The removal of the flower delivery giant Interflora’s website from Google organic search results has shocked many online businesses, making everyone realise once again that Google guidelines must be adhered to otherwise you will be penalised, regardless of the size of your company.
But what did Interflora do wrong and what were they penalised for exactly? The short answer to this is paying for advertorials.
What is an advertorial?
Advertorials are stories or editorials that are published on press websites and contain links to related businesses. The businesses pay the press sites to create the story and embed links to them in it, passing the power to their sites.
Interflora did this with an array of different newspaper sites, including The Independent as they had a high page rank and so the links brought lots of power with them.
Google do not disapprove of advertorials as an advertising platform in general, it is the fact that the links are paid for that does not meet their guideline criteria. Google states that such links such have a ‘no follow’ tag attached and so are not included in their robot crawl.
It is not just Interflora that suffered a Google penalty however, the newspaper websites involved were also penalised. The Independent, which had a high page rank of 8, was down-graded to a page rank of 4. This is because they were selling the paid advertorial links, a practice which is condemned by Google.
Why do Google not approve of Paid Links?
Google strives to be the best search engine online, and they can only achieve this goal by ensuring that their search results are the most accurately matched to the needs and wants of the user in terms of matching sites to keywords searched.
If these results relied on the number of backlinks that a site had gained only, then the company with the most money to purchase them would always be top for their desired keywords, even if they are not necessarily the best for the user in terms of relevance. Therefore, Google considers this to be a ‘black hat’ method of SEO and penalise heavily for it.