Interflora SEOAfter recently penalising Interflora, the UK based flower delivery website, Google has now issued a stern warning to any website found selling links that pass PageRank. Google has said for years that selling links that pass PageRank violates their quality guidelines

Back in 2007 Google publically announced that selling paid links can lead to a penalty, so they are calling this new announced regarding this issue a “reminder”. In this most recent public warning Google has specifically targeted the use of advertorials as a form of paid linking.

Interflora is one of the most recent victims of Google’s enforcement of its rules on paid linking. Interflora appears to have been unnaturally link building by placing linked advertisements within articles on over 150 regional news sites all over the UK. It has been suggested that Interflora has been providing bloggers with free gifts in return for links on their websites.

Google has pulled the SEO ranking of Interflora for not only its own brand name – Interflora – but all its industry specific terms too. Previously Interflora used to be at the top of Google for keywords such as ‘flowers’, ‘flower delivery’ and ‘florist’ but no longer has ranking for any of these terms anymore. Interflora has now had to resort to using Google Adwords to achieve exposure in Google’s search engine.

The cause of Interflora’s drop from Google is still speculation but in light of Google’s recent actions towards them plus this new statement by Google does seem to suggest this is the reason for their red card along with several UK newspapers.

matt cutts seoMatt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, has made an official announcement on Google’s Webmaster Blog stating “Please be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or “advertorial” pages on your site that pass PageRank. Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations. The consequences for a linkselling site start with losing trust in Google’s search results, as well as reduction of the site’s visible PageRank in the Google Toolbar. The consequences can also include lower rankings for that site in Google’s search results.”

Cutts then went on to explain that if you are selling links then you will receive a notification message in your Webmaster tools that states “possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank.” This is an indication that your site has lost trust in Google’s index and you have been caught selling links that pass PageRank. If you receive a warning then it is up to you to take action by removing the paid links from your website and submitting a reconsideration request.

Cutts concluded by saying  “We do take this issue very seriously, so we recommend you avoid selling (and buying) links that pass PageRank in order to prevent loss of trust, lower PageRank in the Google Toolbar, lower rankings, or in an extreme case, removal from Google’s search results.”

So herd this warning by Google and avoid selling or even buying links that pass PageRank so that you do not violate their quality guidelines. If you are aware you already have such links existing then find and remove these paid links or advertorial pages.  If you do choose to sell links on your website then make sure the paid hyperlinks have the rel=”nofollow” attribute.