Does the Google Sandbox Still Exist?

kidsinsandboxOver the past four or so months, I have talked to many individuals in the SEO industry who believe the days of the Google Sandbox are behind us. I, myself, don’t agree in the slightest and neither does Rand over at seomoz.

I am an SEO who loves to test, test, test, test, test! Over the last few months, I have been working on a mini adsense site that I had hoped to get ranked #1 pretty quickly. Using a top-notch article distribution service, I submitted about 20 articles for this particular site in about 30 days.

During those 30 days I saw some pretty incredible movement in the search engine results. The only problem was, I couldn’t seem to break the top 50 for any of my keywords. Yes, some people might say that coming from nowhere to 50 is quite the accomplishment, but you still aren’t going to get any traffic sitting at 50. In fact, you will never see anything truly significant until you break the top 10 in rankings and then you will see a huge spike once you break the top 5.

After my month of article blasting, I pretty much figured that I had been the next victim of the Google Sandbox. To make sure that this was the case, I decided that I would do a little testing before getting down and dirty. The only way to really tell if you have been sandboxed after launching a new site and doing some good link building is to go out and get some GOOD links. I spent about three hours finding some good to great links that should have pushed the site at least higher than 50 and I got no improvement. In fact, my site bounced between about 65 and 80 over the next few days. This is what usually happens when you are sandboxed!

What to do when you get sandboxed:

When you get taken down by the sandbox, usually what you have to do to get out is prove to Google that your site is going to keep getting unique, fresh content, which ultimately means you have some work ahead of you with adding more content. You will also want to scale back on your linking strategy a bit and only add single links. This means that you shouldn’t be requesting blogroll links and definitely no article distribution links! You will probably want to post fresh content to your site at the very least three times per week. In all my testing, this seems to get a site out of the box more quickly.

As I said earlier, I used an article distribution service in a mass linking campaign. When you are boxed, you can still use this type of service in your linking efforts, just in a different way. When you are sandboxed, you should build some web 2.0 properties such as a Squidoo Lens, a Hub Page, and even an Ezine Article. Remember, only link to your site once from each of these properties.

You should then take your article distribution service and link to each of your properties that you created above to build their authority and power that they then pass to your site. This will greatly boost your rankings and authority and make it so you aren’t using article links when you are sandboxed. Each time I have taken the necessary steps that I have laid out for you; I have broken free of the sandbox and ended up on the first page of rankings. Be patient and work hard and you will get out in no time.

Getting out of the sandbox formula:

  • Post fresh content three or four times per week at the very minimum
  • Only add single links, no mass linking
  • Strengthen each single link you add by pointing links at them
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  1. Jan says

    Hi Greg,

    Nice article and great information. Thank you. I have also come to a similar conclusion about launching a new website and a few artilces for backlinks at the same time. It seems that G hates that so now I find that it is better to launch, wait, get indexed, then publish quality articles to about 5-6 article directories

    Thanks again,


  2. Eli says

    I agree. I have setup sites on a “turbo” mode, so to speak, and have run into serious issues, by building too fast. It is best to not go into “turbo” mode on linkbuilding for at least a month, if not more. Make sure that you have some quality (and original) content before you do so and you won’t have any problems.

    1. Post original content
    2. Wait for index
    3. Post regularly scheduled content
    4. Post articles on squidoo, etc.
    5. Article Submissions with links to your High PR articles on squidoo, etc.
    6. Build quality links on other sites (don’t get greedy, never hit a site twice for a backlink)
    7. Wait for Google to send you a $5,000,000 check (j/k)

  3. Tom says

    (New Sites = Poor Results) that became known as the Sandbox effect and had controversial definitions, does not exist anymore.

    @Christian: I don’t think that Google has a sandbox these days. I have a lot of new sites(3 – 6 months) that rank in the top 10 results for high competition keywords. My backlinks are the 1/10 of my competitors. Also from my experience domain age can be no factor at all;it can play only a single minor factor in the millions of other factors;

    Matt Cutts confirmed the sandbox existed, somewhat, in his Coffee Talk with Brett Tabke 7 years ago. But since then, they did not discuss it much.

  4. Josh says

    I’ve had my website for 2 months and am ranking #1 in 3 goal keyphrases. I submitting 250 social bookmarks, a few hubpages on unique accounts, a few squidoo lenses on unique accounts, 5 press releases, probably 10 or 20 random links, and lastly 150

    The biggest jump ABSOLUTELY came after the press releases. I suggest trying them first. The hubpages and squidoo lenses increased position by about 20 also.

    I just think it depends what kind of backlink it is. I think directories are pretty weak…

  5. Justin says

    My website recently took a hit- I think I’ll try a few press releases to help get it back out and on top.

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