We had some down time today after our big white-water rafting trip on the Arkansas River so I went through email and played catch-up reading. (note - apologies to everyone who's written or commented in the last 3 weeks, I will answer) .
As I was reading through a number of the SMX wrap-up blog posts, I was struck by something Tamar Weinberg from SEORoundtable reported on from the You& With Matt Cutts session:
Question: Speaking of link schemes, I came across an ad looking for a SEO manager and they were looking for "expertise in buying links." What would you say about this?
Matt: When people advertise for that, you have no idea how many people write to Google and say they are offended. We get those job descriptions forwarded to us. I wouldn't be surprised that we have something like this in the Webmaster Console in the future, just like we had the Spam Report form (which we had since November of 2001). We try to approach things algorithmically and also take people into account. We consider buying links to be outside of our guidelines and we might take strong actions on that in the future. If people want to ignore that, we as a search engine might take action on that because we want a high-quality index.
First off, this comment from a Google Engineer should stop the persistent question always being asked at search conferences on whether (or not) clients should link to their SEO's. I always thought it was a silly question to start with but now we have some scary stuff to quote which should put an end to it once and for all.
Second - as soon as I get home I'm hanging link garlic on my front door to keep the slaying squealers at bay. No more talking about paid links from this link witch, (as in Glenda the Good) and any mention or use of the word "paid" is coming off my site.
Third - I hope there is some exemption in place for any old post or web page out there hosting something I've written on paid links, I shouldn't be dinged for something I've done in the past. I was younger and thinner then, goodness knows I shouldn't be held responsible.
So for all you SEO's out there with form-filling-time-on-your-hands, I've seen the light. You can take your wooden stakes away from my website and go home.