The “sandbox effect” is a form of penalty imposed on new websites by the search engine Google. At the launch of a new website it appears that some sites have difficulty positioning their chosen keywords on search result; even on search terms that appear within their reach. The sandbox is similar to a quarantine area (intentionally or not created by Google) where new sites are put. It’s not really a punishment in itself, but more of a waiting period or testing phase for these new websites.
The Google sandbox, a little back story
Since 2004, with the appearance of discussions on specialized forums about the Google sandbox phenomenon, many speculations about the effects have emerged. Since then, many experts in the field of SEO have examined the subject to determine the causes of sandbox penalty and solutions on to get out of it. A year after the community’s discovery of the sandbox phenomenon, Google has broken its silence. According to Matt Cutts, John Muller’s predecessor (the man who appears in many ads made by Google), it is not a punitive filter in itself, but rather a reaction to the major upgrade of the Google’s positioning algorithm, which happened in 2004.
Sandbox effect, what sites are targeted?
The Google sandbox is an area where many websites reside throughout their period of “gestation” until these sites prove that they can be taken seriously in search results. It’s a way for Google to ensure that each site positioned in its search results provide sufficient relevance for visitors.
From what we know, this quarantine affects all sites recently launched online, halting their indexation and slowing the positioning of keywords specified on pages of the site.
However, we also know that in most cases the sites affected by the quarantine show a suroptimization of their content, often involving a choice of highly competitive keywords. This specification implies the need for Google to pre-test the domain quality before putting them in competition in the search results.
How can you get out of this quarantine zone?
Several solutions are available to websites owners in order to limit the loss of traffic due to the effects of the sandbox. Firstly, it is advisable to intelligently use SEO techniques to limit the spam appearance of your website. This way, your site will attract less negative attention from Google, which will avoid further sanctions from the Mega-giant.
Acquiring links to increased domain authority must also be used in a cleaver way. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find that some new sites acquire hundreds or thousands of links. It is clear that getting that many links during the first days of a website’s life is also suspect according to Google’s high authority. The acquisition of a smaller number of links, but higher quality ones, will have a more effective impact, which allow you to crawl out from the sandbox faster.
In general, all of this clearly demonstrates Google’s long struggle with the dark side of organic SEO. Indeed, Google is working to reduce practices deemed unorthodox to showcase the sites bringing added value to different users who browse search results. All the analyses on many sites specializing in SEO techniques all point in the same direction. Therefore, to avoid the Google’s penalty (the sandbox effect) it is advisable to not over-optimize your websites and to simply start the waiting game.
To counter the shortcomings of launching a new website, it may be advisable to set up advertising campaigns on the keywords you have deemed the most competitive for your site. In this way it will be possible to bring traffic to your pages and to provide opportunities to convert desired actions. Using AdWords, Google’s advertising platform, is a particularly favored solution so you can compensate for the negative effects of the Google sandbox.
In conclusion, the sandbox is another sign that sheds light on the strategies developed by Google for many years. Its purpose is to prioritize quality sites with relevant content in search results, so that users can benefit from an optimized service. All these indications have led to the realization that the search for optimal positioning must pass through a clean and natural SEO.
Still, there is no indication that a new properly optimized website will not suffer from the Google sandbox. However, with this advice it will be much easier and faster to get out and to finally play in the big leagues!