The Google Sandbox

New websites are often not ranked by Google, as they are placed in the Google Sandbox. This phenomenon has sparked much debate amongst website owners. The following takes a look at the Google Sandbox.

What is the Google Sandbox?
The Google Sandbox is also referred to as:

  1. Sandboxing 
  2. Sandbox Effect
  3. Google Penalty

The Google Sandbox is a phenomenon that has sparked much debate amongst internet users. The Google Sandbox effect occurs when new websites are given a waiting period in the sandbox. This prevents the site from being ranked in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In a sense the Google Sandbox is a filter that places sites in a “timeout” in order to test their intentions. Once Google trusts that the site is not spam it can leave the sandbox.

Time in the Sandbox
Sites can be placed in the sandbox for three to six months.

Less Competitive Sites
Can stay in the sandbox between three to four months.

Competitive Sites
Can stay in the sandbox for up to six months.

SEO Websites
A new site may be placed in the sandbox despite the fact that it has been optimised and has:

  1. Credible links
  2. Good keywords and keyword phrases 
  3. Good content 
  4. Good Google PageRank

Sandbox Denial
A number of people believe that the sandbox is real, while others deny its existence. After March 2004 users, or optimisation experts, began to notice the Google sandbox effect. Whether the sandbox effect is real or imagined, the fact remains that new websites continue to be filtered by Google.

Reasoning Behind the Google Sandbox
Unfortunately a number of users tried to optimise their site by using unethical SEO techniques. Most of these sites were spam sites that stayed on the World Wide Web for a short period of time. The site would immediately receive good SERPs rankings for their site content. This would lead to sales and online revenue. Once Google recognised the site was spam it would ban the site. The influx of spam sites lead Google to develop the alleged sandbox filter.

Some unethical SEO practices include:

  1. Buying bulk links
  2. Using duplicate content
  3. Keyword stuffing
  4. Submitting sites to link farms

Sandboxed Sites
Any site can be placed in the sandbox, however, some sites have skipped time in the sandbox, these include sites that were launched before March 2004 or sites with less competitive keywords and phrases. On the other hand, sites with keywords that are more competitive will be sandboxed by Google. The more competitive sites are more prone to being sandboxed.

Time in the Sandbox
If your website has been placed in the sandbox the only way to get out is to wait. In time the site will be able to leave the sandbox. Although this can be frustrating, it does not have to be a waste of time. Use the time you have to improve your website. This will help your site to gain good SERPs after being sandboxed. It is even suggested that a site can rank well on other search engines (such as MSN or Yahoo) while it is in the Google Sandbox. During “sandbox time” you can:

  • Add quality content to your site.
  • Build good backlinks, which can lessen the effect of new link dampening.
  • Add a sitemap to your site.
  • Test your site for any broken links.
  • Improve your site.
  • Use ethical SEO techniques.

Fighting the Google Sandbox
Whether the Google Sandbox is real or not, it cannot be fought. Attempts to fool the sandbox will lead to more trouble. Rather use the sandbox “timeout” to better your site.

Google Sandbox Tips
While you can’t fool the Google Sandbox there are ways to minimise its effect. Some Google Sandbox tips include:

  • Choose keywords and keyword phrases that are less competitive.
  • Launch the first few pages of the site when they are ready, as you don’t have to launch the entire site at once. 
  • Create a domain name before you design your website. This will help to age your domain name.
  • Buy an aged domain name.
  • Buy an expired domain name.
  • Submit your site to other popular search engines, such as MSN or Yahoo. Take note that the site might have to be optimised for a specific search engine.

Although people have expressed disappointment with the Google Sandbox phenomenon, in the long run it helps to eliminate spam. This means that the good guys can get the high rankings. Without the filter, spam websites would continue to make a profit, while credible sites lose out. It is important to remember that your site is not being punished or singled-out if it is placed in the Google Sandbox.

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