In an astonishing development over the past two days, Interflora, the flower delivery website has disappeared completely from the Search Engine Results on Google. Speculation now abounds across the Internet community as to why this should have happened with most people blaming Interflora’s current (or previous) SEO Agency.
Of course, this is totally unsubstantiated speculation and some of the wilder theories include Google getting their own back on Interflora for the court case in 2011. The case was about trademark infringement on Google’s Ads platform and the European Court Ruling found against Google in 2011, backing Interflora’s claim to a trademark on their name in search.
The current SEO team seem to have jumped on this with enormous speed and have started to take steps to remove dodgy backlinks, which appear to be the problem, but in so doing they are annoying the blogging community with their sweeping judgements. Bloggers previously had been sent bouquets by Interflora and were then writing about them with links back to the company name. Or were they? Some have suggested that these were simply paid links and no flowers ever got near the bloggers. Either way, some bloggers are furious at being told that their sites may be the cause of the company’s current problems and have taken to Twitter to vent their spleen.
The problem, however, is probably a lot deeper than that, and a little bit of digging can turn up a whole range of sites and backlinks which frankly you wouldn’t want near your backlink profile.
And here’s the rub. Many of these have been in place for years. They could have been built by the last SEO agency or even the one before, and when they were built they were perfectly fine. In fact, some of them have been areas with which Google previously had no issue. The goalposts have moved again and this demonstrates that when you have a company like Google who has a monopoly, they have, and will exercise the right, to wipe out another businesses livelihood without actually telling them why.
We’ve long been advocates of cleaning up the backlinks system but have spoken publicly about the problem of Google’s secrecy on their Webmaster Help YouTube channel
The issue is that Google simply won’t tell you why you have been hit with a penalty, what they dislike about your backlinks, which ones are harming you and indeed why they were OK last week but are not now. We have suggested that as they already know this there is no need to ‘warn’ Webmasters about this, they could simply ignore them and tell us which ones are being ignored and why. This means that you don’t waste time and resources blindly flailing about trying to clean up someone else’s mess, not knowing what you need to clear up to satisfy Google. As we often say, SEO is more about herding cats in fog than actually trying to do something constructive for the client.
There are no winners in this. Interflora has been wiped off the SERPs by Google and stands to lose millions of pounds. Google haven’t covered themselves in glory as this action is already being attributed online to their dislike for Interflora and the actions of a monopolistic business. And the SEO community can’t agree why the penalty has happened, only that it has. This obscurity and obfuscation is giving us all a bad name and needs to stop.