If you’re selling or buying links, that’re contextually non-relevant on your site, Google will find you out and probably penalize you. Such is the case of NewsDay.com, which was slapped with a Google Penalty (down from PageRank 8 to a PageRank 5) for openly selling spam links throughout their high profile site.
Barry Schwartz points to a Google Groups thread where a Googler responds to the NewsDay.com PageRank issue :
Thanks for your post. I’m glad you’re posting here in the Webmaster Help Group, because the discussions here help educate webmasters around the globe. I just checked over newsday.com and compared it to the most recent version of newsday.com that was indexed by Archive.org: http://web.archive.org/web/20070829225145/http://www.newsday.com/
Scrolling near the bottom of what your site used to look like, I see the following “Featured Links”: Mesothelioma Lawyer Lung Cancer Personal Injury Law Firm Buy Mets Tickets Buy Yankees Tickets Wicked Tickets Hamptons Travel[…]