A WebmasterWorld thread has SEOs and webmasters discussing what is better, a manual penalty or an algorithmic penalty? If you had to choose between Google giving you a penalty, which would you choose?
I'll place the poll later, but first let me share some of the pros and cons of each.
We know manual penalties expire. We also know Google gives you specific advice on why you are penalized. They also give you examples and ways to fix the issue. You can then even submit a reconsideration request. If the reconsideration request works, Google will tell you that the penalty has been revoked.
Manual penalties are often more transparent.
But from my experience, often I see even after a manual penalty is revoked, the traffic to the site does not improve much. Either because all those bad links no longer count or because the site also has an algorithmic penalty.
They are typically very extreme. They will hit you when Google runs the algorithm. It can hit you hard, like 30% or more of a drop in traffic. It is often not always clear which algorithm hurt you. It is also not always clear how to come out of the penalty. If you do think you know the problem, fixing it is not always easy. You have to wait for Google to pick up that you fixed it (you cannot notify them) and then wait for the algorithm to run. Then you pray it worked.
But when it does work, you can see all your traffic restored or much of it.
Honestly, I am not sure which penalty I'd prefer. At least with the algorithmic fix, you recover in a major way.
Take my poll and leave your thoughts:
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Update: Poll results at this post.