Some directories home pages see their Google cache come and go.
Recently when people mentioned that some of O'Reilly's websites were selling off topic text ads Tim referenced a couple directories in a negative light. Now one of the directories that has been advertising on the XML.com website since January is no longer cached in Google.
When thinking of advertising off topic on a high profile sites keep in mind that sometimes search engines may not take action on certain things, and then may be forced into taking action by third party plublicity.
Site Sift has a database of around 17,000 websites, but if Google gives a directory a PageRank of 0, even temporarily, it may have a profoundly negative effect of the profitability of running that directory.
Site Sift also had a couple sitewide footer link to sites on expensive topics, which may have also been the reason for the recent problems with Google, but the timing of the PageRank removal was close to the O'Reilly link selling news.
I don't think it is bad to buy or sell links, but when you go exceptionally off topic with ads you have to expect that search engines will deweight your links. If you purchase a number of high profile off topic links that come under public scrutiny those links may end up costing you a lot more than you paid.
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