mhansen - 2:03 am on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)
I started building websites in 1995-ish... went the fortune 500 route with a tech company from 1998-2003, all the while still building my web business part time.
In 2004, I took the web business full time and still sit here today. Not without many face-plants along the way.
In 2007, I got a bit adventurous, I guess that's a good way to put it, and took a few chances on aggressive SEO. Google was not happy and delisted 12-15 info/affiliate websites of our own, as well as several of our client sites that were in our Webmaster Tools account.
To say the least... I was in the same shoes you are in today. Devastated, not only for ourselves, but the people who trusted us also.
I was able to get our client sites cleared and turned back around after quite a bit of work and quite a bit a bit of shame, but I did. I personally feel that Google still has a file on us... and thus I simply do not use GWT or many other services that they offer.
We closed our original, and started a new business JUST to clear the Google file we feel is out there on us. Today, we have the same client accounts that were delisted in 2007.
It took until 2010 that we actually started seeing any positive results on our own sites again. We only have a small handful now... they are under an LLC umbrella, and they are what I would consider top-quality.
I just want to say... At this point you know MORE about Google than many others, you know what DOESN'T work. There is a LOT to be said for that... and its a good place to start for your next project.