Being pushed down in the rankings by Google because of spam can be devastating for an online business. Naturally most people fight hard to recover when this happens to their sites; however, is there a point at which it is better to simply cut their losses and admit that the battle is lost?
Recent comments by senior Google personnel suggest there could be. The important thing is to be able to recognize this point and avoid wasting resources that could be better spent on starting over.
Comments recently made by Matt Cutts on Twitter strongly suggest that an ongoing lack of response to reconsideration requests could indicate that a site has such a bad reputation that it is unlikely to recover. Cutts admits that, “it could be quite difficult to undo all the spam across the years.” He also notes that sites may be penalized for close association with spam sites even if they have done very little wrong themselves. Factors such as shared contact details might mark out a site as more likely to be a repeat offender.
“It's never a decision to make lightly, but there can be situations where a website has built up so many problems that it may appear easier or faster to start over with a fresh and new website rather than to try to fix all of those problems individually,” said Cutts’ colleague John Mueller.
Once upon a time Google used to focus its anti-spam actions on the big players, but now even small sites are being aggressively targeted. When a search engine optimization record is tarnished it can be very hard to compete with sites that have not spammed, says Cutts, whereas a site with a good reputation has the potential to outrank even much larger sites.
Trying to fix a site’s reputational problems is no easy task. This usually involves hunting down all backlinks (sometimes there are hundreds), checking their page ranks and trying to get rid of links from the bad ones – with or without the cooperation of their webmasters.
After this, and after checking the site itself for problems such as excessive use of keywords, it is time to make reconsideration requests. The general rule is to submit a second request if there has been no response after four weeks; however, if there is still no response after ten weeks and no more identifiable ways to fix the site, it is time to think about giving up and building a new one.
Ultimately, with the way Google now works, having no reputation is better than having a bad one.