Today, Google published FAQ’s on How to clean backlinks and file reconsideration requests, in 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 his best to make it more clear for all of us.

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

How to know when to file a reconsideration request?
Google says if you have violated  Google Quality Guidelines and got manual action email, you need to file the reconsider request. Interestingly you can submit reconsider request in both cases, if you received manual action email as well as if you are very much sure that site is not affected by an algorithmic change. However Google has made it clear that ranking change in SERP’s 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 one point which need to be taken care that some times 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 past which may have created bad links and directs you to download link profile from WMT and check links created within that time frame. Google advice you to check backlinks with certain pattern like blog comments which look like spam, forum posts which 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 advices to use domain-wide operator for complex URL’s, low quality spam sites or sites which have no real content value etc.

What information I need to provide with reconsideration request?
Answering this question, Google like to have complete detailed documentation with 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 including link to shared doc file.

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

What to expect from a reconsideration request?
You will receive 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, that questions addressed by Google are very common questions which 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.