jk3210 - 3:19 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)
Google is able to devalue the lower level linking schemes that most rookie link buyers use very well. But the higher level link buys? Forget it.
Short of some SEO accidentally cc-ing a PayPal receipt to Google that says "Receipt for Link Purchase," there is no way these link-buys will be caught. I'm not even sure that some of these guys will even tell their clients which links they bought for the client's site, in case Google tries to run a beard past them.
I've had a running battle for years with several huge sites that buy links, and so far I've been able to hold my own against them without doing link-buys. I rank #1 for about 60% of the money terms associated with our niche, but they score big with the long-tails. However, my site has also been online and pulling in organic links since 1996 which helps a lot. My newer sites are a struggle to promote.