Here are 7 thoughts on the 'Interflora Penalty' saga, now that Google appear to have lifted the penalty:1
). Interflora are now back ranking again in organic search for 'Interflora', having disappeared on 20th February. (disappearance was brilliantly covered by +martin macdonald
, reappearance was spotted by +Chris Gilchrist
). Though they're top again for 'Interflora', and very high for 'Flower Delivery', they're still way down the rankings for 'Flowers', where they were previously really high.3
). They're still 'multiple bidding' on their own brand via PPC ads, with ads leading to interflora.co.uk
, and interfloraflowers.com
. Although this now dips between 2 & 3 ads, whereas it was a solid 3 ads whenever. (many pointed out that this seems
to be against Google's 'Double Serving' policy: http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?hl=en-GB&answer=2600168
). While the penalty was in place, Interflora's Google+ page was not
shown linked from a Google search for 'Interflora'. That now appears in the right-hand pane on a Google search for their name.5
). The timing of this is really interesting: The penalty hit just after Valentine's Day, and has been lifted well in time for Mother's Day. The sunday before Mother's Day is the start of the peak period for Mother's Day searches. Can it be coincidence that the penalty is lifted today?
Take a look at the graph of searches for "Mother's Day Flowers" last year - note the big shift up on the Sunday prior: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=mother's%20day%20flowers&geo=GB&date=3%2F2012%201m&cmpt=q6
). That timing's very similar to the famous JC Penney penalty, which hit at a time that meant very bad PR within the SEO industry, but 'minimal' impact in terms of their revenue. I don't know if that's deliberate, but it would seem very sensible from a PR point of view for Google.7
). Interflora are well known in relation to Google. They had a long-running issue with M&S, related to AdWords, which eventually culminated in this judgement: http://www.barker.dj/blog/inteflora-vs-marks-and-spencer-ecj
. They spend an enormous amount of money with Google, and I can imagine if something like this were perceived to have 'unfairly' damaged Interflora's business, they would not keep quiet about it.
Google never explicitly stated so, but very strongly hinted that the Interflora penalty was due to 'advertorial' links to Interflora's main site (although quite a few people pointed out that there seemed to be much more going on). A fairly big cleanup operation happened around their advertorial links immediately after the penalty hit - it will be really interesting to hear if there was much communication between their agency & Google about that, and the timings of that in relation to the penalty lifting.