Link building and the whole process of gaining rankings has taken another twist recently. Google's algorithm is significantly biased towards the analysis of those sites that link to the recipient site.
The gathering of links, being totally white hat, comes from internet users liking what your site says or does and then link to it because they want to share it with users of their content.
In the real world whilst this does work, for many sites it can take a very long time to naturally gather links in this way. So webmasters in an effort to encourage inbound links, would approach other site owners to solicit a link. This might be by exchanging, but more and more it has developed into a financial transaction.
Over the years Google has been introducing filters to catch out the link exchanges, but recently decided that the practice of buying links is not desirable. In the webmaster guidelines it states "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results."
It goes on to say "Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such." Unbelievably Google then goes on to suggest using barriers such as "nofollow" tags and java to prevent spider migration.
If Google can match up to its proclamation, if buying links is so bad what are the options? Link baiting, Press Releases and Social Media. For most sites this is very likely to extend the period needed for optimisation through links, make the process more expensive but at least for SEO's the whole process is perhaps about to become a whole lot more fun!