Google’s Matt Cutts posted a video describing how and when Google will remove a search ranking penalty for a site. I will embed the video below for you all to watch.
Matt explains there are two groupings of penalties a site can receive in Google.
(1) Manual Penalties, such as reports submitted to Google for things like off topic porn and things like that.
On the algorithmic side, when you change your site and remove the spam (i.e. keyword stuff, etc), after Google recrawls and processes your site and pages, normally, you site will bump back up in the search results.
On the manual site, the penalties “time out” and “expire” after a specific amount of time. The length of the penalty is based on how severe the penalty and how badly you are breaking Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Matt finally adds that you can also do a reconsideration request, which would expedite removing a manual penalty. But a reconsideration request will not help you with an algorithmic penalty – you would need to fix your site to fix the issue.
Here is the video:
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