People don’t like hearing it, but we’ve been saying this for a long time. You get rankings that your site deserves. Don’t try cheap tricks or lame approaches. Instead, create great content, build gorgeous sites and earn links with quality outreach to influencers in your industry. It’s more expensive and takes more time, but your reputation will grow first and then your rankings and then your profits. Do it in that order, or get offline. Or at least stop doing SEO, and start buying ads.
This Search Talk, by the UK business Branded3 is an excellent take on this exact topic. Watch all 33 minutes. It’s well worth it as it will help to manage your expectations as well as future proof your SEO efforts by giving Google what they really want. Patrick Altoft does a great job explaining both.