Why Does Irwin Mitchell's Redirect Rank, If Google Penalized Them?

Jan 27, 2014 • 8:45 am | comments (35) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Irwin Mitchell LogoCyrus Shepard last week posted on Google+ that the big UK law firm was likely penalized by Google based on looking at:

(1) A recent large drop in traffic and search visibility as reported by Search Metrics and

(2) Irwin Mitchell's web site no longer ranking in Google for it's own name.

What is interesting is that the .co.uk version of their domain name ranks #1 but the .com does not. The .co.uk version actually 301 redirects to .com, so why wouldn't the penalty flow through to the .co.uk version as well?

Irwin Mitchell's Google Ranking

David Naylor's blog goes into detail on this Irwin Mitchell penalty, showing why they were penalized.

But shouldn't Google also penalized the .co.uk? I know the .com, which has the penalty, doesn't redirect to the .co.uk version. But it does go the other way and it is a 301 redirect. So Google knows the .co.uk version should be the .com version.

This just seems weird to me.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Paul Shapiro

01/27/2014 01:54 pm

I've heard of using a 301 redirecting a whole domain as a means of temporarily beating a penalty. For whatever reason, it takes Google a little to catch up with all of the bad links pointing to the new domain or subdomain. I guess it can be done indefinitely until a recovery occurs. This domain should drop out of ranking soon.


01/27/2014 02:06 pm

It's one of the few benefits of having duplicate content indexed - when the main site is de-indexed the duplicate appears, it has happened with indexed versions of sites on IP addresses before (main site disappears and the IP starts ranking). It doesn't last long.

Michael Martinez

01/27/2014 05:03 pm

It sounds like you're asking why PageRank doesn't flow backwards.


01/27/2014 10:23 pm

How does the help the end user who is simply trying to find the lawyer's website? Aside from clicking on the AdWords ad, of course.

Barry Schwartz

01/27/2014 10:57 pm

Kind of, but with penalties it makes sense.


01/28/2014 12:00 am

I have the answer to this, but I'm keeping it close to my heart. Let's keep what little we have left.

Fede Einhorn

01/28/2014 02:32 am

Perhaps the 301 redirection was just created and it will take some time to transfer the penalty. I wonder if there's a way to migrate to another domain, .com to .net without having the new domain penalized while still moving the organic traffic besides a nofollow link "we have moved here". A 302 perhaps? a meta refresh?

Gaurav Srivastava

01/28/2014 05:56 am

Now It Has Gone!!!! I think you are responsible for this...ROFL.. :-D

Harsh Wardhan Singh

01/28/2014 05:57 am

If I am not wrong as Matt Cutts has stated about the 301 Redirect and the values that it passes to the redirected site loses some of its value. But here a non-penalized site is redirecting to penalized domain. To be precise I am really confused if it is by mistake or its correct algo. Google must say something in this respect. Also @rustybrick:disqus I would like to get your opinion on do you think a penalized domain if invested in Google ads should show up in top? I understand ads are different from organic results but then a decorum should be maintained I think. May be my question will sound weird but I would appreciate your response on it.

Ashish Ahuja

01/28/2014 07:28 am

do you remember the source where Matt Cutt says that 301 redirect value is minimal, because IMHO its not so. Also, Google wants just that i.e. for penalised domains to invest in Google Ads

Ashish Ahuja

01/28/2014 07:29 am

I would never link a penalised site with a non-penalised site in any way. Once Gogole sniffs that it passes the penalty

Ashish Ahuja

01/28/2014 07:30 am

It cannot be done indefinitely, Google is getting faster on passing penalties over 301

Ashish Ahuja

01/28/2014 07:31 am

Since this is getting so much press coverage, this will come back faster and easier just like rapgenius or wpmu. I don't think any other ordinary website would have that benefit.

Harsh Wardhan Singh

01/28/2014 07:42 am

Not sure over minimal but the value loses. I am still not sure because its my opinion following the pass of pagerank value to redirected domain. Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Filv4pP-1nw . I have edited my comment. Also, your response to my Google ads query seems to be given in an angry note. But I cannot agree to it. Few days back only we had a news about Google removing over 350 million bad ads. If earning is all Google's motive then why would they remove any kind of ads.

Ashish Ahuja

01/28/2014 07:53 am

lol, Sorry if my comments sounded angry, I don't get angry that easily. Its just that I don't prefer writing long comments and sometimes short comments look like its written in a bad mood. I agree that there is some loss of value during 301 redirect but its not that it passes minimum value. I don't see Google in the same light as you do, I don't see them either as evil or good, just as a profit maximising corporation, which many times does not do what they preach. They preach that having too many ads above the fold is not good and then do the same themselves. My theory in why they brought Penguin and Panda updates is because the ROI on Organic SEO was higher than PPC, so they added an element of risk with SEO, so people may atleast consider PPC as an alternative.


01/28/2014 11:02 am

Go on buddy. Barry will not answer you. He thinks he is a celebrity.:P

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2014 11:04 am

Personally, I think organic penalized domains should also be blocked on the ad side.


01/28/2014 11:05 am

Possible. The 301 is just created I think.


01/28/2014 11:06 am

What is 'Gogole'? Probably a new search engine. :P

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2014 11:06 am

I was just on a plane for 13 hours. Give me a break.


01/28/2014 11:07 am

Hi Buddy, How are you?


01/28/2014 11:09 am

Ah! I am sorry then. My bad!


01/28/2014 11:29 am

google get rid of real sites in organic results. soon it will totally ad-engine.

In Sympathy

01/28/2014 12:04 pm

Google is of course still accepting the approx. £1 Million per month that Irwin Mitchell was spending on Google AdWords PPC before the ‘incident’. It’s a great business model, first they let you spend millions for years, then they ban you from organic search but, they allow you to double your PPC spending to make up for the colossal organic search losses. Nice! Don’t believe £1 Million per month? Check out the cost per click for just the top 25 keywords in Google PPC across the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence areas. Then imagine being the person at Irwin Mitchell who has to send ‘that search engine’ another £2 million…. I think this person is allowed to have a bad hair day!


01/28/2014 12:05 pm

No rest for the wicked and clearly you have been very bad indeed! ;)


01/28/2014 12:07 pm

Now that has been caught as well, whats the betting someone at Google will make sure their penalty lasts a little bit longer than it would have done ;)

Michael Martinez

01/28/2014 01:48 pm

You want a penalty to flow from a destination to a linking resource. That would be a highly dangerous precedent.

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2014 01:53 pm

Well, the .co.uk is also now penalized, see http://www.seroundtable.com/google-penalizes-irwinmitchell-co-uk-18023.html

Harsh Wardhan Singh

01/28/2014 02:26 pm

Thanks a lot :)

Michael Martinez

01/28/2014 08:35 pm

Probably more because people made a fuss than because the PageRank is flowing backwards. You REALLY do not want that to happen.

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2014 08:36 pm


Michael Martinez

01/29/2014 05:35 am

You and everyone, Barry. If PageRank flows backwards so that penalties follow the reverse flow, we're all screwed.

Harsh Wardhan Singh

01/29/2014 12:01 pm

Aahh!! He actually meant the Russian author Lols :P ;)


02/01/2014 03:59 pm

It will probably happen to the dot uk link in a few days. This is hilarious! Talk about a non-starter.


02/01/2014 04:01 pm

Studying SRP every day and trying to make it a story, is like watching a turd float toward a storm sewer, and reporting on its current location.

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