Where are Interflora?
If you’ve searched for ‘Interflora’, ‘flowers’ or ‘florist’ recently you will have noticed the UK’s leading florist company have completely disappeared off the top spot in the organic search results in Google. Right after Valentines day and a few weeks before mothers day.
A breakdown of what’s happened.
Okay so there are two sides to SEO. There’s the nasty black hat SEO which can include buying links, renting links, over-stuffing your pages full of keywords, aggressive use of anchor text, cheap and nasty PR and web directories… etc just to trick the search giant Google into thinking you’re really popular. Thus, giving you a top spot in the search results. That ‘strategy’ just won’t work anymore! They are unearned links. Google clearly states that anyone involved in link buying schemes or such like, may be penalized as this is against the guidelines.
What good, reputable SEO’s do now is called link earning. Known as white hat SEO. Google wants to see you’re creating good quality content for your users which can be shared – that’s link earning. Creating compelling content specifically for humans, not for the search engines.
What Interflora have been caught out doing is this nasty black hat SEO business – over a number of years! They have been caught out to have an extremely aggressive anchor text link strategy. Including over 2000 links from only 6 domains with keywords such as ‘Interflora Interflora’ and ‘wedding flowers’. Some of the links include paid advertorial links from local and national newspapers, which is also against Google’s guidelines.
Could this be an SEO and PR combined disaster gone wrong?
One of the main PR strategies Interflora was pursuing was sending bunches of flowers to bloggers. Free products in exchange for a link to the Interflora website – possibly. But it’s up to the individuals themselves to post the link. In Googles eyes, offering products in exchange for a link is against the guidelines. The reputable and popular bloggers are being contacted left right and centre by Interflora to remove any traces of links. Social Media sites are now littered with confused bloggers wondering why they should remove the link. Interflora have obviously panicked and this is their attempt of removing any traces of paid links.
But the PR strategy IS legitimate. Individuals in the fashion world have been doing it for years. Just take a look at Google Chrome’s TV advert, showing The Satchel Company sending out free Satchels for Fashion bloggers to review.
Low quality links such as what Interflora have done get dealt with and websites appropriately penalised during a Google update, such as Panda or Penguin. Although this was sudden and was obviously done manually by Google; who have obviously been keeping an eye on Interflora.
What’s next for Interflora?
Well, the clean up process is currently underway and has been for a couple of months now. Interflora since around January, being asked to remove any in text links pointing to the website. This is a very long and very painful process and there is no guarantee that all links will be removed. It could be a few weeks or months before we see the Interflora brand dominating the searches again. Although, if you are desperate to buy from them for those Mothers day flowers, you’ll be able to find their paid listing at the top of Google.
“Google is one complicated person. It knows how to hold grudges!”
– Sian Powell. Account Manager at BeSeen Marketing.
Now Interflora have been wiped off the top spot for local terms such as ‘Buckinghamshire Florists’ and ‘Beaconsfield Florists’, local florists who appear in the top spots in Google should see a flurry of additional traffic to their websites as well as additional revenue! Interflora have a number of landing pages for local search terms, all very similar looking. http://www.interflora.co.uk/flowers-florists-delivery-beaconsfield/town/ Interflora on the other hand will most probably see a massive drop in both sales and traffic.
Moral of the story? Be careful who you link with!