Last night, Google update their Webmaster Guidelines to remove a single line that reads:
Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.
As you can imagine, this has set an early spark of flames through the SEO/SEM community. We have very early discussions on this topic at Google Groups, Sphinn (thanks Beu) and Search Engine Watch Forums.
In the Google Groups thread, Google's JohnMu explains why Google removed that line. Let me quote John:
I wouldn't necessarily assume that we're devaluing Yahoo's links, I just think it's not one of the things we really need to recommend. If people think that a directory is going to bring them lots of visitors (I had a visitor from the DMOZ once), then it's obviously fine to get listed there. It's not something that people have to do though :-).
Honestly, John's remark scares me. I have seen this before - or similar statements. In my opinion, this will lead to Google taking stands against many more directories - more than they have ever done in the past. How do I know? I don't, but as Google Blogoscoped reported last night, Google dropped their own link to their own directory. We know Google has gone after directories in the past. Will they ever go after ODP (dmoz) or Yahoo? I am not sure, but will they go after some other popular ones? Maybe.
To be fair, John does ask for feedback:
What do you think - does it make sense? :-) What else should we change / add / remove?
Where will this lead? That is my concern. Should I be concerned?