Many new businesses launch a website and then discover that they get no traffic from Google, and a conclusion is often made that the website is in the infamous “Google sandbox”. But, the sandbox no longer exists, so what is happening really?

Many years ago, new websites were not allowed to be fully indexed in Google. The reasoning was that a website must build some trust before it could be indexed – that trust being a core feature of the PageRank algorithm that drove Google search at the time. Business owners would find this extremely frustrating, especially when they sought professional advice, only to be told that they must wait.

The Sandbox concept was abandoned by Google many years ago, but this does not stop so-called SEO experts from writing blog posts about it – even as recently as 2014 one blog posted “The Ultimate Guide to Recovering From Google’s Sandbox“. Many unscrupulous SEO firms exploit their customer’s fears to promote their own services. In an article from 2015, an SEO service provider claimed that without their help, it would take two or more years for a new business website to rank in Google. Their solution? You need to purchase one of their aged domains! This is a complete scam and is unfortunately replicated all over the web.

There Is No Sandbox

So, it does appear that there may once have been a Google “sandbox”, although even this fact is in dispute. Some people think that sandboxes of old were no different than today – to rank a new website you need good content and links, and many new business websites have neither – ranking has always taken time and Google used to be very slow at visiting a new site for the first time.

Because Google does not operate a sandbox, we use the phrase “sandbox effect” whenever a relatively new site appears to be penalised by Google. So, what do you do to get out of the “sandbox effect”?

The Sandbox Effect

As already mentioned, all websites are ranked in more or less the same way. There are around 200 factors of varying importance that Google uses to rank websites, and the role of an SEO consultant is to identify which factors a site is lacking in, and create a strategy to fill those gaps, and then work to optimise the most important factors for each website so that it can out-rank its competitors.

It just happens that most new sites will only have poorly optimised websites and no external links, and this lack of search engine optimisation appears to the untrained eye to be a sandbox effect penalty.

Escaping The Google Sandbox Effect

Escaping from this effect is very simple – the tricky part is continuing the growth of your search presence so that you reach the very top of the SERPs.

To help give new businesses a flying start we carry out two main services. First, we carry out a technical site audit that highlights on-site optimization opportunities. This largely involves creating a more logical site navigation, improving content, and optimizing metadata. Sometimes, the first recommendation is to build a new website, although it is fair to say that most modern websites are built well and have the potential to rank well. If your website has been built on WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, for example, you will not require a new website to rank well.

The second stage is digital marketing. This involves increasing your business brand exposure online by creating listings across the platforms and websites that are more commonly used by your target market. Today, this often involves publishing feature articles on other websites, creating social media pages and listing in relevant, local directories, such as Yell, Touch Local, Free Index and Local Life.

With this basic SEO starter package, new websites that appeared to be in the Google sandbox will become fully indexed in Google. We have seen new websites rank well within a few days of being launched, and the fastest initial indexing of a website we have experienced was under ten minutes. If this is not proof that the Google Sandbox is a myth, we don’t know what is!

There is still a lot of work to do after you have launched. The real work of an SEO professional is improving and optimising a website so that it appears on the first page of Google for the most important keyword search phrases. Depending on how much competition there is, this process can take anywhere between a few months to several years.

This is often the hardest pill to swallow – if you are trading in a very competitive market, you may never make it to page one for the search terms you are planning to target. However, there are always ways to win some web traffic – PPC and social can fill the gap where organic SEO fails.

Speak to FSE Digital today to learn how we can help launch or grow your online business.