Google sandbox

Google Sandbox, Let’s Face it Up-close!

Google Sandbox; What is it Really About?

Google sandbox is a concept that has been in motion since 2004. Although it has never been formally confirmed by Google; nevertheless it has, and since then, been generating debate among the different SEOs; thus consuming up space for more speculation around what a Google sandbox really is. There has been a noted update to such “sandbox” in May 2014; which further toughened the so called “Google sandbox effect”.

Therefore, it poses an importance to find out what a Google sandbox is really and how to either avoid it or sail along with it and eventually come out triumphant. Since its first initiation and throughout, SEO experts determined that such sandbox is merely a major search engine algorithm update by Google, whereby new sites with good SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages); lost them out of the blue and without proper grounds.

Prior to the update in 2004, a new site would develop ranking well in about three months; should it be optimized and should it achieve a strong link campaign as well. It has been noted by experts that after that date, almost all new domains did not rank well until they have aged a bit.

However, it is also argued that in addition to a domain’s age; the links to the domain also play an important role in relation to the sandbox effect. Such implementation created a “forced” probationary period (which is believed to be averaged three to six months, and up to one year in some cases) bestowed upon new websites for the purpose of prevention from reaching top search engine results/rankings too quickly. Such process subsequently penalizes new domains, which in return poses restrictions on webmasters in terms of ranking brand new domains.

Google Sandbox Checkers

For those in doubt, there are several tools to be used in order to determine whether a certain site is in the sandbox or not. One of the methods is to manually check a site ranking on Google search results, however it can take up a lot of time to move from one page to another; there are online Google sandbox checker tools as well, but the results are not correct a 100% or all the time.

Restricting black hat

Stay Away of Black Hat

Restrictions are imposed, no matter how great the quality of the page’s content is, and regardless of the number of incoming links; it all boils down to the sandbox effect. Such effect that holds sites back on a probationary period; this is also an effort – by Google – to be reckoned with; it is reportedly designed to prevent black-hat practices (i.e. buying links in bulks, and creating duplicate content, etc.), as well as prevent spam sites from rising too quickly in SERPs and clean up search engine results.

Such efforts, eventually, resulted in providing visitors with results that best served their needs and thus offered a greater value. Similarly Penguin and Panda retaliate against websites for black-hat practices, however there are still loopholes that allow some sites to get away with such practices; and therefore Google tends to provide a much valuable search experience and hence such reputation amongst others in terms of providing added-value to users.

SEO experts also believe that it is still possible to resort to white-hat practices and yet little value shall be offered to web users, and that’s where the sandbox creates value. This is mainly because Google considers all new websites on a probationary period; during which the content’s value is waited upon to be determined by web users before giving permission to such sites to surge unto the top of the SERPs.

However it has been observed that the sandbox effect mainly hits new domains and not old domains. Whereby old domains tend to have a smoother time when it comes to achieving ranking on SERPs.

It must be noted though, that there is a clear distinction between being sandboxed and the utter ban from Google’s search results. While the sandbox is mainly a filter for prevention from reaching top search results while attempting a particular keyword search and not for all the site’s pages; a ban, on the other hand, is the utmost exclusion from search results adding up to a sum of zero of a site’s pages being displayed.

Signs of Trouble

To wrap it up; there are a few signs to be detected of the sandbox effect:

  1. Site ranks well in MSN or Yahoo as opposed to Google.
  2. Site pages getting stuck and that could be around the count of pages two to five.
  3. Sites don’t rank for exact title matches.

Something Old, Something New!

It is worth breaking down domains and their rankings in relation, in order to have a clearer vision of how this really works; for example old domains upholding new phrases/keywords, such composition can end up in the sandbox and the reason why is taking the content in a direction that Google is not familiar with detecting on such page. While new domains will end up almost automatically in the sandbox; thus preventing spammers from presenting irrelevant information, according to Google’s standards.

It might seem arbitrary and pro-longed, as some of those new sites could present great material, but to Google it is about providing a great user experience regardless, so it takes a bit more time to earn Google’s trust!

Two Sides of the Coin

SEOs have always wanted to time frame the struggle period in the sandbox; however and like other algorithms of Google, it is almost impossible to time frame such period and it could go on from three to six months (and up to one year in some cases) according to many SEO experts. No new domain is exempt; it applies to all and the effect embodies a timeline set by Google.

Tips and Tricks:

Sandbox or not, those tips and tricks should help out before the sandbox, while in the sandbox and eventually when out of the sandbox.

Try to start off with high quality content writing; and avoid bulking up back links.

Social Media is key; content sharing is a must on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, etc.

Acquiring an old/aged domain can come in handy; as they are less vulnerable to the sandbox effect; but beware of expired domains as Google resets expired domains and so the best way out would be to buy an old/aged domain. This is believed to be one of the best ways to get content ranked faster and it can be done through an auction site.
Always cross-reference past Google indexed data while acquiring an old/aged domain. That way it’s a safety pin for making sure that such domain has been indexed in the past as opposed to purchasing a domain that is idle and never rose to the occasion of becoming a website.

It is important NOT to have a domain that is built around highly competitive keywords; Google is more linear towards less competitive search materials.

Try NOT to overreact about being trapped in the sandbox and furthermore try NOT to excessively optimize your site; this usually alerts Google to see more new content and thus prolonging the sandbox entrapment.

Google sandbox is the sandbox where you need to take charge and dig smoothly through until you reach the top. So, remember it is only temporary and it is not here to stay, it will be over and everything will be ok!

Hussain Omar has built his expertise as a knowledgeable and experienced SEO strategist, he’s the founder of Hustaw SEO, and the guy behind this blog. An addict to anything related to SEO, Search Engine Marketing, Internet Marketing, and Blogging.


  • Hi Hussain

    You have provided a great insight to the Google Sandbox. I was unknown to so many things and this has refreshed my Sandbox knowledge 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge