Over the past couple weeks there has been a lot of people reporting large brands being penalized by Google and the question has come up if search sites should cover these penalties or not.
Our policy, if the search community is talking about it in a public forum, we will likely cover it.
That being said, Halifax is one of the brands in question about being penalized by Google. But truth is, I am not sure if they really saw a penalty by Google. Compared to Expedia's possible penalty, where the search visibility is pretty significantly reported by Search Metrics and SEM Rush, Halifax doesn't really show the same thing.
Link Research Tools uncovered a lot of unnatural linking, suggesting they did get penalized for an unnatural link penalty. But let's take a look at the visibility drop.
Search Metrics has their rankings all over the place:
Looking at the chart, depending on when you set your start date, it can be a seasonal drop or a penalty. It is hard to make heads or tails of this chart to say that Halifax indeed has a penalty. They do rank for their name and rank for a lot of bank related queries in Google UK.
SEM Rush shows the site is steady:
A WebmasterWorld thread has a lot of discussion around this brand and if they have a penalty or not. One member asks the obvious question:
Do you think it is ok for LinkResearchTools to accuse another company of being penalized when that company has not been formally accused by Google, in the context of promotional exploitation?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Update: So if you look at the UK metrics at Search Metrics there is a visible drop but can you trust these metrics? SEM Rush UK shows no change.