The Google search algorithm is extremely complex and includes many different signals. While the algorithms are kept a secret, one component that is agreed upon among SEOs is that the domain age of a website plays a factor. This is because Google wants to rank the best possible sites that are going to provide the best possible experience to the end user. Therefore the trust of a website plays a role. Trust can only be earned over time and a brand new website doesn’t have the trust yet.
The Google Sandbox theory is that Google puts new websites into a “Sandbox” before they can rank well in a Google search and make their way to the top of a search result. Google wants to make sure that a website is legitimate and not just a fly-by-night website that was set up with bad intentions before it ranks it prominently on the SERP (search engines results page). The theory is used to explain why newly-registered domains or domains that change ownership hands frequently rank poorly no matter how well they are optimized.
Websites need to prove that they are worthy of ranking, which takes time. In order to gain search engine trust over time a website should produce quality content that will generate natural inbound links and social media activity (shares, likes, comments, etc.). As a site ages and it begins to earn this trust, it improves the chances that the site will be taken “out of the sandbox”.
Of course, the Google Sandbox Effect is only a theory that has been developed by SEOs over the years. Google has not confirmed or acknowledged this which means that the Sandbox Effect has not been clearly proven. However it continues to be believed by many webmasters since brand new websites continue to take time to rank prominently.
While it may be frustrating if your site is in this so-called “Sandbox”, the purpose is clear. Google does not want spam sites to quickly reach the top of the search results. If it was easy to get to the top, spammers would continually just buy a new domain. It would also mean that webmasters would put up a quick site for a specific promotion and then that site would become irrelevant once the promotion was over, even if the site was still showing up in search.