Google Sandbox definition - What is the Google Sandbox?

Google Sandbox Definition – What is the Google Sandbox?

By Sadie on

google sandbox

What is Google Sandbox?

As a Manchester SEO company, it is important to know what Google can penalise you for and factors that will prevent a site from getting ranked. A common inhibitor of getting ranked is the Google sandbox, but what is it?

At Falkon Digital, we avoid any SEO practices that will cause a site to be penalised by Google or any other Search Engine, but we often inherit a website that has already been penalised or is in Google’s sandbox.

Many SEO’s argue that the Google sandbox does not exist, but for the sake of argument, in this article, we will assume that it does. Even if it does not officially exist, the symptoms of a sandbox are very common, the site gets cached but not indexed for months and months, then all of a sudden, for seemingly no reason it appears again.

The Google sandbox phenomena is most common in brand new sites, but can also happen to older sites -which I will explain later-it is different to a Google penalty.

There are 2 common understandings of the Google sandbox:

1. Google Sandbox can be the period of time a new site takes before earning trust in Google’s eyes, during this period Google does not index the site in it’s SERP’s.
A new website that has just been launched will be hard to find straight away, although if the site is built to be accessible with clean code it will be indexed in a few weeks, sometimes a few days. Unless the site is in a niche area it is unlikely that it will be ranked at the top of the SERP’s for some time as will need to gain trust.

2. Google Sandbox can also when a site suddenly drops from the SERPs.
If a site suddenly sees a drop in its ranking, especially a relatively new site, it could be that the site was too aggressively promoted at the beginning, or in a short period of time. Aggressive promotion can include the sporadic addition of content, a lot of link building in a short amount of time, especially from irrelevant or spammy sites. If this happens, it can take a while before your website will be indexed again – perhaps several months.


Has my site been penalised or is it in a Google sandbox?

As I mentioned earlier there is a difference between your site being in a Google sandbox and being penalised, most penalties occur when the site owner did something wrong but unintentionally.

The first and most obvious clue that you’re being penalised is the website not showing up in a search for your main keywords. This can sometimes be highlighted in older sites with a big drop from high positions, to seemingly nowhere. This can be observed through a drop in traffic as well, however, it is hard for new sites to measure as some traffic can be seasonal so less traffic may be normal. You should closely monitor your rankings and traffic, but remember the weight watchers rule – the first rule of weight watchers is don’t weigh yourself every day, do it weekly or monthly to see more accurate results, the same should be applied to your SEO campaign.

If your website doesn’t show up for the domain name you have definitely been penalised, also check your site in Yahoo and Bing, if it is still showing in these search engines, the chances are Google has penalised the website. To check if your site has been sandboxed, you may need to install Google webmaster tools and see how many pages are being indexed.

About Sadie

Sadie is the head of online marketing and SEO. She likes the colour purple & crisps (especially monster munch).

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Comments (6)
  1. Christian

    I hate the sandbox. My site is 13 months, still in. Well optimized with 5% keyword density. Over 50,000 backlinks with some pr 8,9, etc. .Edu backlinks, the whole deal. My number 1 competitor has only 6,000 backlinks and 4% keyword density. My meta tags are good, everything indicates it should be number one. However, my competitor’s site is 10+ years old, mine 13 months. Sandbox is unfair, i hate it. I may change my mind when my site is 10+ years old, but for now I hate it.

    1. Sadie


      There is such a thing as over optimisation, if your site has over 50,000 backlinks in only 13 month this sends alarm bells to Google and is no wonder they have sandboxed you, also your keyword density is not a sure thing for Google it may be that you are using the keywords too often and it looks spammy. We tend to stay away from optimum keyword density as it an old fashioned SEO myth you can easily have a site ranking for a keyword that only mentions the keyword in the content around 2%.

      Keep your link building natural and relevant even nofollowed links or PR0 will help as this will look more natural to Google than only having high PR links, EDU and Gov links.

      Unfortunately getting out of a sandbox is difficult but keep your SEO techniques whiter than white and get the pages cached through over means than just link building for a while. If you need any help please contact us and we can develop a strategy for you.

  2. na

    Aw, this was a very nice post. In concept I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means appear to get one thing done.

  3. Skinny Hardgainer

    I found this post while Googling… very well articulated – I appreciate your time and effort. I’ve linked you to a relevant topic, which you may find pertinent.