Google's Worst Penalties and What Happened
Posted: June 4, 2013 by Alex Chan
When it comes to "fair play", Google has no mercy and no tolerance for anyone. Webmasters that use black hat SEO and SPAM techniques are no longer tolerated in the Internet world. For the last couple of years, Google has spent huge resources in developing algorithms that will specifically fight malicious techniques used for ranking.
Regardless of the importance or the worth of any company, Google penalizes anyone that does not respect Google Webmaster Tools. Many websites, both famous and not, have felt the "arm of justice" brought by Google Panda, Penguin, or both. Usually the penalty for using black hat SEO and spamming comes in form of a ranking drop but Google has been known for additionally too severe. Here are some of the websites that have been heavily penalized by Google so far. Avoid these mistakes.
Back in 2006, the German car manufacturer BWM got one of Google's worst penalties ever. It was removed from Google entirely! The website of the car manufacturer got caught using doorway pages with keyword stuffing that directed users directly to the German website. BMW had to remove all questionable pages before it was pardoned and brought back into the Google Index.
Placing featured links on your website that have nothing to do with the content of your website and not adding the "nofollow" attribute will raise Google's alarm (Possibly selling links?). That is what happened to NewsDay.com when they got penalized by doing just that. The ratings of the website got dropped immediately and very drastically. NewsDay had to work for many months to recover its ratings from the penalty.
The British Broadcasting Service (BBC) was formally "warned" by Google for using too many unnatural links on their website. BBC got the so-called granular penalty where only certain pages get penalized and not the entire website. This is similar to getting a manual penalty. Out of all the major penalties a website can receive, this is the easiest one to correct.
JC Penny was the company that Google hit the hardest in 2010. The company was found purchasing low quality backlinks. Up to the penalty, JC Penny practically came up first for every product in the US. It ended up being the New York Times and not Google that detected this issue. The website got penalized with a massive drop across the board. This was big news at the time since Google's inner workings were still a mystery.
In 2013, Google created a lot buzz by issuing a penalty to Interflora. This UK flower business paid several UK newspapers to put adds on their websites with links that go back to the flower shop website. When Google found out about this, it punished everyone in question. Interflora got the worst punishment of all as Google removed its website from the search engine. Every newspaper had their ratings dropped for selling links. Whether Interflora knew they were breaching Google's Webmaster Guidelines or not are unknown. What we do know is this penalty shows all sides need to do their due diligence regarding links. Paid links require a "nofollow" and both the advertiser and publisher need to be aware.