What happens when you are a merchant gets hit with a Google penalty? Well the merchants affiliates end up ranking for their domain. This happend at the end of last week in the UK when Inerflora was hit with a manual penalty from Google. The interflora penalty casued the brand to lose total visibility for their brand searches.
Here you can see Vouchercodes and Monneysupermarket ranking for brand search queries. OOpps!
So what happened? Further to their aggressive link building, they went all out for advertorials as spotted by Dave Naylor’s team:
Any good SEO Agency knows, when you’re preparing for a Seasonal Event, such as Valentines or Mothers Day (in this instance, Valentines Day), the build up begins months before the event, to ensure a good placement has been achieved with plenty of time to spare. Interflora were exceptionally aggressive throughout January, preparing for Valentines, placing we estimate 150+ Advertorials on Regional News Sites all over the UK.
This was later confirmed in a (but not directly) by Matt Cutts:
Reminder: Google’s guidelines on paid links that pass PageRank also apply to “advertorial” pages. See goo.gl/PhwsY for more info.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 22, 2013