This is the first Guest Post on Domainvestors.tv and I would like to thank Joel J. Ohman from DomainSuperstar.com for taking the time to write such a detailed and useful post. This is a great article for anyone interested in furthering their SEO knowledge and learning how to harness the power of SEO to improve their domain monetization strategy.
If you have worked as a search marketing professional for any amount of time then you have no doubt heard of the term “Google Sandbox”. In fact, you have probably felt some of this “sandbox effect” if you have ever worked to market a new website. Here is some information that will hopefully help you to understand what the Google sandbox is exactly and then also how you can work to get out of the Google sandbox as quick as possible.
What is the Google Sandbox?
The Google sandbox is an unofficial term used to describe a behavior of Google’s ranking algorithm in that it tends to temporarily decrease the page rank and ranking for a website with a recently registered domain name and/or a very new link profile (amount of back links). What this effectively means is that the Google algorithm makes newer sites earn trust before they begin to rank high. In some niches this can take quite some time for a new site to achieve high rankings even if they have a similar amount of links to an older site with older backlinks.
Does the Google Sandbox Even Exist?
There is no official stand from Google on whether the sandbox even exists although Google engineer Matt Cutts is quoted as saying, “[t]here are some things in the algorithm that may be perceived as a sandbox that doesn’t apply to all industries”. Some webmasters and SEO professionals will argue that the sandbox doesn’t exist while the majority will agree that the Google sandbox is a reality at least in some form or another. Also, it appears that the sandbox effect is greater the more competitive the niche is that the website is in (i.e. the “student loans” niche will have a much more noticeable sandbox effect than the “gerbil cages” niche).
Three Strategies for Getting Out of the Google Sandbox
Here are 3 different strategies for getting out of the Google sandbox. There is no need to do all 3 of these necessarily but each of these 3 should be a help to you. Of course, your #1 goal should simply be to build a great website, offer a useful product/service, and deliver valuable content but utilizing any or all of these 3 different strategies should make your awesome material that much more visible in a short amount of time.
1. Buy an Aged Domain Name – You can circumvent some of this sandbox effect simply by purchasing an older domain name from a domain name auction or directly from someone willing to sell. The older the domain name is the better. Bonus points if you can find a domain name that has existing links already pointing to it.
2. Stay in the Right “Link Neighborhood” – As a new site (and really this is good advice for any site both new and old) be very careful about who you link to. It is very tempting when marketing a new website to exchange links with anyone and everyone even though you may find yourself linking out to spammy sites in highly competitive niches like poker, debt consolidation, credit repair, etc – all niches that might not be related to your website’s niche. Remember that essentially every link pointing from your site to another site is similar to a “vote” for that site (especially if it is a regular link absent of the rel=”nofollow” tag). As a new site that has not proven itself to Google in the trust department it is extremely important to not be perceived as linking out to other low trust and even potentially spammy sites. You can in fact earn trust in the eyes of Google and potentially get out of the sandbox pretty quick by only linking to trusted authority sites (government sites, .edu sites, industry leading sites, newspaper sites, etc). The more trust your domain name has then the more loosely you can afford to be with who you link to. Until then, play it safe and you may just get out of the sandbox quite quickly.
3. Steadily Publish New Timely Content – One thing that is not talked about much is that there is in a sense a sort of “reverse sandbox” in that Google will artificially increase the rank of a page that is recently published and deals with a “hot topic”. This is done rather smartly by Google to increase the freshness of its index and to show information on cutting edge current events. The more that you can work current events into your site article topics then the more that you will start to receive some high rankings even as a newer domain name that is potentially still sandboxed for other topics. Bonus tip: the same can also be said for very long tail search queries. If you are trying to rank a brand new domain name for the ultra competitive keyword phrase “credit repair” then you have little or no chance but if you target a very long tail keyword phrase like “Philadelphia, Pennsylvania student credit repair” then you should be able to rank fairly quickly just because of the lack of competition. Note that the great decrease in competitiveness does not necessarily mean that the profitability of the niche will decrease as well so even if you can get a couple of visitors a month from each long tail keyword targeted article all you need to do is publish a hundred of these articles to already be at a couple hundred very targeted and very profitable unique visitors every month.
Hopefully these different strategies for dealing with the Google sandbox have given you some ideas. Remember though, it is worth repeating that the focus should be on providing valuable content and a great site for your visitors. If you get this right then all of the rest should fall into place.
About the Author: Joel Ohman of DomainSuperstar.com has a goal of helping anyone and everyone find great domain names. Try out how easy finding awesome domain names can be by using the Domain Superstar domain name tools.