Keeping our language jargon-free is something we try and keep on top of at Priority Pixels. But occasionally, a term or action enters the tech world that needs a bit of explanation, not only in its name, but how it affects websites as well. So we’ve taken this opportunity to try and shed some light on the Google Sandbox – what it is, how it works, and just…. why?
Ok, so let’s get the big question out of the way first: What is the Google Sandbox? In simple terms, the Google Sandbox is a sort of probationary holding pen for new websites. When your site goes live, regardless of how brilliant your content is, it’s held in a kind of ‘approval queue’, so it won’t rank well – even if you have killer keywords, strong SEO, and incredible inbound links.
Generally, the Sandbox is there as a discretionary filter to help sift out any spam sites getting too far up the rankings too quickly through buying links, then getting banned. Though any kind of site can be placed in the sandbox, the issue is more relevant for new websites that want to get top ranking for the most highly competitive keyword search terms.
If your site contains less competitive keywords, it could mean less Sandbox time. Having really competitive keywords could mean being in there for six months, but it’s usual to expect your site to be in the Sandbox for about 3 months. At which point your site will be given full credit for its content, and you’ll appear in the SERPS. And the better your content and the development of the site, the more authority Google will give it.
But it’s not necessary for every site to be dumped into the Sandbox. You might be lucky and have managed to avoid your site being in there at all. If that’s been the case, there could be a few different reasons for it. If you registered your domain and put your site live before Google launched the Sandbox filter in 2004 – so, super old in tech terms – then chances are you’ll have escaped.
The other way you may have avoided it is by using particularly non-competitive keywords and search terms throughout your site. In which case, its stay in the Sandbox may have been so fleeting that it would have gone unnoticed – by you and everyone else.
There’s a good way to tell if your site definitely is in the Sandbox. You’ll already know if your site has a strong Google PageRank, with good inbound links, and excellent SERPs ranking for your low-end search keywords. So if it’s not appearing for your more competitive and important keywords, then you know why
But if it seems like your site is being unnecessarily, or unfairly, stuck in the Sandbox, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do except wait it out. As we’ve already mentioned, Sandbox time can vary greatly from one to six months, with around three months being the norm. Google hold all the cards here, and there’s not much you can do to get out any quicker.
Having said that, there is a bit of a workaround to avoid getting the sand between your pixels at all. When you start the process of building your website, and way before it’s ready to unleash onto the world as the super slick site you’ve designed, get it live as quickly as you can. That might mean you have little or no content and, naturally you won’t get any search results from it, but it will cut down your Sandbox duration.
As you keep adding content, keywords, and titles and tags, the countdown to your release from the Sandbox will have started. And by adding a plentiful supply of inbound links, you’ll navigate the new links filter as well. Anything you can do to speed up your site’s appearance online should be looked into – including the possibility of buying an already existing domain name.
Your timing here is critical, and as you continue work on your site, your Sandbox time will be shaved, bit by bit. And if you time it right, by the time you announce the live launch date, you’ll have avoided any Sandbox downtime at all.
Once your site is finally out of the Sandbox, you might find it still doesn’t perform as well as you expected. So why should that be? Well, that comes down to your content and its keywords – or lack of them. While you may have been in the sandbox for a short time, or even a month or more, your keywords can make you or break your site.
Your best remedy for this is to supercharge your content with good SEO, keywords, and search terms. It could also mean an increase in good inbound links and link anchor text throughout. Whatever issues there might be, none of them are impossible to overcome, and with some effort, you should start to see your site rise up the SERPs.
So rather than focus on the frustration of being held against your will in Google’s imaginary enclosure, use it to your advantage. Spend your Sandbox time wisely to continually add fresh content and incoming links to the site. And don’t forget your on-page and off-page factors too – check your links, title tags, keywords, and site map, ensuring they’re as good as you can get them. And when your Sandbox probation is over, get ready to see your site take flight and rise to the top.
So while getting stuck in the Google Sandbox isn’t much fun, Priority Pixels can help you get the most out of your site while you’re in there, and make your stay as short as possible. Call the team today on 0800 319 6198 or email us at email@example.com for more information.
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