tedster - 10:10 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)
I think neither site should be "hit" - I think Google penalties for link buying and selling are stupid. Since Google already feels they identify paid links, they should just write the algorithm to ignore them for ranking purposes. Then the link buying market would settle down to being another kind of advertising network,to sink or swim on its effectiveness at driving traffic.
But unfortunately, Google's war on link buying and selling is a done deal, and it's something we live with. I've almost run out of anger about it - but not quite. Still, my anger doesn't do any good. The practical issue is how to live with it.
Thinking it through a bit more -- it's clear that some link purchases do not get penalties but others do. Not sure whether Google just can't catch all those cases (seems unlikely because at least some are so obvious), or they just can't afford to hit those sites because people expect to find them in the results. At any rate, the current situation is not at all equitable.
You buy do-follow links, you take a risk. You sell do-follow links, you take a risk. But it's only a risk, not a definite consequence. And it seems like the stronger the brand, the less risk there is. That's what we've got right now.