Yesterday evening, well known florist brand Interflora was wiped off the face of the internet. Well, in search marketing terms anyway…
Searching for the terms [Flowers], [florist], [flower delivery], [flowers online] and hundreds of other related search terms yielded the interflora.co.uk domain in first place – until yesterday afternoon. Now the website does not even appear for its own brand name:
A quick dig around on SearchMetrics reveals some interesting other data, here is a list of terms that they ranked for on Feb 14th (irony noted):
Today’s picture is a little more bleak for the website however – with almost all their rankings dropping off a cliff, and this is backed up by their visibility chart:
Interestingly, their SEO team/agency appears to have been fully prepared for such an eventuality, and appear to be out in force to remove any paid links they have acquired. I get the feeling this is going to take some time to say the least, a cursory glance at their backlink profile reveals that one of the main tools they have been using is sending free product to bloggers – here is a great example I uncovered:
The words Interflora and Blog are linked (cleanly)
to the homepage and the blog home respectively.
And a quick browse on social media reveals what the general public think when an SEO in a panic asks for links to be removed:
(hat tip to Geir Ellefsen for the twitter discovery)
So its safe to say that their SEO’ers will be having a fun day contacting everywhere they’d bought links from in the past.
All this is interesting, and how they handle any recovery will also be worth noting, its not every day that such a dominant market leader gets SERP-shafted, but a more worrying point for most web marketers out there is just how much the advice has now changed.
It was only two years ago that as an industry we were recommending that we sent products to bloggers in exchange for links, whether that was discretely part of the deal or a pre-requisite is always a grey area and our assumption at the time (and correctly at the time) is that Google simply wouldnt go after things like that.
Well, its 2013 now, and it appears they may well be.
Lets open this up now, what “interesting” links can you find pointing at Interflora, or what other explanation can you find for the penalty?