When to file a reconsideration requestGoogle has some clear-cut quality guidelines that it uses to determine when a website is spam, and is effecting search results in an adverse way. If your website violates these guidelines, then it will most probably be put under a manual penalty. You will get notifications of such penalties in your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard (it is important that you set one up now if you haven't already). Once you learn about the penalty, you can take steps to remove it, and then, and only then should you file a reconsideration request.
Remember that reconsideration requests only work if your site has been manually penalized. If your site dropped in search results ranking, and is performing poorly after an algorithmic update, then a reconsideration request wouldn't do much good.Mostly, you will be notified if there's been a manual penalty. But, if you don't see any messages from Google in GWT, but you found some problems with your site after debugging, then you can resolve that problem and file a reconsideration request again.
Analysing and cleaning up your backlinksYou can use any of the various tools provided by Google to analyze your backlink profile. One good tool is the Links to your site section in Google Webmaster Tools. You can use it to look at your backlinks you gained during a particular period of time. You can also use Google Analytics to achieve the same end. Another handy backlink analysis tool is the Moz OpenSiteExplorer. You can use it to check on the Page and Domain authority of links to your website. Using these tools for analysis, you can pick out the spammy, auto generated, or low quality backlinks you need to remove.
Once you've picked out the backlinks you want to clean, contact the web site owners, and get your backlinks removed manually. If that doesn't help, you can use Google's Link Disavow tool to disregard those backlinks. Beware though! This can be risky, so check and double check the integrity of each backlink before disavowing it.
Writing a Reconsideration requestOnce your bad backlinks have been removed, you can file a reconsideration request. While writing the request, make sure you provide adequate documentation. The more detailed it is, the more are your chances of success. It shows how much effort you've put into getting your good name back onto Google. And besides, the more detailed information you provide, the more Google understands your problem, and the better it'll be able to help you.
Once you submit a request, you will be notified immediately in GWT that your request has been submitted. Normally, it takes just a few days for Google to manually analyze your request. Once it is processed, you will be notified immediately. The average turnaround time can vary from a couple days to a few weeks, depending on how many requests are currently being processed by Google. Requests submitted during a time when Google is updating its algorithms can take a long time, because there are a lot of people requesting during this time.
Got any more questions? Please feel free to ask in the comments section below, or head over to the Google Webmaster Forums for a more detailed discussion on your problem. All the best :)
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