All my listings have been no-followed since July 2013
Let's get two things clear.
- NOT ONE OF THE HUNDREDS OF LINKS ON TRAVEL-LISTS IS, OR EVER HAS BEEN, 'PAID FOR' OR EXCHANGED.
- EVERY LINK ON TRAVEL-LISTS IS THERE ON MY EDITORIAL JUDGEMENT ALONE AND CAN BE CONSIDERED A RECOMMENDATION.
Happily, because of No. 1, I have no commercial relationship with the travel/tourism companies and organisations that I link to, so there is no obligation to pass "link juice" on to them.
Unhappily, because of No. 2 above, these are the very websites that deserve organic link juice.
It was a shame that I had to bow to the inevitable and put 'nofollow' attributes on the Listings pages (at page element level, not on individually), which of course totally misrepresents my site, but it's all about perception. My site looks like a directory and even if Google doesn't consider it to be 'bad territory' I get a tiny but steady trickle of 'Please remove my listing' requests from panicky webmasters spooked by Google's Penguin & Panda algo updates, or their SEO consultants eager to demonstrate activity.
(...though clearly not expertise. It's funny how, when challenged, they have to admit Google hasn't thrown up Travel-Lists... because, of course, the links are nofollowed! Not so funny are the ones who frivolously threaten to use Google's Disavow tool, thinking in their ignorance that it penalises the linking site!)
It's a point of principle. Irritating but not crucial, and not even noticed by the people who matter - my visitors.
If you want to delve into the issue of directories and un-natural links, this Search Engine Watch post on how to evaluate directories is a good resource.