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The Google Sandbox Is About Keyword Phrases
 by: Adam Sorensen

The Google sandbox has been referred to by many as an algorithmic filter applied to new sites, essentially putting them on probation long enough to make sure they’re not a spam site. I actually think there’s more to it than that. In fact, I think the filter has more to do with preventing new sites from coming up on competitive keyword phrases than anything else. It’s not new sites that Google is worried about, it’s good results… and specifically good results with keyword phrases that are searched often.

I would imagine that Google would want to make sure the competitive keyword phrases are spam free. These are the phrases that most of the users will see. These are the phrases that will determine whether or not Google can deliver good, relevant results. So how can Google make sure only good relevant sites appear in the results? I think it’s based mainly on three things:

1. link popularity - The number of backlinks, or sites that link to your site.

2. link aging or ripening - Once a link to your site is indexed in Google, each time the spider comes back to visit and finds the same link more weight is given to that link. So, as the link ages or ripens, it increases in weight.

3. link relevancy - Relevant links would be links from sites that are relevant to the keyword phrase you’re site is going after.

When all three of these things are applied effectively, Google can pretty much weed out all the spammy sites.

It is important to understand that new sites are NOT kept out of Google’s rankings, they are only kept out of the rankings on competitive keyword phrases. For example, if you have a new site, and it’s already been indexed in Google, search your domain phrase and see if it comes up in the rankings. For example if your domain is, search “ohiorealestate”. Chances are you’ll come up in the in the top five spots. Try a few other non-competitive search phrases and you’ll probably find that you do come up in the rankings.

A good friend of mine just created a site about Mac cosmetic products. Her site has only been indexed for less than a month and already ranks in the top ten for keyword phrases related to some of the Mac products. Her site totally avoids any sandbox effect because the keywords she has optimized for are not competitive keyword phrases.

So how long does it usually take to rank for competitive keyword phrases? That depends on a number of factors, but from my experience it can be anywhere between 4-12 months. There are things that you can do, however, to make sure that time is as short as possible.

1. Start building backlinks from RELEVANT sites (sites that are relevant to the keyword phrase you’re going after)

2. If possible, get links from authority sites

So, to recap, the Google sandbox is NOT a filter that keeps all new sites out of the rankings. The Google sandbox IS a filter on competitive keyword phrases.

About The Author

Adam Sorensen writes search engine optimization articles and advice for Lavaball a SEO firm.

This article was posted on April 15, 2006


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