They say a short cut is the longest route between two points and it seems as regards the Google penalties on Interflora’s ranking this is most certainly the case.

Google dished out the penalties on Tuesday that hit one of Europe’s largest flower sellers – the crime? Buying links in newspaper advertorials. Google has been warning about buying paid links for nearly half a decade now.

It seems that Google penalised a range of UK newspapers alongside the flower company, suggesting that Interflora was flouting the power of its posies over the office bound journos, who were more than happy to take flora as payment of advertorials with backlinks – a black hat flower arrangement if you will.

Adverts and Handwringing

Of course, search for ‘Interflora’ and you’ll still be greeted by their adverts at the top of search, though not in the organic listings. For those who can’t decipher the difference between PPC and organic search, there won’t even be a realisation of what’s happened.

It’s not the people searching specifically for the company name in the search engine that’s going to cause the most harm and damage the brand; it’s the prime keyword drop that will. Here, Interflora will be replaced with a number of competitors, who must be wringing their hands at its demise, while also worrying about their own strategies.

Interflora still ranks top for a number of keywords though has fallen by the wayside for many of the prime keywords it once ranked top for – this is going to hurt their bottom-line of course.

Now, we’re not sure how much money, time and effort Interflora has invested in its online marketing efforts over the previous decade or so, but we could estimate it at a lot. As we’ve mentioned earlier, Google has touted paid links as a problem for a time now – so, in short. What was Interflora thinking?

Matt Cutts Paid Links Tweet

Arguments and Issues

There’s of course a school of thought that we have to pay for PPC clicks, Google this and Google that, so what’s wrong with paying for a paper advertorial, or any links for that matter? Well, the issue is Google is a service and a business and it has its own T&Cs. You don’t go into a bank, ask for a loan and pay it back when you feel like it – there are terms and conditions and buying links has been part of these T&Cs and one that’s well known to cause issues. And whether you agree with or not, or even whether it’s morally right or not Google is the ref – so what it says goes.

Of course, it often takes a high profile case before these discussions come to the fore. There has been similar issues before with BMW in 2006 and some others prior to this, but not to the same extent.

For businesses, a belts and braces approach is required. We should all be aware that with link building and SEO, you pay for what you get. A poor SEO business will offer you the short term black hat driven results, an average company scrapes by on what works currently, while a good company will future proof SEO.

Know thyself and Google

To be frank, the only way for you to be certain you are getting what’s best for your company is to keep close tabs on SEO yourself and hire a top quality company. As you may well know, though most of the public doesn’t, Google is not some magical machine, where the biggest and best rise to the top. There’s so much going on behind the scenes.

Google is a tool billions use every day, but a tiny fraction understand how it works, even in part. However, like any tool you use for your business, you should understand how it works and if not using it yourself, hire the best to use it for you – this applies to SEO and all else.