If you have a website that has been spamming for years, and you're now attempting to clean it up to get back in Google’s good graces, you probably have a harder time ahead of you than the average site.
According to Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts, longtime spamming sites will find it more difficult to get back into Google's search results.
Marie Haynes of HisWebMarketing, and a Search Engine Watch contributor, has been trying to clear a penalty for one client's site but having some difficulties despite submitting a reconsideration request. It seemed the issue was the fact her client had been spamming for so long and to such a degree, that traditional link removal methods weren't strong enough.
"… So I worry that you haven't truly gotten through to your client, who shows signs of long-standing, mass, deliberate spam," Cutts tweeted, later adding, "Just want to make sure they have a clear-eyed view of the hole they dug for themselves over the years."
Haynes then asked whether it would be possible to get the penalty lifted for the site at all.
"It's possible (as John Mueller points out), but it could be quite difficult to undo all the spam across the years," Cutts tweeted.
Mueller has mentioned before, and recently reconfirmed, that sites could have such a bad reputation, and be so deeply into spam that it's next to impossible to dig out of the Google penalty hole:
It's never a decision to make lightly, but there can be situations where a website has built up so many problems, that it may appear easier or faster to start over with a fresh & new website, rather than to try to fix all of those problems individually. This isn't an easy way to get past problems that have been built up over the years, it's a lot of work to create a new website, even if you already know the business area.
If you feel you're in this situation, make sure to get advice from friends & other people that you trust (including webmaster communities where you trust their opinions) before doing anything drastic!
That said, payday loans has been one of those spaces that has been full of spam for years and years, which has rivaled spam in areas such as prescription drugs and gambling sites.
"But then really, prior to this year, how many payday loans companies do you know of that ranked without using spam?" Haynes said. "I'm not saying that what they did was right, but it's what they felt they needed to do in order to rank." And Haynes is definitely right.
When faced with such as serious long-term spam problem, and considering the above comments from Google, you have to seriously consider whether it’s best to start fresh on a new domain.
Cutts also confirmed something that many webmasters, particularly spammers, have been suspecting for years. A spammy website can contaminate other websites that have the same address and company info.
Cutts pointed out that the site shared the same business information as other payday loan sites, particularly spamming ones. Here are Cutts' tweets:
@Marie_Haynes e.g. notice that http://www.kwikcash.co.uk/ has the same address and the same company registration number. (source)
@Marie_Haynes and make sure to press your client about exactly how many "quick case" sites they own, because it appears to be several. (source)
"As Matt pointed out, they have a history of creating unnatural links that goes back a few years. Google also has concerns with the fact that they have more than one business operating from the same address," Haynes said. "This doesn't mean that everyone who runs multiple businesses from their home or one address needs to be afraid that Google is going to penalize their site. But, it's possible that this is a factor that Google uses when trying to determine the validity of a payday loans site."
Webmasters who are having an issue with spam should make sure they separate any related sites if possible. This will include things such as matching affiliate codes, contact information, and WHOIS information.