The Google Sandbox Effect

What is the Google Sandbox Effect?

The Google Sandbox Effect is defined as the situation where the results of Google’s main ranking algorithms are initially inhibited when applied to a new property due to one or more temporal algorithm procedures taking effect. Put simply, when it’s obvious your recently launched site deserves a decent rank based on typical factors, but instead it’s nowhere to be seen. When practicing good SEO on your site and to suddenly have your site fall back like this can be very frustrating.

In 2004 Google had a major algorithm update, this resulted in many new sites losing recent SERP’s and an increase in difficulty in getting a new site ranked. This quickly became known as Sandboxing, the sandbox effect or the Google penalty. In 2004 the original description of the Sandbox Effect is a new site that had gained some good SERPs suddenly lost them all and was sent to oblivion.

When Google updated it’s algorithm to make ranking in Google much harder some new sites that just started to rank well in the old algorithm got caught in the middle of this update, as you’ll discover it’s not the age of the site per se that’s the problem, it other factors (age and quality of links and page rank) that keep a site in the sandbox.

Prior to this update a new site could rank quite well in about three months if it was optimised and had a strong link campaign, the links had an effect on Google rankings after just a few months. Anyone with a site registered in 2004 or later knows this is no longer the case, doesn’t matter what you do with a new domain it will not rank well in Google until it’s aged. The age of a new domain at first sight seems to be the main sandbox factor, but there is no obvious pattern, some report crawling out of the sandbox after 6 months, others are still stuck in the sand a year or more later.

How to identify if your website is lying in the sandbox?

  • Pages do not usually rank for similar titles
  • Initially, the website ranks quite well for competitive questions but fall back in the ranks ( to page 100+) in the SERPs or don’t even show for the intended keywords.
  • The site ranks in good position in all other search engines except Google
  • The website is outranked for apparent navigational suspicions
  • The sites rank very well for long tail keywords but not the main keywords.

How to avoid the google sandbox effect

  • It is entirely Googles choice to place your website in the sandbox although there are some tactics that can help you to avoid the sandbox.
  • Aim for keywords with fewer competitors
  • Update your website on a regular basis
  • Buy old domains or those that have just expired
  • Ensure you deep link and use sub domains
  • Enrol your domain identification for 5 years

How to get out of the Google Sandbox Effect

Generally the only way to get out of Google’s sandbox is to roll up your sleeves and create good content for your site, playing by Google’s rules. Here are some basic guidelines to live by which can help whenever starting a new site.

  • Buying Expired Domains – By purchasing an expired domain, Google will be less likely to put you in the sandbox because this is not a new site but likely a once established site which has had some traffic, link juice, and authority in the past. This enables you to hit the ground running.
  • Target Less Competitive Keywords – Keywords which are highly competitive are especially out of your reach when in the sandbox whereas your chances with less competitive keywords are not as affected by Google’s sandbox. Therefore you should target keywords with less competition to both generate some search engine traffic early on and increase your exposure and with it your links, thus giving you a better chance of getting out of the sandbox.
  • Get Good Links Early On – Getting weighty and impressive links from high authority sites establishes that your site is likely a high quality site itself and one worthy of a high ranking. The easiest way to get high quality links is to create high quality content or link bait which other sites want to link to.
  • Develop Your Site Over Time Versus Overnight – It looks better in Google’s eyes if you slowly build your site up as opposed to uploading the entire thing overnight. WordPress is great for this with the blog format as it’s very easy to upload content as opposed to a normal website where you would likely be more anxious to upload all of its pages at once.

How does google benefit from the sandbox effect?

The guys over at Seomoz have come up with a theory as to how google benefit from putting you in the sandbox, although not proven, it seems spot on. Any newcomer on the search engine market willing to use Google as a revenue-driven source of traffic will absolutely require starting with a PPC campaign if he wants to show up for its main keywords. So therefore is the Sandbox a marketing tool for Google to promote its Adwords and Adsense program? The marketing tactic is smart: it gets you used to delivering rather stable results at measurable and predictable costs.

Take action now and practice white hat SEO like us here at Superior Internet Marketing by building good quality content and relevant high quality links such as quality trusted sources like CNN News and Fortune 500 businesses and avoid the Google Sandbox effect.

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