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Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines?

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Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Realbizlistings 6/18/12 5:50 AM
Hi, thank you in advance for your help. 

I am starting a new business and personal listing website where people and businesses can have profiles. My SEO guy says that we should have a feature where members can get "upgraded listings" with a thumbnail picture next to their listings if they link to their profile from their site.

I told him I think this would be against the Webmaster Guidelines. I don't want to get in trouble with Google. Should these links be nofollowed? Or is this practice OK?

Thanks again. I appreciate everyone's advice, but I would like to hear from a Google representative if possible as well. I really don't want to get my site in trouble.

Parker
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Realbizlistings 6/18/12 5:52 AM
I have studied the Help Center, read the FAQs and searched for similar questions 
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? nycwebmaster 6/18/12 6:08 AM
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Realbizlistings 6/18/12 6:30 AM
Yeah, I looked at it and wanted to make sure, is there any chance a Googler can confirm? I might turn in the SEO company if I am certain what they are doing is against the guidelines. I don't want them convincing some other webmaster to risk their site. I don't think their other clients do as much research as I do.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Lysis 6/18/12 6:46 AM
Having an upgraded listing doesn't sound like a nefarious link type thing for just a thumbnail image. The problem you will face is how much value your site brings that all the other paid directories don't, and I'll tell you that a directory is an uphill battle. Think of places like Angie's list that don't really rank for a business, but they pour tons of advertisement into their site for traffic.

I really hope you don't plan to rely on Google only.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Realbizlistings 6/18/12 7:14 AM
Well, the SEO guy says he has gotten thousands of unique links this way.  So it is OK to trade links for upgrades? How much of an upgrade can I give them for a link?
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Lysis 6/18/12 7:30 AM
Aren't they going to link anyway and the only difference with a paid listing is a thumbnail? I mean, the issue here isn't really the paid listing. I think you are focusing on the wrong thing here. Many many directories were hit by Penguin. I would seriously do some research here before you dump money into a business that takes a lot more than organic rank to be viable longterm. If you have the marketing cash like Angie's list, then you might have something, but otherwise, you're really going into something that will not be a longterm business if Google is your only means for traffic.

I'm just giving you the headsup now. Ask the SEO guy what he plans to do besides spam.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Realbizlistings 6/18/12 7:49 AM
I don't know why they would link to the site unless we gave them an incentive.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Phil Payne 6/18/12 8:00 AM
OK - take my own site as an example.

Use http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/ on http://www.isham-research.co.uk and you'll see 60 unique domains linking to it with 350+ links.

I can promise that I have NEVER, EVER solicited or exchanged a link with anyone.  It can be done - just build a good site.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Realbizlistings 6/18/12 1:19 PM
So some of you say this is against Google's guidelines and some of you say it is not. Who should I believe? My SEO says it is a really good technique and I don't want to lose out. Could anyone from Google chime in?
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Panda_Effects 6/18/12 1:37 PM
I think that it is ok to do some link exchanging but needs to be kept in moderation. But do not use one of those link scheme types but do it in such a way that it is more natural.  And I believe it should be limited to sites that are similar.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Panda_Effects 6/18/12 1:38 PM
And have to consider the "bad neighborhood" types, for example if the site you exchange links with have ads above the fold or way too many or engage in questionable activity, that could hurt you.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Panda_Effects 6/18/12 1:42 PM
And whether needed or not I use rel=nofollow just in case for the few reciprocal links I have.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Lysis 6/18/12 1:59 PM
Here is the thing. Buying links to pass PR is against the guidelines. If you're upselling a cleaner, nicer ad listing and that is your intent, then you're fine. The problem comes when you're just selling links to people, which is what will happen to this site.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Realbizlistings 6/18/12 5:02 PM
So I can give something of value for a link but not buy them? That seems silly.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Lysis 6/18/12 6:06 PM
You can't if you want to stay within Google's guidelines.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? StevieD_Web 6/18/12 7:04 PM
>Well, the SEO guy says he has gotten thousands of unique links this way. 

>My SEO says it is a really good technique


Really, does you SEO sell Stanley's Snake Oil and SEO lubricant as well ?


There is no harm in linking to others.... when you exercise editorial control over those links and do NOT require the other party to link back to you.


Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Panda_Effects 6/18/12 7:06 PM
"do NOT require the other party to link back to you"

What does that mean?  And where is it written or spoken?  To me if doing a basic natural reciprocal link with another site of course both parties will want the other one to do so, if not they will likely un-link.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? StevieD_Web 6/18/12 8:29 PM
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356 
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Panda_Effects 6/18/12 8:37 PM
"Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging"

The keyword is excessive so again, doing some reciprocal linking is fine but would also suggest others do as I stated above based on what I have read and understood.  But others should also do their own research too.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? StevieD_Web 6/18/12 9:10 PM
I would even go so far as to say that some reciprocal linking is expected and maybe even good on some level.... think manufacturer linking to distributor and distributor linking to dealer and then back up the food chain....... all completely normal, expected and is a verification of the relationships between the entities.

But it is all voluntary.  Nobody is making the interlinking of related businesses a requirement.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? Panda_Effects 6/18/12 9:16 PM
"I would even go so far as to say that some reciprocal linking is expected and maybe even good on some level"

Agreed, but they do need to be quality enough type of links or could make things worse, the "bad neighborhood" type that at least Google considers to be that way.  Now again to me I do not care as a user if people have ads above the fold, so if I like to some site that does that, is that really right to somewhat punish my site?  I think not.  But could be they only do that a small amount, not that noticeable, unless there are a good number of exchange links like that.
Re: Is my SEO guy going to get me in trouble? Is this against the guidelines? JohnMu 6/21/12 6:17 AM
Hi Parker

I'd strongly recommend not making PageRank-passing links to your site a requirement for any kind of interaction on your website. Links placed like that are generally not natural links, not the kind of links that our algorithms want to find. Past that, not all businesses or people have real websites, it seems like it would be a bit unfair to block them from being able to use your site to its fullest (and in turn, if they end up loving it, recommending it to their friends & business partners). By all means, make it easy for users to recommend and to link to your site, but don't use that as a requirement.

Cheers
John
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