Links from paid directories? It all depends on the directory. Links from the Yahoo directory (at a few hundred dollars) are still valued by Google. The stated position is that these are from human-edited directories and that the payment is for the 'editing' and 'evaluation' of the link. Most paid links, however, violate Google Webmaster Guidelines and can get you blackballed from the Google Index. Proceed with caution when a link requires payment. And, a few hundred dollars can probably by a lot of Adwords ads.