A number of websites belonging to regional newspaper groups have been affected by a Google clampdown on paid link building. Various media outlets have been severely affected, along with some smaller regional news sites. Among those affected are the Yorkshire Post, Liverpool Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo. The PageRank of each of the newspaper sites has been dropped, in some cases to zero. It is believed that the Google action has been taken in response to an Interflora campaign which posted advertorials containing paid links.
The PageRank score of the Daily Post has been slashed to 3, while the PR for the Liverpool Echo is now 2, a penalty imposed by Google which could have a huge impact on site traffic. Previously, the newspaper sites would have had a PR of around 6. Only two national newspapers are thought to have been affected, with the PR of Scotsman and Independent being slashed to 3 and 4 respectively.
Smaller news sites in the region have been harshly affected, with PR being reduced to zero for some. Interflora placed at least 150 advertorials on regional newspaper sites around the UK, with some containing paid links which is viewed by Google as being “unnatural”. This type of search engine optimisation, widely known as ‘black hat’, is a violation of the guidelines set out by the search engine company.
Google plays a huge role in the business of any company, whether in Liverpool or LA, but violation of its guidelines can have a devastating effect. An effective SEO campaign shouldn’t rely on use of paid links or any other “unnatural” SEO techniques.