Is Your Website In the Google Sandbox?

Written by Nick Stamoulis

SEOs spend a lot of time thinking about the Google search algorithm. After all, Google is the King of Search as everyone “Googles” what they are looking for. Unfortunately the Google algorithm remains a secretive entity and we are only left to trial and error to even begin to understand it. However, one component of the algorithm that is widely agreed upon among the SEO community is that the domain age of a website plays a factor.

“How come?” you might ask. Well, Google provides a service just like any other business. They want their service to be the best one so that they can continue their dominance in the search engine industry. Therefore, they need to keep users happy. In order to do so they want to rank the best possible sites that are going to provide the best possible experience to the end user.

In order to measure the quality of a site and the kind of experience that it will provide, Google needs to figure out what the “trust” of the website is. Since trust can only be earned over time, it means that brand new websites don’t have it 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 does this because it wants to make sure that a website is legitimate before ranking it prominently. There are so many fly-by-night websites that are set up with bad intentions and Google wants to do what it can to weed those out from the SERP (search engine results page). This is why newly-registered domains or domains that change ownership hands frequently tend rank poorly no matter how well they are optimized.

It can take time to get out of this “Sandbox”. In order to prove your website’s worth and gain trust over time it requires a lot of hard work. It’s not going to happen magically. To get on the positive radar of Google website owners need to produce quality content that will generate natural links and social media activity. As the site begins to age and gains quality inbound links it will be able to earn Google trust. Only once this happens will a site be taken out of this supposed “Sandbox”.

It’s always frustrating for new site owners to learn about this theory, but if you think about it- it makes sense. It takes time to earn trust in every other component of life, why should it be any different when it comes to your search engine ranking? If it was easy to get to the top, there would be no reason to create quality content, users wouldn’t have a good experience, and they’d simply stop using the Google search engine.

The Google Sandbox Effect is only a theory which has not been confirmed or acknowledged by Google, but it continues to be believed as long as new websites continue to perform poorly. This is why it’s recommended to hold off on spending a significant amount of money on SEO until the site has aged a few years.

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