1. Most importantly, beware those companies that call or email and say they can get you on the 1st page of Google in 30 days.  If it sounds too good to be true, in this case it is.  Run away.  (See #2 below)
  2. Don't participate in Link Schemes to manipulate search ranking.  Any links intended to manipulate a website’s ranking in Google search results may be considered a link scheme.  That was the case in 2011, when the New York Times uncovered a link-building scheme by J.C. Penney. The retailer was ranked number one for bedding, dresses, area rugs, and other vague and specific keywords, with “uncanny regularity” for several months. After consulting with an industry expert, the New York Times found 2,015 pages with phrases like “casual dresses,” “evening dresses,” “little black dress” or “cocktail dress,” which all bounced directly to the main page for dresses on JCPenney.com. 

    NYT excerpt: There are links to JCPenney.com’s dresses page on sites about diseases, cameras, cars, dogs, aluminum sheets, travel, snoring, diamond drills, bathroom tiles, hotel furniture, online games, commodities, fishing, Adobe Flash, glass shower doors, jokes and dentists — and the list goes on.

    J.C. Penney said they did not authorize and were not involved or aware of the posting of links that the New York Times sent to them. J.C. Penney immediately fired their SEO agency, but not before Google took manual action against the brand for violating its guidelines. Overnight, J.C. Penney was vanished from search results for anything other than branded keywords (a.k.a. direct searches for J.C. Penney). It took about three months for J.C. Penney to move up the rankings and regain lost rankings.

On Thursday we will look at a few more of the tactics that can get you banned from Google.

Ref. Website Magazine March 2013