Google Sandbox: All you ever wanted to know

Google is the world leader in online search currently. Going by the market share, it is clear why most people (myself included) chose to prioritize their optimization efforts towards results in Google. SEO has many buzz-words, most of which are quite widely used.

Some of these terms are link building, on-page optimization, keyword density, sandboxing etc. Sandboxing ? Um…..

What is Sandbox, aka Google Sandbox?

Sandbox is like a container, in which Google holds new sites, those with duplicate content and other bad sites. Those sites in the sandbox are often isolated from the main index of Google. So, ’sandboxe’d sites do not appear for normal search terms. They feature only for very narrow terms, which are rarely used in searches. Thus, these sites get little, if any search traffic.

Sandboxing is an inevitable process, and every new domain has to go through it. Notice that I say ‘domain’. This is because it is strongly dependent on the domain name. The only variable factor in sandboxing is the amount of time a site stays in it.

Factors affecting the duration of sandboxing

The main factors affecting the amount of time a site stays in sandbox are as follows:

  1. Age of domain: This refers to the time that the domain has been up, and not the date of registration. Spam sites are typically short-lived. So, Google considers older sites more authoritative because good sites tend to hang around much longer. The typical age of sandboxing is 4-6 months.
  2. Links: The amount of links that a site gets positively influences every aspect of SEO, and sandboxing is no different. As a site gathers more links, Google believes that it is link-worthy, and hence trust-worthy. However, massive linkbacks from small blogs are considered spammy, and may backfire.
  3. Amount of content: Sites with regular, quality content can help in getting out of the sandbox. More content satisfies the bots more, and what better way to get out of the sandbox?
  4. Duplicate content: Less duplicate content translates to more trust. In this parameter, less is more.

Tips to get out of the Google Sandbox

The best way to get out of Google Sandbox would be to use a combination of the above factors. Registering the domain and setting up the site as early as possible, writing original content at a reasonable rate, reducing all forms of duplicate content and building incoming links slowly can help. However, using link building overly can get you blacklisted. For all other factors, more is better.

Are you still in the sandbox?

There is no pre-determined standards for sandboxing. However, once you have got a reasonable number of links, written sufficient content, and had the domain up for 4-6 months, you will notice your search traffic picking up. This is one way of knowing whether you are ‘out’ of the sandbox.

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