Previously, my wife and I have purchased a few items from The Children’s Furniture Company (hereafter referred to as CFC); its good quality stuff, slightly pricier perhaps, but worth that extra penny considering the beating it’ll get from our kids over the years. The CFC designed and built their own custom ranges and would deliver and install at your home; their customer service was always personable and helpful.
When they first notified me (by email) that they were shutting down, my wife and I muttered about it being a ‘sign of the times’ and other such doom laden prophecies. So, it was with some surprise when I got a later email from them saying that they real reason they were shutting down was because of Google’s Penguin update.
Being top of Google’s search results for selected key terms can make (or break) a business, so it’s tempting to try to get to those positions by nefarious means, perhaps by employing inappropriate SEO link building for example. This is exactly the behaviour that the CFC deployed. They had wanted to get to the top of the rankings and so had employed a SEO agency to help deliver that. The SEO agency had generated a ton of external links to the CFC website, which Google initially applied a positive ranking to. Then came the Penguin update (May 2012) and Google re-categorised those links as spam and demoted the CFC to oblivion of the sub-pages of its results pages.
What Penguin meant for the CFC was that they no longer generated the level of sales that they did previously, and as a small business they did not have the funds or time to re-do their website or fix the links. They decided, therefore to call it a day and shut up shop. They were not alone, the Penguin update affected many thousands of businesses.
What this cautionary tale goes to show is that natural SEO is always best and that you should proceed with caution when selecting an SEO specialist. It also shows how difficult it is for small business to react to major changes in their marketplace. As Neils Bohr (the Danish physicist) said ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.’
The good news, for customers of the Children’s Furniture Company, is that it appears the business was purchased and a new owner has re-launched the website and is offering pretty much the same range of furniture. Hopefully, they’ll be more cautious when considering how to get to the top of Google’s search results.