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How to get out of Google's sandbox

If your web site has good rankings on Yahoo, MSN and other search engines but not on Google, it's likely that your web site has been put into Google's sandbox.

What is Google's sandbox?

In general, brand-new web sites with new domain names need about 6 - 8 months to get top rankings on Google.

The usual process is that Google indexes the new web site, lists it for some less important queries and then the web pages drop from the search engine result pages for several months. Although other search engines work fine, Google doesn't list the web site, sometimes not even for the company name.

If you have a brand-new web site, don't worry about this behavior. You are not doing anything wrong. Google seems to delay the inclusion of new web sites. This phenomenon is called the Google sandbox.

Why does Google delay the inclusion of brand-new web sites?

It seems that Google delays the inclusion of brand-new web sites to encourage webmasters to build content instead of building mini-networks.

Many webmasters try to artificially inflate the link popularity of their web site by creating a network of small web sites with different URLs that all link to each other. Many of these web sites have no purpose other than linking to the main web site.

By delaying the ranking of new web sites, this mini-network strategy doesn't offer a quick jump to the top anymore. The delay might encourage webmasters to focus on the content of their main web site instead of building useless mini sites.

What can you do to get out of the sandbox?

If you have a new web site, expect that your web site will be listed within 6-8 months in Google. Add content to your web site, get good incoming links and make sure that your web pages are optimized for Google.

As soon as you have a domain name, create a temporary page and link to it from another web site to make Google aware of your web site. The 6-8 months delay seem to start with Google's first contact with your web site. The sooner Google knows about your web site, the sooner it will be listed.

By the way, Yahoo and MSN don't have such a delay so don't focus on Google alone but also optimize your web pages for these search engines.

Can you speed up the whole process?

It seems that there's nothing that can be done to speed up the sandbox process. Some webmasters in online forums suggested that it might help to get inbound links that point to different web pages of your web site, not just to your index page.

It might also help if your web site has its own IP address and it also seems to help if you have a link from the Yahoo directory. However, these theories haven't been confirmed yet.

Google's sandbox is Google's attempt to prevent spammers from creating web sites that are just a flash in the pan. Google wants to return high quality web sites with good content in its result pages.

If you haven't done it yet, take a look at last week's article which discusses Google's focus on latent semantic indexing in its latest search engine algorithm.


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February 2005 search engine articles