Q: How long does it take to recover from a penalty?
Of course “it depends.” First, you have to distinguish between a manual Google penalty and an algorithmic penalty. A manual penalty will result in a warning message in Google Webmaster tools. If that happens, then read it, fix it, and apply for a “reconsideration request.” Recovering from a manual penalty might take a few weeks or a few months; depending on how fast you fix it, and how fast Googlers are reading these manual reconsideration requests.
If it is an algorithmic penalty, then this means no person at Google is mad at you. Rather the algorithm itself has changed. The PENGUIN update is this sort of thing; basically Google adjusted the algorithm to penalize sites that had many inbound, over-optimized A HREF links. There is no human to appeal to here. In this case, you have to fix / adjust your site to the new algorithm (e.g., remove the offending links, file a link disavow request) and wait for the crawler / algorithm to update.
In terms of how long, either process can take several weeks or months; it depends how fast you fix / adjust to the new situation, and how fast Google either approves your changes (manual penalty) or the Google database reflects your change. It really depends.
Also note that in some cases with Penguin / inbound link problems, a site can be so overwhelmingly linked to, that “undoing” the links is not feasible. In that case, unfortunately, you have to dump the entire site, and start from scratch. Really bad, I know.
Got a question? Click this link to email Jason or call 888-993-1122. Dr. Jason McDonald is founder and Senior SEO / Social Media Director of the JM Internet Group. He teaches the SEO training classes for the group, and therefore provides most of the SEO tips for this blog. His goal with this blog is to provide an easy 'one-stop shop' for the busy marketer looking for tips, tricks, and secrets on how to get to the top of Google and Bing for free using proven SEO tactics. When not dreaming up SEO tips, Dr. McDonald lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two dogs, a cat, four iguanas and twelve children (just kidding). Really you read down to the bio on this guy? Enjoy the blog.
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