Has Interflora Been Punished by Google

Has Interflora Recieved a Google Penalty?

Interflora No Google RankingsI don’t normally cover the day job on here, but this is far too interesting a story to just let me pass by.

The Interflora Google Penalty

It seems that somebody in Google didn’t get their Valentines Flowers as promised by Interflora and as a result Google has taken a particular disliking to the company.

As of some time Yesterday  -Tuesday 19/02/2013 – Google has moved Interflora to the 4th Page of results effectively suggesting a manual rankings penalty for the Largest UK Flower Delivery network. I have no idea the effect and panic this must be causing in the SEO Agency / Office of Interflora today but needless to say somebody will be losing a Job!

This isn’t the first time Google has issued this type of penalty to a large brand and the last time it was BMW, which again was banished to about the 4th Page.

I will be keeping you updated as more comes out about this under code name:

Operation #NoFlowerPower

So let me know what you think @Battletoys.

Having looked at the backlink profile personally I can’t see anything too untoward however Google may be punishing based on a large number of Exact Match links for Flowers etc. The brand in itself will be strong enough to carry on trading, and some people are questioning the “User Experience” of removing Interflora from their own branded search term.

What is more likely is that the Top 2 results will experience a hell of a lot more traffic and stood to benefit are Tescos Flower Store and VoucherCodes!

If you know anything or have anything to add please contact us through twitter or drop us a comment below!

Update 21/02/2013

Interflora is now appearing on the First page with History Searches (when somebody has been on the site and it is within the cookies), However a Private Browsing search still shows the site on the 4th page. As far as can be gathered the site appears to have a “natural backlink” profile, however a number of pages could be seen as spammy with the location pages in particular being a a bit too focused for dominating local listings more than I would like.

A quick look at a Search Metrics Visability Graph shows us the issues here though, They have clearly been penalised and experienced a massive drop in pages taken out of the index,

Here is the Graph

Interflora Search Visability Graph

Interflora Search Visability

We can clearly see a massive drop in visability! The drop goes from an impressive metric of 22,090 (SEO Visability) to a pathetic metric of 1,026 (SEO Visability).

What does this tell us?

Quite clearly it shows that Interflora have had a large number of pages drop out of google. But the important thing here is they haven’t been removed completely. This could be anything from a penalty, to a massive site error.

For all we know the SEO team could of No Indexed a large number of top level pages by accident. The Quick thing to assume is a penalty, but as everyone is keeping quiet about it, who knows what is actually happening behind the scenes.

Will keep you updated!

And then I saw these Tweets!

Ok so this doesn’t prove anything directly, but I took this screen shot at about 13:00 today (21/02/2013) It clearly shows a conversation about Interflora asking to remove links from different websites.

Sounding more and more like a penalty,

Let me know what you think!

Interflora Removing Links

Here is the conversation thread if you wanna know more…

*The lovely Sarah at @amilliondresses has said we can use her thread, which is very nice of her indeed!

So there you have it a little bit of proof Interflora are desperately trying to remove links from the blogs they have interacted with to get links!

As always will keep you updated!


Just a quick Update

@TheRealBoydo asked Sarah @amilliondresses about her involvement and this was what was said:

Interflora Penalty Tweets

In our opinion this is just one site of potentially hundreds / thousands that have Interflora links on them. The popular opinion seems to be that Google are now penalising for even PR style traded links, but this clearly isn’t the case.

The site mentioned above is likely nothing to do with the reason Interflora has been knocked down the search engines, what is more likely is that they have been penalised for Paid linking, or over use of one linking method. I am finding it hard to see why Google would punish a site for PR style actions.

But of course the real question is How would they know the difference?

So What Actually Happened?

Now the dust has settled a clear picture of what has happened to Interflora can be seen across a number of different sources. The gist of the situation is that they received a penalty based on an agressive advertorial campaign leading up to valentines day.

We have all seen that local news sites give “PR” based advertorials along with a link and is usually part of a media buying service and not necessarily part of an SEO strategy, in fact most SEOs wouldn’t touch these sites with a competitors budget never mind their own!

Here is a look at what Google has done to the National and Local Newspapers in the UK. Looking at these I think Interflora got off lightly, Interflora may of recieved a penalty, which will eventually be over turned but these newspapers can only thrive (and more importantly sell advertising) off the back of a strong readership.

With todays market and the constant demand for up-to-date localised news through the internet, these types of sites and papers could die off with the penalties Google has put in place.

The Papers

Newspaper Table

Thanks to Dave Naylors Blog for the pretty table

 So Has It Changed The Game?

Well…not really…sort of…a little bit…maybe?

I’ll explain,

You see the websites Google punished were basically the scum of the link buying world, and any SEO worth his salt knows that quality content with a link within a quality well written, “review” style article is the perfect compliment to an SEO link building Strategy, and I mean Compliment not source of.

The likelyhood is we could put Interfloras demise down to either a really rubbish SEO strategy built by cowboys and idiots, or what is more likely is that it was part of the media buying and PR strategy that was misold as having “SEO Benefits” by people who have no idea what the words SEO stand for (its Search Engine Optimisation if you are reading this by the way).

As we said all along, it was never about the bloggers who have done reviews for interflora in exchange for “flowers”. Google have even advertised this idea themselves in a Google Chrome Advert that gets a satchel company to send “Free Satchels” to review from Fashion Bloggers.


Where do we go from here?

In the words of Bob Dylan – “Keep on Keeping on.”

We are affected by this because it is a large brand that got hit and made an example of.

Matt Cutts has issued a reminder.

But it is exactly that; a reminder that sometimes, just sometimes Google are gonna remind people that they are in control and that if we all ignore the rules and quality guidelines they have put in place, clients, brands and whoever else will suffer as a result.

Cheers for reading.


About Sam Raife

Author of Battletoys.co.uk, I have been part of the SEO world for nearly 6 Years in one format or the other. Now an SEM Manager in Leeds and very much still a lover of all things Tech, Gadgety and all things Marvel. Expect lots of low priced technology reviews and the occasional SEO tip or two...this blog not being a good example of that.