After their spectacular fall from grace, due to the purchase of too many paid-link advertorials, it seems Google has lifted much of the penalty they applied to Interflora.co.uk. No doubt eyebrows within the SEO community will be raised at the speed of their recovery.
As you can see from my analysis below, kindly supplied by Searchmetrics, the domain has not only bounced-back on their main brand terms, “interflora” and “interflora UK” but across many high-volume generics, such as “florist”, “funeral flowers” and “hampers”.
The only terms they have made zero progress on, languishing on the 13th page, are the broad generics “valentines day” and “mothers day”, the former keyword term being targeted in the advertorials that caused the ban. Maybe an indication of a lasting SERP-level penalty. However I imagine Interflora are fairly happy coming into Mother’s Day at 9th position, than their 50+ position of last week; with a prospect of further improvements.
The recovery of Interflora.co.uk has been significantly faster than most would expect, for such a serious ban in Google. In 2011, J.C. Penney got called out by the New York Times for their linking scheme, and banned by Google, only recovering after 3 months.
Another factor to benefit brands, is that users expect their websites to be present in searches, blaming the search engine if they fail to appear. As Bing Director Stefan Weitz explained in relation to the J.C. Penney case.
Google initially responded by blocking the entire JC Penney domain for a few days. We thought that hurt the users because we did the same thing in a test. We blocked all JC Penney internally and asked our human ranking systems “does this result for the search phrase “comforters” look better or worse after this change?” Everyone said it looked worse because they expected to see JC Penney there.
So should we be suprised that Interflora made such a quick recovery? In a relatively small niche, their absence would be keenly felt by users and regulators alike. Or did Google relent once the advertorials were taken down, having made their point. Your thoughts are welcome below.