Lane Soelberg, the Vice President of Marketing for Business.com, has responded and clarified the use of nofollow on Business.com. Lane posted to Threadwatch that:
- Featured Listings are operating under a pay-per-click model on Business.com, and have been tagged with the nofollow attribute.
- Paid Inclusion listings are reviewed by editors, and so deemed “trusted”, and not tagged with nofollow.
- Free listings are gathered by editors, but reviewed over time. They are tagged nofollow until approved
From this, an SEO might assume that:
- You can get into Business.com for free but you will always get a nofollow unless you pass an editorial review. No telling if that involves sales calls, but it could certainly be leveraged by Business.com to motivate hesitant buyers.
- This establishes that (according to Business.com) paid inclusion directories are not purchased links.
Does Google have to state clearly whether or not this is true? No. It is true, until we learn otherwise. A web page that proclaims itself to be a paid-inclusion web page can sell links without putting a nofollow attribute. Woohoo. I would guess that Google put some pressure on them to use the nofollow. Otherwise, they were a blatant case of selling links that distribute page rank and therefore manipulate the search engines. Of course such pressure would carry a scent of impropriety given the status of Business.com as a Premium AdSense publisher, but I have to leave those issues to the lawyers.
Google reserves the right to devalue links as it pleases. All of this is meaningless unless we can determine that Google devalues paid inclusion links, or does not. Until we see some data from the SEO community on this, the whole business.com nofollow issue is of little competitive value.