It appears as though Google have removed Irwin Mitchell’s domain names from its organic search listings as a penalty for hyper-linking to its sites via numerous blog and forum posts. Searching for Irwin Mitchell organically now only results in listings for their PPC campaign, their Twitter page and one of their sub-domain pages.

This penalisation came to light when online marketing agent Matt Weeks tweeted David Naylor – an SEO expert – on 24th January with the message: “Did Google just wipe out UK law firm Irwin Mitchell with a link penalty?”

Alex Greaves later posted a blog onto David Naylor’s websites saying “Google have been firm and consistent when it comes to taking action against sites that have broken their guidelines.”

Google is well known to remove organic listings for companies that break its rules against unnaturally influencing search results; tactics commonly labelled as ‘black-hat’ techniques. The internet giant doesn’t publish how its algorithms work, or even a precise rule book for search results, however there are generally accepted criteria that all SEO optimisers should be aware of – including blog/forum link spamming. Google haven’t chosen to respond to requests for comment on the recent decision but it’s believed that they would have written to Irwin Mitchell in explanation and may have included some information on why they acted as they did.

Tech Director at SLF, Damian Blackburn, said that Irwin Mitchell are likely to have to adjust its SEO by removing these dodgey links, tags or content.

“Once they have done that they would make a submission to Google to remove the de-listing. There are no published rules on how Google make this decision, but one assumes that if Irwin Mitchell reverses some of the issues Google have written to them about, they will re-appear fairly swiftly”, Blackburn added.

Irwin Mitchell released a statement that said: “We are aware of the situation and are working closely with our digital agency to deal with it.”