There’s a fairly new topic that has been the talk of the SEO town since the last few weeks — Google Sandbox 2.0. If you don’t already know what Google Sandbox is, it’s essentially a form of Google penalty, which filters out backlinks to a penalized site which would otherwise have a positive impact on the site’s rankings in Google.
The nature of the topic is quite controversial, and the ‘sandbox’ term has been around since as early as 2004. Now, according to some sources, it seems like Google recently pushed an updated version of that spam-fighting filter, sometime around the period when Panda 4.0 and the Payday Loan update rolled out. Interestingly, this filter seems to affect all new sites in general and not just sites using black-hat techniques.
The Main Thing about Google Sandbox 2.0 a.k.a. “Google Waiting Period”
If there indeed exists something called Google Waiting Period, what it mainly does is that it keeps sites, no matter genuine or spammy, stuck at page 2 and up, for around a month or so till they’re live or they acquire a fresh set of links. This could be a psychological game that Google is trying to play with the black-hat SEO practitioners, trying to demoralize people who practise churn-and-burn monetization, or even break their spirits, in Cutts’ own words.
The extent till which Google is willing to go to stop the spammers is quite fascinating, because if there’s indeed something like a Sandbox 2.0, it’s affecting genuine sites as well. Let’s just say you create a really AWESOME site with top-notch content and no unnatural link in a fairly uncommon niche, theoretically your site still shouldn’t be able to rank well, at least in the first month or so. So, Google is willing to even make this sacrifice (to not offer users a genuinely great webpage) to stop the spammers, and their notorious web properties from ranking (which are presumably much much greater in number than your average ‘great webpage’).
Has it Been Confirmed Yet?
There’s no official confirmation coming out from Google, yet. Though, in a recent webmaster hangout with Google’s John Mueller, SEO blogger Barry Schwartz had raised the issue, and he reported that John’s reactions were very careful, “including his facial expressions”.
John basically said that Google didn’t build a discreet algorithm and rolled it out in the recent past that could be resulting in such behaviour of new sites in the SERPs, but it could be a possibility that it’s a result of one of their usual spam-fighting algorithms getting tweaked recently.
Notice that he didn’t directly say that Sandbox 2.0 is a completely made up story, in a similar fashion that they had discarded social signals’ impact on ranking in Google. So, Google Sandbox 2.0 has a very good possibility of actually existing.
How to Get Out of the Google Sandbox
While I can’t confirm any of the following information, but according to many SEOs who’ve been setting up test sites and publishing case studies regarding the update, the following things can help you get out of the sandbox without waiting for 30 or more days:
- Acquire links from authoritative sites.
- Try to gain some social shares to validate the links that your site has recently got.
- New pages on existing authoritative sites don’t seem to be impacted by this new update, excluding web 2.0 microsites. So, you can’t expect a rebelmouse page to rank fast, either.
- If your root domain has enough high-quality links, that may prevent new pages on your site to not be impacted by this update.
How to Test it Out Yourself
If you have an existing not-so-authoritative site in a low to medium competition niche, you can create a few new pages and observe in the next 30 days if any one of them ranks on the first page of Google for their respective target keywords. If you’re feeling more enthusiastic, you can setup a brand new site to test the update out more effectively.
Google Sandbox 2.0 looks firm to put an end to the ever-so-popular churn-and-burn way of monetization, by putting up new sites, slamming them with a thousand links, ranking instantly, and making quick money, not caring about a penalty at a later date.
However, after the waiting period, sites can still rank, though. Another significant thing to me is the duration of the waiting period, which is 30 days. A lot of link providers now, including the notorious SAPE, rent links on a monthly basis. So now if someone rents a bunch of links for a considerable amount of time and doesn’t see any major results, chances are that they won’t continue with the link selling service and lose their hope in the black-hat form of SEO, which is Google’s ultimate goal.