Google’s Sandbox is a very live and working filter within Google’s current indexing and ranking structure. You will commonly see me refer to this as “Flux”, as customers are VERY worried about the term “Sandbox” and it is difficult to explain it properly to your average shop owner. That being said… Lets explain it, find out what causes it and lastly give you some tools to help you overcome it, perhaps a bit more quickly.
Wikipedia defines the Google Sandbox as follows:
The phenomenon that people have claimed to observe is that Google temporarily reduces the page rank of new domains, placing them into what is referred to as its “sandbox”, in an effort to counter the ways that search engine optimizers attempt to manipulate Google’s page ranking to bring sites to the top, by creating lots of inbound links to a new web site from other web sites that they own before creating that web site. A “reverse sandbox” effect is also claimed to exist, whereby new pages with good content but without inbound links are temporarily increased in rank, much like the “New Releases” in a book store are displayed more prominently, to encourage organic building of the World Wide Web.
Many have claimed that this sandbox filtering by Google is not applicable to all sites and furthermore that this effect is just another piece of the algorithm which Google uses for evaluating a website’s trust. I believe this, as this is what I have experienced first hand. Many believe otherwise, and until Google sends a webmastergram telling us exactly what this is and isn’t this will be our working theory at PRO Webs.
Why Does Google Do this?
Very simply, Google uses this filter to remove (sandbox) pages which are very new or much content on a site has been changed. The thought process is to encourage new and fresh content, whilst protecting the index from spam. Yes, this is a test… A trust test.
Common Google Sandbox Behavior
The most common experience many have had with Google’s Sandbox effect is upon launching a new site. It goes down like this —
Months of hard work and development have come to a culmination of the project and finally it’s launch day for your new website. You unblock it or turn it on… whatever the case may be, sit back and wait with extreme anticipation. Boom, a few days to a week later Google has indexed some of your site.. YEAH! A few weeks/months after that you are ranking very well for some great terms. Few weeks/months later some or all of your site’s pages have been removed from the index… UGH. This is in fact the dampening of the sandbox filter.
This sandbox filter was/is designed to weed out spam in Google’s index. It actually functions pretty well, in my estimation. What happens is to your new site is textbook for Google’s behavior on trust.. and one other claim to famed metric Google adores — FRESHNESS.
Your site is initially ranked and performing well simply on its “Fresh” factor. You see Google’s “claim to fame” is the freshest results. We know that Google will rank websites whose content is both fresh and maintained well… We even know why. Google simply wants the best results for their customers, the searchers.
Google also knows that many have sought to game Google’s algorithm and many more create spam. So, to battle this, site’s with specifically low authority and TrustRank are boxed for a bit, perhaps to determine their true intentions̷