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Can do-follow links be outweighed by other no-follow links on the same page



11:50 am on Jan 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

I received an email from a UK directory (in which I have a couple of entries) asking me to verify certain details. At the bottom of the email I found something along the lines of this:

"Important: So that Google will not consider us a link farm we refuse link submissions that may be considered manipulative. All links therefore are posted as no-follow by default."

This seems fine, it's the way I run my own curated directories. But they went on to say something like the following:

"Some Partners were dissatisfied with no-follow links so we've made it possible for them to upgrade their link to do-follow for an admin fee of <price in GBP>. Our policy is to allow no more than 20 do-follow links on any category page. We do this to protect the Directory from Google penalties."

Is it really possible to use do-follow links as long as they are out-weighed by a preponderance of other no-follow links on the page?* If that's true it smells like paydirt for curated directory owners.

(*This question assumes the directory is also closely curated and tightly targeted to its subject AND geographic region, eg the UK.)


1:21 pm on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Google does not care if you have 20 or 21 dofollow links or 50% dofollow links on a page. Google cares that you link out to relevant websites that are not blatantly trying to manipulate the Google serps.

I almost never use nofollow on my websites because I review all of my links and know they are going to quality websites.

If you posted a list of government websites on your page, would you nofollow the link to the United Nations official website because you already had 20 dofollow links?

IMHO this is just another way to make people looking for link juice to pay extra for a dofollow link and hopefully not upset Google that you are doing it.


1:40 pm on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

So. If you have a directory of Martian Cheese Vendors in the UK that links only to traders that sell Martian Cheese to UK customers from sites that you've personally checked for relevance, then it is ok in Google's eyes to do-follow the links even if you charge a fee for inclusion?


1:47 pm on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Directories like BOTW and Yahoo charge a hefty fee for a review (note, not inclusion, a review).

I know the directory in question, and I find it hard to follow their line of thinking. Rather than take responsibility for the sites they link to, they use nofollow. Then they will make an exception for money.

That sounds like the definition of what Google want to stamp out, and would IMO put them more at risk of being labelled a link seller than a site that charged but didn't guarantee inclusion, like the ones mentioned above.


10:51 pm on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

So the only difference between nofollow and dofollow is money?

Oh, come on.


9:34 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

The question will devolve to money. But its thrust is whether Google will accept do-follow links in targeted, curated directories. My decision to feature a site in a tightly themed directory is a positive vote for that site and could be considered a legitimate ranking factor (against a site that I deemed unsuitable or low quality and declined to include).


11:48 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

whether Google will accept do-follow links in targeted, curated directories

Yes, Google does reward dofollow links listed in valuable, curated directories. But directory links tend to deliver a smaller boost than they used to. If you are in a less competitive industry it is easier to notice the ranking boost.

Links in general are a smaller part of the ranking formula. This is not because links are unimportant. It is more about Google adding more pieces to the ranking formula which continues to become more sophisticated.

If we isolate the influence of links in the Google ranking formula, we can see that Google has become much more sophisticated in valuing each link differently. 15 years ago, Google basically used pagerank and anchor text to value links. Now Google determine the value of each different link using many more factors like page placement. These newer link evaluation factors have lead to directory links being not as highly valuable as they used to be.

I would also be careful when going after directory links as there is a some potential to turn into spammy backlinks if spammers are allowed to republish the directory database <cough>looking at you DMOZ</cough>.

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