As reported by The Drum, floristry brand Interflora has been effectively wiped from the internet by Google after the company was deemed to have breached the search engine’s strict SEO policy.
The measure was imposed by Google after it found that Interflora had over 150+ recent links in regional news sites all over the UK, in the form of online advertisements, which worked to influence its search page rankings.
Generic, ‘story-based’ advertorial has been overused by brand owners a great deal in recent years, leading to Google publishing a warning last week to brand owners that paying for links or advertorial that passes its PageRank violates guidelines and will be penalised.
Both steps by the search giant are a clear deterrent to other brand owners, but to some it is a lack of awareness rather than deliberate rule breaking which can lead to this kind of direct action by Google. So what are the key steps brand owners can take to avoid being penalised:
Step 1 - Consider utilising PR and social media instead of paid-for advertorial. These disciplines once seemed unrelated, but have fast become a more integrated and cost-effective approach to generating quality earned links to support online brand performance. Creating unique, independent content, which has been curated by a journalist, is far more valued by Google and consumers.
Step 2 - Brand owners simply can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach by producing static content. Ensure that copy is tailored for each publication and that its placement on the website is relevant, after all, offline advertorials are placed next to relevant stories and themes. It’s therefore well worth investigating regular and relevant online columns, topics and features to ensure there’s a natural fit.
Step 3 - Make sure content is flexible and varied. Consider using a range of online platforms such as video and images, in order to create a more eye-catching, as well as unique, online offering.
Step 4 - Use branded links, as well as no-follow links, as these can still count towards online brand equity by triggering readers to conduct manual searches. In generating referral traffic as opposed to specific rankings via do-follow links this will, if done properly, eventually drive positive online positioning. After all, those who take the time to use these as a way of searching manually are naturally going to be more serious about making a purchase, creating long-term interest in an offering as a result.
The days of generic link building are long gone and for those willing to work harder, this is a good thing. After all, creating unique content that is tailored around a destination, as well as potential customers, creates longevity and most importantly, trust – something which Google and consumers alike appreciate.
Alex Wares is managing director at search marketing agency Mediarun