It's a well known fact that linking is a key aspect of how a site performs in the SERPs. It's also well understood that securing good links based on merit isn't easy, and I'm not suggesting it should it be.
The end result is a whole industry has been created offering to take care of website's link building needs. There's scarcely a day goes by when I don't receive an email from a company offering to be my link building partner. Nine times out of ten I bin the emails but sometimes I investigate further to see what's being offered. To date I've been very disappointed by what I've found.
In simple terms when I ask the companies to provide some case study information the links I find are utter rubbish. In almost all cases they have bought some space on a web page and simply listed their clients under the guise of being a useful link, business partner, friend or some other spuriously connected website. So far not one of them has provided a link that is on a credible website, hasn't been bought and, more importantly, is contextual. Maybe I've just been unlucky but I've got a sneaky suspicion this isn't the case.
But here's what really gets me, these rubbish links can be seen, at least by me, to actually help the sites they're linking to. These rubbish links - "roll up roll up, 1000 links for $49 "- are actually working and slewing the SERPs. Not just here and there but on a whole raft of search terms.
The dilemma for the SEO using ethical techniques is, how can they explain to their client who is paying them good money to create a great website, including great correctly organised and tagged content, that they are being beaten by rubbish sites who are buying spammy links.
I know these sites are playing with fire and may well disappear off the face of the SERPs in a heart beat but meantime they are owning them and it's frustrating. As a confirmed fan of Google all I'm saying is, come on guys, meet us halfway on this, kill the spammy link merchants, pretty please.....