This is quite a hot topic in SEO as people dispute the ethical concept of buying links on other websites.
In a recent response to the question of whether or not a site would be punished for buying links, I read the following:
‘I don’t know but I think that you shouldn’t be punished. You are not getting punished for buying a text ad in a newspaper, so why should you be punished for buying a text link on a web site? You are marketing your product. Isn’t the web all about that? ‘
This makes a very valid point on the subject but that suggests buying links is good. It certainly can be but there is also a risk element involved if you make bad decisions on your choice of where the links will be displayed.
That is to say by all means buy links but not just fom anywhere.
Thinking about it logically, if you were to place an advert in a newspaper, it woould be because you want PEOPLE to SEE the advert. THe same must be true when buying text links. Choose websites that you think will refer genuine visitors and not just boost PR.
Some might add that links should be from sites that are also related to yours but I disagree. If a strategically placed link on an unrelated site can bring visitor that turn into cash, then do it!!
The finance industry is an odd arena because you could easily get referals for credit cards from a wide variety of unrelated sites, eg. shoes/gadgets.
So how do you stay on the right side of the search engines if the rumour is links should come from related sites?
Hence the possibility that search engines are quite likely to be clever enough to know where your sites visitors come from and NOT penalize you for links in effective locations. Or at least I would like to think they should…