What is Google Sandbox?
If your web domain is new, chances are that you will not be featured at the top of SERPs. Not ranking high despite using every SEO strategy available is not due to a flaw in your webpage or SEO campaign. It’s because of Google Sandbox.
What exactly is Google sandbox in SEO? In simple terms, this is sort of a probation period for new websites where certain restrictions are put on young web pages. The main reason behind this is what Google considers relevant. The search engine considers older pages to be more authentic based on rankings. While Google Sandbox isn’t officially acknowledged by the search engine, this phenomenon does exist on the web. First, Google filters new websites and the algorithm, then, ranks the old pages on top and the new ones get pushed below.
Identifying if your webpage has been sandboxed by Google is a beneficial exercise. If sandboxed, your website will only appear on the search page when you enter the actual domain name. When you search for keywords you’re targeting, Google will not display your site among the top results. If you have used backlinks, they, too, will not be shown.
While it might seem concerning to new webpage owners, the effects of Google Sandbox don’t last long. It all depends on the keywords and the search data. The Google Sandbox period is estimated to last for 6 to 8 months. Once this period passes, your website will be able to rank for keywords you’re targeting.
History of Google Sandbox
SEO professionals and web administrators discovered that new websites were not being featured on Google’s top page in 2004. While these websites were indexed, their rankings were still low. But this was not the case on other search engines where these new sites were featured among the top. Many experts believe Google’s purpose for introducing the sandbox concept is to list high-quality content from trustworthy sites.
Why is your new website not ranking?
Listing a site on Google does not guarantee high rankings. The site must be trustworthy, have the proper keywords, and have good authority on the topic. A backlink profile also helps. Despite having a good SEO campaign, websites still do not rank higher. There can be a few reasons for this:
- High Competition: Competition is one of the major reasons for the fall in rankings. You will need to target keywords with less competition. Even if your website has the highest number of keywords, being a new entrant, your page will still be ranked lower. Google does not take the risk of featuring a new site with high-volume keywords. Trusted and old websites will feature at the top. The idea is to gain organic traffic. Focus on finding low-volume keywords that have low competition. You will rank high for keywords with low search volume as they are less risky. Once you start gaining organic traffic on your site, Google’s algorithms determine that you have quality content and increase your rankings by reducing your sandbox period.
- Lack of Content: As soon as you publish a page, Google goes through its content. This helps the search engine gauge the importance and relevance of your topic. If your site does not have enough relevant content, Google will sandbox your site.
You will have to spend some time on your website and ensure the content is high quality for Google to understand. Pick a relevant topic, do a proper keyword search, and create your content. You should also publish more than one content piece to be considered an authority. These aspects make Google think that you are an expert in the field increasing the possibility of your website ranking high.
- Absence of quality backlinks: Websites need backlinks. They are considered to be an important factor for rankings on Google. You will need to build a strong backlink if you want to rank higher. The absence of higher quality backlinks also leads to a drop in your rankings. Your content has to match the backlink. As your content grows, so should your backlinks. Random spikes of backlinks with no content is an incomplete effort to rank higher. You need to build organic growth since growth in spurts will make Google question your site.
- Lack of user signals: Rankings are also decided based on user traffic. They improve once the consumer engages with a site and Google’s algorithms record this. The search engine analyses user data, bounce rate, and click-through rate. If your page lacks user signals, Google will sandbox your page as it shows that there is no real traffic being diverted there.
Audience engagement can help in higher rankings. Add reviews and comments sections and add your keywords in them so Google can pick them during searches. If the engagement rate is poor, fix the same with an SEO strategy.
How can you reduce the sandbox period?
It takes time for the site to get organic traffic. This period can last anywhere from one month to nine months. However, this waiting period can be reduced. There are a few things you can do:
- Get indexed: Check if your site has been indexed by Google. You have to type your domain name on Google search. If not, this is the first step you need to take. You just register your domain on the Google search console and submit your XML sitemap.
- User traffic: Audience engagement helps in reducing the Google sandbox period. Getting organic traffic is one of the best methods as it helps in getting out of the Google sandbox faster.
- Social signals: Performing social media activities is a great method to reduce the Google sandbox period. Create social media accounts for your brand, run ads, and keep your audience engaged. Link all activity from your webpage to social media since this gives Google the authenticity of your webpage.
- Site Authority: When a new site is published, Google does not know how authentic the site or the content is. You need to build site authority. Use authentic backlinks, internal links, and mentions from high-ranking pages to build site authority.
- Buy an active domain: Buying an active domain is one of the easiest methods to avoid Google sandbox. A website that has decent traffic saves time and you can purchase the domain and refurbish it as per your needs.
Google sandbox sounds like a bad thing but it’s not. Using this probationary time acts in your favor. You must focus on aspects that will help you get out of the sandbox faster and generate higher rankings. Concentrate your efforts on building a domain. Remember, Google may be the primary search engine but is not the only one.
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