An SEJ Reader send in the following question :
What’s a Google Sandbox? How long can it last for a brand new site? Is there any way to avoid it? Is it niche specific?
Well, let’s first start with the theories behind the term “Google Sandbox”. It appears webmasters understand it as two a bit different phenomena:
- “Google Sandbox” is supposed to mean a period of time before a newly launched website is properly indexed and ranked. They say, Google deliberately holds back indexing new sites before they “earn its trust”.
- “Google Sandbox” can also mean a sudden drop of SERPs that happens about 3 months after a site was launched.
Now let’s see how I am likely to explain both the phenomena:
- A newly launched site is difficult to find instantly. Even if some “deliberate non-indexing” does take place, it never takes too long. If the site code is clean, if it has clear internal architecture and good unique content, and if it linked from one or two good sites, it will be indexed within no more than a couple of weeks (with me it usually takes no more than a few days). It naturally won’t be ranked at the top from the very start, just because it hasn’t gained any authority yet.
- The sudden ranking drop with a comparatively new website can more than likely mean the following: you started promoted your site too aggressively (that usually doesn’t look natural if a new site acquires tons of links once it’s launched). In this case, if you hold on and wait, you can be back to SERPs in a much longer period of time (up to several months).
So does Google sandbox exist in the meaning of some sort of “special treatment” of newly launched sites? I am pretty sure it does, as the domain age and authority are two very important ranking factors. Can it be avoided? Yes, it can, if you are particularly careful and wise at the start. Is it niche specific? Google does treat some ‘shady’ or very competitive niches more carefully; thus in those niches it will naturally take your site longer to be found and ranked.
Do you have other experience with Google Sanbox than me? Please share your thoughts!