Flower delivery network Interflora and online travel brand Expedia have both been hit with Google penalties in the past for artificially raising their rankings on Google search.
Learn why, so your business doesn’t make the same mistakes.
In an increasingly cluttered online environment, where achieving any kind of “cut through” is an accomplishment in itself, the temptation (for some operators) to somehow cheat the system is always there.
One of the fields in which dirty tactics and shady techniques have been particularly prolific is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the catch-all term used to describe any strategy or method that aims to maximise a website's ranking or placement in the unpaid search results of a search engine (eg. Google, Bing or Yahoo).
SEO consultant Mark Walters warns that Google in particular is extremely proactive in weeding out businesses who seek to improve their website ranking unfairly, and has been known to punish them accordingly.
“Your whole site can be penalised or just specific pages of it,” he says in a blog on the SEO Mark website.
“If too many of your pages breach Google’s guidelines, it’s possible for every page on your site to be penalised as a consequence – even the pages that don’t breach any of the guidelines.”
“In some instances, your site may be completely removed from Google’s index, however, the most common scenario is that it will drop 10-100 positions in the search results for multiple keywords. If your site drops just a few positions in the search results, it’s very doubtful that it’s received a penalty.”
High profile companies such as flower delivery network Interflora and online travel brand Expedia have both been hit with Google penalties in the past for artificially raising their rankings on Google search.
Interflora was caught out providing freebies to a bunch (excuse the pun) of bloggers and temporarily disappeared from the search results for hundreds of search terms including “flowers”, “florist” and “flower delivery”, while Expedia was busted using similar “black hat” techniques and saw a 25% drop in search visibility for a number of key terms including “travel” and “flights”.
As such, if you're looking to engage outside help in improving your search rankings, it's absolutely essential to find a company that is committed to playing within the rules and therefore avoiding any kind of short or medium-term disciplinary action.
It's also critical that any SEO provider you might engage is experienced in the field, has experienced staff, and has a proven, unblemished track record in helping a wide range of businesses improve their search rankings.
With an SEO client base of more than 1,300 companies at present, Sensis, for example, provides a range of above-the-board, trustworthy SEO products at several price points, all of which include a number of built-in optimised keywords and access to expert advice.
Underperforming keywords can also be changed in order to refine your optimisation efforts, although three months is a recommended starting point for any particular word to “gain traction”.
Monthly reports are also provided, with details on the performance of your website and how you're ranking on search engines like Google. You'll also receive a follow-up phone call from your account manager to discuss these results.