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The Google Sandbox was an idea Google used through to 2004 then discontinued. It was brought back with the Panda 2.1 update in mid May, 2014. Put simply any NEW website, or any major change to an existing website is delayed for a period of time. This delay is referred to as "being in the sandbox".

Remember Google index pages of websites against keywords appearing on the page. So the length of the sandbox depends on the keyword(s) the page targets.

It is assumed this was designed to stop "Churn and Burn" sites. This is an old "black hat" technique to make money. You register a domain, or pick up an expired domain cheaply, build out a simple site to promote your affiliate link to Amazon or whatever, then spam the hell out of the web with trashy links back to that website. The website ranks highly for a few weeks then of course Google's spam team find it and it is banned. Rinse and repeat with several sites at different stages of the process. Sadly you can make money doing this and it has been growing in popularity lately.

This penalty will cut out a lot of the nonsense, however it also burns small business.

Duration of the penalty:

1Non-competitive keywords, which I define as keywords that no one searches on, are not affected and you can expect to rank straight away. Of course that does not do you any good because no one searches on that term.

2Competitive keywords start at 30 days and work up, based on how competitive the keyword is and the ranking factors on your website.

3For site updates we are finding that trusted sites are not affected. What does "trusted" mean, well it is a combination of site age and page rank. Aged sites with good page rank are not affected. So far the least trusted site I have tried this test on is 18 months old and page rank 3, so the threshold is somewhere under that.

Before talking about sandbox defence techniques, remember the basics. If you want your site to rank then give Google a reason. Make sure your content is unique and adds something to the web. For "every day" service businesses you may not be able to add information that is not already out there, but you can at least make sure that the words themselves are 100% original. There are plagiarism services like Grammarly that can help with that. 

Likewise give Google a responsive design, fast, optimised site with schema markup and all the things you need to do these days to present the best possible site to Google.

Also make sure your Google credentials are in order. So that means Webmaster Tools, My Business, Analytics, Youtube and G+. Churn and Burn sites dont do this, it is a way of signaling Google that you are a legitimate business.

Sandbox Shortcuts

1 Appear viral. Google respond to search volume, so if people are looking for you they will spring you out of the sandbox to satisfy that search intent. So to push a new website you need to hit social media, post content, pay to promote if you have the budget so that as many people see you as possible. Make sure every piece contains a link to your website to encourage click-throughs. Hit a variety of sites with a variety of medium not just Facebook.

2 Improve your authority. A small number of links back from related sites will help. Remember link cadence - link building has to look natural. In fact it is better if it IS natural.

The take home message is this. It is much harder to get a website ranked. So if you are intending on launching a business get something up now with a nicely written front page with your contact details and what it is that you do. This must be checked for originality. Get your Google credentials in place (we can do that for you) and this starts the sandbox. Then you can develop your website and load that to replace your holding page.

Also if you wish to use organic search you have to allow budget for site launch not just site development.

Creative International offer a free consultation so feel free to take us up on that!

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