There has been plenty of talk in the industry lately as to whether or not text link ads should be used to increase your websites rankings. While they may not be a natural way to build links, it's no secret that they continue to work very well for sites trying to rank for lucrative terms. If you are involved in a competitive industry you would be hard pressed to find many sites in the top ten not using these as part of their SEO strategy.
If you want to get the boost that text links provide but are worried there may be some negative repercussions, I would advice you to do a little homework. Talk with people in the community and make sure that the company you are working with has an established reputation. Remember brokers want their links to be effective and your site to be successful. If your site fails, you will stop buying links and they will stop getting paid.
Still concerned about placing the text link ad on your site? Here is a technique you can use to make sure that it won't incur any negative effects:
1. Buy a text link and point it to a separate website.
2. Use a 301 redirect to point this separate website to the domain that you want to rank.
With this technique you will receive the power of the link with an exit strategy if it doesn't work. Let's say that you do buy a link from a bad, known source and Google drops a damper on the URL in the link. If you used the 301 as mentioned above, just move it away from you good site, and voila – you're back to where you started (penalty gone).