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Does Google ever forgive a penalized website?

Getting high rankings on Google is so important for the success of a website that some webmasters try anything to get on Google's first result page.

Unfortunately, many of the methods that promise high search engine rankings are basically spam. Google doesn't like spam at all and if Google finds out that your website contains spam elements, your website will be penalized.

Which web page elements are cosidered spam by Google?

Google considers quite a few things as spam. The most popular ones are automatically generated doorway pages, cloaking and false redirects, keyword stuffing, hidden text or hidden links, paid links and automated linking systems.

What does Google do to penalize websites?

When Google penalizes a website, the website will either be removed completely from the index or the positions of a website in the search results will be lowered.

Does Google ever forgive a penalized website?

In a discussion in an online forum, webmasters shared their experience with re-inclusion requests on Google. One webmaster reported that it took over one year until a website had its old rankings back:

"One of my clients was completely banned from Google for a spammy link exchange program; we cleaned 'em all up and filed a reinclusion request, and they are currently #1-3 for just about every relevant search phrase you could think of.

They're ranking higher now than they ever did before the penalty - but it did take about a year to work their way up to that point."

Another webmaster confirmed that it takes long until Google re-gains trust in a website:

"That's what I've seen, too. A long, slow release from 'probation' as trust builds.

I do think Google always has a record of the past penalty somewhere, and any future infractions might be dealt with quite harshly. But you definitely can see a site get completely released from the ranking effects of a penalty."

It's very likely that Google keeps a record of all previous penalties that have been applied to a website.

What does this mean for your website?

You should avoid shady SEO methods at all costs. Do not participate in automated linking schemes. If someone promises you a quick and easy solution that requires no or little work then it is very likely that it's spam.

If your website has been penalized, remove all spam elements from your website and file a re-inclusion request on Google.

It seems that Google does forgive penalized websites but it takes a long time until a penalized site has its rankings back. During that time, you'll lose a lot of visitors and sales.

If you want to be on the safe side, only use ethical search engine optimization methods to promote your website. These methods might not sound as impressive as some of the promises that you can read on the Internet but they make sure that your website will get lasting results on Google's first result page.

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September 2008 search engine articles