What is Google Sandbox?
It’s the obscure, and perhaps non-existent, web cleanser where millions of sites lie without rating, visibility, or traffic.
How do you know you’re stuck in the Sandbox?
Here is a rough set of criteria for you.
- Your site is indexed and appears with the correct title, snippet, and url (www, or without www, whichever you chose) – type site:www.yoursite.com into Google to check it out.
- Your site has PageRank (use Google toolbar or nichebot.com to find this)
- Crawled regularly, cache dates are more than 10 days old
- On your keyword, you rank in the top 20 in allinanchor, allintext and allintitle. To check this, type, for example allinanchor:
And see if you are in the top 20.
- You don’t get to rank in the first 1000 places for the keyword the site was built for
Does Sandbox really exist or is it just a Google algorithm?
This is a big debate. Everyone has different opinions.
Don’t listen to the guys who deal with the big companies – they are optimizing old and high quality PR sites. It’s the day-to-day webmaster – basically new sites that knows this issue firsthand. In fact, all big sites need is to put the keyword in the title and it is on the first page. This gives them an unfair advantage not unlike what the “media elite” has enjoyed for decades.
Regardless of whether sandboxing is a phenomenon separate from the algorithm, the degree of bias against new sites has hurt the quality of Google’s search results. This is especially true with new and urgent products and topics. The big sites may not cover it, but researchers end up there without high-quality answers.
The common wisdom now is that if you’re looking for new websites, go to MSN or Yahoo instead. None of these sites use this type of filter. Many websites rank in the top 10 (for their target keywords) on these two search engines, yet they can’t be found anywhere in Google.
Why does Google do this?
Google deplores SEOs who try to overly influence rankings, so they needed to find a way to get around SEO factors to get good results. So they will look for SEO tags on websites, eg how consistent the addition of backlinks is, how frequently (vs normal) anchor text for backlinks, and think about the age of the site and its backlinks.
Likewise, websites that made the mistake of comprehensively redesigning their appearance, content, or navigation were shocked to find that they were penalized for this update. Google seems to prefer the “frozen in time” or “moving like molasses” type of internet. But to be fair, this should be included to beat the spammers who were buying and refueling old websites with spammy keywords.
Why get Sandboxed?
Some sites have come out of sandbox within a week, while others may take up to a year or more. Nobody knows if there’s a single contributing factor that gets you out sooner or later. Some refer to the age of incoming links, or how often your site gets them. Some say that getting too many incoming links too quickly looks fake and gets flagged as spam. But others argue that Google can’t tell how quickly a site should get links. Any website that has received national news coverage, for example, can have hundreds or thousands of links in a single day.
It’s possible that no one outside of Google will fully understand how sandboxing works. The problem has been noticed and discussed for almost 2 years now, and no one has given a satisfactory answer. What is quite clear is that Google has made it too complex to reverse engineer it.
How long will it take to make sand castles?
The delay appears to vary anywhere from four to 11 months. Since we don’t know exactly what and to what degree the filter is based, it’s probably a different magical combination for each site – that fits with the webmaster’s expertise. So keep thinking, develop content, get inbound links, and eventually you’ll get out.
Some suggest that when you get out of the sandbox, you are not completely free. They noticed “legalization” or a gradual increase in traffic from Google. In the meantime, older sites may rank better than you, regardless of the quality of look, feel, and content. Treat. Keep your head low and keep working.
Another wrinkle: Some webmasters suggest that sandboxing can happen at the page level, not just the site level, and that it is the monetization/traffic keywords that get sandboxed. Again, this may simply be due to the level of competition for this keyword, as the entire site is not in a sandbox if you are getting rankings and traffic from other keywords.
Is there a way to cheat the Sandbox filter?
Some webmasters have talked about discovering vulnerabilities in the algorithm…and they mainly include backlinks. For a while, there were a lot of spam links on blogs, but everyone – Google, bloggers, and blog providers – cracked down on this exploit.
A real sandbox solution isn’t a hoax – unless you define everything the SEO expert does as “hard”. The answer is to naturally grow your content and backlinks over time. Don’t look for a quick win, a quick order, or an easy way out. Go back to basics and create websites that people can use and enjoy. Exchange links with high quality websites.
To avoid frustration, I would suggest, if web building is what you do full time, you should start a new site every month or two – in the end, if you consistently work on all of them, one by one you’ll have to get out of the doldrums and thrive in the rankings.