I failed at SEO – complete failure

I cant rank anymore….building links via forums used to work…i even use vpn to do that….to avoid detection by google….
First I was in top 10, then I changed some pictures on the page and felll to top 20, now I am nowehre to be found……am I being penalized…..
what is working in SEO??

I did not use even keywords in link anchor text…..I switched them around……i feel like a failure….smalll indians sites sudenly came to top 10 and beat me……and I am not in even top 100…

I failed at SEO – complete failure