What Is The Google Sandbox?
The Google sandbox theory has been around since 2004. At that time Google started penalizing new sites that contained potential spam links. There were a number of sites owners that noticed that their websites weren’t appearing in the top ranks for competitive keywords and could only rank for less competitive ones.
However since 2014, this filter seems to be affecting all new websites regardless of links. If your website is new then you can be sure that it will be ignored by Google. Why? The possibility is that your site is lacking good content as you are still learning. Google doesn’t want people to do a search and find your half-built, under construction site. Almost all good sites are at least a year old. By that time they are established and an may have become an authority in their field. Rightfully Google focuses on bringing good sites to searchers. Your site, being new, has a really h high chance of not being good, therefore Google ignores it.
As a result, your site goes into in what is called a Sandbox at the beginning. It doesn’t matter that your site is optimized for certain keywords and is the best match for what is being searched, your site will still not appear in the results. Google does not trust you. And the only way to establish trust is through time with positive actions.
There is no exact figure, but it is estimated that to get out of the Sandbox takes at least 6 months (it varies for different niches). After that period your site should start receiving the traffic it deserves from Google.
Does Google Acknowledge The Sandbox Effect?
No. But interviews with Google staff have acknowledged that perhaps some of their anti-spam algorithms may cause an effect similar to what is described in the sandbox theory. Some sites seem to be affected more than others.
Although Google has never acknowledged the sandbox effect, it is known that all new websites appear to be stalled in their SERPs after a period. This is probably due to a number of factors, which as soon as you address this will move you on your way;
- Low level of content – limited amount
- Lack of articles on similar themes i.e. low level of authority
- Lack of links (all related to limited content)
- Lack of a social presence (new site will evolve over time)
It has been suggested that Google doesn’t use the registered date of the domain name but starts from when the first inbound links are developed (i.e. the content is produced).
Competitive keywords seem to be affected more than the less competitive ones.
What Do You Do To Get Out?
Just because your site has been sandboxed doesn’t mean that you stop work. There are a number of things that you can continue to do so that when the site is released it should start ranking better immediately for all the posts.
- Continue producing good quality material so that when you are out of the sandbox there is plenty of content to start ranking.
- Work at improving the rank of existing posts on established sites as well as producing new content. New posts and links may be delayed slightly in their ranking.
- Continue building your links.
- Don’t be tempted to use any black hat techniques such as buying links because these will definitely not help the ranking at all.
- Use social media to drive traffic and prove to Google that everything is genuine.
- Make sure your website host is reputable
Acquiring backlinks from authoritative sites may help to move the site out of the sandbox quicker.
You may be thinking about giving up at this point and think that you will never be ranked. This isn’t the case. Sandboxing usually only affects popular high traffic keywords, stick to long tailed keywords and continue ranking highly for these terms while you wait.
Remember, the purpose of sandboxing is for Google to see which are genuine sites and which are spam, so if you stop producing content that could be an indicator to the search engine that your site isn’t genuine.
Using Social Media to Drive Traffic
Social media continues to play a large part in marketing and it is particular important for new sites who are looking to get established within their niche.
It is important to remember that search engines are not the only form of traffic nowadays, online marketing is about using more than just SEO techniques and getting ranked. There are many marketeers who still manage to acquire significant amounts of traffic to their site without ranking at all in Google.
Social media shares and likes can also be another way to tell Google that the links you have on the site are your own and are legitimate.
The easiest way is to focus on creating plenty of good quality content.
Can You Speed Up Getting Out of the Sandbox?
Seems like using expired domains with history helps.
The main impact of the sandbox phase is that competitive page rankings will be suppressed.
Using long tail keywords and what is sometimes referred to as low hanging fruit keywords can be a way to avoid this.
Low hanging fruit are the low traffic, low search keywords. These may not bring in much traffic but they will enable your site to rank highly for some searches, even during the initial sandbox phase.
By producing content using low hanging fruit phrases this will also achieve the following;
- Google sees the site developing content in a specific niche area
- You can use these pages to link internally to other more competitive keyword pages that are not currently ranking.
- You can still promote all your posts on social media which can bring traffic to your site.
It can be frustrating trying to get traffic to your site at this stage because the search engines will contribute very little to this process.
- not to get too hung up on post ranking position, because as you can see from here that doesn’t mean they won’t show in actual search queries, which is what really matters.
- stay focused especially in the beginning, spreading yourself too thinly across different topics will make ranking harder as you have no real authority (i.e. other content) to support you.
- monitor your site using different tools.
- You need relevant followers – thousands of indifferent followers is not much use, few regular customers will go a lot further.
- social media is about interaction and providing value to others, not just self promotion (people will get bored with you very quickly)
- different types of people use different social media, but don’t try to do everything try to pick two or three that work well for your niche
Unfortunately having a site that makes money is a lot of work with little reward in the first 6 months.
The first two months will go by fast. Excitement drives you forward. Everything is new. Your new site is born with high hopes. Following all your dreams about how successful your site will be, you work late into the night and through the weekends. You learn something new every day and your site slowly grows.
It does not concern you that you have little or no visitors, or that you are not making any money. Building the site, writing content, the new challenges are exciting enough. You keep getting new ideas.
By months 2 and 3 your site is more or less complete. The design is done, a lot of content has been written and it is now time to shift your focus on getting traffic. You visit forums, leave comments on other blogs, write articles.
It seems like months 4-6 are the worst. Your site is now fully grown and functioning, but there is no perceivable progress – It’s like a building that has been built but no one is living in it. For several months you have been working on your site and promoting it. But traffic just does not happen; revenue is either zero or not much. Maybe you have a subscriber or two, maybe a small sale…
Most people give up at this point. They put in all that time and effort with no result. No reward, no money, no feedback. You are all alone, working for nobody to see it. This is the point where you need to keep going, you will be out soon…
Concentrate on epic content and on your social media promotion. Build up your Twitter followers, Pinterest, Facebook.
Look at sites that are successful and follow what they do!
I would be interested to see in the comments how YOU got through your sandbox period or how you are doing in it.