Major UK Flowers Site Interflora Gets Slapped By Google

    February 22, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Update: While Google hasn’t named Interflora, the company seems to have confirmed the situation with an out of the blue post about paid links on Google’s Webmaster Central blog today. There’s nothing new. It’s just Matt Cutts reminding everybody that Google “takes this issue very seriously”. Here’s a sample:

Please be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or “advertorial” pages on your site that pass PageRank. Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations. The consequences for a linkselling site start with losing trust in Google’s search results, as well as reduction of the site’s visible PageRank in the Google Toolbar. The consequences can also include lower rankings for that site in Google’s search results.

It appears that Interflora, a major flower-seller in the UK, has been hit by manual action from Google, after participating in link buying from newspaper sites.

Anthony Shapley at Dave Naylor’s blog has the breakdown of what he believes to have happened, as the site no longer ranks for keywords it used to, including its own name. He shares a table of over 50 newspapers sites who had their PageRank reduced after Inteflora made a big advertising push ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Search Engine Land shares the following statement fro Google:

We typically don’t comment on whether we’ve taken corrective webspam action regarding specific companies.

As Barry Schwartz at that blog notes, Google has commented on similar stories in the past, like when they related to JC Penney’s, Forbes, and Overstock.

Shapley says he is confident in his explanation, but Interflora has not commented, and if Google won’t, we may not see an official word on this, but rest assured, if Google catches you doing paid links they will punish you.

At least Interflora will get some new brand recognition out of the whole thing. It seems unlikely that they won’t make their way back into the rankings after a while. Google managed to get its Chrome landing page back in the rankings after penalizing it.

  • http://www.rankwatch.com Rank Watch

    Any website which goes against the webmaster guidelines and gives a third party site or an irrelevant site a paid dofollow link with the main intention to pass the page rank are rightly penalized by Google. More importantly Google is also penalizing the page rank obsessed sites which get the paid and dofollow links from other sites. Google has explicitly told that endorsing other site by providing it a link on one’s site is fair only if a nofollow link is used and proper attribution is done.

  • Patricia

    So paying for manipulating the results is against the rules, but paying to be 1st in the results via adwords is OK :)

    google doesn’t even apply “play by the rules” on itself :)

  • http://www.greyolltwit.net/ Grey Olltwit

    Interflora got slapped only because it chose not to use Adwords for its campaign no doubt.

    • http://www.novaimagem.co.pt Antonio

      Here is the very thruth! Others that pay for links but also pay G links (adwords) are good.

  • http://wealthymillionairedates.com wSable

    It somehow seems fair that big money, well known sites pay their dues. After all, hundreds of lesser known sites have been slammed to the ground…. Some to never rise again.

  • Mike

    Sadly my brother committed suicide after Google penalised his website, forcing him to make all his employees redundant. My brother became increasingly depressed after his company lost 90% of its Internet traffic, which subsequently led to him ending his life. Google have damaged so many livelihoods.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Mabuzi

    My closest competitor has 20 000 links and yet he scan still be ranked highly.
    So how does one buy so many links but not get caught?

    • Albert

      Is he using Adwords. If yes then he will be ranked higher. I too freelanced a company (for their coding work). The webmaster recently sent a message saying that almost traffic from google was Nill from this september.

      they never used adwords, adsense, analytics or any other things from Google.

  • Yuri

    I feel that Google is punishing people who dare to advertise elsewhere beside Google. Google is missusing their monopoly power and stopping people from going to other party to adv. This is a cencorship at global scales.