​Cutts reminds webmasters that buying and selling links can harm SEO and PageRank. Content marketing creates natural links.

Every so often a situation arises that highlights the continuous efforts Google’s search team puts toward keeping web results honest and transparent. In the wake of online flower retailer Interflora’s run-in with Google’s quality guidelines, distinguished engineer Matt Cutts took to the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog to reiterate the importance of white hat SEO practices.

While Barry Schwartz, contributor at Search Engine Land, cannot confirm that Interflora experienced traffic spikes because of poor linking tactics, he points to a few pieces of evidence. He shares Tweets revealing the company requesting bloggers remove any links leading to the site. Schwartz tried to get confirmation of a link scheme from Google, Interflora and SEO companies that work with the U.K. flower brand, but received no official comments. Google also appears to have penalized several U.K. newspapers in the past week.

Cutts makes no reference to Interflora in his recent post, but emphasizes that selling links or entire advertorial pages with embedded links violates the search engine’s quality guidelines. Google warns webmasters to be wary of people approaching them for paid link opportunities. He outlines a few consequences as well as the reconsideration request process.

“We do take this issue very seriously, so we recommend you avoid selling (and buying) links that pass PageRank in order to prevent loss of trust, lower PageRank in the Google Toolbar, lower rankings, or in an extreme case, removal from Google’s search results.” – Matt Cutts, distinguished engineer.

Cutts’ comment reminds marketers of the importance of white hat SEO and organic custom content. Google continues to focus on keeping the online playing field even, and brands can increase their PageRank and site traffic honestly through content marketing initiatives.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.