When it comes to Google and paid links, there is often a lot of confusion when it comes to directories. As a directory owner, you need to make sure you do your job in educating people about the benefits of directory submissions when done properly. And most importantly, you need to make sure you think about your own strategy so that your customers are best served so your directory is a benefit to them. When you get all this right, you should see a financial bounty too!
Getting Paid for the Review Process is not the same as Paid Links!
Surely the most important detail that you need to be indubitably clear about is that charging for the review process is NOT against Google’s terms of service. You have every right to charge for your time reviewing their submission. And when you review, make sure you actually insure there is a proper page title, and well thought descriptions, and that the site is worthy of being in your directory. You should not accept sites that are not valuable or reputable.
Featured Links Might be Considered to be Paid Links by Google
Another area of confusion is featured links. The sentiment expressed by Google employees publicly suggests that featured links are thought of as paid links, and they would need to have a “no follow” tag associated with them. Definitely this rule would apply to any homepage links or banners, but increasingly it seems that even a featured link in a category might be considered a paid link.
As Matt Cutts (pictured above right) of Google makes some suggestions to webmaster. You may not envisage your directory’s intent to exactly match that of Google’s, but it is still worth understanding the philosophy they publicly avow for links.
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