Are your SEO tactics truly white hat?  Here is the test- If you met with an algo engineer from one of the major search engines, would you feel comfortable revealing your tactics and the url of your site?  If you did, would you fear that he would alter the algorithm to penalize you?  If you apply this test before you implement a promotion or link strategy, you should avoid most penalties.

Natural inbound links are great.  They are a result of strong, unique content, and competent promotion.  As an SEO, you are not paid to sit back and pray that you get natural links.  So how to do actively build links without running afoul of search engine penalties?  Simple- stop focusing on link building, and start focusing on high quality, effective site promotion.  Should you actually avoid getting links to your site?  Of course not.  Links are also the natural result of promotion.

Here is an example that will clarify my point.  Blog commenting is a popular way to get links to a site.  Imagine that the two SEO’s explained their strategies to G’s engineers.

SEO X’s Blog Comment Strategy:

Post comments to as many dofollow blogs as possible including using anchor text as the link name.

SEO Y’s Blog Comment Strategy:

Participate in the discussion on a handful of blogs over a period of time regardless of dofollow/nofollow.  Use real name or pen name for text link and only post comments in blogs highly related to the target of promotion.

SEO Y will develop a flow of relevant traffic over time with inbound links as a beneficial by-product.

SEO X may get a short-term boost due to anchor text links, but his strategy can easily be detected as spam and unnatural.  Would SEO X feel comfortable explaining his strategy to an algo engineer?  No