A question I get quiet often is, my site has been penalized, and I want to know if I will have to start from scratch, to earn Google's trust back? I often say that I doubt you have to start "from scratch," but I am sure you won't be at the level of "trust" you once had with Google, after they have learned that you once did something that was not so good in their eyes.
A Google Groups thread asks that question and Googler, JohnMu, responds. Here is the question:
While waiting to see if a recent Reconsideration Request is accepted, I have been wondering whether or not Google regards any domain that has ever been penalised as less trustworthy than a domain that has not.
Or is it the case that once a penalty has been removed and a site is placed back in the search index, it can compete on a level playing field - as it did before the penalty?
JohnMu of Google said:
If a site cleans up issues so that it complies with our Webmaster Guidelines, then there's generally no reason why we would treat it as something less trustworthy. Cleaning things up is always a good idea :).
I always wonder what this "trust" factor is. Can it visually look like some sort of trust slider? The more trust, the more the slider goes to the right, the less trust, the more it is to the left?
How I see it, if a site is penalized for links, the day before the penalty, Google has your trust at (let's say) a 8.5 of 10. Now, Google flagged many of your links as part of a link scheme and your site and those links fall in trust. Now your site drops to a trust value of 1.5 of 10. Now that you have been penalized, you work on cleaning up your links by getting rid of the bad links. As you do this, Google may say, okay, we now trust your site, so you slide back up to maybe a 5.5 of 10. But those old links, the bad ones, that Google once trusted, are now gone forever. So you won't reach the 8.5 of 10, like you once had.
Now that is how I envision the link side of things. I can be 100% wrong, it is just how I imagine it working.
According to Google's response, it is possible to gain all your trust back. But, for some reason, I don't think it is possible to get it ALL back overnight.
Forum discussion at Google Groups.