Here’s part II of what I’ll be talking about at SMX Local in a few minutes.
So you’re a business and you have a local website or websites you like (or don’t like but have been successful at not dealing with that issue). Your business info is listed all over the Web. You’re on a lot of the Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) sites. They even link to your website from their page about you (I call it the Business Profile Page or BPP). One of the core principles of SEO is that getting reputable sites to link to your site is a good thing. But guess what? DID YOU KNOW THAT SOME OF THE LARGEST YELLOW PAGES SITES ARE TRYING TO PREVENT YOU FROM BEING FOUND IN THE SEARCH ENGINES? (caps used for emphasis)
“Whatchoo talking bout Willis?” you say?
In the search engines’ eyes when a site links to another they pass part of their reputation to that site. That reputation can help the linked-to site rank well in the search engines for certain search terms, unless the linking site does not want to pass their reputation on. By adding a line of code known as “NoFollow” to the link, the linking site is preventing their reputation from being passed. Now look at your BPP on the following IYPs and you’ll see that all of them have NoFollows on their links to your site. (You’ll need to view the page source and find the link in the code):
<!–[if !supportLists]–>- <!–[endif]–>Citysearch
<!–[if !supportLists]–>- <!–[endif]–>DexKnows
<!–[if !supportLists]–>- <!–[endif]–>Yelp
<!–[if !supportLists]–>- <!–[endif]–>Insiderpages
They are preventing their reputations from passing to you because they want to rank higher than you for searches for your business so they can sell you more traffic that you could have gotten yourself.
Now this is a perfectly legitimate business practice. Nothing illegal going on here. In fact it is necessary to put NoFollows on links to sites with questionable reputations so that their bad juju doesn’t rub off on your site in the search engine’s eyes. This is why NoFollows are sometimes referred to as “LINK CONDOMS” (caps used for eye-catching salacious terms). But what kills me is that the IYPs are achieving their rankings in the search engines based on the information about your business that you give to them. Oh wait a minute, actually it’s based on the information about your business that some of you PAY to give to them.
So what’s a girl to do?
If I were you and I advertised on one of these sites, I would call my sales rep and ask them why they are not linking to your site correctly and insist that they remove the NoFollow. I’d ask why they are impugning my reputation by using a LINK CONDOM on my BPP (and don’t forget to use the caps)? Then I’d ask how much money am I losing by not having a clean link and what percent of my ad spend with you does that equal? It’s not infeasible that 100% of the traffic to your BPP on these sites comes from SEO.
Maybe it’s time to start a revolution or a class action lawsuit or something. I think it’s time for a campaign to “Say No to No Follow” on the IYPs. Please add your name to the comments section of this page to show your support. If we can rally around this enough I will get it to the CEOs of all the major IYPs and see if we can’t get them to publicly sign it. Or maybe they’ll just have me whacked. Whatever the result stay tuned…