We have done a video about this. I think Brian White and a web spam analyst, Rachel, also had given their perspective. But I’ll give you a very high level view and then maybe a few things to chew on and think about.
At a very high level view, the goal of your reconsideration request is, number one, to tell Google you’ve stopped whatever violations of the quality guidelines were happening: paid links, cloaking, scraping, doorways. Whatever it was, you need to make a clear and compelling case that that has actually stopped. That behavior no longer is going on and that you’ve cured as much as possible. So if you were doing paid links, you’ve gotten as many of those links pulled down as you possibly can. The second aspect of a reconsideration request is to basically give us a good faith assurance that it won’t happen again. You don’t want to say, oh, well, this site looks like it’s reformed. OK. We’re going to lift this manual action. And then they immediately go back to spamming or doing their old tricks.
What you want to do is step into Google’s shoes and say, OK, what would best convince Google that we’ve turned the corner and that this behavior has stopped, and that we’ve cured whatever was going on, and it’s not going to happen again? So great things to include: things like details of the sorts of sites that you were contacting. If you were removing links, for example. If you used an SEO and they really just shot you in the foot because they were doing all sorts of unethical things, that’s the sort of thing where I would give us details about that. Tell us about the link network or the SEO or that sort of stuff. If it was someone in-house, what have you done to make sure that it doesn’t happen again?
They were talking about how they put a training program in place so that future people would understand these were the violations of our quality guidelines, whereas these behaviors were OK. Basically, the more stuff you can do to give that kind of clear, compelling evidence, the easier it is for Google to make an assessment. Ideally, it’s best if you include as much information as possible, actually, within the reconsideration request. We tend to be a little bit leery of if you’re inserting hyperlinks that go off to random places. If we can’t know where they’re going to go, then we have to think about is someone going to try to give us malware or something like that?
You can include links to a Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet if you want to show sites that you’ve contacted because it is possible for us to view those sorts of docs without worrying about what sort of things might be included or revealing the identity of the person who is looking at the reconsideration request. But just like any time when you’re trying to convince somebody, you want to make sure that you show that you have taken a lot of effort, that you have tried to clean things up, and that basically it won’t happen again. And the more we can suss out and try to assess whether you’re now of that mindset where you’re not just going to try to do another fly-by-night trick or whether things will lapse again, the easier it is for Google to say, OK. It looks like things are in pretty good shape. So let’s go ahead and grant that reconsideration request.
by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team