Google Sandbox is a probation period, during which Google will drive you very little traffic to your site and scrutinizes the quality of your site with on-page user interaction patterns.
With this probation period in place, Google will be able to prevent most of the impatient blackhat SEOs trying to quickly climb up the SERPs.
Although Google never admitted directly that Google Sandbox Effect exists, Matt Cutts admitted it indirectly in one of his videos that Sandbox exists for new sites.
In this video, he suggested new website owners put on a coming soon page on their new site, and once they finish developing their site, months later they should be able to rank.
How long Google Sandbox exists?
The sandbox period of around 4-6 months is common for new sites trying to rank top on Google. But in some niches, you probably have heard of people ranking and banking within 2-3 months or so.
Yes. The sandbox period varies
If you take examples of some of the highly manipulated niches like payday loans, forex trading, the Google sandbox period will be more (say 8 months or even a year).
Because these are the most profitable and exploited niches when it comes to SEO.
If you consider Amazon niche sites, you target money keywords. In those cases, the Google Sandbox period will still be quite long (say 4-6 months).
In the case of AdSense sites where you mostly target low competitive informational keywords (not buyer intent), the sandbox effect will be low (3-4 months depending upon the niche).
With this, you can say that “Google tends to probe the new sites closer that are targeting buyer intent keywords longer. Of course, it's for good.”
If you are in this sandbox period, you can follow some of the strategies that I personally follow to reduce the Google sandbox period.
Let's get started.
How to combat the Google Sandbox effect?
#1. Target low volume keywords
The basic SEO teaches us: “Target high volume keywords with less keyword competition”.
However, this doesn't work today for new sites. No matter what the keyword competition is, Google will not take the risk of ranking your new site for high volume keywords.
Whatever the competition may be, for the sake of your new site forget about high volume keywords.
Your goal is to research the keywords that have low search volume and also are of low competition. The search intent should be narrow enough to create insightful content around it.
On my new Amazon niche sites, I often target keywords that have as low as 30-90 searches monthly and low keyword competition.
You can easily find low volume keywords that have low competition, as most of the people won't be targeting them.
Google will obviously rank your new content for low competitive keywords with low search volume as it'll be a little risk for them.
Once you start gaining organic traffic from these low volume keywords, Google determines the quality of the content of your site quickly, and it starts reducing the sandbox time for your site.
You'll eventually start getting traffic from related high volume keywords.
#2. Follow Silo Structure
Silo Structure is one of the most overlooked strategies by bloggers.
In fact, I guess only about 20% of the pro bloggers are using it on their niche sites.
It involves creating in-depth pages called silos on your blog and then creating some more blog posts that help silo pages to rank well.
You build 80% of the contextual backlinks to the silo pages which typically targets high competitive keywords. The rest 20% of the contextual links to other supportive blog posts.
Make sure you interlink your relevant blog posts with each other, the silo structure is incomplete without internal links. You can be more liberal with anchor texts in the case of internal links.
Google is known to favor sites that have insightful content around the common topical theme.
#3. Follow topical relevance
In your new site, if there are not enough pages around a specific topic, Google may find it hard to determine the topical relevancy of your website.
In order to help Google in this matter, I strongly urge you to publish a cluster of topically relevant articles rather than random articles.
For this, first, you need to do thorough topical and keyword research for your content.
When you have highly relevant articles in the form of a cluster, it makes Google to easily deem you as an expert in the field and rank you high for the keywords.
For example, if you have a site on – “Outdoor equipment” and you want to cover:
I suggest you focus only on “hiking” for the first couple of months to establish topical authority and thereby reducing the sandbox period.
#4. Get more comments
Head over to the spam section of your blog comments. Edit the comment make it insightful and keyword-rich, weed out of the link and approve it.
With this, you get comments from different IPs, keyword benefit, and comments that sound natural.
The spammers have done half job for you. For my new niche sites, I don't even have spam filters!
It will act as a social proof for the visitors of your site and also helps in increasing conversions.
It also has a huge SEO benefit.
You know it or not, the Google Crawlers have the ability to distinguish the difference between the main content and the comments.
The trick here is instead of using keywords in the article repeatedly, you can be more liberal while using keywords in the comments.
If you've been in the SEO field for around a year or a two, you already know that Google checks for the presence of the keyword in the comments while ranking or showing up the site in SERPs.
Including keywords in the comments section is a way of telling Google that our commenters agree that the content is relevant to the keyword targeted.
#5. Follow link velocity
Link velocity refers to the rate at which you build backlinks to your site. Once you put in some content on your site, don't go straight away and throw some links to your site.
It won't work that way. In fact, it would increase your sandbox time.
The backlinks to your site should grow proportionally to the growth of content on your site.
Don't fall victim to the impatience within you.
Remember that, rushing hard to build backlinks from day one seems abnormal, Google tends to watch you closely and may extend the sandbox period.
Just ask yourself, – “How on hell can anyone naturally link to your brand new site with little content?”.
I suggest you start your link building campaigns only once your site starts getting atleast a dozen of organic visits daily.
#6. Fake a buzz
One of the greatest ways by which you can decrease or even skip the Google sandbox is by faking some buzz. This can be made with the help of press release.
There are some high-quality press release services, which can do the job to you.
Make sure the links in the press release are of
Immediately after the press release, maybe after a day or so, pass some social signals to your niche blog. You can use free tools like JustRetweet, CoPromote, and KingdomLikes to accomplish the same.
This is because in order to justify the buzz for your site you need some social shares. It appears the buzz to be natural. Don't just blast tons of social signals just keep them a handful.
Moreover, it also does add some SEO benefit to your blog.
Make sure to keep things natural, don't overdo anything.
#7. Enhance onpage user interaction
Google is stressing more and more on on-page user interaction. The metrics such as page dwell duration, bounce rate, etc. Google makes use of Google Analytics, Chrome Browser, and also detects Pogosticking.
As you can see the above metrics give Google a clear picture of the quality of the content.
During the initial days of your blogging site, make sure you work more on reducing bounce rate and increasing the time that visitors spend on your site.
This is crucial for a new site because as the Google sandbox is the incubation period, Google will have a close eye on your site.
Make sure you dig the Google Analytics regularly and fix the pages on your site that have poor engagement rate. Maybe you can fix them by interlinking or adding a great introduction (it works wonders for increasing dwell time).
You can also implement scroll depth tracking on your site to flush out the element that's preventing your readers to read your content fully.
You may underestimate this. But it works.
Buying active domains to avoid sandbox
Buying sites that are actively getting traffic and are out of the sandbox period is also a great choice.
Whenever I start a new site, I tend to look for the sites that are active for a long time but are underoptimized.
Like this, if you manage to outreach atleast a dozen of sites in the niche you are entering, you'll probably end up buying a site that's already past the Google Sandbox.
By paying a couple of hundred dollars or even less, you can easily skip the 5-7 months of Google Sandbox depending upon your niche.
If you are in a niche like fitness, forex, etc. buying an already established site or an expired domain to avoid sandbox may be crucial as these niches have quite long probation periods.
You can consider doing email outreach for this. Alternatively, you can also go with marketplaces like Flippa or get any ready-made websites that are around for a while.
Here are some things you need to remember before buying:
- For avoiding sandbox, you are buying a domain name, not the site. So, there's no need to worry about quality content unless there's spam in it.
- You need to try getting domains that are atleast 2 years old to get the most benefit
- Type in site:example.com in Google and check how many pages of the site are indexed in Google. The more this number, the better it is.
If you do website flipping, this is crucial for you. Because time is money for you.
These are some of the best ways to kick out of the Google Sandbox and rank your site.
Although the strategies I presented in the article may not completely get rid of Google Sandbox effect for your site, it alleviates and reduces the time significantly.
If you have plans to start a site in the next year, don't wait.
Start it now, add some content, and let it be ready for the game meanwhile.
Whenever I'm going through the sandbox period for my new sites, I resist checking my keyword rankings or traffic regularly. I would mainly focus on quality content, promotion, social media signals, and a couple of profile backlinks.
I hope you found this post on the Google Sandbox effect helpful in boosting the SEO of your site.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission with no additional cost incurred to you :-)