Earlier this week, J. C. Penney's high-profile link scheme resulted in the department store being penalized by Google. As Brafton reported, J. C. Penney rapidly sunk in Google rankings.

In a recent post on Google's Webmaster Central YouTube channel, Matt Cutts gave a hint at when sites penalized by Google – like J. C. Penney – might expect penalties to be lifted.

Cutts explains that there are two ways Google can penalize a site for spam. Google engineers can take action against a site manually, or a site can receive algorithmic penalties for content spam, keyword stuffing and similar offenses.

When sites are manually removed, Cutts says they essentially get a “time out.” Manual penalties tend to expire in a 30-day range and users can submit a reconsideration request for manual penalties. Once a site's “time out” is over, it can move back up in the rankings – assuming Google's algorithm approves.

On the algorithmic side, Cutts explains that the only way to move back up in rankings is to fix your site. Brafton has reported that Google's algorithm was recently updated to reduce spam – it penalizes sites for article scraping, which suggests that unique content is necessary for a good performance in Google search.

Brands should also be aware that general searchers can impact ranking penalties. As Brafton reported, Google announced a new Chrome extension that lets users opt to block sites from their personal search results, and user-identified spam sites are reported to Google. With this in mind, content that is relevant to consumers looking for information about a brand's industry should be a top priority.