Halifax Bank Google Penalty Lifted (?)
At the end of January Halifax Bank had a partial penalty imposed on its website, which saw a massive visibility drop across many of its product categories for many highly searched generic terms. The only untouched category, from what I could see using the finance keywords that I’m tracking, were mortgages where they saw no visibility drop.
Graphs of Halifax.co.uk’s SEO/organic visibility
You can see from the following graph the keywords/groups with which they dropped in rank after Google had obviously identified their link schemes/widgets that were being used to enhance their search visibility:
These graphs are intended only to paint a picture of a signal change within Google’s algorithm. A more recent graph paints a different picture:
As you can see, a change occurred on the 8th of May – way before Google’s recent announcement that it had launched Panda 4.0, which is suspected to have been launched on the 18th of May.
A SearchMetrics visibility graph also confirms they’ve seen a visibility increase (before any mention of Panda 4.0 actually – confirming the validity of my graphs above):
So, Halifax has essentially been able to get out of their bind in a matter of 4 months. And from what I’ve monitored since they took the hit, they took down the site that hosted their widgets, which essentially made the widgets look like this: (i.e. a CSS-less and image-less widget)
This is what the widget looked like before:
A smart move on them being able to control the way the widget looks
Essentially, a very smart move on their part, was to host elements of the widget on their own servers. So when push came to shove, they could simply remove the CSS/styling that would no doubt induce website owners to remove the widget in its entirety from their own websites.
Just to take one example of a keyword they’ve seen a rise in ranking would be “loans calculator”. When they was penalised they saw that keyword drop from the face of the earth. Halifax.co.uk now ranks 3rd for that term, which has a search volume total of 70,000+ searches per month. So, have they been de-penalised? One would assume so with the these results. However, they are still not back to where they originally were before they was penalised. It’s something no doubt they are working on very carefully now.