Google's Matt Cutts On Some Penalty Recoveries: "Quite Difficult" To Recover

Mar 10, 2014 • 8:32 am | comments (31) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google FingerprintA hot topic recently is when should you start fresh after a penalty and when should you try to recover.

Google's John Mueller said it is "never a decision to make lightly" but there may be times where you need to go the fresh route. Matt Cutts has told us digging out of a penalty can be incredibly hard. And now when penalties follow you and Google may look at your other sites, that can be even more concerning.

Late Friday, Matt Cutts said on Twitter that it can be "quite difficult" to "undo" the spam on some sites, but it is possible.

Here is his tweet:

At what point do you start fresh, new and say - it is not worth trying to repair the damage and knock it down and start fresh?

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Previous story: Google Will Look At Your Other Sites When You Get A Manual Action


Jason Dexter

03/10/2014 12:47 pm

Take the above, add and you're screwed no matter then? You need to completely change the website? I get it, tackle spam. I'm all for that! But a business owner pays 10k for a website and then a 1k a month for online marketing. A year down the line and the website is then penalised pretty hard. Thats 22k worth of investment. The business owner then needs to have a new website made on the premise that he *might* have a spammy website again?


03/10/2014 01:14 pm

I guess someone in that type of situation is in "Google Jail"...

David Iwanow

03/10/2014 01:21 pm

Yes it sux but the question is why the business didn't invest in more, so much of the sites i've seen hit by penguin (including my own) that were often made up of expired domains that were redirected with semi-toxic links or really low quality link build was done to the main domain in the first place. It really hurts but you get what you pay for most of the time if you buy a SEO link package that seems just too good to be true.

Jason Dexter

03/10/2014 01:35 pm

What is the right amount a business should pay, then? Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that you get what you pay but how does a business owner know that a £1k per month is any better or worse than paying 5k per month? What is the "right" amount that prevents this sort of stuff? The problem I see is that Google is punishing the business owner for trusting "experts". Any other industry wouldn't be like this. What do you do if you hire a builder, pay down the middle and two weeks later your house falls down. Do you just say "well, I should've paid more"?

Durant Imboden

03/10/2014 03:10 pm

A better analogy would be "You're a housing developer, and you hire a contractor who ignores building codes." When you get caught selling substandard houses, you won't get your reputation back (or escape penalties) by firing the contractor and hiring a new one.

Jason Dexter

03/10/2014 03:31 pm

That would like an SEO company hiring a freelancer, though? My point is that Google is going to be punishing ALOT of genuine business owners for something that they didn't do. Why should a business suffer because of someone else? If I go to the Doctor and they leave the scissors in my during surgery. Whos fault is that? The expert (them) or the patient (me)?

Durant Imboden

03/10/2014 04:13 pm

OK, let's assume for the moment that most online business owners are as pure as the driven snow, and most sites that violate search engines' guidelines are victims of shady SEOs. How is the search engine supposed to know which business owners are cheating by intent and which ones are merely clueless? Just as important, why should that even matter from the POV of the search engine and its users? Search engines' penalties aren't about punishment per se; they're about discouraging attempts to manipulate the search engines' results. If John Doe's widget site gets whacked by a Google penalty because John hired a shady SEO, another site will rise in the rankings to take its place. Users will still be able to find widgets, Google will still be able to direct users to widgets in its organic results, and the owner of the business that *didn't* hire a shady SEO will no longer be penalized by the artificial advantage that John Doe has enjoyed in the past.

Jason Dexter

03/10/2014 04:44 pm

I fully understand and appreciate what you're saying. Chucking RapGenuis back to the top of Google after 1 week away is extremely discouraging for small businesses who are shelling out a lot of money, having their websites penalised and then never getting that back. It's even more discouraging that they might be able to have their website on another domain because it could cause yet another penalty. Theres much better ways of dealing with spam than just fearing a shot gun into a crowd and hoping to have more bad sites disappear than good. How about nip it at the source? It's not difficult to see websites gain thousands of links in a short space of time and fly up the rankings. Why is it not difficult to see? Because eventually Google catches up with them. Why not stop that from happening? *dons tin hat* maybe it's to show websites what they COULD be getting in terms of traffic and then just pulls it away.... I'll would never trust Google


03/10/2014 04:58 pm

I have to agree with you Durant. I deal with a lot of investment websites. Another analogy would be like investing your money with a shady investor like Madoff. People thought they would rise to the top of our society quickly by making these investments (and making millions of dollars in the process). Unfortunately, when the law stepping in and shut him down everyone lost. The down side is, these investors were promised huge returns (top ranking in SERP's) they never got or they lost everything(starting over from scratch on you website). In my analogy I think that the shady "SEO Experts" should be held liable for their shady practices. Hopefully these crackdowns by Google will open peoples/business owners eyes to see what could happen if their SEO is using shady techniques and they write into their agreement/contract that the SEO should be held liable for any shady techniques used. I definitely think the SEO should be held responsible for the spammy actions they performed.

Randy Milanovic

03/10/2014 06:18 pm

There most certainly is a time to push the reset button. After you've cleaned up what is cleanable, fired your useless SEO (and replaced them with a useful one), and learned what organic link building attraction methods are all about.


03/10/2014 06:48 pm

While Google continues to allow link sellers to sell backlinks via Googles organic and ad platform, its hard to take Google seriously for punishing the link buyers! Google "buy backlinks".

Alexander Hemedinger

03/10/2014 07:05 pm

Google has really cracked down on penalization lately. I really don't understand even to this day links that are years upon years old and never picked up by Google, till now. Anyways, stay white hat everyone and monitor your backlinks daily!

Durant Imboden

03/10/2014 07:50 pm

Google Search and Google AdWords are separate operations. Yes, it would be nice if AdWords didn't allow ads for paid links, but let's be realistic: How many people who buy text links have never heard of the Google Webmaster guidelines?

Davis Johnson

03/10/2014 09:26 pm

Forget white hat / black hat There are plenty of so called white hat methods that can get you in trouble just as easily. What you need to do is STAY IN CONTROL of most of your links! So you can terminate them if need be.


03/11/2014 07:17 am

How can you STAY IN CONTROL of links? Anyone can link to anyone, how can you control what other people do?


03/11/2014 07:19 am

Precisely. Key word here being "attraction". That's as far as you can go with "link building" - let others decide whether they want to link to you.


03/11/2014 08:55 am

How many people who buy text links have never heard of the Google Webmaster guidelines? If another department of the SAME company asn't heard of the guidelines and continue to push link sellers, why do you expect anyone else to have heard of them exactly?


03/11/2014 08:57 am

furthermore you have link sellers IN ORGANICS STILL! Do a few searches! No excuse for it!

Jason Dexter

03/11/2014 09:19 am

Private blog networks...

Patti Paz

03/11/2014 11:59 am

Let me see if I get what you are writing, 'stay in control'? First, to achieve any significant link quantity and quality, you will likely need hundreds of thousands of good, quality, and relative links. AND, you think a website needs to 'stay in control' . . . . . .No offense, but it sounds like something a college professor would say, in theory . . . .

Alexander Hemedinger

03/11/2014 01:11 pm

Here is a software to help monitor links that get found and it helps track what may be suspicious or malicious:

Randy Milanovic

03/11/2014 03:30 pm

Agreed James

Randy Milanovic

03/11/2014 03:34 pm

$22k for a complete marketing solution? You got a smoking deal. Or, maybe you are being led to believe it is. I can't imagine handling my company's marketing on $22k/yr. I suspect that if you doubled that spend, you'd be working with a more qualified SEO/Marketing team and encounter fewer issues if any at all. Jayson Demers did an excellent job of outlining budgeting here:

Jason Dexter

03/11/2014 03:56 pm

But your example is assuming that you're actually worth that to a company. The example I provided was for smaller businesses. My local plumber friend certainly wouldn't pay that. So by just chucking figures around like that and assuming everyone can afford is a little silly. Also, I didn't say it was a full marketing solution

Randy Milanovic

03/11/2014 04:07 pm

My point being that everything is relative. We get what we pay for. I'd add that we are all smart to educate ourselves on SEO and accounting and any other outside service we pay for. As much as I'm a trusting guy by nature, I'm not going to neglect doing my due diligence.

Terry Van Horne

03/13/2014 12:13 am

He means you are responsible for them... so you must monitor and deal with others crap... it's called a disavow should become familiar if you are not already

Terry Van Horne

03/13/2014 12:15 am

no learn what is suspicious and malicious...the software is ALL CRAP!!

Alexander Hemedinger

03/13/2014 03:40 pm

Of course personally going through each individual back link is helpful. However, we use software quicken up the pace and being able to handle in a huge mass. I understand your response, and don't disagree. Just right now it's what we find helpful.

Alexander Hemedinger

03/13/2014 03:41 pm

Of course, but not always wise to just disavow every time links are being found. This also brings unwanted attention to Google letting them look through your account. It's a give and take. Just keep an eye on your trust/citation flow.

Gracious Store

03/16/2014 11:31 pm

Google is really taking a very hard and aggressive stand on spammers. I don't mind the hard stand stand as long as innocent hard working webmaster are not penalized unjustly


03/30/2014 03:28 pm

Noway you can stay in control. How can you limit people from stealing your articles/contents and republishing them..This is just one example. When you are #1 people do a lot to copy your site or damage your rankings :(

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