A couple days ago we reported on a public thread asking the question, Google Webmaster Help has seriously heated up.
In fact, a Yell representative responded to these accusations, denying that they sell links for the purpose of selling PageRank. Matthew Bottomley from Yell said:
Great debate but it's actually based on a false assumption. Yell doesn't sell links.
We do link to all businesses where we hold a valid website address - whether the business is a paying advertiser or not - and we do allow Google to follow them. Take a look at the businesses listed on page 6 of www.yell.com/s/plumbers-derby.html as examples of the latter - these companies do not pay for advertising with Yell.com.
Some competitor sites only allow businesses to add their website address if they pay for advertising with them. We think this would be like paying to include a telephone number or an address. Whilst it's true that our YellDirect service doesn't currently allow business owners to add their website address, it is in our plans to do so. In the meantime, we telephone every business that registers with us to gather their website address and other additional information so that we can validate the business before publishing. Any business can also call our registration line 0800 533 433 to add their website should we not already hold it.
Our goal is to get every single local business in the UK online. So we allow Google to follow the links. We believe this helps Google maintain an up to date and comprehensive record of all local business websites.
Hope this clarifies things
Matthew Bottomley Yell.com
After his response, most people are still not convinced. Ultimately, it is up to Google to decide here what to do with it. But I doubt Google will make any announcement about this, nor should they.
JohnMu from Google said:
I prefer not discussing third-party sites. To me, it's interesting to see the different opinions on something like this, which does show that sometime things are not just black or white (please be civil even when discussing things that you might disagree about; the discussion is interesting, let's not ruin it).
John did add:
For what it's worth, both the contents of Matt's video ("What types of directories are seen as sources of paid links?" ) and the general paid link guidelines are still very much relevant today. If you feel that this particular site is violating the guidelines, please do take the time to submit a paid links report for that -- the reports are all reviewed and if necessary, appropriate actions are taken.
Nothing like a link selling debate to get forum enthusiasts and SEOs riled up.
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.