Is the Google Sandbox Real, or is it a Myth?
If you’ve been involved in internet marketing, especially affiliate marketing, you’ll likely have heard someone talking or posting about the Google Sandbox.
What is Google’s Sandbox?
I’m so glad you asked!
When you build a new website, one of your main objectives will be to get your site ranked in the SERPs.
(SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page, and refers to the results shown when you do an internet search)
Everyone knows that a new website will not show up in these results for some time. How long it really takes will depend on a whole heap of things, from the amount of competition in your particular niche to the quality and information value of your articles and loads more.
The Google Sandbox is a supposed practice of Google, whereby they will not show a new website to internet searchers for a preset time. Depending on who you talk to, this time frame could be anything from a few weeks to several months. Google executives will officially neither admit nor deny the existence of the sandbox. This isn’t surprising though, as they are very close-lipped about all things relating to their rating algorithms.
The Sandbox is supposed to restrict a website’s exposure until it has proven itself by gaining traffic and a few backlinks. Some will tell you that you can “get out of the sandbox” by buying large numbers of backlinks. These same folk will, of course, offer to sell you backlinks by the hundred. Don’t fall for buying backlinks! They will get you in the bad books for sure, and possibly get your site banned. Creating links in quantities from unrelated sites can act as a red flag to Google, as will many other outdated ranking methods.
The theory about waiting to see if a site gets visitors before showing it makes little sense, in my eyes. How can a new website possibly hope to gain traffic and visitors if it’s buried in position 99 or more?? And this is about where your site will be when first indexed!
The actual truth is probably a little different though.
Google (and all search engines, for that matter) take their responsibilities (and their business) very seriously. They need to deliver quality content to their users, and to answer queries as accurately as possible. If they start delivering shady, spammy sites in the search results visitors will simply swap to another provider.
It makes sense then, that Google wants to be sure a new website isn’t just a fly-by-night or burner spam site before they serve them up in the SERPs. If they make it too easy to be seen scammers will just keep building new sites time and again whenever they get caught out.
How long will it actually take for a new site to be displayed on Google?
This is the dilemma we all face, every time we build a new site. The answer actually depends on a lot of things. A couple of months should be seen as the minimum though. You might be lucky enough to move up in the results pages to the point where visitors actually see your offerings sooner, but don’t hold your breath. Your website will have to prove itself to Google before we can expect them to show your articles to their users.
There’s an informative article here from ahrefs.com. It’s not recent, but things haven’t changed all that much since it was written.
What can we do to get our website onto Google’s first page?
A page one listing is the Holy Grail for internet marketers. It guarantees you will be seen and gives a high chance of grabbing the attention of visitors. For Google to deem your page worthy of this position you’ll have to do some serious work, at the very least.
What Does Google Look For in a Page One Website?
The first thing is Quality Content. Google isn’t able to actually read your content in detail (yet) but they have become pretty good at analysing what we write and deciding the quality rating. How do they do this?
Well, Mr Google isn’t about to tell you or me just how they go about it. Their algorithms are a closely guarded secret and are constantly changing. Be assured though, the system is very good at working out what we are saying and how well we answer users’ queries. Especially with the advent of their RankBrain algorithm, introduced in late 2015. Yes, that far back! This algorithm analyzes websites and cross-references different sites and posts to evaluate the quality of onsite content and it’s being continuously updated and improved.
If you promote your site on Social Media, especially to others marketing in the same or a similar niche, you should start to build up some genuine backlinks. These links show Google that others think your site is worth visiting. If you can get some of them to visit your site and interact, then so much the better.
Can SEO Improve our Google Rankings?
Absolutely! In fact, good Search Engine Optimisation is absolutely essential if you want your posts to be seen. You can learn SEO online from many sources, but the best way to learn this and all the tricks of the Internet Marketing trade is by investing in a good training program.
Update: My-Buzz.com is no longer associated with the Wealthy Affiliate Group. For the sake of simplicity, all posts that refer to WA have been left in place for the time being. Feel free to wander over there if you want to check them out. They are legit, but probably not my top recommendation any more.
While it’s true, as I said above, that you can learn just about everything you need to know online, there are a lot of so-called experts and gurus spruiking some very outdated and dubious practices. And they’ve got the nerve to ask you to pay for this bad advice! You have been warned!
It’s reasonable to assume that the whole Sandbox issue was born due to Google’s penalty policy. Over the years Google has introduced many successive updates to their algorithms designed to punish webmasters who try to game the system. Many websites have fallen foul of this and found themselves quickly falling out of Google’s good books.
There is another theory. (Also not verified by Google) The premise of this theory is that once your site has been around for a while and seems to have decent content Google will “test” it by pushing it up in the rankings for a while to gauge visitors’ reactions. If you attract the users’ attention and get some interaction they will say “Hey, this site must be OK, people seem to like it.” If this happens then you’re on your way. What you need to do then, of course, is keep your position by publishing regular good quality content.
The Sandbox Myth has also been perpetuated by SEO professionals and others to cover for their own lack of success at launching new websites. Imagine the following conversation:
Client: “You built my website, and I’ve been paying you for SEO for six months How come my site isn’t in Google’s search results?”
Website promoter: “Your site is probably still in the sandbox.”
Client: “What the …?? What’s a sandbox?”
Website promoter: (With a look of sincere compassion) “Google puts all new sites in the sandbox for a while. That means it doesn’t show in the search results.”
Client: “How long is this going to last?”
Website promoter: “Oh, it usually ranges from 4 to 6 months. There’s not a lot we can do about it.”
Client: “Well do something! Can’t you talk to Google?”
Website promoter: “Google doesn’t talk to anyone. Rest assured I’m doing all I can. You should be showing on page one soon.”
Meanwhile, the client continues to be billed regularly …
The hard truth about having a successful website is that nothing will replace diligence and hard work. There are no shortcuts to online success. Anyone who promises you huge profits with little effort (usually for a hefty fee, of course) is pulling your leg big time. You can build an online business within a reasonably short time, but only if you do it properly right from the start.
While it’s true that Google will hold back on displaying a new website at first, I don’t believe there is any “Sandbox” as such. I’ve known people who have got a new post on a brand new website onto page one within days! It’s rare, but it can happen. To me, that disproves the whole Sandbox theory completely.
What are your thoughts on the Google Sandbox? Have you had difficulty getting a site into the SERPs?
Join the conversation via the Comments Box below. I’d love to hear from you.
Cheers for now.