There are of course two parts to this question: Which SEO risks are worth it, and which SEO risks are best to avoid? When it comes to SEO in particular, it’s important that company owners are at least somewhat familiar with how different aspects of SEO work. You don’t want to be faced with an SEO decision and blindly go for it, looking at the reward more than the downfall (which is just as possible). You want to have a little bit of background information on some of the risks you might be faced with so that you can make the right spur-of-the-moment decision.

Risk vs. Security in SEO: How To Decide When to Take the Leap

Because many business owners are still trying to understand SEO and how it all works, some SEO decisions can seem like they’re coming out of left field. Google is constantly changing their algorithm and changing the ways that they analyze websites, so you have to think fast. You may have a few ideas that you have never tried before, but Google isn’t slowing down and you can’t either. Even advanced SEOs deal with this from time to time.

The best thing you can do is try to be prepared for a change that could occur and have an idea about how you think you should react. Of course you might change your mind, but the more background information you have, the better. Below explains a few risks you might be faced with and why some are worth it and some simply are not:

SEO Risks Worth Taking

  • Hiring a social media specialist.

Social media signals are one of the things that Google is starting to incorporate when it comes time to rank a website (particularly Google+), not to mention the increase in social media usage by consumers. You want to develop a strong community and become an authority in your niche. Search results are beginning to be specific for specific people based on their social circles, so this is an area where you want to spend money and make sure you’re doing correctly. It’s worth it to put the time into optimizing and really managing all your accounts.

According to Shareaholic, social media makes up nearly a third of all referral traffic (up 22.71 percent since last year). In total, in December 2014 top 8 social networks drove 31.24 percent of overall traffic to web sites.

  • Finding new outlets for link/ relationship building.

You might be doing a great job with guest blogging and earning those high quality links, but there could come a time when you need to get creative. There are directories and forums out there that do pass PageRank, so try to get involved. This is another direct effect of some Google changes—the more quality your link portfolio, the better.

Keep in mind that links should be completely relevant and benefit readers. Link building for SEO purposes is a big red flag in the eyes of Google, so it’s important to focus on building quality links with authoritative sites. Work on your relationship building and continue to branch out with this in mind.

  • Creating a new website design.

This can always be scary and risky because you don’t want to turn readers away, but navigation is important. If you don’t think your website is performing the way it could, changing your design is necessary in the long run. It might be risky, but it’s always going to be worth it if it can help navigation and clarity.

  • Taking a break from building links.

Sometimes business owners are so focused on link building that they neglect some on-page SEO issues. If you’re finding that your website or your social media is suffering because all you’re doing is building backlinks, take a break. You might go down in rankings for a short while, but you’ll be preventing yourself from getting penalized, which will affect your long-term success. This isn’t quite as big of a risk as many think.

SEO Risks That Just Aren’t Worth It  

  • Common black hat tactics.

Keyword stuffing, doorway pages, and cloaking are all considered black hat SEO tactics and should not even be a thought in your mind. These tactics try to cheat the Google system, and Google will penalize you heavily for this. You can learn more about black hat tactics here. When in doubt, avoid avoid avoid.

  • Paying for performance SEO.

No SEO agency can guarantee results. If any agency claims to guarantee results then they really do not understand SEO and you should run for the hills! Paying to work with an agency is a great option, but make sure they are not guaranteeing any specific results 100 percent. SEO takes a long time, and a good agency knows that. Unfortunately there are a lot of scams out there, so you have to be careful.

In the end, a risk is a risk and you can try and be as prepared as possible but you never quite know how it is going to go. The important thing is that you’re constantly checking on the decisions you made and evaluating whether or not you made the right choice. You might lose some money short-term, but in the long run well-calculated SEO risks should help you learn more about the industry and get you to the success you’ve been craving.

Have you taken an SEO risk that paid off or went terribly wrong? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.