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One place that I've found that I can get inbound links is from college newspaper sites. All college newspapers have a Sports section, and most college newspapers have a nice (5+) page rank. To me, it seems like links from a Sports section into Sports Memorabilia seems relevant and "on theme"
I am able to buy space on these newspapers, kind of like buying any other ad space, but simply have them put up a hard-coded text link to my site in the space for the price of the ad.
The only thing I'm a little worried about is that some of these newspapers also sell text links (usually at the bottom of the page, NOT where my link will be) to some of the "usual suspect" spammy guys -- casino, poker, online pharmacy, bad credit mortgage, etc.
Will Google discredit this kind of link to my site, despite the high page rank and relevance of the Sports Section, simply by virtue of the fact that the bottom part of the site that is linking to me is a "bad neighborhood"?
There is some debate if an excessive amount of links from bad neighborhoods can hurt you (aka Googlebowling). From my experience unless you are engaged in a fair amount of questionable linking activities, this is not something you should waste time worrying about.
That's not at all what I've seen. I've posted about this before: a site that got itself to the top of a particular serps (previously indexed at 30+ million pages and now indexed at 50+ million pages) MAINLY by purchasing text links in a network of online newspapers. At one time, yahoo was reporting 500,000 backlinks that the site gained this way. What happened? The site seemed to have been sandboxed for about 3 months. Since then? The site is rock solid on page one and has been for over half a year.
To Google, it is a *paid* relevant link, meaning it isn't a vote, which is what link popularity is "supposed" to be about. I've seen sites buying those links do well, see no effect and get killed in the ranks... buy the link if it makes sense - if you get a rank boost, great, if not, make sure you get your roi.