Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Google’s Sandbox and Google’s TrustRank

Google’s Sandbox and Google’s TrustRank are often discussed in webmaster forums. What are they? And how do they influence your web site rankings on Google? What can you do to get out of the sandbox or to get a high TrustRank?

What are the Sandbox and Google’s TrustRank?

The Sandbox and Google’s TrustRank are part of Google’s ranking filters. A very important factor for the ranking factors in Google is time. The age of your web site influences your rankings as well as the age of the various web sites that link to your web site. In addition, Google how long other web sites have been linking to your site and how your inbound links grow over time, etc.

If you have a new domain name, you may find that  it’s more difficult to get high rankings on Google. Google doesn’t know your web site yet, so it it doesn’t know if it can trust your web site or not. For that reason, new web sites usually have to deal with more filters than old web sites. It can happen that a new site gets great rankings and then it disappears from the rankings for some months. This phenomenon is called the sandbox effect, and we’ve seen it strike clients of ours on occasion

The Sandbox and Trustrank are two sides of the same coin

The Sandbox and TrustRank are just names for a set of filters. The Sandbox effect basically means that new web sites disappear from the search results for some time after getting good rankings. It probably means that time filters have been applied to a web site. (I say “probably” because Google (and the other search engines for that matter) doesn’t reveal how its filters work. We can only try to infer what the filters are and what they do from what we can observe happening to our web sites and those of our clients.)

A high TrustRank means that Google has learned to trust a web site. That means the site is probably is several years old, a number of reputable sites link to it, it has a good inbound link history and it hasn’t used spam techniques in the past. (By “spam”, I don’t mean that in the sense of the email spam we all receive, but search engine spam, which is the use of shady techniques to try and fool the search engines into giving your site an undeservedly high ranking.)

A web site that is in the Sandbox probably hasn’t earned a high TrustRank yet. Conversely, a web site with a high TrustRank is unlikely to be put in the Sandbox.

What does this mean to your web site?

The older your web site is, the better. It seems that Google’s filters tend to be stricter with new domain names so it’s more difficult to get high rankings with new domain names. New domains have to prove that they are trustworthy before they can get high rankings. This is one reason we often counsel our clients not to change their domain name just to  get one with a keyword in the name. The loss of TrustRank greatly outweighs any advantage of having that keyword in your domain name.

You need  show Google that your web site is trustworthy. Get good inbound links to your web site and keep on working on inbound links over time. The longer other web sites link to your site the more likely it is that you’ll get high rankings. And if new web sites establish links to your site on an ongoing basis, that helps, too.

You should optimize the links to your site. If the right web sites link to your site, you show Google that your web site can be trusted.

If you have a new domain name, you have to show Google that your web site can be trusted first. You can do this by getting the right links to your web site. That’s the reason Rank Magic always provides a link to our clients early in the process; our link comes from a page that’s been there a long time, has an excellent PageRank and a well established TrustRank. That allows our site to add a measure of trustworthiness to our client’s site.

3 Comments
  1. My site is 13 months old and still in. It is well optimized with over 50,000 backlinks with some from pr 8,9, etc. It has a 5% keyword density while my #1 competitor has about 2% with only 6000 backlinks. I hate the sandbox. I think the biggest ranking factor for google is age. my competitor is over 10 years old which is the only thing they have on me. The sandbox is so unfair and i think users are missing out on good websites because of it. So frustrating.

  2. We regularly get new client web sites listed in Google may be penalizing you for black hat linking tactics.

  3. Perfect piece of work you have done, this website is really cool with fantastic information.

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