Google Sandbox: Is it still affecting new sites in 2019?
Google Sandbox is a commonly believed filter that’s used by Google to prevent new websites from ranking high in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It’s believed that Google uses this filter to put some restrictions on rankings for new websites.
The main idea behind it is that new websites may not be as relevant as the old ones. Moreover, some of them may even be spam.
While Google has never confirmed the existence of such a system, many SEOs believe that it exists. They claim so because they have seen such effects on websites that they are trying to rank. This is why it is extremely difficult to avoid being placed in the Google Sandbox when your domain is new.
So, does Google Sandbox still exist in 2019? If it still does, how do you avoid getting affected by it? Let’s take a deeper look into it.
The history of Google Sandbox
In 2004, a lot of SEOs found that their new websites weren’t ranking well on Google during their first few months. And this happened in spite of the best of their efforts. While their websites were easily indexed by Google, they weren’t able to rank well for even low-competition keywords. On the flip side, they were ranking well on other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing.
This effect of Google Sandbox lasted for several weeks and months and it varied for each website. The idea of such a system made sense because Google aimed to provide only the most authoritative and quality content to its users. Rand Fishkin from Moz believed that SEOmoz was in Google Sandbox for about nine months. This happened in spite of having a good backlink profile.
“SEOmoz is finally Sandbox free for the first time since our move to this domain nine months ago. We aren’t alone, either. Many folks had sites escape, and I’m happy for all of them. It looks like our 12,000+ all‐natural links (never link built for this site, just link‐baited) finally paid off.”
Rand Fishkin, Co‐founder Moz
In 2014, yet again, Google Sandbox caught the interest of SEOs and marketers when they saw that their new websites weren’t able to rank easily. Now that we know a brief history of Google Sandbox and what it can do, let’s look at how it is working in 2019.
What does Google say about Google Sandbox?
Google pretty much denies the existence of this Sandbox. In fact, you can see it through many tweets by Google’s employees.
Even a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google said the same thing –
“With regards to 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 queries. […] It’s always kind of tricky in the beginning when we have a new website and we don’t quite know where we should put it.”
– John Mueller
However, the former head of webspam at Google did end up giving a few hints about it.
“My answer is not to worry that much. The difference between a domain that’s six months old versus one-year-old is really not that big at all. So as long as you’ve been around for a least a couple months, a few months, you should be able to make sure that you’re able to show up in the search results.”
– Matt Cutts
Why does a new website not rank high on Google?
Google’s experts have mentioned that they need enough data to rank a site. A new website must show its expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to Google. Additionally, it should have a good backlink profile. However, it is very unlikely that a new website can win Google’s trust within a very short period of time.
Here are a few reasons why a new website may not rank high on Google.
1. Less content
To understand your website’s relevance to a certain topic, Google needs to go through your website’s pages. If your website doesn’t have enough content on it, Google may not be able to fully understand what your website is meant for.
2. Low on backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most important factors for ranking a website on Google. If your website has a weak backlink profile, Google may not rank it higher up in searches. Moreover, your website should have internal links that can allow link juice to pass through them. You might succeed in building loads of backlinks in a very short period of time but if they are not of high quality, Google may just ignore them.
You must also be very careful as rapidly grown backlink profiles may even give you penalties from Google.
3. Lesser user signals
Google may take time to analyze the behavioral data of your website visitors. For this reason, it may postpone ranking your website higher up in search results for popular keywords. It’ll observe things like click-through rate, dwell time, and bounce rate to see if your website is worthy of ranking higher up.
Now that you know why your website could be in the Google Sandbox, let’s figure out how you can get out of it quickly.
Is Google Sandbox still affecting sites in 2019?
There are many SEOs out there who claim that their website ranks high up in the search results within just a month of launching. On the other hand, there are other SEOs who believe that there is definitely some force that is stopping their websites from ranking in the search results during their first few months.
However, through our study, we found that even a new website can rank higher up in searches within a short time period. We launched our blog website in June 2018 and within just four months we managed to reach the first page of search results. As you can see in the screenshot, there is a huge fluctuation in the average position graph. This was the time when Google started collecting data about our website. You can notice from the chart that after two months, there was a consistent increase in the rankings. We got the 9.5 average position for the whole site in Google Sear