This is a quick post, but I’ve heard a lot about this recently and whilst http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/interflora-what-really-happened.html offers some interesting information on the matter and I’m hugely inclined to agree that the volume of advertorials here was just insane. That is NOT the only cause.
The fact is their backlink profile was pretty poor anyway. See below
I could go through their profile and let’s call it “grey hat” link building history but there really shouldn’t be much need, Interflora did have a pretty nasty profile as you can see above and if we look at the volume in which they built (see below again) this clearly does not look natural. They got such a harsh penalty for clearly being manipulative.
The advertorials themselves are poor quality and clearly just for SEO. The fact is Advertorials themselves can be a legitimate part of a marketing mix and Google’s own advice is just to make sure that they’re no followed. Although to be honest I’d err on the side of caution on buying them at all for a while at least.
And you can bet all of the thisis, people and other effected networks will be doing this pretty much immediately anyway.
“To address the issue, make sure that any paid links on your site don’t pass PageRank. You can remove any paid links or advertorial pages, or make sure that any paid hyperlinks have the rel=”nofollow” attribute reconsideration request and if you had a manual webspam action on your site, someone at Google will review the request. After the request has been reviewed, you’ll get a notification back about whether the reconsideration request was granted or not.”
Now a lot of people have recently received unnatural warnings as a result of these advertorial networks, but I’d advise people not to panic too much. Remove the obvious offenders, but don’t go overboard, don’t stop building non advertorial links and don’t sit and wait. The fact is it couldn’t just be advertorials themselves that caused the penalty of this magnitude because I can point out plenty of sites engaging in building even larger numbers (albeit over a longer time frame) and they have simply received warnings. The agressiveness of the campaign possibly, but it is highly unlikely you will get wiped out of the index for having an advertorial.
The Warning in question “We’ve detected that some of the links pointing to your site are using techniques outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
We don’t want to put any trust in links that are unnatural or artificial, and we recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realize that some links may be outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action to reduce trust in the unnatural links. If you are able to remove any of the links, you can submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took.” is the one that we as SEO’s consider to be the “wishy washy” one, which means you aren’t definitely going to get a penalty.
In terms of what to do if you’ve received one of these, best to remove any of the links which are likely to cause offence, but other than that carry on as normal. If you stop all activity that will give off even more warning signs.