I've got a confession, I nearly bought some links. I'll quickly state I didn't go through with it but I came very very close.
To cut a long story short we were approached by a very large publisher who has a number of web properties offering article space in return for a fee. Each article presented a link building opportunity and the links were not NO FOLLOWED.
The web properties in question are already heavily monetised but the publisher - a well know and large organisation - has realised the value of links and decided to cash in. In short these greedy bastards don't give a damn about the ethics or Google's clear statements about not selling links that pass pagerank.
This once again begs the question of what Google can do about situations like this and I wonder if they can do anything at all. Apart from me and the link pimp nobody would have known any cash changed hands and as such no proof the link had been purchased.
Sure enough the page itself clearly states the article to be an advertorial (heaven forfend anyone should confuse link spam as quality journalism) but will Google's spiders make that distinction.
I've ranted many times about link spam even referring to it as Internet Cancer but even I was almost seduced by this latest offer, it's just so easy, hand over some cash, write some words, get some links.
Anyway, this close scrape has re-enforced my commitment to stay on the right side of the line where link building is concerned sticking firmly to the ethical SEO approach we have always adopted. So far as our clients are concerned we are very happy to point them at link spammers if they don't see things our way.