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.
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.