Which things to fix, which links to build? This case-study shows how the penalized site Interflora can clean up their link profile AND build some awesome new backlinks without losing precious Link Juice. Read on and find out how you can learn from these examples!
Last week, digging deep into Interflora’s links, which were penalized we found a lot more spammy links than just excessive advertorials.
Today I want to answer the question I got in last week’s webinar about the case
What do you think should Interflora fix now?
Which links should Interflora build now?
I want to contibute some positive input for Interflora now with this.
Reminder: Google's guidelines on paid links that pass PageRank also apply to "advertorial" pages. See http://t.co/e7YluzHGas for more info.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 22, 2013
Well, doing cheap advertorials and spammy link wheels are probably not going to cut it, but removing all those would take away a lot of links.
How to proceed?
Let me be clear. Interflora has a LOT to cleanup.
Hundreds or thousands of spammy links have to go, but on the other hand, some quality links have to be built, no matter what.
You can’t get back rankings by simply removing links.
You have to make sure to get new links as well.
Here’s a list of opportunities Interflora could take right now
- Recover 60 or more great links they already had
- Find those 5 really great charities that your competitors support and link to already. That’s the best of all, your flower competitors already link to those, so you earn indirect link juice from them by putting yourself in the hotspot of the link graph
- Find the 11 universities where e.g. Employee Discounts will be greatly appreciated that Interflora don't have yet
- Maybe add another awesome link from Cambridge – making it 12 educational organziations
- Find 21 hot trending domains that don’t link to Interflora yet
- Go after those 4 more high profile sites where it really makes sense to get a link
- Track their competitors and own brand mentions with Link Alerts to ease future link building
- and the summary of course
That sums up to a whopping 101 great links that Interflora could go after TODAY.
YOU can learn from these examples!
CEMPER Power*Trust is now LRT PowerTrust
You may still see CEMPER Power*Trust™, CEMPER Power™ and CEMPER Trust™ on some screenshots in this case study.
In 2015, we renamed these metrics to LRT Power*Trust, LRT Power and LRT Trust to reflect the shortname of LinkResearchTools - which is LRT.
These 101 links will greatly outperform the bad stuff we saw last week.
Interflora will of course need more effort, thought and consideration in link building than in the past but hey, who thought that cheap tricks would work forever?
Best quote from the comments last week was
The problem with any grey hat stuff in general is: You are walking uphill towards a
cliff and you never know which step is one step too much. Especially if the
cliff itself moves backwards...
So let’s get going and try to be as clean as possible.
But beware: NONE of these links shall be built, before the WHAT-IF check of Link Detox said HEALTHY... (see below for more details also)
I had the feeling that when I started the Link Juice Recovery Tool (LJR) and got the results back after a minute that it would probably take me hours to dig thru results and find gold nuggets and links that were just wasted because of bad web-site management.
Because what I saw was that 25 pages, including the – former – index page done in ASPX had links to it, and probably some good ones, that were not reclaimed using 301 or REL-Canonical and didn’t have any content on them – i.e. returned an error code like 404 (page not found) to the surfer. See below how ugly that 404 page came around BTW, given that flowers are a highly emotional B2C niche.
Index page doesn’t redirect properly
As you can see above the old index page /default/aspx doesn’t redirect properly, so old links going to that old page are lost. An easy win if you ask me.
Another golden nugget found is this post here actually making you crave for sweets after reading those unbelievable 1550 words, excluding the ~60 comments it has.
Now that’s a food photographer blogging about all kinds of awesome and lusty food he shoots AND tied in the Blogger giveaway that Interflora did – with Easter hampers in that case.
I see in Quick Backlinks, that this particular page has 7 links to it (see below) from some quite OK websites with obviously natural anchor texts mentioned all those great fig macarons with lychees and what not...
I also see, that this blog is still active and just put up another post about awesome food recently, so I would say it’s nowhere close to the really poor spam links and auto-blogs we have seen in the last Interflora Deep Dive.
Check for yourself –frankly, I think this guy really overdid it a bit in terms of linking, but these THIS THIS THIS lists can be seen quite often with bloggers going euphoric J and that makes it look more natural IMHO again.
Now to be clear, this link was already earned. But broken!
It was active and worked into Interflora’s link profile.
And while I think it’s obvious that the blogger outreach and giveaway campaign helped get those links, the way the blogger built it into his post (which is huge and very natural) is also in a way that signals “editorial discretion” to me – exactly what Google wants. Nobody of the Interflora SEO team told him to use 5 x THIS and 1 x THESE. If they had told him link anchor texts, we would have probably seen Roses, Gifts for her, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day and similar money keyword phrases.
So one link goes to the world-wide delivery page for example:
and while I think that URL looks ugly, it certainly shouldn’t 404.
And especially not at an URL that says “Kernel, Error, Page not found”. OMG.
Besides - being directed to the URL www.interflora.co.uk/kernel/error.xml
AND having this pretty unpleasing and huge list of links presented when the system could have actually figured out what I was looking for from the broken deep link, doesn’t make use experience happy. Now be aware this is not only a user experience and SEO issue but will also cost sales for Interflora. If you have someone visiting such a deep link chances are he’s in shopping mood and presold from where he came from.
Plus, those people visiting the site via these older links in an organic way will bounce off and send yet another bad signal to Google.
There’s no feasible reason to make this end up in a 404 page, except lack of good SEO routine and/or a simply messed up shopping-cart system, which still shouldn’t be an excuse for a relaunch that wasn’t executed properly.
The buggy relaunch was probably the case here: the new url now seems to be “SEOed” to contain those more lucrative money keywords for international flower delivery in their URL
Whatever guys FIX that shop.
That one minute report revealed 25 pages that are gone, but have links
AND by double-checking actual link counts with QBL (Quick Back Links) we see that
Interflora could easily reclaim 60 (sixty!) links to pretty important pages.
As you can now see we have a lot of lost link data now and haven’t even looked at the next section for the subdomain “blog.interflora.co.uk” which seems to have lost a dozen links to pages as well ...
another dozen at least!
Even the non-WWW version of the Interflora.co.uk domain has links and currently returns a 404.
Oh well. That should be taken care of ASAP too.
By starting the Link Juice Thief (short LJT, which does a common outbound link analysis) we try to answer the question, which websites do my competitors link to, and in this case we used 11 flower sites and restricted it to show us only sites were at least two of them link to.
The result of 62 sites linked to by at least 2 competitors looks pretty exciting and promising in terms of LRT Power*Trust – looks like those are the trusted links that Interflora needs badly. Remember, last week we saw that their profile was lacking strong Power*Trust links a lot and wondered why they actually survived the Google Penguin update until recently.
Keep in mind, EACH of those 62 sites has at least 2 links from the competitors. By getting a link there we could put ourselves into the hotspot of the link graph and not only get that site link to us, but indirectly also the competitors J WOW - thought about that idea before?
Note: you could run it with commonalty factor 1 and get even more links that you don’t have, but we have to start easy, don’t we?
Let’s start by looking at these 4 great charities, filtering the column “Theme” in the Link Juice Thief app of LinkResearchTools.
As a company you can support the BHF to support makes their life-saving research possible. If that’s not a good cause, I don’t know what is. Two competitors of Interflora already do that.
And they got a page mentioning their support like this one for Arena Flowers
And that company got the chance to talk about their business and offer not only a discount but also (followed) links to their two BHF promotions on the site as you can see below:
Now, I think this placement is perfectly valid and natural from a reciprocal perspective and a donation of GBP 5000 is certainly not the peanuts you had to pay for poor link spam we saw in the Interflora deep dive or the advertorials at $150 or so that got the regional newspapers penalized.
However, it’s probably worth the question again, if Google would constitute this a paid link as well.
Payment doesn’t have to be in cash, similarly a TV station might link to me for appearing in a show, a newspaper will link to my site in an interview and an industry conference links to me if I run a discussion panel there. All of those contributions are not monetary but in form of content (did somebody say “content marketing”?) or actual work being performed (which is essential the same).
But you “EARN” such a link also - with your effort. Just like Arena did earn a favorable mention by donating a huge amount of money for a good cause.
The southeastern flower show is linked to be Proflowers and Serenata and if you checkout their homepage you see a pretty dominant sponsor logo area where I would say it would make sense from the topic and the link to support those as well – again getting indirect link juice from competitors.
Home Depot and others are already there, but no flower shops - weird actually...
Now http://www.buglife.org.uk/ makes a bit of sense in relation to flowers and is linked to by Charityflowers, but I’m not so sure about the Coeliac disease. People suffering from Coeliac disease need a life-long gluten-free diet, so maybe entering the food directory with Gluten-Free Hamper baskets mentioned would make a lot of sense and could result in a cool authority link as well.
By starting the popular Missing Links Tool (MLT) we can immediately find 614 links that link to at least 2 of their competitors. Of course we could have switched it to report EVERY link we are missing (by setting the commonalty to 1), but that would have resulted in thousands of links probably.
So let’s give these 614 a look first.
At first glance I see the following list and immediately notice some sites that DO link to a lot of competitors of Interflora, but are also marked as “Link Directory”.
That theme is not a good sign actually. We don't want links from link directories. Nobody does, anymore.
Clicking that "small plus sign" in that table of missing links that Interflora doesn’t have (now you got where the name Missing Link Tool comes from, ha?) allows to dig deeper so I find pretty well URL-optimized
pages that link out to all sorts of flower shops, like Chiff.com:
Doing a quick review of one of the pages at http://www.chiff.com/a/valentines-shop.htm
I see this page that really looks like a Made-For-Adsense (MFA) site to me with the purpose to rank for every keyword phrase that has “Valentine’s” in it...
And also has a bunch of sites that were supposedly taken from a Hitwise-list.
Now I wouldn’t recommend reaching out to get a link at first view of the page, although I wouldn’t call it a toxic site for either of those links either without deeper research. But then, keep in mind, a manual spam rater of Google could see this site as well and maybe decide from the gut (like I do) that it doesn’t add a lot of value.
So I decide to skip this one and filter reverse by LRT Power*Trust to hopefully have the strongest and trusted sites come up first
Not sure if Radio ads in Dallas make sense for Interflora, but probably not. But there are probably dozens of radio stations that Interflora is on anyways, do they have such directories?
Charity Flowers support the Prostate Cancer UK charity by donating 15% of their revenue (WOW) to support the charity if you enter the code PCC with your order. Now I think that’s a nice idea and definitely needs mention at the charity too.
What do you think? Isn’t that a great cause and way to support others with your sales success?
Would you call this 15% revenue donation “paying for a link”? I have a hard time believing it, and really think Charity Flowers wins with this too, not only by the link.
I am sure other charities would love similar support by either Charity Flowers or Interflora, Corporate responsibility is something that goes a lot further than just building great links and helps build your brand on- and offline.
And guess what – it appears Arena Flowers is already doing that already with flowershop.cancerresearchuk.org where their backend is integrated – and of course it gives some nice anchored links back to Arena in the footer – just like a ton on web agencies link back to them from the site’s they build as well.
I think Arena deserves these credits and I’m surprised they are so hidden at all.
It’s at least an inspiration, because as you can imagine, charity donations AND discounts combine well for press coverage on news pages like this
That article btw also linked to a lot other flower stores as it was a market price comparison, but you can imagine that a charity flower shop earns other links and a lot easier than just a commercial one.
Think that this whole charity thing doesn’t work? Think twice and look at this link
I say FANCY. Very fancy link 🙂
Of course I found this in the “Missing Link” report by restricting to ac.uk.
If you want .edu links – there’s plenty more – just restrict by “education” in the Theme or “.edu” in the domain. And of course American .edus are usually stronger than any other universities, thanks to their international focus and link profile. Cambridge tough is based on previous research I made in the good middle field along with Oxford compared to .edus. And, it’s Cambridge, which is a really cool think for a UK company 🙂
Now another way to view these “missing” links is of course by Link Velocity Trend (LVT) and my sorting/filtering to only get those fast growing link profiles we find sites that are currently on the hype on the web, and a link from there will help us / you join the hype again.
As we see in the chart visible by choosing “LVT” for break down, there are quite a lot of sites in the missing links that are experiencing a reducing number of new links per month (LVT is defined as link growth of the last 4 months vs. the last 12 months).
So who are these hot striving sites still not linking to Interflora?
With a quick scroll to the right in this really huge table we set the filters to LVT = 0.1% or bigger and LV4m (the link growth of the last 4 month 1 new linking domain or more).
We get back 21 domains that are not linking to us yet, AND we see a couple huge sites in there by checking out the “KwDomain” column. KwDomain stands for “Keywords the domain ranks for” – so you see that a domain with 5 figure number of keywords ranking for should be fairly established, trusted AND has a growing link trends.
Don’t get me wrong, domains with a couple hundred keywords ranking rock the boat as well, but those jumbos caught my eye immediately and scanning the columns for Power and Trust you see there are some nice and strong sites among.
Some of the huge sites are
On portfolios that remind me of Pinterest people collect stuff to resemble their “style”.
Guess what – the vendors are linked with follow links – at least for now.
Nice. But probably not working in a couple weeks anymore.
Mumsnet – a huge community
This is another huger site that stood out – it has no follow links, but I think I’ve explained my stance on No Follow links a million times. If they are on trusted, moderated sites – like Wikipedia for example – they simply BELONG to a link graph.
Well and looking at the Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA) reports from last week’s analysis we see that Interflora’s profile could still bear a couple more no follows and still look natural compared to the competition.
This is true for Interflora both in relative numbers as well as absolute, as you see below.
So there's some legroom for No Follows here.
So based on above inspirations I thought we can go and look for some new linking opportunities, and specifically I wanted to target charity donations, which I do with the SERP Research Tools.
Giving it a couple keywords and settings it will scour Google.co.uk in English in this case and come back to me with results ranking well for those keywords as well as my beloved SEO metrics like
Link Velocity or Power*Trust that will help me big time to filter what I got.
The good thing is, those 200 results per keyword make up 1000 results theoretically, but all the dupes are taken out already.
I will also have a filter to not having to look at domains already linking to Interflora.
So that’s how I start SERP for this case.
And guess what. Those 1000 theoretical results are distilled down to only 71 unique. Can you believe it?
Well those very pretty strict queries, and as you can see the right ones, as our example British Heart Foundation shows up again as one of 5 results as soon as I restrict to “Charitable Organizations” again.
We’ve seen that case already and of course drilling down into the others would blow up this huge post even more,...
Tracking down your competition isn’t easy, but it should be an on-going process. Therefore setup a link alert for your own site (to see spam links coming in etc.) and your competitor domains (to find their golden nuggets ASAP).
The final step of course would be to go with a prospect list of links (saved from your favorites) in Link Detox to evaluate the risk associated with potential future links. Managing the risk of new links becomes a crucial new method.
This mode simulates what would happen IF you had the links that you don’t have yet.
And as you can see below it’s pretty straightforward to start the DTOX tool like that.
As you can see we quickly explored multiple options for links that are a lot stronger, natural and more worthwhile to
explore for Interflora (and other flower shops) than the stuff we found last week in the “Interflora Deep-Dive”.
Some of these options might still seem questionable I think if you keep in mind that the future of link building will
not be about the cost per link but the “risk vs. reward” view then you should be fine for your sites.
DO try this at home!
If you don’t have an account for Link Research Tools, you should get one now
to dive deep using the advanced tools LJT, MLT, SERP just like here
(use the Superhero plan, it has all features).
If you are interested in training and to become a LRT Certified Professional then do not miss the next LRT Associate training - it could be FREE for you.
Let me know – which links would YOU recommend for Interflora?
Christoph C. Cemper