Google Sandbox vs TrustRank : Effect on SEO

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Google Sandbox vs TrustRank : Effect on SEO

There’s been a lot of terms thrown out lately to do with how Google currently ranks sites. Terms like “TrustRank” and “Sandbox” have been out for quite a while stirring up heated discussions in all the major SEO forums.

So I thought I’d try to shed some light on these two terms. What exactly is TrustRank and the Sandbox and how do they affect search engine positioning?

Ever since the infamous Florida Update SEOs have been watching Google and trying to figure out what they are doing.

Before Florida almost anything went with Google. As long as you had lots of links you ranked highly. Link farms were rampant and spam sites ruled the index.

But since Florida, the quality of high ranking sites has steadily improved. No more would you do a search and see unrelated spam sites at the top. Now you see sites you actually expect.

More recently, Google has shifted the index again. This update, termed Jagger, continued where Florida left off – targeting even more sites that had found loopholes in the recent algorithms. What Jagger did was shrink those loopholes a bit more by forcing webmasters to quit swapping links, and encourage them to promote their sites using one way links from other trusted sites.

But it doesn’t stop there and this is where TrustRank comes into play.


TrustRank is a spin off of PageRank – another popular Google Algorithm.

PageRank is assigned to your site based on the number of incoming links pointing to your site. If you have the PageRank toolbar installed on your web browser you can see the value assigned to all sites that Google has indexed.

The green bar ranges from 1 to 10 and essentially assigns a value to your link popularity. 0 or 1 is low, 8, 9, and 10 are high. So sites like Google have 10, MSN and Yahoo! Have 9’s and so on. A gray toolbar indicates that the site likely isn’t indexed in Google yet, or hasn’t had PageRank associated to it while a white toolbar usually indicates that it has been indexed, but no PageRank associated OR the site has been penalized for some reason.

TrustRank takes PageRank a step further in that only sites considered authoritative and/or relevant to your site are used in assigning PageRank.

In other words, if your site is about auto repair, then links from other automotive sites will be of higher value to you then links from electronics boutiques for example.

But the Jagger update also goes a step further, devaluing some sites where there is obvious reciprocal linking. They seen to even be able to detect some cases where there is 3-way linking occurring (site A links to site B, site B links to site C, and site C links to site A). There doesn’t appear to be much evidence as to how far Google is going to attempt to detect such linking schemes involving multiple sites, however.

The “Sandbox” Effect

The Sandbox was coined as a way to explain why most new sites, after initially getting crawled by Google, fail to show up in the search results. Yet when a “” is performed you can find site pages indexed.

The sandbox effect was proved, to a certain extent, by this Google patent which says that Google will assign an aging delay to new content and links.

That means that a site has to earn it’s way out of the “sandbox” either through time or an increase in properly aged links.

Essentially, the whole index becomes one large sandbox. Sites come and go depending on their age as well as the age of their links.

Continue Reading Part 2 of Google Sandbox vs TrustRank : Affect on SEO

Rob Sullivan of Text Link Brokers is an SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing Consultant.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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