Google Sandbox is an SEO term used by several SEO experts and SEO blogs. I have also read a lot about this in my learning phase. In this article, I will discuss Google Sandbox.
Google Sandbox is an old term. It was first discussed back in 2004 when some SEO experts felt that the newly launched website isn’t ranking well on Google for the first few months even after putting a lot of SEO efforts. They call it the Google Sandbox effect.
Google Sandbox is like a filter when Google filters pages from new websites that have really optimized content and too many backlinks from the start. Google keeps pages of these kinds of websites away from SERPs until it properly evaluates the quality of the website.
It was believed that newly launched websites are put into Google Sandbox for a few months. Even if pages are indexed, they will not rank for keywords until your website is out of Google Sandbox. It may take from 6 to 9 months for a new website to come out of Google Sandbox.
In 2005, Matt Cutts confirmed the existence of Sandbox for certain types of websites. Here was his statement.
There isn’t a sandbox, but the algorithm might affect some sites, under some circumstances, in a way that a webmaster would perceive as being sandboxed.
So, for some sites, in effect, there IS a sandboxSource
In the same year, Rand Fishkin also published a blog post confirming, “SEOmoz Escapes the Sandbox“
So, people started believing that new websites always go to Google Sandbox before appearing in SERPs. Except for that statement from Matt Cutts, there wasn’t any confirmation from Google about the Sandbox. Matt Cutts also didn’t exactly say that something like Google Sandbox exists but he pointed out that it could be due to algorithms.
Several SEO experts believed that there’s Google Sandbox while many believed there is no Sandbox but there could be sandbox-like algorithms in place. So, Google Sandbox has been a topic of debate for a long time.
In 2014, the term was again discussed a lot when some people claimed that Google Sandbox 2.0 was in action. Barry Schwartz asked John Muller about Sandbox 2.0 and his answer was very careful. He said that they take manual actions if there’s a new website that started ranking really well. This manual action includes checking if the website is really worth or it is up in SERPs just because of blackout SEOs.
In recent year, Google has did several changes in search algorithms. So, it seems their algorithm has got a way to recognize if the new website is worth the ranking. So there wasn’t a need of Google Sandbox.
Gary Illyes from Google denied the existence of Google Sandbox back in 2017 while answering to a question on Twitter.
We don’t have a sandbox— Socially distant Gary Illyes (@methode) May 25, 2017
While talking at a Webmaster Hangout, on Feb 23, 2018, John Muller denied having any Google Sandbox at Google search.
With regards to the sandbox, we don’t really have this traditional sandbox that a lot of SEOs used to be talking about in the years past. We have a number of algorithms that might look similar, but these are essentially just algorithms trying to understand how the website fits in with the rest of the websites trying to rank for those queriesJohn Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google
It happened again in 2019 when Google’s John Muller denied the existence of Sandbox.
There is no sandbox.— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) August 19, 2019
When the term was initially discussed in the early days, Google didn’t deny its existence while they are now doing it for the past few years. It shows that there was something similar in the past. Maybe Google used to refer it with a different name. We don’t know and will never.
Now when Google has made its algorithms smarter with the use of machine learning and AI, it no longer needs a sandbox. Algorithms can easily identify if a new website should be ranked well or should be pushed down for a few months.
I personally believe that there is no Google Sandbox now but Google’s algorithms take care of quality checks for a new website. New websites don’t rank because they lack social signals and backlinks. Google always wants to push trusted and useful content high in SERPs. New websites always lack a trust factor.
There are many case studies that confirm Sandbox like effect for a new website. If you are launching a new website, you should always be really careful. Don’t focus too much on backlinks from day 1. For the first couple of weeks, just focus on adding SEO-friendly content and technical SEO. Avoid the use of any blackhat technique to be on the safer side.
Now Google’s algorithms are really smart with machine learning and AI. So, you should focus on quality content and authority at the same time. Avoid buying backlinks or building a lot of backlinks in a short period of time. Start slow and then start pushing SEO efforts with the time. Don’t try to run too fast as it may hurt your website. Focus on quality content and try to get mentions from high-authority sites to increase brand searches. The First 3 months are really important for a website. If Google finds the quality fo the website good, you won’t see any sandbox effect.