ColourOfSpring - 8:12 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)
Here and in other instances, MC mentions that for some sites, where remedial steps are too difficult to action, it might be better to start again
Whitey, I remember that MC comment. I think his comment does not reflect actual reality for many many cases out there. I've had one site that had barely any links pointing to it - it was punished in March 2012, and remains so to this day. My remedial action? I removed all of its links in March 2012 (not that hard as it was relatively new site, and not many links) - good and bad links (in my eyes) removed, submitted a reconsideration request confident that a site with literally - LITERALLY - ZERO links pointing to it should get a clean bill of health. I got back "we still see links...." - rinse and repeat several times over (several months over) including me asking where ahrefs and opensiteexplorer and GWT were missing these links that you're not liking.....get back the exact same canned response. It's like engaging with an unreasonable person - after a while you have to give up because they're just operating on another level to you. That's actually the scariest part for me. Google have all that power AND can be incredibly unreasonable at the same time. Not a great combination.
With Interflora, the scale of their link building was enormous - it wasn't just the paid advertorials - they were doing article marketing on a grand scale too across thousands of privately owned blogs. I doubt they would have (or will be) able to get all or even half of those removed without the good will of thousands of blog owners. And yet their penalty was lifted in 11 days.
So to sum up, reality is a lot murkier than Matt Cutts likes to portray. It's not a cut and dry "do A and Google will do B" negotiation process. If you get a penalty, you have to worry that it's actually a de facto permanent ban from ranking well regardless of your remedial efforts.