Today, Google published FAQ on How to clean backlinks and file reconsideration requests, in the Webmaster Central Blog post. The blog post outlines common questions on backlinks and reconsideration requests, as we have seen increasing concerns of webmasters and site owners in past after penguin updates and a lot of questions were being asked in Google Support Forums and communities and Google tried its best to make it more clear for all of us.

One thing which came as clear is to reconsider the request which can be submitted in both cases, either you have received a manual action email or if you are unsure if you have been hit by a manual or algorithmic penalty. Here is what Google has said on this topic:

How to know when to file a reconsideration request?
Google says if you have violated  Google Quality Guidelines and got a manual action email, you need to file the reconsideration request. Interestingly you can submit a reconsider request in both cases, if you received a manual action email as well as if you are very much sure that the site is not affected by an algorithmic change. However, Google has made it clear that ranking change in SERPs or position of your website may be due to algorithm change, in those cases you need to check issues related to your website and fix them.

Here is one point which needs to be taken care of that sometimes Google takes action also if your website is hacked or compromised, in those situations (Not related to Un-natural links) you need to file the request.

How to determine the quality of a site’s backlinks?
Answering this question, Google wants you to recall if you have used any SEO company in the past which may have created bad links and directs you to download link profiles from WMT and check links created within that time frame. Google advises you to check backlinks with a certain pattern like blog comments which look like spam, forum posts that are auto-generated, and text links or advertisements which are having links that pass PageRank.

What Should I do to clean a bad backlink profile?
Google wants webmasters to make 100% honest affords to identify bad links, get those removed or no-followed. You can use Disavow Links Tool, for the links which you were unable to remove. Google advises using domain-wide operators for complex URLs, low-quality spam sites or sites which have no real content value, etc.

What information do I need to provide with the reconsideration request?
Answering this question, Google likes to have complete detailed documentation with a reconsideration request outlining what all you did to clean the bad links or fix the issue. Make sure you have public view permission if you include a link to the shared doc file.

What time frame does Google take to process a reconsideration request?
Google says that it can be within just a few days, but there is no fixed time frame as it depends on the volume of reconsideration requests received.

What to expect from a reconsideration request?
You will receive an automated confirmation message after submitting the request, followed by another message as soon as your request is processed specifying either of these two outcomes – Manual action is removed or your site still violates quality guidelines.

So what we have seen, is that questions addressed by Google are very common questions that you may have also faced from your clients if you are working on link audit/removal work for any website. Overall it will help webmasters to understand the process more clearly.