In the latest Webmaster Help video from Google, Matt Cutts takes on an interesting topic. Can you buy a domain that has been penalized by Google for spam, clean it up and recover rankings?
Well, it depends, and Cutts explains why.
"This is a tricky question because on the one hand there's algorithmic spam, and then there's manual spam, and all manual spam does have an eventual time out, so if you were to completely clean up all the content on the domain, [and] do a reconsideration request, in theory, that domain can recover," says Cutts. "However, on the algorithmic side, if there are a ton of spammy links that the previous owner built up, that can be a little bit hard to go through, and try to clean up and get all those links taken down, and make a list of all those links."
He continues, "The way to think about it is, there are a lot of spammers out there that do basically what's known as a 'churn and burn' tactic, where they just use as many techniques to try and make a domain rank as they can, and then as soon as that domain is awful or bad, or Google has caught it, then they sort of movie on, and they go on to some other exploit, and they try to tackle it with another domain. Now what you don't want to do is be the guy who gets caught left holding the bag."
Long story short: how bad do you really want this domain?