Let’s talk SEO, more specifically lets talk about the Google Sandbox.
Many SEO’s and website owners have a theory that Google flags or places newly published websites in an “inspection period” prior to allowing the website to start ranking organically. The thinking behind this is to give the Google algorithm time to analyze and vet the new website, and to confirm it’s of high quality, prior to ranking it for keywords.
What is the Google Sandbox?
The Google Snadbox is a theorized mark that Google places on newly published websites to slow the ranking process in an effort to analyze the published content, and to ensure that the highest quality content is ranking in the top search positions.
My Thoughts and Experience With The “Sandbox”
Side note, this information is based off theory and rational reasoning, very few people know the true answer to the Sandbox question, but my goal is shed some light on the matter to help you better create your own interpretation and game plan.
I am under the belief, as are many other SEO’s, that there is no such thing as the Google Sandbox, rather a new website needs to meet certain criteria before the algorithm starts ranking it for keywords.
I don’t believe there is an equal “new website penalty” thrown on every new website, instead the algorithm analyses each website on a case by case basis and sets certain criteria based on niche, content type, domain age, amongst many other factors.
Surely a newly published medical advice website will need to work harder to earn the trust of Google more so than a website that simply calculates a persons age.
The screenshot above shows the Google Analytics report for a niche website that I own in the boat niche. As you can see, I published my first piece of content on December 31st 2018, and it took roughly 3.5 to 4 months for keyword rankings to take place which lead to organic traffic.
On the contrary, the screenshot below shows the traffic from when Money Nomad was a brand new website, and it took roughly a year for organic rankings to occur.
Of course there were differences in the website themes, link building and etc, however my theory is that since Money Nomad talks about investing and personal finance, it needed more credibility in the eyes of Google than my boat website needed.
Do you think a websites’ niche plays a role in the “sandbox”?
Ways To Get Out of The Sandbox and Rank Quicker
Let’s cover some ways that I have found to improve a websites’ ranking speed regardless of whether a sandbox actually exists or not. I think most of us will agree that some basic criteria needs to be met for any website to rank.
Experiment side note: I’m currently building a website on a domain that was originally registered in 2008 and that hosted a website for many years, but 2 years ago the domain subscription was canceled and it came up for sale. I’m curious to see how long rankings will take when using a “seasoned” domain.
- If you have a super niche website, including your main keyword(s) in the domain can’t hurt (but don’t go super long with it, 4 words max)
- Ensure your theme, if using WordPress, has fast load times and is mobile friendly
- Use plugins to help with image optimization to improve load speeds
- Post as much content as possible in the shortest amount of time, while not forgoing quality and structure
- On my boat website, I posted roughly 100 articles in a 40 day span
- Start link building campaigns right away
- I start guest posting campaigns, social bookmarking and other outreach methods right away, but don’t get involved in PBN’s
- Submit your posts to Search Console
- Each time I published a post on a brand new website, I submit the URL for indexing within Search Console
- Run a site audit in Ahrefs and address any issues
By using these 7 methods, I have no doubt you will reduce the time it takes to rank, breaking you out of the proverbial Google Sandbox sooner.
New and Old Website Ranking Observations
After publishing thousands of posts over many different websites, both new and old, I’ve found some similarities in how my content ranking has behaved that I hope offers you some insight and encouragement.
For starters, I’ve found it takes approximately 60-90 days, when posting a new piece of content, to see a noticeable uptick in organic traffic. Of course keyword difficulty will have an effect on this time frame, but I find myself ranking for keywords with a 10-30 KD around the 90 day mark. More importantly, during this 3 month timeframe content, if well structured, will begin to rank for hundreds of keyword variations based around main keyword and long tail variations.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that often times, several month after reaching the first page for the targeted keywords, traffic will drop off for a short amount of time. It seems that Google may be analyzing what happens if they drop the webpage from page one of the SERP, as when this has occurred my content has come back with a better ranking, more keywords, and of course more traffic.
The point I’m trying to make, is that if you write an original, well targeted piece of content, build solid links, and then let it sit or “marinate” in the algorithm, good things typically happen. I’ve learned with organic ranking that it’s a patience game, very rarely does organic traffic come over night.
Having patience and an understanding that it will take months before people begin to interact with your content will help prevent the feeling of failure. Once you have your first taste of organic ranking success, you will be hooked. Stick with it and enjoy the long term results.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org