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Difference being that Google doesn't seem to care about them doing it unless the NYT writes a piece on it.
Overstock is pretty much beyond the link influence thing, from an external standpoint.
Couldn't the same thing have been said about J C Penny last year? That they were beyond the link influence thing? Building links sure seemed to help their rankings out last year, no?!?!?!
If low quality links like that can influence brand results to that degree, then I think the tweak Google did a while back for brands was a bit too much. They are giving way too much weight to brand links, no matter where they appear.
To me, it looks brilliant. What you're seeing is not paid linking, it's marketing done right.
If you strictly go by google's "Paid Links" definition, these aren't and they break the rule only if google includes these "discount links" as one that violate their TOS.
[edited by: indyank at 5:13 pm (utc) on Feb 17, 2011]