I went to two sessions today where Matt Cutts was speaking. First let me say whatever they are paying him at Google it’s probably not enough, he really does an excellent job making people feel good about Google, and puts a much better face on things than the people who get paid to do that.
For those of you who missed the sessions Matt took a big swipe at paid link advertising, calling most of it ineffective and saying Google is working really hard to devalue them (paraphrased not a direct quote). In a later session during organic site reviews Matt was obviously logged into Goolge providing information about sites again stating that some paid links were not having any effect.
So are paid links dead, I don’t think so. Is Matt lying, nope don’t think so either. So which is it? From Google’s perspective paid links really muddy up the playing field, they create all sorts of sticky issues. Yes I think Google is working really hard to identify and devalue them. I also think it’s in Google’s best interests for you to believe paid links are dead. So when a company representive says something, be sure you put it in the proper context, before factoring it into your decision making process.