29th January 2014

Irwin Mitchell; Kicked in the Googlies

Mike Blackburn

The legal and digital marketing worlds are for once talking about the same thing. Irwin Mitchell has been kicked out of the Google search listings. If you search on Google for the name Irwin Mitchell, all youll see at the moment is an advert for the law firm and then a load of articles by digital marketeers.


Im sure this must have sent a quiver of fear up and down the spine of many law firm marketing managers, who will be wondering things like:

  • What did they do to make that happen?
  • If it happened to them could it happen to us?
  • Is there anything I can do to make sure it doesnt happen to us?

The main reason why it seems to have happened is because in the past Irwin Mitchell aggressively bought links from other peoples websites that pointed at their own. They did this in an effort to manipulate their position in the search engine listings.

In the old days of SEO this was fairly standard practice, Google, in the advice it provided, said you shouldnt do it, but every SEO worth his salt knew that the best way to climb the listings was to get links pointing at your site. Youll all have been contacted many times by companies offering to get you to number one in the search engines for £250, typically they would have just pointed a load of links at your site and you would jump up the listings though rarely to position number one.

Then things changed in the way Google evaluated sites, those that had done lots of link building began to slip and Google even went so far as sending out warnings to sites that it felt might have tried too hard to climb the rankings.

To be fair to Google they did talk a lot about the need to remove these negative links and they even provided a tool (that told them to ignore any dodgy links) that could be used if you couldnt get them taken down.

Smart SEOs quickly reviewed their clients backlink profiles and set about removing anything that could be seen as remotely questionable. Unfortunately for Irwin Mitchell, their people dont seem to have done this quickly enough, or at all, and now Google seems happy to make an example of them.

Could It Happen to you?

Its very difficult to know the answer to that without looking at your sites backlink profile, it all depends upon what SEO activity youve carried out in the past. If you havent “done" SEO its unlikely that youll be at risk. If you have, your risk depends upon the strategies your SEO team used.

Good digital marketing agencies will have the tools and the skills to interpret the risk you face and be able to devise a strategy to help you develop your online profile so that you avoid or recover from any penalty applied to your site.

The key thing is not to worry about it but quickly to take steps to sort out any potential problems you might have.

If you are at all concerned, please get in touch with us. Well provide a free audit of your link profile and let you know if youre at risk. Well also be able to develop a strategy to help you sort out any potential problems you face.