When recently approached by a search optimizer on Twitter who was looking for help and advice on getting out of the Google Sandbox, Gary Illyes replied that Google do not even have a sandbox.
The concept of Google having a Sandbox was initially introduced in 2004 when several SEOs were experiencing positive search positions in the first couple of weeks for their targeted search terms – only to find that their websites had dropped significantly in the SERPs for those very same keywords after a period of a few more weeks.
As far as the webmasters and SEOs were concerned, it looked as though their new sites were being punished by Google and placed in a so-called Sandbox for reasons that were anyone’s guess.
However, in 2005, Matt Cutts (Senior Google Search Engineer) also claimed that there was no such thing as a Google Sandbox – although he said there were parts of the algorithm that could affect certain websites in specific industries in a way that users might easily perceive as being Sandboxed.
So , What Does All This Actually Mean?
Well, it looks like that for some industries at least, there is a kind of Sandbox in operation that Google had incorporated into an update in order to counteract certain types of spam. Of course, whether or not you choose to call this “perceived Sandbox” an actual Sandbox or not, is entirely up to you – although many users do actually consider the Sandbox to be a genuine entity!
And, Which Sites Are Actually Affected?
If a new site suddenly comes along that has been well optimized for its competitive search terms – even with several quality backwards links in place on trusted sites – it seems that the web pages themselves might actually be placed in a Sandbox or “holding tank” for anywhere up until a year.
Then, depending what the industry you are in, once a certain amount of time has passed, the site should pick up again in terms of the SERPs.
There are some Google users consider this a probation period while the Search engine provider gathers relevant user signals that can be applied in the ranking algorithm.
Whatever is actually going on, it definitely does seem like a Sandbox exists – especially if it seems your site has been unreasonably blocked from appearing as well placed in the results as it should be.
The fact that Google say that they do not call this feature a Sandbox by name seems somewhat irrelevant.