avoid_black_hate_seo_penaltiesRegardless of whether you’ve been working online for a few weeks or a few years, it can be tempting to try to figure out ways to improve your rankings within the search engines.

Sometimes these methods are perfectly fine, like when you update a meta tag, submit a site map or provide rich snippets, for example. But many times it can be unclear where, exactly, the line is between white, gray, and black hat SEO techniques.

The basic premise is simple: if you stay on the white hat side of the line, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary search penalties. While the process of increasing your rankings may be slower, it will be more secure, and you’re less likely to get hit by the next algorithm update.

3 Rules To Staying On The White Hat Side of SEO

Rule 1: Don’t Do Anything “Automatically”

The first rule is not to use automation when doing SEO, and especially not with anything that occurs off site. This encompasses everything from automating backlinks to spinning article content for directories to mass commenting techniques.

This is actually one of the most violated black hat concepts out there, despite the fact that it’s blatantly obvious to search bots.

Rule 2: You Can’t Outsmart Google, So Don’t Try

The 2nd rule is not to try to outsmart Google.

Google is smart. Sure, there are “simple” things they still have trouble understanding, but they’re getting much better at thinking like humans, and it will only improve over time.

So if you think you developed a method to build a link wheel that they won’t catch on to, or if you’re trying to falsely engineer social profiles, think again, because Google will know in a nanosecond.

Rule 3: If It Stinks, Don’t Eat It!

Finally, the ultimate rule is that if something feels a little off, chances are it is.

You wouldn’t believe the elaborate schemes that some people come up with in an attempt to beat out rankings. While some of these may work for a little while, ultimately you’re stuck in a cat and mouse game with the search bots, and even if you don’t get penalized directly, there’s a good chance the next algorithm update will knock you down a few pegs.

I always focus on trying to build a sustainable business, which means focusing on long term, gradual progress rather than short terms up and down. While every site has its fair share of volatile moments when it comes to rankings, focusing on providing excellent information to your readers is always going to be the best technique you can use.

Click here to learn more about building a long term business.