Messing around with black hat SEO techniques is risky business. The internet is filled self-pronounced “SEO experts” telling you that cutting corners is totally safe, but it really isn’t. Nowadays, Google is quite good at detecting web spam. If you want to stay out of trouble, stay away from shady SEO practices and focus on natural link building.

Google is very particular about what it considers webspam. And once you get penalized or manually adjusted (as Google calls it), your traffic is never going to be the same. However, depending on where you get your news from, it might be hard to distinguish between good SEO practices and those practices that will get you closer to a Google penalty.

To bring you closer to the truth, we have prepared a list with do’s and don’ts that will allow you to maintain a healthy selection of backlinks.

Don’t do link exchanging

It might be tempting to consider a link exchange strategy in which you and a few other parties agree on linking each other’s websites. This used to work a few years ago, but now it can be potentially detrimental to your search ranking.

Google has a bird-eye view on your linking game, and if it sees that your site is always linked back by sites it links out to, it will consider it as a signal of unnatural link building. Double that with a few other unhealthy SEO tactics and you’re one step closer to a penalty.

avoid google penalties unnatural links to your website - How to Avoid Google Penalties Through Natural Link Building

Note: BTW, if you get this in your email, it’s already too late.

Don’t buy or sell links

If you’re looking for a surefire tip on getting your website penalized by Google, buying links is going to get you there. Starting with the Penguin 4.0 algorithm update, Google’s ranking algorithm is capable of checking for spammy links in real-time.

What happens when you pay for links is, your number of outbound links will be disproportionate when compared to your site’s authority. Unfortunately for black-hatters, this metric is extremely easy to analyze

Instead of buying links, focus on creating content that is useful and unique – content that is valuable enough to be linking worthy.

Don’t use comment spam tactics

If you’re a website owner, chances are for every legitimate comment you receive on your blog posts there are at least five spammy comments. This is a very common comment spam strategy that you should not mess around with.

avoid google penalties spam comment - How to Avoid Google Penalties Through Natural Link Building

The thing is, spammers that are using this tactic do not usually depend on organic search traffic. But your website needs it badly. With the latest algorithm adjustments, Google will make short work of any similar comment spam strategy. And you don’t want that.

Periodically check for backlinks and remove bad ones

If you’re overly paranoid about your website getting penalized, you can regularly check your backlinks to ensure that you’re not receiving “bad link juice“.

You can use Google’s Search Console, Majestic and a lot of other tools to check your backlinks for inconsistencies. If your investigations uncover any spammy links, you should use Google’s disavow tool to get rid of them.

avoid google penalties disavow links - How to Avoid Google Penalties Through Natural Link BuildingWrite guest blog posts

One of the best ways to expand your organic search is to use guest posting. Trust me, Google loves guest posting with meaningful content and will reward you accordingly with a higher rank.

Instead of trying sketchy SEO techniques, pitch for a guest blog on another website. Since every website owner is in love with new content, chances are you’ll find plenty of opportunities. Once you get the go-ahead, write a solid piece and include a link back to your website in the short bio or in another place.

avoid google penalties guest posting - How to Avoid Google Penalties Through Natural Link Building

Besides helping you with your SEO rank, guest posting is a great way to establish new connections around your niche.

Now that you know our best practices when it comes to staying away from Google penalties, let us know yours (in the comment section below).