Is there a thing like a permanent Google penalty for sites, or if the necessary fixes were made according to Google guidelines, the penalties are lifted in all cases?
Now on the manual side, as far as I can think of, the vast majority of the time what we try to do is we try to have, essentially, a time out. So if it’s hidden text, you might have a penalty for having hidden text, and then after, say, 30 days that would expire. And then if you’re doing something more severe, if you’re doing some cloaking or something really malicious, that will last for a longer period of time.
We try to write things such that if you improve your site, if it’s affected by an algorithm, or even if you’ve done something within your site, eventually that would time out. Of course, at any time you can do a reconsideration request. And if you’ve been affected by a manual penalty, then we’ll investigate. And if we think that it’s sufficiently within our guidelines, then we can revoke that and your site will immediately be resolved and not have to worry about that particular penalty.
Let me just take this opportunity to mention that if you do a reconsideration request, at least right now, we’re checking against whether you have a penalty that’s in place manually. That is, someone has taken an action to say “this is a violation of our guidelines”. And so we check against that list. But if something is only affected by our algorithms and not by any manual action that flagged something that violated our guidelines, then normally you wouldn’t be able to apply against the algorithm. The algorithm would just continue to run, and what you would do is you would need to change your site such that the algorithms would no longer detect it as spam. If you’re doing a reconsideration request, that’s something to be aware of. The way that things are set up right now is it’s testing against the manual actions that we’ve taken.
by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team