and Don’ts
Google publish rules on what companies can and cannot do in terms of optimising their websites in their Webmaster Guidelines. They make it clear that breaching these rules can lead to reprimands as serious as a company being removed from Google’s index entirely. That would mean no one would be able to find your website using the Google search engine.
The idea behind Google’s quality guidelines is to help ensure websites are designed with the end user in mind, not just the search engines. Websites that provide engaging and useful content for visitors are subsequently rewarded by appearing higher up Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) listings.
Black Hat SEO
Unethical attempts to gain higher search rankings are referred to as ‘black hat’ SEO tactics. Interflora was caught out for purchasing advertising space that used inappropriate links that pass PageRank. They were linking to their own site from advertorials on regional newspaper websites, however, Google make it clear that paying for links that pass PageRank is discouraged and in extreme cases enough to earn you a lengthy ban or drop in search results.
Firm but Fair
Google’s retribution with Interflora was pretty striking and has got a lot of SEO experts talking. They didn’t appear in search results for most of the keywords that normally bring traffic to their site for over a week. Interflora is beginning to trickle back into search results pages, but they’re much lower down the rankings than they were before the penalty was imposed. They used to be in the top three results for the terms ‘florist’, ‘flower delivery’ and ‘roses’, but are lying currently between seventh and tenth. The timing of the penalty has raised a few eyebrows; with Mothering Sunday just a few days away it has been estimated this marketing disaster could cost the company millions.
This isn’t the first time Google has handed out big penalties to well known brands. The German websites for both BMW and printer giants Ricoh were both temporarily removed from Google’s index of web pages a few years back for using dodgy tactics. In 2008 GoCompare had a run-in with Google which resulted in it losing 87% of its usual traffic. Google even imposes these strict standards on their own properties. Google Chrome was banned from results pages for the terms ‘browser’ and ‘chrome’ for 60 days last year for a very similar linking offence to Interflora’s recent error.
The Interflora penalty has given us all another reminder that if we want succeed at SEO we need to play by Google’s rules. Here at KPI we provide responsible and lasting SEO and link building services. If you want to improve your search engine ranking why not give our expert team a call?