Google have made their bed...
Alas Google have created and online environment in which the purchase of links in one of the few remaining measures of how credible a business/site is.... Webmasters are more likely to steal your content these days than to link to your site regardless of how good your resource is....
Its a shame, but plagiarism is becoming more common place than citation - the principle upon which Google was built, which means 'real links' based on merit are becoming harder to come by and those companies with the deepest pockets are able to rise to the top in a flack buy buying links.
More interesting to me is how, while Google is being seen to be actively seeking to stop 'smaller from buying links from other 'smaller sites' sites' – the lower pagerank sites have been hardest hit by this toolbar update - they appear to be turning a blind eye to larger organisation which presumable spend more money with them on Adsence and hence hold greater leverage in the grand scheme of things. It’s a simple case of double standards and protecting advertising revenue at the expense of integrity.
I wonder what agreement TheTimesOnline and Tesco Finance have in place? Both huge companies. The Times is appears to selling links to Tescofinance - 833,000 of them with prefect insurance related anchor text. The placement of these links and selection of anchor text suggests advertising to me but of course I may be wrong.
As a result they have risen from nowhere in sight to position 3 for car insurance!
However, I bet Matt Cutts and Google will do nothing about this – and if they do, it will be short lived as someone from tesco is likely to pick up the phone to their Google Account Manager and have the matter resolved in a jiffy.
Hey ho – this is life…. Democracy has no place in ranking anymore and it’s the guys with the deepest pockets that will rank for everything worth ranking for… IMO