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FTD Follows TF’s Example in Siphoning Pagerank

Florists with FTD-hosted websites should be aware of a recent change to their website templates that introduces a Pagerank-siphoning link back to an FTD-branded website.

In a move reminiscent of Teleflora’s poorly-executed effort to build links for the term “florist” off their clients’ websites, FTD has introduced a link at the end of the footer that reads: “[florist name] is a proud local FTD florist“. That last phrase contains a clean link to the site www.FTDFlorists.com.

proud local FTD florist link
FTD recently added a link to the footer of client websites. The link is promoting their FTD local florist directory.

To their credit, FTD is using the linking power of their thousands of member sites to boost their directory site, and for a relevant phrase. One can easily argue a customer searching for “local FTD florists” would be well served by a site that is the authoritative listing of local FTD florists. This stands in clear contrast to Teleflora’s attempt to rank for the generic term “florist” by linking to their main consumer-facing ecommerce site in an attempt to compete directly with members. (No matter what some mis-informed ex-Teleflora-employees-turned-SEO-gurus may have said at the time, those thousands of links from smaller yet same-topic sites would have made a big difference for TF if they had executed properly.)

So what’s the big deal? Even if FTD is linking back to the mothership from their directory site on level, which would only be natural, is it really so wrong for them to be using the linking power of the florists’ websites to promote a local florist directory? It is if the florists didn’t know about the addition of the link!

You see, Google views a local florist’s website as an online extension of that entity. Most of what they know about you comes from your website, and every link from your site is counted as a vote – an intentional endorsement of the linked-to entity. So if you are an FTD florist you may well want to endorse their directory… or you may not. However, the choice is yours to make. Your website, your company, your vote – no one else should cast that vote for you.

Bonus: What adds frustration to the issue is that the FTD directory site is, unintentionally or not, engaged in the practice of Pagerank hoarding. While they list thousands of FTD member websites, the links to member sites are passed through a tracking click and a 302 redirect which does not pass Pagerank to the local florist. FTD could be using this as a value-add for their members by driving not only traffic but distributing “link juice” to boost member sites. Instead, that link authority is just bottled up on the directory domain and shared with the few inter-company links that are not blocked.

FTD PR-blocked links

Comments

comments

8 thoughts on “FTD Follows TF’s Example in Siphoning Pagerank”

  1. As FTD links back to their Florists directory or the FTD main site wouldn’t it or could it count as a paid link that actually could hurt them like it did when Superpages.com’s rank dropped after google realized that there were paid links as well.

  2. This strategy will bite their ass sooner or later, in my opinion this was done as part of a lame experiment and I think they’re testing the waters and they will wait either a reaction from customers or reaction from Google.

    What they’re missing is once Google catches this stupid way to create fast backlinks is going to be to late to fix it. Google will defintley flag this huge change on their backlinks and will proceed accordingly by ignoring the backlinks put the website in sandbox and the latest Google algorithm will do the rest.

    They will have to pay big for this error by now working on a reputation management service (because all the bad comments from customers that didn’t approve this) and they will have to work harder on their SEO to try to gain any position they could or will lose.

    I don’t understand why a company this big has to opt for solutions like this one to make a move on their SEO. This was a “good move” if we were in 1999.

    They just gave us a good experiment to watch and learn from their mistakes.

    1. Miguel, I must chime in and agree on all points.

      I am quite shocked that FTD would try such a scheme. This is just hopelessly wrong on so many levels. The company is not only taking advantage of the florists — which in and of itself is an outrage — but the real irony is that they are only going to hurt themselves, and badly at that. Google will trounce them and the aftereffects will not be pretty at all.

      I can envision that the well-deserved comeuppance from Google will also garner the company a lot of negative publicity, not just in SEO circles, but very likely the major media as well. We have not only the case of the notorious Teleflora, but I also remember also what happened a while ago when JC Penny’s link-buying scheme was unmasked in the New York Times among other places.

      Yes, foolish, reckless indeed. Ultimately, it will cost FTD dearly.

  3. Yes, FTD did make a minor change to the copy displayed on the FTD Florists Online home pages of members that choose to use our default website copy. No changes were made to any copy written by a member. We encourage our members to write their own copy. However, for those members that don’t write their own copy, we provided default content designed to promote the individual member’s site. We agree with you that “a customer searching for ‘local FTD florists’ would be well served by a site that is the authoritative listing of local FTD florists.” Our directories exist solely to drive traffic to a member’s site. FTD is constantly working to increase our members’ success and we frequently make edits like minor copy changes, layout, meta-tags, page titles and alt-tags to help florists succeed in a crowded market. As always, any FTD member can contact our support team for advice and assistance in optimizing their site to suit their market.

    We do our best to promote our members and their individual web sites. Their success is our success and has been for over 100 years.

  4. New, as of aug . FDT, is still using previous shop owners name and charging me. They are taking credit card money from pos and sending statements to previous owner. How do you buy, make, deliver thousands of dollars in deliveries and still owe fdt money? Who is paying state sales tax? What number are they using? I’m gonna end up in the hospital over this nightmare. Any help would be appreciated. I signed a paper for dues and membership. They are not as much as I delivered.

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