“Paid links” is the topic du jour, and if you scan through your feed reader, you’ll no doubt find much expression of thought on the topic. To summarize, “Google are being big meanies when it comes to paid links”.
On the flip side, Google’s consistent denouncement of paid links should indicate only one thing to the seasoned Google watcher: paid links work.
After all, as Aaron and others point out, Matt doesn’t go on about meta tag abuse, now does he. This is because Google has solved the meta tag abuse problem, so meta tags aren’t even worth mentioning.
Here’s some proof in the pudding:
“Last year a client in a very competitive niche wanted his brand new site to rank number 1 across all his keywords. The niche was the kind that any self respecting webmaster would never link their site to for fear of being in a bad neighbourhood so linkbaiting was not an option. The method we used was to buy a LOT of links from any site that would take us. Poker sites, adult sites, sitewide links at directories, forum signatures. Every type of link that is blatantly a paid link.
We didn’t get one natural link in 12 months and spent a 5 figure sum on paid links.
Sure enough after 12 months the site went to number 1 and is still there today.
If you play with paid links you might get burned. On the other hand you might make 10k per week from organic rankings“
Not an uncommon practice, I might add. Look through any of those above mentioned categories and you’ll see thousands of examples.
That’s exactly how ultra-competitive serp categories are played these days.