Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Since organic ranking factors control the top of the pack, problems with organic ranking and organic penalties can have significant impact on local rankings.

Was just reading a post about how long organic penalties last before they expire.

FYI I've never seen anything written about the length of time PURE LOCAL ranking penalties last other than my own comments on the topic.

But in ranking troubleshooting/consulting cases I've worked on, that were lifted within a week after I pointed out the offending problem and it was fixed. I've also seen penalties however that lasted 8 months.

In the post below there is a quote from Matt Cutts talking about how the severity of the penalty fits the crime. I assume that's also true in local.

Marie Haynes is the 1st person I ever trained on Google+ Local 3 or 4 years ago. She now has a business that specializes in Google penalty recovery. Her site is: if you ever need help.

She just wrote a good post over at Search Engine Watch about penalties and expirations.

<a href="">Did Your Manual Penalty Disappear? It Probably Expired - SEW</a>

Imagine this scenario. You've been working extremely hard for months to lift a manual unnatural links penalty on your site. After spending countless hours auditing your links, contacting site owners, and perfecting your case for your reconsideration request, you're finally ready to file.

You go to Google Webmaster Tools, click on Search Traffic > Manual Actions, and see a puzzling thing. There's no longer a penalty there! And not only is there no penalty, but there is no "Request a Review" button. What do you do now?

All Manual Penalties Expire

What likely has happened is that your penalty has expired. Did you know that all manual penalties from Google have an expiration date? In some cases, they can expire after just a few months. In other cases it can take years. There really seems to be no discernible pattern to help us know when a penalty is going to expire.

Mark Warner

Feb 28, 2014
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I caught that session of J Mueller's office hours where he spoke about this recently. I think it's worth pointing out that he spoke about this perhaps 3-6 months ago, and his answer leaned much more towards the time frame of 1-3 years for a penalty to expire. In the recent video, he mentions the term "months" and all of my understanding indicates that you would be very lucky to have a penalty expire in this time.

If you are in the business of not caring about big G's webmaster guidelines, you should just be calculating expected value of your activities, and in some cases, greyhat/spammy stuff would be a much more legitimate option (that is much more likely to be profitable over the long run) if penalties expired after only a few months.

Right now, the math just isn't there to be doing grey hat stuff for most websites that belong to a real business or real brand.

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Agreed Mark!

I also heard Matt Cutts say something recently that sounded similar to "the punishment fits the crime". He didn't say it like that but said the severity and length of the penalty depending on how serious the violation.

The problem is the serious black hats build knowing they could be penalized forever so they build en mass with short life span in mind and are not risking their entire business on that one site staying viable.

BUT if a business owner hires a shady SEO not realizing the damage that can be done to their business they can face a long or permanent penalty too if the violations are severe enough. Could kill a business.
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