If you think you've been wrongfully hit by Google's Penguin update, Google has provided a form that you can fill out, in hopes that Google will see the light and get your site back into the mix.
The update is all about targeting those in violation of Google's quality guidelines. It's an algorithmic approach designed to make Google better at what it has been trying to do all along. For those Google has manually de-indexed, there is still a path to redemption, so it seems likely that those impacted by the update can recover as well.
For example, if you were busted participating in a link scheme, you're not necessarily out of Google forever. Google says once you've made changes to keep your site from violating Google's guidelines, you can submit a reconsideration request.
To do so, go to Webmaster Tools, sign into your Google account, make sure you have your site verified, and submit the request.
Google's Rachel Searles and Brian White discuss tips for your request in this video:
"It's important to admit any mistakes you've made, and let us know what you've done to try to fix them," says Searles. "Sometimes we get requests from people who say 'my site adheres to the guidelines now,' and that's not really enough information for us, so please be as detailed as possible. Realize that there are actually people reading these requests."
"Ask questions of the people who work on your site, if you don't work on it yourself," she suggests, if you don't know why you're being penalized. Obviously, read the quality guidelines. She also suggests seeking help on the Google Webmaster forum, if you'd like the advice of a third party.
"Sometimes we get reconsideration requests, where the requester associates technical website issues with a penalty," says White. "An example: the server timed out for a while, or bad content was delivered for a time. Google is pretty adaptive to these kinds of transient issues with websites. So if you sometimes misread the situation, as 'I have a penalty," and seek reconsideration, it's probably a good idea to wait a bit, see if things revert to their previous state."
"In the case of bad links that were gathered, point us to a URL-exhaustive effort to clean that up," he says. "Also, we have pretty good tools internally, so don't try to fool us. There are actual people, as Rachel said, looking at your reports. If you intentionally pass along bad or misleading information, we will disregard that request for reconsideration."
"And please don't spam the reconsideration form," adds Searles. "It doesn't help to submit multiple requests all the time. Just one detailed concise report and just get it right the first time."
Google says they review the requests promptly.
Update: Apparently reconsideration requests don't do you a lot of good if you were simply hit by the algorithm. A reader shares (in the comments below) an email from Google in response to such a request:
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.example-domain.com/,
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.example-domain.com/ for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site’s ranking in Google. There’s no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team.
Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site’s ranking. Google’s computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.
If you’ve experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site’s content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you’ve changed the URLs for a large portion of your site’s pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search.
If you’re still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
Anyhow, should you need to submit a reconsideration request (I assume Google will still take manual action as needed), these tips might still come in handy.
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