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Sandbox Effect

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The sand box theory is a name given by website promoters to an unexplained phenomenon that started affecting Google's search results around the middle of 2004. This event's main characteristics are: a new site that was submitted lately and appeared for the first time on Google's search results a short time ago. For the first period, the website will be placed well in the search results, but after a certain period, this website simply disappears from the search results for a long time. This phenomenon is called the "sand box".

It is important to emphasize that this relates only to new sites and not new pages on existing sites.

Who is affected by the sand box effect?

The sand box effect affects websites that were submitted as of March 2004. This effect is not influenced by the site's pagerank, the webpages' optimization level, the number of incoming links or the amount of the relevant quality information on site. The sand box effect does not depend on certain categories or search words. It can happen to any new website.

It appears that coming out of the sand box is done in groups. We had a good example of a massive coming out of the sand box on February 2005 during a major Google update at that time.

The complete nondifferentiation of this phenomenon results in the assumption that this effect is a result of Google's algorithm.

How to fight the sand box effect?

Since it's clear that the above effect has to do with a site's age, we can say the following two things:

  • It's better to optimize an existing website than create a new one.
  • If you are still in need of a new site (that has a new domain), upload several pages to it in the early development stages and make sure that these pages are scanned by Google. Simultaneously, start getting incoming links to your site. This way you can add the website's development duration to its age.

It looks like aside from the abovementioned, all there is left to do is perform good site promoting actions, so that when your site comes out of the sand box, it will directly appear in a high placement.

Possible explanations for the sand box effect

There are several explanations for the sand box effect, but all of them remain as a theory in light of the absolute silence kept by the Google people. The big problem in finding an explanation for this phenomenon is that this effect prevents "good" sites from appearing, and by this it actually lowers the quality of the search results. Then, it's clear that this effect has to do with a website's age, but the question that remains is why?

My opinion on the subject (and it is only an opinion) is that the goal of this effect is to prevent "meteor" websites that soar up the search results by massive links purchase. My opinion is that the waiting period is not because of the website, but rather because of its incoming links. This way, a new link to a webpage enters a waiting period until it begins to have an effect. New websites have only new links, so they are the ones that suffer the hardest.

How does this effect harm links sellers? Consider the notion that you have to buy links from a website that sell links, to pay a great amount of money for it, and not know when this link will begin yielding results.

Following are quotes from a frustrated site promotion person that some of the websites he promoted suffered from the sand box effect:

Phrases I found myself saying lately:

  • "Honestly, at least a year will pass until you will be able to see reasonable results of your site promotion actions, unless you use the Google AdWords service. Google has actually turned into a pay for search engine, unless your website has been on the web for over a year"
  • "I understand that six months have passed, and that you invested 80,000 NIS in your website. Unfortunately, no amount of money will help you to get a high placement in the natural search results. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart that I told you that it will take 2-3 months until you can see some results. I was wrong"
  • "You are asking me when will your site start to make money? I have no idea, since Google has this mysterious sand box effect. I know it sounds like I'm leading you on, but I am being sincere, and I don't know how much time it will take for things to change"
  • "I am deeply disappointed that you have decided to stop using my services, and decided to use the services of Spam inc. instead. I have tried to market your website with all of my knowledge acquired in the past six years, but unfortunately there is a serious delay today until the results can be seen. I still believe that you will enjoy the fruits of my labor, although the spam company will receive the credit for that"

A customer that couldn't find you is your competitor's customer..

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