Interflora vs Google: Risk Management for your Links and SEO
Christoph Cemper covers how the Interflora penalty can help you identify risk management for your links in 2013.
2012 was the year of the Penguin, and more black and white animals will be making updates too. This has made us have to clean up toxic links. Lots of us are doing it, regardless of whether we admit it or not. The past dirty practices to do shady link build has now gone and, to be honest, am surprised it took Google this long to make these updates.
At one point all you had to do is get enough links – it was a numbers game. Most of these would be bad links so big sites who needed large numbers were hit too – not just Interflora – which was [in Cemper's opinion] a PR stunt. Reeds Jewlers, Debt Consolidation and Conert Hotels was another example of a large brand that was hit. One thing that you can see with Penguin losers are the quantity of untrusted links. So, what did Interflora do wrong?
- PR Links – Interflora used a lot of exact anchor text matches and had them inserted within the body of the text. Not enough variation was done.
- Comment spam – this was used and are so hard to get removed.
- Ads in sidebars – this is such an old tactic that for some reason was being used for a long time
The economy and tempting offers. Seeing an offer with 100’s of guaranteed links etc etc is too good to be true… because it is. Stay away from this. Using the competitive landscape analyzer can help you identify what the link landscape is like so you can compare your own efforts with theirs.
Directories for $$$ is also something you should steer clear of them. Even Moz’s own directory isn’t safe. You really need to look closesly at these directories – choose your niche, topic, country or city to ensure you’re listed on the most relevant directory.
Matt Cutts has spoken about about Penguin 2.0 a lot and said this would be the most talked about algorithm update this year. You therefore have to rethink what you’re doing right now, and decide whether there are any real quality links once cleanup has finished. You could go as far as saying save time and money and ditch the domain altogether.
So, What should you Do?
Get some link risk management. Diverse your link building budget by distributing work between different agencies. However, this comes with its own problems that you need to maintain.
Audit your links today. Consider disavow, manual removal and prepare new outreach efforts to counterbalance the removed links. Build a CRM system for every link built so you can reach them again if you’re in trouble.
Do not make Google looks stupid though – be a good merchant, however, never make a reconsideration request unless you know it’s an absolute last resort. Also ensure you minimise technical issues as well as your general links strength.
Also, look at competitors backlink profile and get the healthiest links for yourself.
Why Check Links?
Could be OK for your domain, but suspicious for other domains. A link isn’t just a link any more. So, you need to make a checklist:
- Is the link technically OK?
- Can I show this link to Matt Cutts?
- Can I show this link to [insert competitor here]?
- Am I able to remove that link?
When link building, now think of the bigger picture and not just about a single link. You need to keep learning – “Anyone who decides to stop learning is old, whether you’re twenty or eighty.”
Bad Merchants is also something you need to be aware of. If you’re dealing with a brand with a brand reputation, this may now start to also be included as a ranking factor (based on a quote from Matt Cutts in March 2013).
Check links with traffic too – as generally a link with good traffic is a good thing. Again, look at the bigger picture. Stop using bad anchors! Since 2008 this was advice, but now it’s really easy to mess up when abusing this, so much so that negative SEO is becoming easier.