This is old news, but a while ago on TW I posted that UPI, a 100 year old company, was overtly selling PageRank, even mentioning PageRank on their advertisement pages. Search works so well because they measure relevancy using things that are hard to manipulate or things that people wouldn't generally think to manipulate. Thus, if a 100 year old slow moving company is doing something you know that the method of relevancy they aim to manipulate is generally likely already dead.
Google will likely filter out overt link buys like this
especially when they are marketed this aggressively on Google's own ad network
If a link buy is so overt that people would talk about it, then an engineer or algorithm has probably caught it already. But that sort of example can be seen as a proxy for the market as a whole, and Google have also significantly lowered the weighting on raw PageRank scores over the past few years, because too many people know about it and manipulate it. Just looking at PageRank is nearly as useless as a meta keywords tag.
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