If your site has been penalized by Penguin or Panda, or if you have received a manual penalty, your first instinct is probably to try and help the site recover in rankings (provided that you weren’t already expecting this and gave up on the site in advance). Even if your site was penalized for having a multitude of harmful links pointing to it, recovering it may still be an option, but it may also be a resource and time sink that will ultimately result in failure. Knowing whether it is feasible to attempt recovery can be quite difficult, especially since people can get emotionally attached to their sites, but giving up on it can sometimes be the only reasonable option that you have left.
The first to do if you realize that your site, or some of the important pages, have been deindexed, is to find out the cause. Check the drop in your rankings to see if it coincides with some of the major algorithm updates, and try to determine which one of them was responsible for your strife. Once you establish what has happened, you’ll know what approach you could take to try and restore your site’s reputation and rankings.
Seeing that Penguin is one of the most common reasons for penalization, let’s take a look at what you would have to do if it turns out to be the cause of your problems. You’d have to run a comprehensive link analysis and isolate the links that may be harmful to your website. This may be somewhat tricky as you don’t want to remove a link that is actually helping your site rank better, but you also don’t want to ignore one that is harming it. If you are ever in a dilemma (although most webmasters and SEOs shouldn’t have a problem to differentiate between the two) it may be safer to simply remove the link.
After this phase you will have to deal with the most demanding part of the recovery process, removal of the harmful links. This can take quite a while, as Google recommends first trying to remove links on your own, and only then using the disavow tool. Contacting people to remove your links can devour quite a bit of your time, and seeing that such links were often placed on shady websites, you shouldn’t be surprised if some of the webmasters you contact ask for payment before they remove your link, while others may never reply at all. Finally, after a lot of work, your link portfolio may be completely clean, but your site is still not guaranteed to recover.
This is why you have to consider a number of things before you start the recovery – how much time and money have you invested in your website, and how much will you have to invest to try and help it recover; how many harmful links do you have; how much traffic is the site currently getting; how old is the site and finally, how much revenue is the site likely to make if fully recovered. Once you weigh all of these factors, try and make an objective decision about whether you’ll even try to help your site recover.