brinked - 5:30 am on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)
mikeclover, you are 125% wrong.
I used to seek out backlinks to buy exhaustingly. I kept getting penalized. My rankings would go from top 5 for 10 high traffic keywords to page 5-10. At first I thought it was because I wasn't varying my anchors or my backlink profile wasn't diversified enough. But no...it was because these sites I was buying from were suspected link sellers (having off topic links on their pages, etc). Google didnt so call "penalize" my site to the point where they removed me from google entirely...but pretty much said "ok, we suspect your buying links..so your site will take a hit"
I have 12 years+ doing full time SEO and I have owned and/or operated over 50 websites and from my experience YES you can be "penalized" by google for buying links. I have been penalized for other crazy crap as well that I discovered through much trial and error.