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Google Sandbox: What is? Can it affect new websites?

Hello again, dear readers. Today I want to talk about the Google Sandbox, an SEO term that often baffles those who are just starting out in search engine optimization.

This supposed “effect” only occurs in new websites that are starting to be indexed and appear in the search results (SERPs).

But first of all, let’s see what the “Google Sandbox” effect is, how to get out of the Google sandbox and how long it lasts.

What is the Google Sandbox?

First of all, everything you read about the alleged “Google sandbox effect” is conjecture and supposition. Since, officially, Google has neither affirmed nor denied such an “effect”, nor will it do so.

That said, the Google Sandbox is a filter that is supposed to be set on newly created websites. On a website affected by the “sandbox effect”, the site’s rankings, impressions, and thus web traffic will start to be affected.

When you buy a domain name because you want to start an online project (whether it is the creation of a company, or monetizing it with Adsense or amazon affiliates), you will most likely suffer the consequences of this effect.

This effect is produced by the lack of trust and authority in the eyes of Google, which will make you appear in the search results and get impressions very very slowly.

As the weeks and even months go by, you will progressively rank for more and more keywords. Although later on, I will tell you the best way to mitigate or cope with it.

It doesn’t matter if you start linking to your website left and right or if you have the best content in the world, if Google has applied its “sandbox effect” on your website, you will only come up when it sees fit (although there are ways to speed it up).

This little-known phenomenon influences the ranking of new websites, as it acts as a temporary filter before a new domain can “compete” on Google’s search results page against other websites in its sector.

First of all, let it be clear that the Google sandbox is not a penalty in Google’s algorithm. A website that is a few months old or less can’t be penalized.

Nowadays, SEOs must take into account Google’s algorithms, which have also caused the influence of the Sandbox.

So, once you figure out how to “get” your website out of the Sandbox and start ranking a website on the first pages and acquire traffic organically, the next step is to apply the same technique to other websites you have that may be under this “effect”.

How do I know if my website is in the Google Sandbox?

Seeing if your website is affected by the Google Sandbox may be easier than you think.

Although you will obviously not receive a notification about your website in Search Console, you can use it to check if Google applies its “sandboxed websites” filter and find out for sure.

Step 1: Go to Google Search Console

Go to Search Console, go to the Performance tab, select “Impressions”.

Step 2: Check if traffic is suspiciously low for your main keywords

Now go to the queries section and check the organic traffic for your main keywords. In the example, my main keywords are in the range of 3000-4000 monthly searches.

If you have selected a major keyword and your site is perfectly optimized, but it ranks for other keywords but not for your main keywords, you have probably fallen into the “Sandbox”.

Step 3: Check all your pages

Spend a little time and check the top-performing pages and their long-term queries, this could help to secure a lot of traffic.

Note: this filter is mainly placed on sites with thin content and over-optimized content.

So if this is not your situation, you probably have nothing to worry about.

How long can a website be in the Google Sandbox?

This is a question often asked by those who are certain that their website is within the “sandbox effect”.

Well, there would be no exact answer here. But, three to four months is often considered as the normal time frame. Although it could vary from one to six months depending on several factors.

If you “attack” or intend to “rank” for non-competitive keywords or long tails, the permanence of your site under this “effect” would seemingly be less. However, keywords with high competition would be in a longer time frame.

To sum up, the duration of a website within the Sandbox is variable. The higher the competition of the keywords or “long tails” for which you want to appear in the SERPs, the longer the permanence will be.

How can I avoid or “bypass” the Sandbox on my website?

First of all, it is also important to say that depending on the quality of your website (architecture, content, user metrics) and your SEO “good work” the “Sandbox effect” will treat you better or worse.

That said, it is important to note that the Google Sandbox is commonly known as a “quality filter” for new websites.

Therefore, if you have just created a website and indexed it only a few months ago or you have hardly any quality backlinks and authority, here are 3 tips that will help you to avoid being “introduced” in the Google Sandbox:

  • Create high-quality content on topics related to your project.
  • Avoid buying or “getting” a large number of backlinks in a short period of time.
  • Don’t over-optimize your content: use your most important keywords no more than 0.5% to 2%. If you have an article of 1 000 words (for example), the main keyword should not appear more than 5 to 20 times.

If you follow these steps, you can be sure that your website will avoid the “sandbox effect”.

So, how do I get out of the Google Sandbox once I’m in?

It is necessary to start from the basis, as I said earlier in this post, that the “sandbox effect” of Google is not a penalty, it is simply a “quality filter” that Google puts on the new websites.

In absolutely all the niches that I have created, I have suffered from this kind of “effect” so “bitchy”. Likewise, not all sandboxes have had the same duration in each of the niches I am referring to.

It all depends on the sector and the competition in it, and the SEO strategy that you carry out.

But you know what? I have good news and is that the sandbox does not last forever and with the following tips, you will know how to get out of the Google sandbox once your website is inside and speed up the process.

  1. Focus your seo strategy on keywords with low to medium search volume and low competition.
  2. Implement a clear and concise web architecture.
  3. Improve your user metrics (dwell time, bounce rate, pages per session, dwell time…).
  4. Get more comments on your posts
  5. Carry out a correct linking speed (linkbuilding).

Tools to check if your website is in the Google Sandbox

Although detecting whether or not your website has entered the famous Google sandbox is extremely simple, some portals can help you verify whether or not your website is in this situation.

But I must say, I would not trust too much the sites I will name below, recommending you to follow the steps I mentioned above to check it using Google Search Console.

These tools are “Search Engine Genie” and “Amazing SEO Tools”. Both claim to be able to tell you if your website is under the “sandbox effect” or not. All you have to do is enter the domain name of your website and a keyword.

While it is true that many SEO experts consider the Google Sandbox to be a myth, others believe in the existence of this “effect”. I am one of those who have experienced in their own “flesh” what the Google sandbox is and how to get out of it.

Believe it or not, Google has its ways of “hunting” SEO actions that do not follow its “guidelines” of good practices. Therefore, it is good to always follow the best SEO (White Hat) practices while optimizing your sites.

If you need help with optimizing your website, regardless of whether it is to improve the ranking of an existing site or to develop an SEO strategy for a new site, as an international SEO agency, We can help you.


Salva Igualada

I'm Salva Igualada, I support entrepreneurs and SMEs to get more visibility in the digital environment thanks to SEO and Online Marketing. Personally, I love sports and spending my free time with my girlfriend, my family, and my 2 dogs (BalΓΊ and Reyes).

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