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Joe Friedlein is the founder of Browser Media, a UK based search engine marketing agency. 

Browser Media has been the victim of a Google penalty which has seen its pages almost disappear from the SERPs. 

I've been asking Joe about the possible reasons for the penalty and his frustration at the Kafkaesque nature of Google's (non)communication with webmasters. 

Rumour has it that you have been having ‘issues’ with your own search rankings recently - not an ideal situation for a search marketing agency?

Yes, we have been having a bit of a nightmare and are in the midst of trying to resolve a penalty on our website. 

Going public about it does indeed put us on a pedestal for ridicule, but we have built the agency on a foundation of complete transparency and I think that there are questions to be asked and lessons to be learned for us all. I hope that a public debate can help benefit the wider online community. 

We are also not the only SEO agency to have been hit with a penalty and I was interested to read Will Reynolds from the highly respected SEER Interactive blog about some pain that they recently felt, despite also advocating an ethical approach to SEO.

It is perhaps this last point that has made the journey somewhat painful for us. Anyone who has spoken to us will know how OCD we are about approaching SEO in an ethical manner. We have always embraced Google’s guidelines and it is therefore especially frustrating to end up in Google’s bad books!

Why do you think you have been penalised?

The irony of this situation is that I am fairly certain that the root cause of the headache was a good bit of content creation on our blog.

We published an infographic at that did a very good job of attracting interest (and links). We did very little to publicise the fact that it was there but a lot of sites picked up on it following a few mentions on popular, high traffic sites (including Econsultancy who blogged about it) so there was a definite spike in link activity and overall ‘noise’.

Not only was the increase in link acquisition fairly marked but a lot of the links would have appeared to have been over-optimised due to the use of ‘seo agency’ in the blog post title. 

I can absolutely see why this may have caused some waving of red flags over at the Googleplex and we received the dreaded ‘unnatural links’ warning in Google Webmaster Tools three days after the spike in link activity. 

What were the effects of the penalty? 

Very shortly after that, we vanished from the SERPs. Pages are still indexed but it is mighty hard to find us, even for our brand name. I have no doubt that our off-page profile is the problem although I would like to think that a manual review of the links that the infographic attracted would have showed that it was actually a good example of good content working well rather than a manipulated event.

I would also hope that the quality of the sites linking to the infographic would help to show that it was worthy of links rather than a spammy link building exercise. 

We have subsequently spent a lot of time looking through our backlink profile to try to identify anything dodgy.

Over the years, we have submitted our site to various directories, which tend to be ‘keyword rich’ links, but I think the following graph (which compares the profile of keywords used in our links to those used in links pointing to sites ranking well for ‘seo agency’) proves that we cannot be accused of manipulating the keywords used in our back links:

I therefore believe that the spike in links following the publication of the infographic created an automated red flag and that Google’s recent aggressive actions against ‘unnatural’ links plunged us into the quagmire.

One other theory that we looked at is the somewhat frightening spectre of ‘negative seo’ (where you try to destroy competitors by building poor quality links to their sites), but I can’t see any real evidence that this has occurred.

There are a few odd links to our site that I am baffled by (I have no idea why they are there) but there are very few and it would be very alarming if they could topple a site.

Do you think that negative SEO is a real threat?

There is no doubt that this is a worrying possibility and some of the examples that have surfaced (mainly on the other side of the Atlantic) suggest that recent Google changes have increased the likelihood of negative SEO working, so I do believe that this is an issue that needs to be monitored carefully.

Historically, ‘bad’ quality links were generally ignored (i.e they didn’t help improve rankings for the destination site). It does now appear that your link profile can actively damage your rankings and the well publicised increase in ‘unnatural links’ warnings in webmaster tools shows that Google is on the warpath.

If it is possible for bad links to wipe you out, rather than not help, the logical conclusion is that negative SEO can work.

I think that this is especially true for smaller brands or newer sites that do not have a large volume of aged links, although a sudden spike in spammy links may well get you in hot water whoever you are.

Matt Cutts has been on record saying that this is not possible, but I am no longer as reluctant to believe the scaremongers as I used to be. 

The debate will continue, but I raise my hat to Rand Fishkin’s (of SEOmoz) challenge to anyone to take him out through negative SEO. What a great link building strategy, as you can be mighty sure that Google won’t let them be hurt by it...

Do you think that Google does enough to communicate with webmasters?

Yes and (mainly) no. In Google’s defence, nobody pays for the organic results and no site has a right to rank well so they don’t really have any immediate obligation to offer support for the organic search, but I think that there is a growing tide of resentment towards the search engine that could be appeased through improved levels of communication.

Google’s webmaster tools is potentially very good but I do feel that it is a half-hearted effort and there is so much more that could be done to improve communication with website owners. 

For example, if they can tell you that they believe that your site does not meet its quality guidelines, why not provide a bit more information regarding why they believe this to be the case? 

You could argue that this would just encourage the spammers to carry on plying their trade and wait for slapped wrists by Google who would then point out exactly where they have overstepped the mark, but if Google really wants to ‘improve the internet’ then I think it is in everyone’s interests for them to be more transparent.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t be penalised for trying to game the system (I actively encourage Google to stamp down on spam), but it is frustrating when you are told that you have been naughty but there is no indication of what you have done wrong. 

We immediately filed a reinclusion request outlining our fears that the infographic may have been the cause of an unnatural spike in links,  but that was met with a standard ‘we've reviewed your site and we believe that some or all of your pages still violate our quality guidelines’ message and a link to their help forums, which are definitely weak and apparently ignored by Google themselves. 

It is incredibly frustrating and the sense that there is a brick wall between you and Google causes a lot of site owners to start looking at tactics that Google wants to stamp out. 

What would you like to see in the future from Google?

As I mentioned, there is no contract between webmasters and Google and Google does not make any money directly from their organic search results so they have no obligation in terms of support levels.

I actually think that this is a golden opportunity. Some form of paid for SLA would be hugely attractive for all serious webmasters. This works well for AdWords and Google Apps (I have seen varying degrees of quality in terms of their support, but they do communicate when you have a problem) and I suspect that Google could make a fortune from an official support channel, so it is something that I would love to see.

Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that you could bypass any penalties by paying a subscription fee, but I think that a clear statement of how to communicate with Google and published response times would reduce the frustration that is felt by so many site owners.

I also think that any potential SLA should include clear details of what to expect if you game the system. For example, if Google states that buying links will get you a 6 month penalty, then there can be no complaints from anyone who undertakes such activity.

Paying for support would not get you out of jail, but you would at least be told that you have had been punished and shown why. 

This would also help to address concerns over the threat of negative SEO. If you can see which links are at fault, it will become clear very quickly if there is any malpractice at play.

Personally, I think that this should be included within Google’s webmaster tools - the ability to say ‘ignore these links’ should be available as it would instantly render negative SEO pointless. Technically, this should be possible and would be a much easier step to take than building an official support channel.

I generally like to avoid bureaucracy and ‘officialdom’ but Google is so powerful now that it surprises me that a level of governance isn’t being considered. It makes me laugh to see how health and safety legislation gets in the way of pretty much everything whilst Google, which can make or break businesses, escapes any form of accountability.

What lessons have you learned from the experience?

To be honest, we are still in the learning phase as we still haven’t recovered nor are we any closer to knowing for sure what caused the penalty, but it has been an interesting experience!

I am through the anger (rage?) phase but still feel frustrated that it has happened at all. Not because we are good two shoes (although we have worked tirelessly to support Google’s ambition to stamp out spammy SEO), but because it rocked my belief in ethical SEO. If you try so hard to do it ‘properly’ and still get stung then it is easy to be tempted to the dark side. 

It is even more frustrating to think that the effort we put into the infographic may actually have been the catalyst for the penalty - that hardly encourages us to focus on content...

Another major frustration has been seeing what other SEO agencies are up to (notably, some of the sites that are ranking well for ‘seo agency’ related phrases). I am not going to hang out any dirty laundry, but there are some hideous examples of link spamming that really should have been detected but appear to be working very well.

There is a school of thought that SEO will become more aggressive in terms of ‘outing’ poor practice by your competitors. That isn’t for me (I would rather focus on doing good things) but you can see why this approach is growing in popularity.

I have always said that relying on organic traffic is a very, very risky strategy for any organisation, but this experience has reinforced that belief. Most of our organic search traffic is to our blog and that rarely converts to enquiries but it has been extremely frustrating to witness the disappearance for brand related search terms.

Not knowing when the situation will be resolved is very difficult to deal with - this is why I now believe that a paid support option would be beneficial.

No organisation is perfect and I think that most would agree that Google falls into this camp. We have not seen any penalties on any of our clients’ sites (which have typically faired very well from the recent Penguin update), so I remain confident that an ethical approach is the best approach for long term success, but things can go wrong and you need to be prepared for the worst. We are now very well equipped to truly appreciate the pain that you feel when you are hit with a penalty. 

It has definitely made me think harder about the secretive nature of Google as an organisation and I really do think that time is running out for the frontier days - something needs to change and I hope that my suggestion of a paid support option is something that may be on Google’s radar.

Graham Charlton

Published 12 June, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (25)

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I TOTALLY sympathise with you Joe, as having stuck to all the (very vague) Google rules, our site has been pretty much wiped from the face of the planet as a result of the recent changes, although we've had no warning at all about what we've done wrong.

There's a similar irony to your case in that we've observed our competitors rising rapidly up the rankings thanks to buying paid links, which we've avoided doing in the belief that Google would eventually "find them out". We're are however still waiting on that one...

I suppose the one plus side is that it's highlighted just how unimportant Bing and Yahoo are in relation to Google - our SERPS on both of those have been doing better than ever, but we've still lost about 80% of our traffic simply by being much lower on Google.

over 4 years ago


Andrew McGarry

The SEO industry's definition of ethical and natural is different to Google's.

Evidence suggests that unnatural anchor text backlinks above a certain ratio will penalise you.

If you want to rank for "seo agency", or any generic term, be smarter about your overall backlink profile.

Going public about it is the first step to getting media outlets to link to Browser Media which will start to repair the damage.

I'd swap the word victim to recipient though. It's less suggestive of innocence ;)

over 4 years ago



Gosh Internet-cottages, someone must be getting you all these spammy links that are tanking your rankings then http://visitmuskoka.com/links.htm

Someone must also be putting a lot of time into all the links you are getting from PRweb

You should hunt them down!

Also find the bastard who seems to have installed a 1983 site design and laboured you with spammy link heavy footers

I suggest you also contact facebook, google and twitter about the faulty sharing buttons, someone seems to stolen all the numbers!


over 4 years ago



@Internet-Cottages you might look at cleaning up your footer, way too many anchor text rich links there. That's more than likely the case for your "penalty"...

over 4 years ago


Dan Farmer, Digital Marketing Manager at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity

I completely agree. We had recurrent issues with our homepage not being indexed and despite the collective scratching of heads of several agencies and in-house IT and Digital teams the issue took over 12 months to resolve.

Throughout the process we could find no help from Google whatsoever. There was no commercial imperative to this - we are a children's hospital that treats and mainly want to make sure parents and patients can find information about the hospital easily. The lack of any kind of support or advice from Google other than the (useless) forums was hugely frustrating.

over 4 years ago

Christopher Rose

Christopher Rose, PPC Marketing Director at Rose Digital Marketing

I completely sympathise with your problem and agree with you that Google need to do far more to help businesses of all kinds.

They are currently the premier search engine and use it as the driver of their vast profits yet their customer and user support varies between the semi-competent to the non-existent.

The semi-competent support comes from their cash cow Adwords, where they use a team of fairly well trained and mostly likeable people as gobetweens to the presumably more highly trained people that actually make the decisions. There are often times when having access to these "higher level" people would be both more helpful and efficient but that is not allowed.

As to all the rest of their products, the best you can get is delving into one of their many forums, which is completely random and inefficient and often a complete waste of time.

The net result of this seems to be a rapidly increasing amount of hostility towards and a loss of respect for the once almost universally liked Google.

As to their search engine, it has been producing less useful and more time wasting results for some considerable time now.

The integration of social into the results just adds to the clutter and noise with little real benefit to the searcher.

The recent change of product search to a paid model also seems designed to do little except bolster their already high profit margins; undoubtedly higher because of the paucity of support they offer...

I for one have started using a combination of Wikipedia and Bing as my primary search tools and been getting better results faster.

Watching Google seemingly attempting to transform itself from its much admired "do no evil" good guy role into the next AOL or Yahoo! is nothing but depressing and a little predictable, albeit disappointing.

What may add serious impetus to this slide is if the rumours that one or both of Amazon or Facebook are looking at introducing a search engine prove to be true...

over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

@Internet-Cottages Thank you for the sympathy!

Your issue is slightly different to ours as it appears to be an algorithmic change rather than a penalty.

Why do I think that? If you search for 'internet cottages', you can still see your site and you have sitelinks etc. We can't even be found for our own brand.

I have no doubt that you are feeling the pain if you have seen a massive drop in visibility on Google, but it doesn't look like a manually imposed penalty to me and you should be able to get out of it by making some changes and waiting for the site to be re-crawled.

I would agree with Ehram that the footer links may well be cause for concern. This has definitely worked well in the past and you could argue that they are a helpful navigational aid, but there are quite a few on there and all highly optimised so it could raise some red flags. This would be a fairly easy thing to change and see if it helps.

There are a few other on-page factors that could easily be fixed. None are criminal but it is always good to apply as much best practice as possible on the site itself.

A quick brain dump after a brief look at the site:
-unecessary redirects : a lot of pages link to urls that have (correctly) been redirected. It would be far cleaner to update all the links to link straight to the destination page. For example, it would appear that you moved from .html to .php urls but there are still a lot of links to the .html urls (e.g. see link to 'gites de france' on http://www.internet-cottages.com/Spain/villas-in-spain.php)
-broken hyperlinks : a lot of links from the ski blog point at broken urls on brandonacox.com, but there are also broken links internally such as the link to 'Airport car Hire' in the right nav bar on http://www.internet-cottages.com/ski-chalet-europe.php. It is easy enough to run a broken link checker, so worthwhile tidying up.
-quite a few pages have got a meta 'noindex' tag on (e.g. http://www.internet-cottages.com/France/ski_chalet_europe.htm). I don't know if that is on purpose, but I wouldn't expect those pages to rank very well...
-the canonical tag on http://www.internet-cottages.com/holiday-cottages-uk.php points to http://www.internet-cottages.com/holiday-cottage-uk.php (note singular version of 'cottage'). That is redirected, but you don't strictly want to have a canonical tag referencing a redirected url.

Sorry if you have heard all this before but I hope that it is vaguely helpful. I doubt that any of the above will be the miracle cure but I always think that you should do as much as you can on your own site as you have immediate control of it. I haven't looked at your backlink profile against your competitors, so there may be some issues there but I would be fairly confident that making some changes on the site should help and is certainly worth trying. I would start with toning down the footer to avoid any possible accusation of over optimising the site.

We are not going to be deterred and will crack on with producing content that we hope will be of interest (new infographic is being worked on now) and I will certainly post any updates as and when we learn anything new.


over 4 years ago

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

"What may add serious impetus to this slide is if the rumours that one or both of Amazon or Facebook are looking at introducing a search engine prove to be true..."

We can but hope!

over 4 years ago


Mark Hughes

This is a fascinating piece - I'm very sorry to hear you have been hit by a penalty, and it seems extremely unfair.

When I first read the article, I must admit that I expected to load your website into Open Site Explorer and see a mass of links with similar anchor text. I didn't - and even more surprisingly for a site that's been penalised, you haven't even got that many links at just over 2k. The anchor text is very well spread so it's clear that you have not engaged in any poor SEO techniques to your own site, at least before OSE was last updated 2 weeks ago.

As OSE has not been updated since your infographic went live, I can't see the links that has. Majestic SEO apparently has a fresher index, but that says you only have 11 links to the infographic - I assume this is not true?
Would you be willing to publish the list of offending links, if you have it?

Two things:

Firstly, I have so far seen very little evidence of Negative SEO working. I think that Google is probably well aware of that risk, and if a site suddenly has a spike in new inbound links from dodgy sources (having had a clean backlink profile before), I'd like to hope that they would be wise to that. It's a hope, but I think we'd be hearing more real examples of this by now from SEOs testing this out on their own test sites.

(In terms of webmaster tools, I think if that happens - i.e. sudden deluge of spam links - then Google should send you a message in WMT allowing you to explain this is nothing to do with you.)

Secondly, have any of your clients had the dreaded unnatural link message? Or even ex-clients (if you still have access to WMT)? I'm sure you are aware of the iAcquire story - http://searchengineland.com/iacquire-banned-from-google-after-link-buying-allegations-122414 - but they were de-indexed after being caught buying links for a client. In the WMT unnatural links message (or reconsideration request, I can't remember which), Google ask you to say whether you have dealt with an SEO agency, and detail what they have done. Could it be possible that someone has rightly or wrongly incriminated you?

Good luck and I hope you'll keep us all up to date with progress.

over 4 years ago


Mark Hughes

P.S. Could you detail when the infographic went live, when you got the WMT message, and then when your site dropped in rankings? To have some dates and a timeline would help to piece things together.

over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

@Mark Hughes - thanks for your comments and thoughts.

This article isn't intended to be a sob story so we should talk more about the issue rather than our particular experience but I have absolutely no fear of any form of audit on ANY work that we have done as we have always been obsessive about ethical SEO. I can honestly say that we have turned away projects in the past when asked to buy links - it just isn't our style and I can't think of anyone who may have complained (no clients have suffered, which strengthens our resolve to do it 'properly').

I have annotated Google Analytics, so have a detailed history of events. The infographic was originally published on the 13th April. Most of the links followed from posts on the Bigmouthmedia blog (which was a nice surprise!) which then no doubt led to a link on the Econsultancy blog, both of which were on the 18th April. We got the links warning on the 19th which pretty much coincided directly with our disappearing act. I filed a reinclusion request on the 22nd, which was met with a 'computer says no' response on 10th May. I filed another one, following extensive link analysis using OSE, Majestic and Link Research Tools on the 16th May and we are still waiting...

As you say, we don't actually have that many links overall as it is something that we never really find time to do ourselves. This is why I still suspect a spike as the root of the problem. We didn't get millions of links, but much more than normal and quite a bit of social activity. We focus our energy on the blog, which attracts almost all non brand search traffic and has gained (without asking) links from the likes of wikipedia (we get quite a bit of traffic from the Google Panda page on Wikipedia).

Will certainly keep you posted and share any learnings.

Maybe we should start a petition for a paid support option? There is definitely a growing swell of negativity towards Google, which I think is a shame.


over 4 years ago

Matthew Oxley

Matthew Oxley, Head Of Search at Truly Digital Media Limited

Interesting read.

I would agree that the secret insular days of Google might be coming an end, and I certainly hope this is the case.

At some stage Google will need to (or be forced to) recognise they have a duty to society to deal with these types of issues in a fair and reasonably transparent way.

I'm not certain whether a support option should be paid, but some realisation that these decisions can have a signficiant impact, and that businesses affected need a route forward, would be a good start.

over 4 years ago


Mark Hughes

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your response. Well I must say it's a real mystery to me, especially without dedicating a lot more time to investigate. Nothing jumps out at all.

I think this story is interesting enough to capture the interest of the industry leaders. I think it's worth publishing the bare facts on your own blog and then sending the story to the likes of Matt Cutts, Rank Fishkin, Ross Hudgens, Jon Cooper etc etc etc. You might get some advice from an industry leader. In the best case scenario, you might even alert a Google employee - sounds to me like your rejection message is automated, based on the fact that they haven't noticed a reduction in links. But most of all, when you do inevitably recover, you'll have a tonne of great links.

Thanks for providing dates, too. Funny that it was published long before the latest update to OSE, yet I can't see many links to the infographic - particularly not from dodgy sources. If you do publish this on your own site, I'd be interested to see what you have written in your reconsideration requests.

Also, I should add that I wasn't saying you don't have many links from a negative point of view - looks like you've got some great quality links. But my point was that an affected site usually has a large number of links from a strange source.

Wish I had time to investigate this further! I'll be following closely when I can, and if something jumps out to me I'll be sure to get in touch.

All the best of luck - you must be furious to see other sites with garbage backlink profiles.

over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

@Mark Hughes - Thanks again for your thoughts. Definitely a confusing one!

I did write a blog post on our site on the 25th April (if you search for 'negative seo', you will find the post, although I still don't think that it is negative seo).

I tweeted Matt Cutts about it but was not entirely surprised to not hear back :-)

I suspect that we will never really know the real cause of the problem, which is very frustrating in itself.


over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

P.S. The irony is that our blog now gets zero traffic (and therefore far less social noise) so any posts that we publish fall on deaf ears. That won't stop us doing it, but I doubt that the likes of the industry leaders will ever come near it.

over 4 years ago


Mark Hughes

Hi Joe,

I don't think Matt Cutts would reply to any individual story, unless there is some noise surrounding it. So I'd get the story in front of Danny Sullivan, Barry Schwartz and other guys who have the power to publish something that a LOT of industry people will read. Maybe I'm being too hopeful on this - you'd need to market your story around the fact that a site has been penalised for having content that was shared, 'organically' and 'because it's high quality'. If indeed that is the problem - because I can't actually see the mass of links that you refer to when I put the infographic into OSE.

There may be something else going on here that I haven't spotted yet. Going on total links, your non branded anchor text links do outweigh branded by around 3 or 4 to 1, but that's not unusual. If you have any anchor text links that you can change (client websites etc), perhaps have a go at doing that and see where it gets you.

over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

The plot thickens...

This morning's glorious sunshine has had the shine taken out of it by a message in webmaster tools telling us that we still violate the guidelines.

What is more frustrating is that the supporting evidence that we compiled as preparation for the reinclusion request WAS NOT VIEWED by Google. That is pretty disappointing.

I have written an open letter to Google asking why they would ignore the supporting material at http://www.browsermedia.co.uk/2012/06/19/dear-matt-cutts/. Given the fact that we are currently invisible, I doubt that it is going to find its way onto Google's radar, so any help in shouting about it would be massively appreciated!

Will keep you posted.

over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

A quick update as promised...

The open letter managed to make it to the right eyeballs at Google as the penalty was removed a few hours after multiple page impressions from the Googleplex.

It is still a bit early to be confident that we are out of the woods, but we are hopefully past the worst.

Thank you for your comments and support.

over 4 years ago

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

I wonder how many other sites are being penalised for legitimate links that they've received off the back of good content that has attracted interest (and links) - but are unable to garner Google's attention to manually intervene and remove any penalties that have been applied?

I guess Google's view would involve breaking eggs and omelettes.

over 4 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Congratulations Joe, hopefully that's the end of it.

over 4 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

Disclosure - Joe is my brother - but I do think this story highlights an important bigger question which is around just how powerful Google now is and how it can make/break businesses.

And yet the politicians/legislators don't seem to realise this (yet), mostly because the individuals involved don't really understand the internet and the fundamental, structural, impact it's had, and continues to have, on the entire economy (cookie debacle another example).

Like Joe I have little desire to see the internet further regulated. However, I do think there need to be SLAs in place that Google must adhere to. Equally I think they should have the right to charge for any such services.

The folk at Google are very smart and I'm sure they know this is all coming - a matter of when/how rather than if. No coincidence that they started hiring political heavyweights a long time ago to aid with lobbying etc. e.g. back in 2008 they hired Peter Barron who was Newsnight Editor at the time (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jul/28/bbc.television).

I suspect we'll never know the answer to Browser Media's 'ban'. I'm sure Google couldn't admit to making a mistake if it has. But it means we're no further on in understanding what to do/what not to do. Other than the possible dangers of overly good content marketing!

over 4 years ago


Mark Hughes

Congratulations, Joe - and well done for getting your case in front of Google! How are your rankings and traffic progressing now?

over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

@Mark - it appeared to do the job! I am planning on writing a blow by blow account of what happened and the impact (91% drop in organic traffic) but rankings appear to have bounced back fairly strongly. Some phrases that we used to do OK on have vanished, but some others have actually got better, so a mixed bag. Just noticed that we are currently ranking well for 'digital networking events', which is an interesting one and not one that I have seen before (it is an old blog post).

over 4 years ago

Andrew Warren-Payne

Andrew Warren-Payne, Senior Research Analyst at Econsultancy

@Joe - it's been interesting reading what happened to Browser Media and how eventually your traffic bounced back.

In light of your experience and Matt Cutt's recent comments on discounting infographic links (full interview at http://www.stonetemple.com/matt-cutts-and-eric-talk-about-what-makes-a-quality-site/ with summary at http://searchengineland.com/cutts-infographic-links-might-get-discounted-in-the-future-127192 ), do you think sites trying to build links will think twice about using infographics in the future?

At the moment, everybody involved seems to love them, both in terms of easy traffic for publishers and links for infographic creators, but it appears that Cutts believes that many are of questionable value.

What does everybody else think?

over 4 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

Yes, I saw the discussion around discounting infographic links.

As with any link building, you would be a fool to rely on any one tactic. I agree that a lot of people are hyping up infographics, but I also think that they can be an extremely effective way of bringing content to life and we have seen some great successes using them.

I don't think that Google will ever adopt a blanket rule of ignoring infographic links, but they will do more to try to assess the quality of the infographic through other signals such as the amount of social noise and the calibre of the sites referencing the infographic.

The best link building strategy is to create content that is worthy of being linked to. I believe that infographics can be an excellent form of content, so I don't personally believe that you should give up on them just because Matt Cutts has hinted that they may discount them in the future.

over 4 years ago

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