Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Google Aging Delay: The Mythical “Sandbox”

Some words about the Google Sandbox. A reputed “purgatory” for new web sites where they have to bide their time before showing up in Google’s results.

Q. Our main web site has enjoyed good rankings in Google for years. We’ve created a spin-off business with its own web site, which we’ve optimized for the search engines just like our main web site. However, after six months, the new site doesn’t show up (not anywhere in at least the top 120 pages!) for any of our keywords. Much less relevant web sites rank much better. What gives?

A. Well, if your new site is only six months old, you may still be the victim of the Google Sandbox. More correctly, we should call it the Google aging delay.

According to current wisdom in the SEO community, the aging delay seems to average about 9 months, so you may need a little more patience.

Submitting to Google isn’t the answer. Your web site needs to build trust, links, and general credibility. And if you’re in a particularly competitive arena, things can take awhile even without the aging delay. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be quite such an aging factor in MSN, Yahoo, or the other major search engines.

That’s the general wisdom, but I have to admit that some of our clients that started with a brand new web site have shown up in Google within three months or less, so I’m not totally convinced the Google Sandbox is real. It may just be that it takes awhile to develop inbound links, and then it takes awhile for Google to recognize those links. And then, that recognition may not be factored into actual search results for awhile. All those “awhiles” add up.

There’s an interesting forum discussion on this at HighRankings.com.

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