A crackdown on paid blogging by Google appears to have sunk the online visibility of the Flight Centre business, Cruiseabout.com.au, one of Australia’s largest cruise retailers. Searching for any cruise related terms such as “cheap cruising” now doesn’t return any direct links for the website until page 6.
“It looks like a five page penalty which is about the most severe I’ve ever seen,”an online travel industry veteran commented.
There is also speculation that other Flight Centre sites such as Escape Travel have been impacted.
Cruiseabout today (April 7) acknowledged there have been SEO issues and a spokesperson said the company is doing everything it can to rectify them.
“On March 20, a Google penalty came into effect as a result of historical SEO activity, much of which dates back several years,” the spokesperson said.
“Despite the penalty, the effect on the website has not been as bad as expected and customers are still able to find the Cruiseabout site.
“After working to address the issue, Google lifted the site-wide penalty on Friday and Cruiseabout is now ranking for the majority of the key terms.
“Some penalties still apply, however these are specific to sections of the website and we are working to remove the remaining unnatural links to resolve the issue swiftly.”
The fall from prominence flows from penalties Google imposed on the guest blogging network, MyBlogGuest.com.
In the words of Google webmaster Matt Cutts: “We took action on a large guest blog network. A reminder about the spam risks of guest blogging.”
Matt Cutts tweeted that news on March 19 US time, without naming the target.
That same day Cruiseabout.com.au started dropping off the SEO radar, virtually disappearing from natural mainstream results for standard search terms.
Even brand search has been impacted.
The “action” follows an earlier blog post in which Mr Cutts wrote that: “Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.
“In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.
“Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”
According to an article in Search Engine Watch, “it was a well-known secret within the industry that agencies were using MyBlogGuest to promote clients as well as writers who would sell links quite openly”.