It is no secret that Google has figured out how to identify paid links networks - it takes us a couple of hours to identify such a network (including the so-called "high-quality" paid link networks) so I imagine Google does it in a few minutes. Reducing each link value to zero must then be trivial. So if you are using paid links, you are left with no upside and plenty of downside if your site ends up in the Google penalty box. Could there possibly still be value here? It seems the answer is yes. Imagine our surprise to discover someone - we can only suspect it must be a competitor - figured out a creative way to still extract value from paid links.
Take for example https://www.skymondo.com/choosing-the-best-seo-tools. This page looks legitimate and happens to link to www.brightedge.com. But if you take a look at the site, it is obvious most of it is irrelevant content designed to trick a search engine. I can assure you nobody at BrightEdge had anything to do with this. We can only assume the next step for whoever is behind this is to report BrightEdge to Google in the hope that we get penalized for an action that we did not take. For us as a 100% white hat SEO company focused on helping enterprises create a discipline for SEO and elevate the practice of SEO, this represents a new low in the usage of black hat techniques. It's disappointing to see black hat link experts continue to focus efforts and energy on developing new, low handed tactics. What are your thoughts on this topic? We would love to get your feedback.