Backlink Breaker #8 - Google June Core Update and North Face Blackhat Fail

Exciting week with Google’s core update announcement putting all SEOs on maximum alert and The North Face making themselves look foolish image search manipulation.

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The News

Google core algorithm update went live on June 3rd. SEO community going nuts watching for changes, so far too early to tell exactly how it will impact the search world in general or what types of sites will be hit (positive or negative). But if something happens, you’ll be sure to hear about it. The strangest part about the whole thing was that Google pre-announced it, they usually just launch it and watch everyone freak out.


Googled added desktop vs mobile views to the rich results testing tool. Now you can see how rich results on your site look on desktop vs mobile. Cool addition to a super useful tool, be sure to use this feature when testing your structured data markup.

The North Face tried to manipulate image search results and paid the price when they publicized the blackhat tactics. The company partnered with a sketchy marketing agency to add images of people wearing North Face gear into Wikipedia pages for popular travel destinations. These images would then rank highly for Google image searches for those locations. It’s a creative tactic, but clearly in violation of Wikipedia’s TOS. You can’t pay someone to manipulate or change Wikipedia content without disclosing the relationship. But that’s not the best part. The agency made this gross self promotional video which Ad Age covered and promoted (Ad Age has since updated the article). The idea of promoting and publicizing blackhat tactics is isane. Also, a massive company like The North Face getting publicly burned by a shady agency that should have known better it sets us all back. I’ve had so many conversations with clients about doing the right thing, and I’m sure many other SEOs have had the opportunity to cheat the system, but we don’t. Not only is blackhat wrong, but it’s ineffective and outright harmful in the long term. It always backfires. However, if you are gonna go blackhat, I have a tip for ya... don’t make a video about your work!


Google recently launched Q&A auto suggestion on Business Profiles. Basically, if a user asks a question on your business profile, Google will use reviews to auto suggest an answer. Woo Machine Learning!

Remember, site redesigns can impact SEO since they change how content is presented and linked. You always need to conduct SEO reviews during design projects or else you might see unexpected rank drops.

The 3D objects with AR feature is now live in mobile search. If you conduct a search that brings up a 3D image, you can load and select an AR option to project it into your environment from your phone. There are definitely some content marketing opportunities here if you have the internal resources to create AR experiences.  

Adam Tanguay